Lesson: Lesson 3 Interpreting Graphs and Tables

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Lesson Objective

SWBAT interpret graphs and tables

Lesson Plan


 Begin the lesson with students matching Graphs A-E with Statements 1-5. Facilitate a discussion with students about why the matched each graph which each statement and their reasoning. Point out key words/phrases that indicate the direction and steepness of each graph. (note that the word slope is not used here because students will not see it until Lesson 6)

Example 1: Relating Graphs and Situations

  1. Read through the verbal situation and underline/circle important key words and phrases
  2. Re-read the verbal situation, following each graph.
  3. Match graph to verbal situation
  4. Have students explain why the other graphs do not work for that situation, and/or what would the situation have to say in order for the graph to work. Another point of discussion is what each part of each graph means (i.e. what does this flat area of the graph mean in the context of the situation?)
  5. Have students complete the you try
  6. Go over the you try.
  7. Note: it’s a great discussion point to talk about what it means when a graph starts at the origin and when it doesn’t.

Example 2: Sketching Graphs of Situations

  1. Model reading through the verbal situation and underlining/circling important key words and phrases
  2. In order for each key word or phrase, sketch the graph from left to right
  3. Have students complete the you try
  4. Go over the you try

Example 3: Writing Situations for Graphs

  1. Analyze the graph and identify the different parts of the graph
  2. Label each section as gradually increasing, rapidly increasing, gradually decreasing, rapidly decreasing, constant, etc.
  3. Identify the axes and the context of the situation
  4. Weave a story together as a class
  5. Have students complete the you try
  6. Go over the you try (perhaps a share out of a handful of student stories?)

Example 4: Matching Situations to Tables

  1. Read through the table of values
  2. Have students come up with a story on their own about what they think is happening with each snowboarder.
  3. Match each snowboarder in the table to a verbal situation
  4. Have students justify their reasoning based on the data in the table
  5. Have students complete the you try
  6. Go over the you try.

Independent Practice

Have students work through independent practice.


Have students share out and summarize what they learned today.


Have students complete the Exit Ticket


What works: For all of these problems, I found feigning ignorance an effective strategy to get students to analyze each part of each graph, as well as justify their reasoning as to why a graph should look a certain way (more steep, less steep, straight line, jagged line, plateau, a pointed “mountaintop”, etc.). Also, having a discussion about what the axes and their labels mean for the graph (such as in Example 2), was really helpful.


What didn't work: In example 3, students are asked to write situations for graphs. Since the majority of my students were ELL’s, this was difficult for them and they did not pay particular attention to the axes. For example, for the water level vs. time graph, one student wrote about walking to the store, shopping, and the coming home. If you teach a similar demographic, I would suggest having a word bank and/or guiding questions that start with “What is this graph about?”

Lesson Resources

Unit 7 Lesson 3 Interpreting Graphs and Tables.docx  


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