Lesson plan

What is it Telling Me? Creating and Interpreting Line Plots

Line plots are a great way to introduce your students to graphing data. In this lesson, your students will learn how to create a line plot and also practice interpreting line plots.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Let's Interpret the Line Plot pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Let's Interpret the Line Plot pre-lesson.

Students will create and practice interpreting line plots.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Ask your students, "Who has heard of people who do research?" Ask them to share some examples of the kinds of research that they have heard of.
  • Ask them, "If you could be a researcher, what would you like to research?"
  • Explain that some people study animals, some study climate change, some study traffic patterns, some study health problems, and all kinds of different topics.
  • Tell them the first and most important thing you need to have be a researcher is a good question.
  • Tell them that they will be conducting some research today and graphing their data on a line plot. They will then interpret their line plot to see what the data is “telling them.”
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Create a Line Plot with Data Provided worksheet.
  • Put one copy on a projector for you to complete as a model as you walk your students through the process.
  • Read through the instructions together. Demonstrate how to insert the first few data points onto the line plot. Then, have students complete the line plot by inserting the remaining data.
  • Have students answer, then discuss the question at the bottom.
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute the Create a Line Plot with Your Own Data worksheet and read through the instructions together.
  • Revisit the idea of your students being researchers. Invite them to think of a question that can be used to survey the class. Use the examples provided on the worksheet to make it easy for them to design a question where the possible responses are numbers from one through 13.
  • Instruct students to write their name and question at the top.
  • Explain that they will have 10 minutes to collect data from their classmates. It’s okay if they don’t get a response from every single student.
  • After 10 minutes, have students create a line plot using their data, just as you did with the data on the previous sheet.
  • Discuss students’ line plots. Ask each student to share their line plot in a small group along with three things that the line plot is “telling” them. You could choose to have students write the three things on the back of their line plot.
  • Select two examples to interpret as a class and use a projector to display them. What are some conclusions that you can draw from each line plot? (e.g., “Kids in our class get about eight hours of sleep.” or, “There is a wide range of amounts of sleep that kids get each night.”)
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the Interpret the Line Plot worksheet.
  • Instruct students to examine the line plot and answer the questions at the bottom.
  • After about 10 minutes, review the answers as a class.


  • Work with struggling students at the help table to craft a question together.
  • Provide a class list for students to simply write their answer after their name.
  • Have the class choose one question together and have the class collect data and create the same line plot.


  • Students can find a website where they an enter their data and produce a printable line plot using their data (see Suggested Media/Books section).
  • Students can find and share examples of graphs in resources (newspapers, magazines, etc.). They could write a few thoughts or questions about them and share with the class.
(5 minutes)
  • Select one line plot to project for the class.
  • Have students complete an “exit ticket” (half sheet of paper with their answers) by responding to the prompt: Write two conclusions that you can draw from this line plot.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students stand in a large circle around all of their graphs, arranged on the floor in the center.
  • Go through the “see, think, wonder” protocol, reflecting on the graphs and the process. Spend a little extra time on the “think” phase, focusing on what the graphs tell you about your class.
  • Consider the following questions and ask students to discuss:
    • Why is data collected and analyzed?
    • How might people use data to influence others?
    • How can predictions be made based on data?

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