Line me up. Analzying and Creating Line Graphs

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The students will be able to analzye and create line graphs.

Big Idea

Line graphs are used in our daily lives to show change over time.


15 minutes

 The students will be working with the coordinate grid. This is a previously learned concept that may require some reteaching.  Discuss with the students the following questions:

  • How is a coordinate grid made? (horizontal and vertical axis that intersect)
  • When the two axis intersect, what is that called? (orign)
  • How are the quadrants labeled?  And what are the types of ordered pairs? (starting at the top right, I, II, III, IV  in I (+,+) in quadrant II (-,+), in quadrant III (-,-) and quadrant IV (+,-)
  • How do we read/graph points on the grid? (We go right or left (positive or negative) before we go up or down (positive or negative)

Use slide 2 to locate points on the grid.  I like to allow students time to go over answers with a partner because this helps students talk mathematically (MP6) and if there is a problem, they can justify their answers with a reasonable explanation. (MP3)

Analyzing and Creating Line Graphs

55 minutes

During this part of the lesson, the students will start by looking at line graphs and their uses.  They will make observations about when a line graph Is useful and the elements within a line graph.  Begin by analyzing the graph.  I would like students to describe the data set (I notice that the line in going down, which means that after summertime, the weather in Washington DC gets colder)

Then I move them in to the pre-made questions.  These questions were used to get students to look at the actual data collected.  They can tell high and low and they can read the temperature to tell what month a certain event occurred. 

Next, have the students do a HUSUPU (Hands up, stand up, pair up).  I like students to get into pairs by giving them parameters.  For example, I might tell them to pair up with someone who has the same colors on as them.  Or I might say, Find someone who has the same amount of pets that you do. There are many creative ways to group so that the students are not pairing up with the same individuals.   At this time have the students decide who will be an A and who will be a B.  This allows you to pick a person to speak by calling on either an A or a B.  I like to mix things up so they never know who is going to speak at what time. Once in pairs, allow students time to look at the data in the graph.  I tell them they are thinking(think time) and thinking occurs in our heads, not out our mouths.  Next, I tell students to “square up”.  I want them to look each other in the eye, speak clearly and use pronunciation so their partner can hear and understand what is being said (ELA SL 6. 4).  Then I start the questioning by randomly choosing an A or a B. (to make things even, there are 4 questions so each partner can answer 2)

  • Looking at the data set for this line graph, describe what is happening to the U.S. average weekly earnings?  (the average weekly earnings are going up, which means that each year the population is making more money)
  •   In which year were the average weekly earnings the highest? (2000)
  • In general, how did the weekly earning change from 1970 to 2000? (The earnings went up)
  •   In which year did the average worker earn approximately $350/week (1990)


The next slide asks students what they saw that was the same in each line graph.  Students can partner share their thoughts.  The list is included on the slide.


Give students a table and instruct them that they will be creating their own line graph.  They will also be designing 3 questions to use to analyze their graph.  Allow students time to work on their graphs and questions.  Once the group is ready, have them share with a partner from the class. (Again, use a different strategy to pair up the groups.  Siblings in the family, youngest, middle or oldest…)


***When creating this graph, the students may not notice that the months don’t go in order. I would have them look at the table first to see if they can make the connection.  Otherwise, ask them what would happen if they put the data from the table into the graph exactly as it appears?***


10 minutes

The students were learning how to analyze and create line graphs today.  In order to sum up their target learning, I’m going to ask the following questions:

Explain when it would be better to use a line graph instead of a bar graph. 

(Looking for line graphs should be used when dealing with time (months, years, hours, seconds, days) and bar graphs are used to show popularity or favorites)

Describe how you might use a line graph to make predictions (Looking for:  if the line graph is going up then the data is making a positive change over time and if the line graph is going down then the data is making a negative change)  

Write about it:  You have a bowl of soup for lunch.  Draw a line graph that could represent the change in the soup’s temperature during lunch.  Explain

(Looking for a line graph that would show a gradual negative change)