Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Just Graph It!

Sharla Shults
Bay District Schools


Poetic Math Challenge - Lesson 4 Pictures say a thousand words, so, Just Graph It! Data collected and analyzed is now incorporated into a spreadsheet and graphs of varying nature generated to further enhance student understanding.


Describes, analyzes and generalizes relationships, patterns, and functions using words, symbols, variables, tables and graphs.


- Newspapers for the class
-Glue or glue stick
-Computer with printer and Internet access
-Computer paper
-Zip disks
-Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program
-Completed Poetic Greeting Cards project total data sheets (See Teacher Preparation #1)
-Introduction to Excel handout – one per student (See Associated file.)
-Colored pencils or pens
-Steps to using Excel handout – one per student (See Associated File.)
-Radio with CD of appropriate music
-Beacon lessons: Poetic Math Challenge-Lesson 1, Poetic Math Challenge-Lesson 2, Poetice Math Challenge-Lesson 3 (See Weblinks below)


1. Prepare Total Data Statistics Table using the data collected from the Poetic Greeting Cards Activity (Refer to Poetic Math Challenge – Lesson 3.) and the Excel spreadsheet following the same directions that students will use in Step 7c of Lesson Procedures.. This is very beneficial to the teacher since many, many questions will assuredly arise as students begin to learn basic Excel and input data of their own!
Important Note: This lesson can be adapted to any statistical data. You do not have to rely only on having completed the previous lesson, Poetic Math Challenge – Lesson 3.

2. Reproduce Total Data Statistics Table from Poetic Greeting Cards Project completed in Poetic Math Challenge – Lesson 3. By reproducing this, all students will be working with the same data.

3. Duplicate Introduction to Microsoft Excel handout – one per student. (See Associated File)

4. Duplicate Steps for Excel Spreadsheet and Chart Wizard – one per student.. (See Associated File.)

5. Duplicate Assessments and Rubrics all of which are found in the Associated File.

6. Reproduce samples of different types of graphs and/or make transparencies. (See Web Links for Internet sites that have excellent graphing samples that can be reproduced.)

7. Have newspapers delivered to the class on the day of the activity or acquire enough old newspapers for one per student.

8. Collect business flyers or brochures that depict charts and graphs to show as examples and use in discussions.


1. The best way to introduce graphing to students is to allow them to view and discover new types of graphs on their own. This is easily accomplished through access to the Web. Have students search select an appropriate search engine and search for ‘graphs.’ This allows students to demonstrate their ability to use a search engine. Once you feel they have had ample time to search on their own, give them specific sites to view. (See Web Links.) Engage students in discussions about the various types of graphs they see and why certain types are chosen for specific data. Encourage students to take notes and inform them that the ability to return to these sites will be part of their assessment. They are not allowed to bookmark!

2. The students are informed from the very beginning that their goal is to find the type of graph that will best represent the data collected from the surveys. (See Beacon Lesson Plan Poetic Math Challenge Lesson 3. In this lesson students survey faculty, staff, family and classmates as to the most often purchased greeting card. The data collected is then organized in a table for further analysis.) This should be emphasized as not a task for a quick decision, but one that must involve a lot of thought.

3. This works best in a computer lab where each student is stationed at an individual computer. Laptop computers may also be checked out for classroom use where available. As an alternative, students could work with a partner if there are not enough computers for independent work.

4.One of the easiest ways to relate students to their present knowledge of graphs is to have them read the newspaper. The primary objective is to allow time for the students to review where graphs are used in everyday life. Any additional magazines or business flyers could also be shared with the class. Have students take notes on the articles they read and explain why the data is depicted in the type of graph displayed. This really gives students food for thought as to why different types of graphs exist and what makes the best fit for graph vs. data. Inform students that describing a graph is telling what type it is, line, bar, histogram, pie, etc. Tell students that they are to use these notes at the end of the activity during the assessment process.

5. Review various terms used with graphing (axes, vertical, horizontal, first quadrant, plotting, etc.)

6. Review plotting data points and graphing.

7. Teach or review how to input data into a spreadsheet.

a) Introduce students to Excel. Distribute Introduction to Excel handout one per student. (See Associated File.)

b) Complete handout with students engaging them in discussion while referring to the handout. Students will need the colored pencils or pens to complete the questions at the bottom of the page.

c) Distribute a copy of the completed Poetic Greeting Cards project total data to each student. (See Step 1 of Teacher Preparation.)

d) Distribute steps to using Excel handout – one per student (See Associated File.)

e) From this point on students are primarily working on their own. The teacher needs to monitor students while they are working at the computers to lend assistance whenever needed. It is also a good idea to have one or two of the students to serve as mentors. Determine if any students are already proficient in Excel and can handle this role.

f) Students stay engaged at the computer with soft, relaxing music playing while they are working. Just a little perk that the students will enjoy!

8. Students must save all of their work on a disk. Because of the graphics involved in generating graphs it is preferable that you have zip disks. Work saved includes:

a) Excel spreadsheet complete with all data, title and student’s name.

b) Six generated graphs as instructed on the Excel handout.

9. Students print copies of their Excel spreadsheet with their names typed (not added in pen or pencil), and a copy of the graph that they have chosen as the best fit to represent the data. Be sure students have their names on both copies and preferably stapled together.

10. Students turn in Excel spreadsheets and graphs to be assessed. (See Associated File for Evaluation Rubric.)


Assess students' ability to search the Web effectively for information requested. This is determined by teacher observation and on a checklist. (See Associated File for checklist.)

Students create and print spreadsheets depicting total data collected from the survey. (See Associated File for rubric.)

Students generate various graphs from the spreadsheet program, select the best graph that represents the data collected, and analyze the completed project. The teacher assesses each student’s work and establishes assessment procedures accordingly. (See Associated File for Project Evaluation Rubric.)


Also addressed in this activity is the benchmark: The student interprets and creates function tables and graphs (first Quadrant).

Web Links

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
The What?, How?, and Why? of the Histogram

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
This is a tutorial entitled Using Microsoft Excel for Drawing Graphs

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
Sample Graphs

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
Poetic Math Challenge

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
Lyrics Statistics

Web supplement for Just Graph It!
Poetic Math Greeting Cards

Attached Files

Intro, Steps, Assessments, Checklists, Rubrics, & Evaluation     File Extension: pdf

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