Line Plot Lessons that Work!

When you think of teaching graphing, hands-on might not be the first idea that comes to mind. You can teach line plots with or without fractions by using hands-on material to boost meaning and understanding for all of your learners. These ideas for line plot lessons will help all of your kids succeed! 



Hands-on Line Plot Lessons 

  1. Start by gathering a collection of items your students can measure. These can be pictures or real-life objects. Part of the difficulty of understanding line plots is that students don't realize that every "x" describes a whole item. Using real materials helps to combat this misconception. 
  2. Lay out a life-sized line plot either on the floor or on a whiteboard. As students measure the collection of items or pictures, have them lay the items directly onto the line plot. 
  3. After your full collection has been laid out, you will go back and replace each item with an X leaving you with a conventional line plot! 

Is It Really That Easy? 

You will, surely, still have students who need additional time and support to be successful in this activity. Using this strategy, you will be able to understand the need of your students. Look out for these common difficulties. 
  • Did they have difficulty measuring the items? Your students may need number line work with fractions. 
  • Did they have difficulty calculating answers for questions about the line plot? Your students may need additional work with fraction operation work. 
  • Did they find success during the activity but are struggling to generalize? Your students may need to be presented with questions about a line plot while it is still in its concrete (before you switch the items over to Xs) form. Just like any other topic in math, students may need more time in the concrete before moving onto a representative (a line plot) or abstract (questions about a line plot) method. 

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