Teachers either LOVE or HATE to teach about graphing. I personally love it, as it is a topic that most students can understand and grasp quickly, helping every student to feel successful in the classroom. I usually like to teach this unit around the holidays, as it fits in well with the crazy testing schedule and it does seem to come up on all of those dreaded MOY standardized tests.
Daily Warm Up:
My favorite part about teaching about graphing is all the surveying of the students that you get to do, starting with the daily warm up. Typically, I will start by having one student ask a question to the class. Then, we quickly go through and have each student answer the question from the four answer choices provided to make a tally chart on the board. Then, I give students time to create a chart, pictograph, bar graph and line plot about the graph. We also work on answering 6 quick questions about the graph. When they finish, we go over the answers and then talk about what types of graphs we will be working on that day.
I keep these blank graphs and questions in sheet protectors for easy use day after day.
The common core does not focus too much on various types of graphs. The data standard calls for teaching about pictographs and bar graphs. The measurement standard calls for line plots, so besides our daily warm up, I focus more on that during our measurement unit.
I typically teach this unit for 2-3 weeks.
- Week One: Collecting Data & Answering Simple Questions on Bar and Pictographs
- Week Two: Comparison Problems/More Complex Keys (=2, =5)
- Week Three: Challenge and Review (I might introduce pie charts and other types of graphs, depending on how successful the class is)
The most difficult part about graphing is when the key is set to be equal to something other than one. Students might also be tempted to count items on a pictograph instead of doing equations, which can lead to their answers being off by 1 or 2, or more depending on the key. We talk a lot about how the first thing we ALWAYS do is take a peek at the key to be sure we know what to count by.
Center Ideas & Games:
My students LOVE this rolling and graphing game. You can snag it for free in my store. All students do is roll two dice, graph what number they got and race to see who can roll the same number ten times first. Easy and fun!
Since graphing is typically an easy topic for students, I tend to use this time to review other important skills before our standardized MOY tests. This is a great time to practice addition and subtraction to 1000 fluency, along with reviewing in other ways.
I find it helpful to have examples of each type of graph up, especially ones that show students the different ways that you can represent data.
The only manipulative that I use during this unit are mini erasers for our graphing games!
Resources and Freebies:
Best of luck teaching this unit! Let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for teaching this in the comments below. Check back in two weeks for the next math segment on geometry.