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Graphs… More fun than a barrel of monkeys!

After you click on the link, it looks like you need to click “Open File” at the bottom of your computer screen! Hope it works. Feel free to email me if you’d like to see it and it doesn’t open!

Let’s see how this comes out in a blog. Formatting won’t be the same, but if the information comes through, this can get you started with 6th grade lessons on graphs! Flipped Classroom component will follow in the next post.

Math, Grade 6 (with Grade 7 extension) – Working with Data and Statistics

Unit Description:

Sixth grade students will focus on working with data and statistics in their fourth quarter. In this unit, they will create circle graphs, and they will make predictions and draw conclusions from existing circle graphs, including using graphs from current news media. Additionally, they will compare and contrast the features of circle graphs with histograms and other graphs. The unit will cover mean and the most appropriate measure of center in the following week to ten days.

Intended Learner:

The intended learners are in grade 6 the Advanced Academics Program which matches grade 7 curriculum, but follows the grade 6 pacing.

VA Standards of Learning:

VA SOL MTH.G6.14 Construct, draw conclusions, make predictions using a circle graph

VA SOL MTH.G7.11 Construct, analyze, compare, and contrast histograms with other graphs

VA SOL TEC ES.3 Apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information

NETS 3 Model Digital Age Work and Learning

NETS 1 Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity


Unit Objectives:

Students will construct and analyze circle graphs, histograms and other graphs first using graph paper, and then using Microsoft Excel.

Monday: Students will identify characteristics of a typical 6th grader. Each student will write information on several hanging charts in the classroom. These charts will be labeled as follows: shoe size; favorite type of food; distance in inches from fingertip to fingertip (wingspan); number of siblings; height in inches. Once students have written these facts on each chart, they will be divided into small groups, and each small group will show their assigned chart information first in a table and then in graphic form. Students will describe any difficulties they had that may impact their data (e.g., shoe sizes may be men’s, women’s or children’s sizes; or everybody wrote food types that were similar and we had to combine them), and they will try to name each type of graph they have used.

In-class Assessment: Write one difficulty you had or you saw described in analyzing the data in class today. (Effort grade, and spot-check for students who might not have understood this.)

Homework: respond on Popplet with an additional question I could ask the class to create a new graph. Students do not have to respond to each question, but should browse the questions on the site to be sure they do not duplicate. Assume students have used Popplet previously in class.

Tuesday: Teach a mini-lesson on the following types of graphs: line graph, bar graph, histogram, and circle graph. This will include a podcast that students will watch and refer to after it is posted on their student blackboard site. Students will define each of these graphs in their notebooks while taking notes from the mini lesson. Introduce the Graphing Math RAFT, which will be due the following Tuesday.

In-class Assessment: In the last 5 minutes of class, project slides of different graph and have students use turning point clickers to classify the graph by choosing the correct multiple choice answer.

Homework: bring in an example of a graph from current media. This can be from the newspaper, a magazine, a website, or some other approved source for tomorrow.

Wednesday: Some students will volunteer to describe what they were able to learn visually from their graphs. They will describe their homework graphs as they are projected up with an Elmo document camera, so that the entire class can see clearly. Students will use notes to classify each graph. After brief presentations, the students will try to represent the data from their graphs in a different format. In some cases, they may have to estimate values based on the original graphs. They will reflect in writing on which graphical representation is better, and why.

In-class Assessment: Students will write two facts they learned while other students were sharing graphs. One of these facts may be from their own graph from the homework assignment.

Thursday: Students will meet in the technology lab for a lesson on Microsoft Excel. Students will open Excel and follow along with a guided lesson that shows how cells are defined, and how to manipulate what is inside each cell. They will adjust content type, width, color, etc. Students will enter information into their own spreadsheets and format column width automatically. They will sort data alphabetically.

In-class Assessment: Teacher will walk around with a student list and make anecdotal notes as students are manipulating their spreadsheets.

Friday: Students will meet in the technology lab. After a brief technology lesson to learn how to use formulas for Average and Mode, students will enter a series of numbers, and use formulas to find column sums and then to find averages. The teacher will demonstrate how to select data and create a graph. Students will then work on creating graphs from data already entered in Excel. Students will open a pre-populated spreadsheet and create a circle graph with the data. They will create labels and a graph title. Students will choose a different worksheet and create two different types of graphs from the same data.

In-class Assessment: Students will have retrieve an excel file developed by the teacher from Google Docs. They will individually reorder the data to find the median (a review from earlier lessons), use a formula to find the mean, and use a formula to determine the mode. They will create a graph to provide a visual representation of the data. They must label axes (in a bar graph or histogram) or wedges (in a circle graph).

Adaptations: Preferred seating is automatically offered for students needing vision, hearing or attention and focus accommodations. Students who have IEPs for added time will be given extra time when necessary. Lesson plans will show modifications for students at different learning levels. The assessment is provided as a RAFT assignment, which allows student choice, and students are always allowed to ask for approval of a different, but relevant, RAFT choice if they wish.


Unit Evaluation: Graphing RAFT Assignment and Rubric

Objective: Use a RAFT project to demonstrate your mastery of how to construct, draw conclusions, and make predictions using a circle graph.

Consider the following for your RAFT, then chose one line to use as a guideline

   · Role of the writer: What is the writer’s role: reporter, observer, object, number, etc.?

   · Audience: Who will be reading the writing: the teacher, other students, a parent, editor, etc.?

   · Format: What is the best way to present this writing: in a letter, an article, a report, a poem, an advertisement, e-mail, etc.?

   · Topic: Who or what is the subject of this writing: a famous scientist, a prehistoric cave dweller, a character from literature, a chemical element or physical object, etc.?





Dr. Doofenshmirtz

Phineas and Ferb


How a circle shows the number of his failed attempts at world domination

Axis Label

It’s own graph

complaint letter

How a graph and its labels are not helpful unless they are complete and accurate


a 6th grade student


snapshot of information (make up your own data)

Quiz scores for the unit

the principal

venn diagram

compare and contrast histogram and circle graph


Math RAFT Rubric






Focus on Topic

The entire RAFT is focused on the assignment topic and allows the reader to learn more about the topic

Most of the RAFT is focused on the assignment topic, but some elements detract from helping the reader learn about the topic

Some of the RAFT is related to the topic, but it does not help the reader learn about the topic

The RAFT has limited connection to the assignment topic


The RAFT contains many details that add to the reader’s enjoyment

The RAFT contains some details that add to the reader’s enjoyment

The RAFT contains a few details that may add to the reader’s enjoyment

The RAFT is written in a perfunctory way with little evidence of creativity

Grammar, Spelling, & Punctuation

There are no grammatical errors

There are 1 – 2 errors

There are 3 – 4 errors

There are more than 4 errors


The RAFT was turned in on time


The RAFT was turned in 1 day late

The RAFT was turned in more than 1 day late

Student Technology Samples:

Students will respond to a question on Popplet. Students will submit printouts of graphs they created in Excel. Students will use a shared folder to submit Excel files.


Two Lesson Plans:

  1. I.                 Types of Graphs – Tuesday

Types of Graphs



The students will:

  • Construct, draw conclusions, make predictions using a circle graph
  • Compare and contrast histograms with other graphs
  • Use technology to Facilitate and inspire their learning and creativity



  • In this lesson, students learn to identify different types of graphs and the reason they are used.



  • Podcast on types of graphs
  • Turning point lesson and clickers
  • Practice page to identify and classify graphs


Thinking Level

Knowledge, Comprehension, Application


Instructional Strategies

Summarizing and Note Taking



circle graph, histogram, line graph, bar graph




Types of Graphs



Yesterday we looked at attributes of 6th graders. What were some types of graphs we used?


Can we use a line graph to show what everyone’s favorite food is? Why or why not? Before answering out loud, students will write this question and its answer in the Read and Preview (RAP) section of their interactive notebooks.


Engage and Educate

Show the podcast on different types of graphs. Ask student s


Active Learning

 Teacher Guided:

Students will take notes in an interactive notebook on the WOW (Words of Wisdom) side. 


Students will define each of these graphs in their notebooks while taking notes from the mini lesson.  They will glue in two images of graphs, and label the type of graph they see, and describe in one sentence the main point of each graph.


Students will work on the graphs identification page, then compare answers with their shoulder buddies. If they disagree, they must revisit their notes and come to a conclusion.



Introduce the Graphing Math RAFT, which will be due the following Tuesday. Remind students that this podcast will be available on blackboard if they wish to review any information.


Use the Turning Point Clickers in conjunction with the Turning Point Power Point to have students classify different graphs. If a large number of students incorrectly identify a graph, note which students they are, and discuss with them before they leave, or revisit the topic tomorrow.


Now and Then

Students will be making their own graphs later in the week. They should understand when it is appropriate to use certain graphs, and they should really consider how valuable a graphic representation of data really is. Tell students that for homework, they must bring in an example of a graph from current media. This can be from the newspaper, a magazine, a website, or some other approved source for tomorrow.



  1. II.               Basics of Excel – Thursday

Basics of Excel Graphs


The students will:

  • Select and use chart/graph functions to analyze and display findings in content projects, citing data sources.  
  • Construct, draw conclusions, make predictions using a circle graph and a histograph
  • NETS 3, VA SOLs MTH.G6.14; MTH.G7.11; TEC ES.3



  • In this lesson, students explore some basic functions and capabilities of Microsoft Excel. They will learn how to refer to cells, rows, columns, formulas, and text and formatting features within the program. 



  • Computer
  • Microsoft Excel


Thinking Level




Instructional Strategies

Experiential Learning



cells, rows, columns, formulas, left and right justification



Basics of Excel



What do you have to do to create a graph on graph paper?

The teacher leads a conversation about students’ prior knowledge on making graphs, and the types of problems you can run into when making a graph (e.g., finding that the axis denominations must be larger in order to fit everything onto the graph).


Engage and Educate

The teacher explains that today students will focus on the basic capabilities of Microsoft Excel so that in the future, they can create graphs in Excel, and manipulate their size, color, axis information, and actual data easily, and create a professional and accurate product.


The teacher will ask all students to open Microsoft Excel. She will then project Excel on theboard, and use a laser pointer or her hand to showcase a column, and ask students to name it as a column. She will then show a row and ask students to call it a row. She will show that rows and columns are designated by a letter, and rows are designated by a number. If you move the pointer inside a single cell and click once, you can see that there is a unique address for the cell, that is one letter (for the column) and one number (for the row).


The teacher will click into a random cell and ask for a volunteer to describe that cell’s address. She will repeat this process four or five times.


Now the teacher will ask students to the following: 3-1. Once they click ‘enter’ or click somewhere else with their mouse, what happens? They will see that Excel automatically formatted the information to a date format. The teacher will direct students to right click on that same sell, and select ‘format cells,’ and scroll through the types of formatting they have available to them.


Next, the teacher will ask if students know how to enter that information so that it is a subtraction problem. The teacher will accept volunteer answers, and confirm that you must type =3-1, using the equals sign first, to indicate that a numerical operation will follow. The teacher will demonstrate on the projected Microsoft Excel worksheet.


The teacher will ask students to type the following words in different cells in a column: science; social studies; language arts; mathematics. Starting in the column directly to the right, type the following words in successive rows: electricity; civil war; poetry; graphs.


The teacher will ask if this information is easy to read. (No, it is jumbled.)  The teacher will demonstrate that double clicking on the column separator bar in between those two columns will automatically fit the column to the largest word.


Now, students will look at their two corresponding columns. The teacher will demonstrate how to sort those two columns alphabetically. First, the teacher will perform this task incorrectly, so that only the subject descriptions are alphabetized. Next, she will use different levels to link text appropriately before sorting. This is an important lesson that will be revisited tomorrow.


Finally, the teacher will quickly show students the buttons for changing text color and style, and for adding a fill color to a cell. These features are similar to Microsoft Word features, and students will not need a full lesson on them.


Students will list the colors of the rainbow in individual cells. They will change the font size to 18, and the font color for each word to match its description. They will sort those words alphabetically, and adjust the column to automatically fit the largest word. They will save this in their Google Docs folder that is shared with the teacher.


Active Learning


Students will work with partners to adjust column width, change the color of a cell, change the color of the text only, and enter mathematical formulas in their worksheet. 


Partners will be assigned so that similar learning levels are paired. The teacher will circulate to answer questions, as will the School Based Technology Specialist.

Teacher Guided:

Students who need more guidance and have difficulty following written directions may benefit in doing this activity in a small group with the teacher. The teacher will circulate to monitor student progress.




Students take turns sharing features they learned about in class today.


Now and Then

Students will not have homework, unless they have not finished their rainbow assignment. As students are finishing in class, the teacher will remind them that we will be using Excel to create graphs, and just as there are easy commands using Excel worksheets and tables, there will be easy commands for creating graphs directly from the Excel data, and that will be the focus for the next lesson.


Supplemental Material

Students who have already had experience with Excel will be asked to create a graph representing statistical data from their favorite sport. They may create a line graph showing the yards gained by year by a particular football player, or the amount of time each tennis match lasted for the past three years for a tennis player, etc.




Why Blog? Encourage, Help, Share, Inspire

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk was amusing and poignant at the same time. He makes a good point that teachers are limited in how they can reach the diversity of learners, learning styles and interests, and potential talents.
Teachers really need to stimulate and engage their students… They (We!) aren’t just delivering information. We are trying to come up with a way for our students to internalize the content we introduce them to.
I love his reference to dieting… You can be dieting and not actually losing weight. In the same way, you can be teaching, but not really imparting a strong knowledge of your content.
I really enjoyed Robinson’s talk. He uses humor throughout, but still stays on task. As any good speaker should do, he uses anecdotes to pull the watcher in, and connects things each of know to the idea he is trying to impart, which is to truly embrace and encourage creativity – in teachers, students, parents, children, employees and employers.

Here’s a six minute video that helps support teaching higher order thinking skills that shows what the Teaching Channel has to offer. There are videos to help inform teachers, and there are videos you can show your students. Enjoy!

I responded to the enhanced podcast article with an enhanced podcast. How cool is that?! It’s less than 3 minutes. Check it out and let me know if it works for you. I made it a private video, but I think that’s ok, because you’ll have the link here… Robyn, I can no longer remember how I ever embedded a video on my blogs, so if you know, feel free to comment me some instructions. 😀

Forget the Podcast. It’s VODCAST time…

Check out this video on flipped classrooms. It’s fairly short, but Aaron Sams does a great, concise job of explaining why HE uses the flipped classroom.

They also call this method screencasting.

The Edudemic blog To Flip or Not to Flip ( offered AP score improvement for calculus students as proof for a teacher’s successful implementation of the flipped classroom. Jeff Dunn talks about how his past experiences of trying to teach all of the content he had in a 45 minute time frame left him out of breath, and out of touch with his students. They didn’t have time to process their lessons long enough to formulate any questions on the material.

This is my life! Luckily, we switched our schedule midyear, last year, so that we had an hour and a half of math most days. That was such a blessing, since it gave me some time to dedicate to remediation and enrichment, but more importantly, I felt I could usually get through a lesson and get started on homework in class, which is what I prefer to do with my students.

I imagine taping a lecture (whether it’s focusing on me standing at a smartboard, of whether it’s just my voice-over accompanying a series of screenshots) will be unnerving for me at first, but it seems luxurious to be able to offer a straightforward lecture to all of my students that won’t be waylaid by relevant, but a little off-topic questions and comments. I can imagine some of my students would be thrilled with the idea of getting to see/hear an entire lecture without having to hear the anecdotal comments or bizarre questions from some of their classmates. And they can rewind and rewatch if they need to.

I also think that by not having the lecture in the classroom, it will be harder to engage some of the students. Part of what makes a lecture or lesson engaging IS the fact that I can welcome questions and comments throughout, and the students can find personal relevance. So, you see, it’s a mixed bag for me. I imagine I will enjoy creating some flipped lessons, but I will want to have both in-class and at-home lectures.

Since I have to teach social studies this coming year (for the first time!), and that is one of our SOL tested subjects for 6th grade, I imagine I might have to create a lesson or two just to keep us on track and focused. I need to be sure my class has rising standardized test scores, too!


PARTS – by Tedd Arnold, and by Samantha, Cory, Elizabeth and Jeri…

nuts and bolts and duct tape

I have laid the most impressive plans on the counters in the computer lab only to find that my students didn’t have the foundation they needed to go forward with my lesson. Like our nuts and bolts article, I have been a little frozen with how to get the class to move forward. So, what do we do to keep our kids moving in a creative and thoughtful way? I think to reaching out to other teachers who have experienced similar problems is a great start. The subject of the Holocaust is a serious and open assignment that students can easily get Wallis by the possibilities. But that is not the only topic that could leave students with to much flexibility. Maybe the class could have spent time thinking about really effective articles they have read it museum displays they’ve seen that got a strong message out m what qualities do they see that make information dispersal stronger?