Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Data Daze

Ann Campbell


This is a short introductory activity to teach students how to read and analyze data from bar graphs, pictographs, and stem-and-leaf plots.


The student reads and analyzes data displayed in a variety of forms (charts, pictographs, stem-and-leaf plots).


-Teacher-made transparencies or posters showing various graphs that will be taught and a similar set to be used as a formative assessment.
-Copies (for each student )of the graphs used for demonstration to serve as study guides/notes.
-Teacher-made formative assessment.


1. Go to the web sites listed under the web links section of this lesson plan. You may wish to print the information from these sites. The information on these sites is very helpful. There are examples and lists of criteria for good graphs
2. Reseach materials that you have on hand about graphs. You may want your students to refer to their text books.
3. Make or obtain sample graphs to show your class during the lesson and another set to be used as a formative assessment.
4. Make or copy examples/study guide for your students.
5. Make up a short answer quiz to assess your students at the end of this lesson.


1. Ask volunteers to identify the types of graphs they have seen in other classes, newspaper, magazines, their FCAT score reports, etc.

2. Ask if anyone can explain why a graph rather than a list or table is sometimes used to show data. Accept any reasonable answers such as: A graph is like a picture; It is easier to compare information.

3. Show students examples of various graphs on an overhead projector or posters and ask questions about the data and the type of graph. Find or make examples that are colorful and easy to read. Make graphs that are relevant to your students’ ages and interests (favorite foods, TV shows, and musical groups). This is a good way to find out what prior knowledge they have about data analysis.

4. Choose one type of graph ( bar, picto, stem-and-leaf) at a time to demonstrate how to read and analyzes the data.

5. Bar Graph
- Tell students that bar graphs are used to represent data when it is desirable to make comparison quickly.
- Point out that scales used on different graphs may vary according to the data
- Draw a scale on the overhead or board and write the #’s 0, 10, 20 with marks in between representing 2,4,6,etc.
- Have different students show where the points for 18, 4, 25, 13, and 9 would be
- Introduce the terms vertical axis (up and down) and horizontal axis (left to right) and point out that they will see vertical bar graphs (bars are vertical) and horizontal bar graphs (bars go from left to right).
- Show how the height or length of the bar for each item represents the frequency as shown on the scale.
- Point out that the bar graph has a title.
- Both axes have a label.
- Each bar also has a label that names each item.

6. Pictographs
- A pictograph is an appealing way to compare data. A symbol is chosen to represent an appropriate number and should relate to that item. (For example $ could represent each $1.00 collected by each homeroom in a charity drive.) Half of $ would mean $.50.
- Point out that a pictograph must have a label and a key , which shows what the symbol represents.
- Ask appropriate questions that your pictograph answers.
- How much money did Mrs. Campbell’s homeroom collect?
- Which homeroom collected the most/least?
- What was the total amount of money collected by the whole school? Etc.

5. Stem-and-Leaf Plots
- A stem-and-leaf plot is used to organize data as it is collected. It shows how the data is spread from the highest number to the lowest number, most common number, and outliers (a number that lies outside the main group of numbers). A possible example to use could be scores from your last test, real or made-up.
- Point out on your example of stem-and-leaf plot that the first digits of the number, hundreds or tens, is written on the left. It forms the stem. The last digit, or the ones, is on the right and they form the leaves.
- Ask questions such as: What is the most common score? Highest score? Lowest score?

6. Review all of the graphs quickly.

7. Give formative assessment.


*Use examples that are similar to the ones you used during this lesson.
*Make up 10 questions that go along with your examples.
*Ask questions that are similar to the questions you asked at the beginning of the class.
*You may ask the questions orally and have them respond on paper or give them a written copy.
*Be sure to include 5 questions that ask the student to “read” the data.
*You will also need 5 questions that ask the students to “analyze” the data.

A score of 8 out of 10 should be considered as mastery of this skill. The skills taught in the lesson will be reinforced as the students move to the next GLE’s where they will construct their own graphs.


Give ESE students copies of all notes and examples.

Web Links

Web supplement for Data Daze
Drawing Good Graphs

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