What playground toy should the principal buy for us?

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SWBAT use a graph as evidence in a persuasive letter. SWBAT evaluate statements to determine which statement is true, citing evidence in the graph.

Big Idea

Students apply what they know about data analysis to determining which statements are true or false about a graph. Students also begin to understand how graphs are used in the real world by using a graph in a persuasive letter.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes


Yesterday we discussed that we can use graphs to determine if statements are “true” or “false”. We said “true” statements are right, we can prove that they are correct. False statements are wrong, we can use the graph to show they are incorrect.



People use graphs to convince us of things. For example, we are making a class graph about what toys we would like to have on the playground. When we tell  Mr. Johnson about our data he has to know how to figure out if we are telling him the truth or tricking him! He has to use evidence from the data to see if what we are saying is true or false.


Objective : Your thinking job today is: How can I use my data to decide which statement is true about my graph?

Class Data Collection

10 minutes

I'll start the lesson with a quick review of the words "true" and "false".

To set student engagement and purpose for the lesson, I will tell them that the principal is considering buying new toys for our playground but he isn't sure what toys the students actually want to play with. I'll also tell the students that our job is to collect the data on his question and get back to him. Graphing lessons like this one lend themselves well to writing across the curriculum, which is a new shift in the Common Core, as we teach students to tell stories using data. I love the opportunity in a math lesson to get students writing a letter with a specific audience in mind, aka our principal.

I'll write the survey question on chart paper: Which playground toys would you like to have more of on the playground?

I'll collect class data, record in tally marks and then transfer on to a graph on chart paper.

I'll ask: "Can someone help me analyze our data? Looking at this data, which toy do most of us want more of?" 

After the student presents the analysis, I will present a different conclusion back to the student: "I disagree. I am going to tell Mr. Johnson that we want more jump ropes instead."

Guiding Questions:

  • Who is right? Who is saying a true statement? Student or teacher? Point to the person that said the true statement.
  • How are you sure they said a true statement? How do you know I am wrong? (Students should give evidence from the data to support their claim.)

 To summarize how a student explained it, I will restate their explanation by saying: "I see now! You think the student is right because they saw jump ropes did not have the largest number, but instead basketballs did".

I will have students record our class data on their own individual graphs. Everyone needs a copy so they can use it for evidence during the Class Data Analysis.



Class Data Analysis: Which statement is true?

10 minutes

I will have students bring their graphs back to the carpet so that they can use the graphs for evidence. I will encourage students to physically point to the evidence in the data that shows them who is telling the true statement.

I will then present a few conflicting statements about the data. To do this, I'll have a student say something about the data (true or false) and then I'll say something else about the data. This will insure there is always one true statement and always one false statement. 

After each set of statements, students will partner talk and use the graph as evidence.

Partner Talk: Who is saying the true statement? How do you know?

I'll follow this routine as many times as you have time for. Each time I do a partner talk, I'll make sure to immediately share out student thinking after the share and model using strong evidence.

As I continue the routine, the statements I present will get progressively more difficult. The type of statements I am planning on using are:

  • ___ people want more basketballs.
  • Most people want more hula hoops.
  • Jump ropes had the least number of votes.
  • Frisbees and hula hoops were equal.
  • Jump ropes had ____ more than frisbees.
  • Hula hoops had ___ fewer than basketballs.

Independent Practice

15 minutes
Directions: Students look at another set of data, which I will present to them as a different first grade class. Then they will use that data to determine which statements are true and cite their evidence for how they know.
Group A (In need of intervention): Students may need a scaffold to determine which one is true. After each of their statements, the activity says "Yes" or "No". Students circle yes or no for each of the 2 statements, and then write which one was true. The goal here is that students understand true/false more deeply and the activity is more step by step, hopefully giving them the structure to evaluate which one is right.
Group C (Extension): If these students complete the task, encourage them to write their own true/false statements about the graph that they can share with a partner later. 
Watch this video to see a conversation I had with a student, where she explains how she knows if something is true or false!
See attached documents for Independent Practice!


10 minutes

We will close out the day by writing a letter to the principal about what our data shows. This is aligned to Common Core's emphasis to writing across curriculum, particularly W1.7, "Participate in shared research and writing projects".

Guiding Questions prior to writing the letter: What do we want to convince Mr. Johnson to do? How does our data support that?  We will send the graph with the letter.

See the attached picture of our class letter to Mr. Johnson, our principal.