EL Support Lesson

Introduction to Charts and Diagrams

Charts, graphs, and diagrams are complex text features for students to decipher. Use this lesson to familiarize students with these features. It can be taught on its own or before the lesson Charts and Graphs and Diagrams, Oh My!
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Charts and Graphs and Diagrams, Oh My! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Charts and Graphs and Diagrams, Oh My! lesson plan.

Students will be able to read and analyze charts, graphs, and diagrams.


Students will be able to describe nonfiction text features such as charts, diagrams, and graphs, using visuals and sentence frames.

(3 minutes)
  • Show students a few visuals of charts, diagrams, and graphs from nonfiction books in your class or printed from the internet. Ask them to turn to a partner to discuss what they see and where they have seen them before. Invite a few students to share their responses and record them on a piece of chart paper with the title "Text Features."
  • Tell students that these images are examples of text features, usually used in nonfiction texts, to give the reader more information about the topic.
  • Inform students that there are many (at least 15) other text features used in nonfiction but for today's lesson, they will focus on three types of text features: charts, graphs, and diagrams.
(10 minutes)
  • Inform students that they will learn some new vocabulary related to these types of text features.
  • Show the Vocabulary Cards on the document camera. Read aloud each vocabulary word and its definition, and describe the image that accompanies it.
  • Distribute the Glossary worksheet to each student and place students into pairs. Have them take turns rereading the terms and definitions to each other. Allow students to add their home language definition for each term in the last column, if appropriate, or an example of the term.
  • Invite students to share their additions (final column) to the Glossary using the document camera and projector to the whole class.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that text features help readers see the information in a visual or graphic way. Text features such as charts, diagrams, and graphs, make the text more interesting and also help us understand the information on a deeper level by providing numbers and pictures or shapes that help us make sense of the information.
  • Distribute the Charts, Graphs, and Diagrams in Nonfiction worksheet to students and project a teacher copy on the document camera.
  • Explain that students will look at an example of these text features and work in pairs to complete a graphic organizer with a sentence frame to determine the name, description, and purpose of each feature.
  • Assign students that work well together into pairs and have them work on the "Description" section of the table. Model the first row by saying aloud, "I see two circles that overlap with each circle having its own title." Invite a few students to share their descriptions of each text feature.
  • Have the pairs work together to choose the correct name from the word bank for each text feature. Ask students to complete the sentence frame describing the purpose of the visual. Confirm or correct the sentences as a class.


  • Show students examples of simplified charts, graphs, and diagrams (such as a diagram of a plant or a favorite color chart).
  • Have the text features labeled in students' home languages (L1) and allow students to use bilingual resources, such as online dictionaries and glossaries, as a support throughout the lesson.


  • Have students rephrase the directions and main ideas of the lesson to their classmates before the class begins working.
  • Allow students to complete the graphic organizer in the worksheet without the aid of the sentence frame.
  • Challenge students to draw their own examples of charts, diagrams, or graphs.
(4 minutes)
  • Write the following sentence stem at the top of a piece of chart paper: "Charts, graphs, and diagrams help us..."
  • Hand out a sticky note to each student. Instruct them to write their name on it and complete the sentence stem by explaining how these text features help readers (e.g., gives us information in a visual way or shows us another way of thinking about the information).
  • Have each student come up and read their sticky note aloud to you or the whole class before placing it on the chart paper.
(3 minutes)
  • Reiterate that it is essential that students recognize charts, graphs, and diagrams because they will continue to encounter them in nonfiction texts. They will be asked to answer questions about the information provided in these types of text features so it is important that they can explain their meaning too.

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