How Do You Go to School?

Purpose:  To introduce learners to a basic bar graph 

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Materials:  copies of handout, transparency of handout, overhead projector, 4 different colors of markers for you and for students

Prep:  This particular bar graph should be used in the context of a transportation unit, but you can adapt it to other themes as well.  Plan to review types of transportation, in particular those used by students in the class.


1) Ask several students how they go to school.  Then report to the class:  Juan takes the bus.  Maria drives her car. 

2) Have students interview each other in pairs, then report to the larger group, just as you did in Step 1.  On the board, keep track of how many students drive, how many walk, how many take the bus, and how many ride bikes.  Ask them to summarize the information by asking: How many people take the bus?  How many people drive a car? etc.

3) Explain that you are going to show them another way to present this information.  It’s called a graph and they will see information organized this way on tests and in school books.  Give each student a handout and a set of markers. 

4) Using the overhead projector, fill in the graph on the transparency as the students do the same on their copies.  Do one category at a time, transposing the numbers from the earlier discussion to the graph.  Make sure you change colors for each category.

5) Once you’ve completed the graph, ask students to read it, by reporting how many students there are in each category.  Prompt them by asking “How many students take the bus?”

6) Ask students what other types of information they could organize using a bar graph.

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