July 10, 2017
by Maggie Knutson

Lesson plan

Interpreting Data by Creating Graphs

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Students will be able to create a double bar graph using an appropriate scale, with all parts of the graph included (title, axes, labels, scale, bars).

(10 minutes)
  • The class will start the lesson by generating a traditional bar graph and a double bar graph, both organized by gender. Create the structure for a bar graph (the axis without the bars) on a poster or dry erase board with the title, 'Our Class’ Favorite Sports to Watch or Play.' As a class, decide on the categories (soccer, gymnastics, basketball, etc.). Write the categories under the horizontal line, spaced evenly with room for two bars above each category.
  • Tell students that they will be “voting” on their favorite sport and creating a class graph. Ask students to write down or tell a neighbor what they predict the graph will look like once they have all added their choice.
  • Distribute two different colors of small sticky notes to students asking boys to select one color and girls to select the other. Have students come to the board and place their sticky note above their choice, creating one neat bar above each category (ignoring the different colors for now).
  • Remind students that a bar graph is type of graph that shows the data divided in categories along a horizontal line. It is good for comparing values in different categories. Instruct each student to place their sticker above the beverage choice that best represents the their favorite. Review the five parts of a graph (title, axis, labels, scale, bars) and explain that these parts each help you interpret the information.
  • Discuss, "What do you notice right away? What are some of your initial observations? How is the graph the same or different from what you predicted? Is there anything that surprised you? What conclusions can you make about our class’ favorite sports based on the data?"
(10 minutes)
  • Now, create a double bar graph using the same data. For each category across the horizontal axis (sports), divide the bar into two bars according to color/gender.
  • Ask students how this graph is different than the other. What additional questions can we answer with a double bar graph? Note that with a double bar graph you are able to compare across two variables, sports and gender.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the Interpreting Create a Double Bar Graph (with data provided) worksheet and project one copy so that all students can follow along.
  • Using the data provided, model for the class some different strategies for organizing the data (making a table, using highlighters, etc.). Create a double bar graph using the template on the sheet.
  • Analyze the graph and complete the exercises at the bottom in pairs or as a class using student input.
  • Distribute the Create a Double Bar Graph (with your own data) worksheet. Go over the instructions together. Students will be collecting their own data and creating a double bar graph.
(20 minutes)
  • Instruct students to complete the Double Bar Graph worksheet and answer the questions on the bottom independently.
  • Support: Collect a set of data using class responses and have students use that data set. Having a shared set of data will allow them to use classmates as collaborators in the graph creation.

  • Enrichment: Have students complete the activity Create a Picture Graph.
(5 minutes)
  • Sketch a quick double bar graph on the board using invented data. Ask students to interpret the data using the graph, writing their answers on an exit slip or on a personal white board. Circulate the room and spot check responses. Ask some or all of these suggested questions:
    • Make a statement that can be supported using the data in this graph.
    • What are two different questions that are being answered with this double bar graph?
    • What are two ways the data has been organized?
(5 minutes)
  • Share out student graphs in small groups or as a class. You could do a gallery style share where students circulate the room and observe others’ graphs (displayed on their desks).
  • Students could each hold up their graph for the class to see and make one conclusion statement based on their analysis of the data in the graph.

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