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A Transportation Graphing Lesson

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 1/17/2012

Here is a fun graphing lesson or activity for students to do during a transportation unit. Students will learn how to graph and read data based upon how they came to school today. There are also samples of data collection for the graphing lesson included.

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    Graphing Activities

    A unit on transportation is the perfect opportunity for this graphing lesson and activities. Students will learn how to graph information from an everyday experience, traveling to school. In the process reinforce the different ways people travel.

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    Transportation Graphing

    Objective: Students will be able to tell about the different kinds of transportation that they use daily, how to graph information and how to read information on a graph.

    Prior Knowledge: We have been spending some time getting to know one another. Now we will learn how each person in our class came to school each day.

    Teach: We can learn information by collecting data on a graph. A graph is a way to gather information. Show today we want to gather information about how we came to school today. Here are three ways you may have came to school today, by bus, car or by walking (note- depending on where you live, your students may take a subway/train to school, then you will need to have that option on your graph.)

    Show a sample graph. Graphing is a way to show data. You can "read" a graph, by studying the information and counting the numbers that a graph provides to you. Show example and "read' the information on your sample graph. We can compare numbers and learn information from a graph (provide examples from your sample graph).

    Procedure: Explain how to complete the information on the transportation graph. Ask students to raise their hand if they took a bus to school today. Write each name in a box underneath the bus. Ask students to raise their hand if they walked to school today and chart in the same manner. Ask students if they drove in a car to school today and chart in the same manner.

    This can be modified in the following ways: Students could be given a post-it and write their name on it. Then when called upon they can put their post-it under in the appropriate column.

    Or younger students who may not independently write their name yet, can create a bar pictograph, by asking them how they came to school and giving them a picture of a walker, bus, or car to color. Students add their mode of transportation to the correct bar on the graph. This could also easily be made into a color-coded graph (given a color choice, for example, bus=yellow, walk=brown, and car=blue, students color in the box underneath the mode of transportation that they took to school).

    When each student has had an opportunity to provide their information, read the information and compare data. Did more students walk or take a bus? What is the least way that students came to school? What are the most frequent ways to travel to school? How many more students take a car than walk? (See sample of possible questions to ask/data collection below)

    Assessment: As this is a group activity, assessment will be informal. Can students put their information in the correct column independently. Can the class help you to complete the data collection form based on question and answer.

    If you have older students that can read and fill in the data collection form independently, let them do so and formally assess. Do this only if the class is ready for it (as this is a beginning of the school year lesson, they may not be) or save this graph and refer to it later when the students have had more lessons on graphing and assess at a later time.

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    Sample of Data Collection for Graphs

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    Image credits: Laurie Patsalides; for personal use only

Train Lessons

Follow through the series of lesson plans below, to teach about transportation the whole year long.
  1. A Lesson on Diversity with The Polar Express
  2. A Transportation Graphing Lesson
  3. Train Safety Lessons: Make a Candy Train
  4. Emergent Readers: The Little Engine that Could