ID111: Stacked Bars – Album Covers

I downloaded thirty-or-so old school album covers (like, old school), enough for each member of them class, printed them all out on matte photo paper for $4.50 at a photo boothBumped into some trouble with one printer who cited copyright restrictions. ¶ I tried as pleasantly as I could to explain that what she didn’t know about Fair Use could fill up the Grand Canyon and spill over the sides. Dialogue kinda spiraled down from there. Next I knew some rent-a-cop was ushering me outside. ¶ (Well how would you have handled the situation?), and passed one out to each kid along with a tally sheet.

The kid categorized her reaction to her own album cover as one of “Love,” “Like,” “Dislike,” or “Hate.”Hence, old school album covers. I wanted them to react to the design, which everyone could respond to, whereas if they had heard the album, an unbiased, informed opinion would be a tough to ask of every student. The student then wandered from desk to desk, making two marks per album cover. One on her own sheet, which she carried with her, and one on the tally sheet, which stayed at a desk.

Then she got back to her desk and made two stacked bar charts. One for her own design tastes. And one for how well the class regarded her album cover.

I used the same album cover for each of my three algebra periods and had them use the same color legend so the result was a kind-of-slick representation of how the classes differed. (For instance, third period had some extreme reactions to the Devo cover below while the other two periods were more tempered in their enthusiasm.)

Fun questions to ask:

  1. Who loved the most covers?
  2. Who hated the most covers?
  3. Whose cover was the most hated?
  4. Whose cover was the most liked?

Stacked Bar Template I
Album Covers We (Dis)like Handout
The Album Covers We Used (ready for 4×6 printing)

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Are you going to teach pie charts too? I think this lesson and the last one are great in terms of getting students involved and bought in to what they’re learning.

  2. Devo was in when I was these kids’ age, so I can imagine how un-hip it would be for any of them to have actually listened to the thing. Oh, good call on the Los Lobos and the Dire Straits.