menu   home About Me Shop Contact Me My Classroom  

A Collaborative Graphing Experience

In this post I'll share a graphing activity I did in my classroom that had everyone motivated, working together, reading and writing together, and analyzing data!

The point was to create a large graph together, generate our own questions, post them on the walls, then walk around in pairs answering each question based on the data on the chart.

1 - I started by choosing 4 books that everyone in the class was familiar with. We had just finished an author study about Ezra Jack Keats, so I used some of his books.

Here are just a few of the Ezra Jack Keats books that we read during this author study.

If you don't want to use books, that's fine! Think about other common interests that your students have: favorite things to do during recess, favorite Specials teachers, you get the idea...

2 - I created a Tally Chart with the book covers. Students were asked to come up to the chart and make a tally next to their favorite book. 

Any kind of graph works here! Bar graphs and pictographs are also great ways to collect data!

Tally Chart that students created for the graphing activity
Students have a stronger connection with materials they create.

3 - I had my students work in groups to generate questions about the data. They had one piece of paper to quickly jot down their questions. When time was up, I checked their work, and gave them paper strips. They numbered the strips and wrote down some of their questions.

If you would rather generate the questions as a whole group activity, that's fine too. Meet your students where they are!

Here are some sample questions that work well with this activity:
    • Which book had the most votes?
    • Which book had the fewest votes?
    • How many votes did ____ have?
    • How many votes did ___ and ___ have? 
    • How many more votes did ___ have than ___?
    • How many fewer votes did ___ have than ___?
    • How many votes did ___ or___ have?
    • How many students voted in all?
    • Which was the favorite book?

Questions that the students generated in pairs.

Writing these questions took a LONG TIME and required A LOT of negotiation amongst team members. I tried not to worry about the time, and to support their social development during this exercise.

If that happens in your classroom, use the opportunity to teach kids how to work collaboratively. 

Model the language you want them to use,  and the attitude you expect them to have when interacting with each other.

4 - While the kids were in Specials, I taped their questions to the walls.

When they came back, they got into pairs, got clipboards and an answer form, and worked their way from question to question until they were done!

Students answers on quickly created answer sheet.

You can create a form like this by inserting a 2 x 5 table on a word document and numbering the lines.

Not a computer person? Just give them a piece of paper and have them number it from 1 to 10. Done!

Have your kids go around the room reading questions and referring to the chart to answer them.

A student pair looking at the chart to answer questions.

It was wonderful to hear the conversations that they were having during this collaborative activity!

  • They helped each other count;
  • They helped each other read the questions;
  • They helped each other think about the answers.

Students in the classroom working together

When I did that is my class, no one was tired, all conversations were relevant to the activity, and all kids were engaged! They had SO much fun, and as you can see, there was a ton of reading, writing, and math going on at the same time!

Students working collaboratively to answer graphing questions
Students worked collaboratively reading questions taped to the wall.

I recommend grouping/pairing kids strategically, so if some of your students can't read or write well enough for this activity, their partners can help.

It's all about teamwork!

Students walking around the room to read questions on the wall

5 - When the kids were done, we sat on the carpet to go over their findings. (If you plan to take a grade on this, have the kids put their pencils away at this point.)

I collected the questions that were on the wall and taped them to my white board. 
My kids enjoyed comparing their answers to those of their friends. When the answers didn't match they referred to the chart on the wall and talked to each other until they reached an agreement.

There was very little teacher direction during their conversations. They owned the work.

Thank you for reading about this experience! I hope you took something from it that you'll incorporate in your classroom!

Free Resources for You!


1st Grade Sample

Sign up to receive this Free Sample!

Thanks! Keep an eye on your inbox for your Graphing Samples and more!


2nd Grade Sample

Sign up to receive this Free Sample!

Thanks! Keep an eye on your inbox for your Graphing Samples and more!