Friday Visualization #11 - The Tax Man

This week in Social Studies one of the teachers at my school has been talking about similarities and differences between political parties.  Naturally, the topic of taxation came up.  I found this visual (from this Washington Post article) to help facilitate the discussion (click to enlarge).

When we presented it to students, we had the top part that identified whose plan was whose obscured.  Once we explained the visual a bit, we asked students to make observations about what they saw, what they could infer, and what trends appeared (i.e. "The plans are about the same until the $500,000 level").  After some discussion we asked them to tell us which plan belonged to which party (they all nailed it). 

Honestly, I was a bit suprised by how into the discussion the students were and how meaningful the thinking became.  In fact, we had to (unfortunately) stop the discussion so we could move on to other topics. 

I don't think the discussions would have happened without the benefit of a compelling visual to start things off. So, it's not so much that you should consider using this visual with your students (although you should give it a try if you are talking about this stuff) but that you should use visuals, any visuals, that help reinforce what you are doing in the classroom.

On a related note, the WaPo has another tax cut related visual for you to try out.  It is a bit more interactive and quite compelling as well.  You can get to it by clicking the image below or using this link.