EL Support Lesson

Let's Collect Data!

This hands-on EL Math Lesson will help students develop compare and contrast skills while they think about effective ways to collect data. Use alongside Bar Graphs: Interpreting Data or as a stand-alone lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Bar Graphs: Interpreting Data lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Bar Graphs: Interpreting Data lesson plan.

Students will be able to make a bar graph to represent data.


Students will be able to compare and contrast strategies to collect data using sentence frames.

(4 minutes)
  • Gather students together in a comfortable area. Project the bar graph so it is visible to students. Ask the students, "Have you ever seen something like this before? If you have, where did you see it? If you haven't, think about what it might be or what it might show us! Turn and talk to your partner, sharing your answer."
  • Provide students with the following sentence frame/stem to support sharing out:
    • This is a ____ and I have seen this before at/in ____ (e.g. school, home, the library, grandma's house, a book, a map, etc).
    • I have not seen this before, but I think it shows ____.
  • Call on student volunteers to share their answers aloud. Record their answers on the board.
  • Explain to the students that they are looking at a bar graph. Tell the students that bar graphs are important because people use them to show facts in a visual way so they can learn more about something.
  • Read through the bar graph you chose in student-friendly language, summarizing what we can learn from this particular bar graph.
  • Tell the students that today they will be exploring how to create bar graphs after collecting data, or information, about a question we want to answer.
(7 minutes)
  • Pass out the Vocabulary Cards worksheet to each student. Read through the definitions in student-friendly language, referring to the visuals on the vocabulary cards to support student understanding.
  • Provide real-world examples of the words category and organize. For example, when defining category and organize, you might say, "In our classroom, we can organize our books into categories. Does anyone have ideas of what categories our books are grouped in right now?" Ask students to think-pair-share. Have a few students share their ideas aloud. Continue by saying, "Right now we have our books organized by ____. But we could also organize them into new categories by putting them in piles of nonfiction books, fiction books, books about animals, books about people, books with a central message, or even our favorite books! These are all types of categories that we could use to organize our books."
  • Have students turn and talk to a partner, discussing how their toys are organized at home.
  • Explain to the students, "I want to collect data on favorite ice cream flavors in our classroom. We are going to try to collect data in two different ways. The first way involves collecting data in an unorganized way. We aren't going to make a plan or try to be organized before we start. The second way involves making a plan and brainstorming how we will collect data before we start. Then we will compare and contrast each plan of action. Remember that to compare means to think of how things are the same, and to contrast means to think of how things are different!"
(14 minutes)
  • Tell the students, "I really want to know your favorite ice cream flavors! I'd love to collect data on this. So my question is: What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Let's see if we can collect data on everyone's favorite ice cream flavor by asking each other the question and finding out everyone's answers."
  • Ask the students to get up and mingle! Give them a few minutes to ask each other, "What is your favorite ice cream flavor?" Provide students with sentence frames to support sharing out. Some noise and chaos as students are discussing is celebrated, as this is part of the learning process. This provides students with the opportunity to really feel what its like to collect data without an organized plan.
  • Bring the students back together. Say, "Okay. Let's try to remember what everyone said. Can anyone tell me some of the favorite ice cream flavors they heard? Even better, who can remember certain classmate's favorite flavors of ice cream?"
  • Allow students to share out their ideas. Record as many ideas as you can on the board. Use the following prompting questions to help students see that this unorganized process isn't the ideal way to collect data:
    • Were you able to make sure you didn't ask someone twice?
    • Did you like or dislike not having a plan? Why?
    • Do you think the data we collected is good/accurate? Why or why not?
  • Ask students "How can I do this in an organized way? Without forgetting to ask someone in our classroom? How can I make sure I don't ask someone twice?" Allow students to share answers with a partner and write some of their ideas on the board.
  • Ask students to help you think of five categories of ice cream. For example: vanilla, mint, chocolate chip, cookie dough, and vegan. Draw a picture of each flavor of ice cream on the whiteboard.
  • Model creating a class list and crossing out names as you ask students their favorite flavor and put tally marks next to the flavor each student chooses.
  • Ask students, "How will I create a bar graph with this information? What will this information show us?" Allow students to share their ideas with an elbow partner, and encourage a few students to share ideas with the class. Encourage students to use their vocabulary words as they explain their answers.
  • Use whiteboard markers to have students help you create the bar graph, including the title, the x-axis (type of ice cream) and the y-axis (number of students), and the scale, explaining the definition of each in student-friendly language. Although students won't need to create a scale during group work, this is a good introduction to the vocabulary word.
  • Review the finished bar graph with students, asking students to reflect on the following questions:
    • Which ice cream flavor did students like most?
    • Which ice cream flavor did students like least?
    • What does this bar graph show us? What information can we gain from this bar graph?
(10 minutes)
  • Put students in small groups of about five students and ask them to reflect on the two different ways they collected data with an elbow partner. Ask them to compare and contrast the strategies aloud, providing students with sentence frames for support:
    • The strategies were similar because ____.
    • The strategies were different because ____.
    • The first strategy made me feel ____ (confused, disorganized, etc.)
    • The second strategy made me feel ____ (prepared, like I understood, etc.)
  • Reflect on students' answers and explain to the students that collecting data in an organized way is the best way to collect data. Explain to students that when we have an organized plan, we are able to make sure the data is understandable to others and accurate! We are really able to learn from our findings.


  • Have students work in a smaller, teacher-led group during group work.
  • Allow students to explain the similarities and differences in their home language before rephrasing, using sentence stems/frames, in English.
  • Provide students with a bilingual glossary with key vocabulary words from the lesson.
  • Provide students with a word bank to refer to when they complete the closing sentence stems/frames.


  • Encourage students to explain the directions in their own words and/or write them down in their math journals prior to group work.
  • Have students share their answers aloud without referring to the sentence stems/frames for support.
  • As students are comparing and contrasting the strategies aloud during group work, rotate around the classroom and take pictures, jot notes, and focus on students' understanding of the language object (compare/contrast).
  • Reflect on these questions: What other scaffolds does ____ (student's name) need to be successful while collaborating in the small group? What other meaningful opportunities can I create to help students understand data collection techniques? Have students met the content and language objectives for this lesson? The Formative Assessment: Speaking and Listening template can also be used to assess student's speaking and listening goals.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students together and ask students to complete a think-pair-share, finishing the sentence stems/frames:
    • Collecting data means ____.
    • The best way to collect data is to ____.

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