5 Things You Need to Know Before Teaching Fraction Line Plots

When I started teaching Common Core and came to the standard about Making and Interpreting Fraction Line Plots, frankly, I was at a total loss.

I have learned a LOT about how to make this standard attainable for students, and here are some tips I have come up with:

  1. Teach the Vocabulary – This standard is a part of the Data Analysis Domain, and students may not know (or remember) what mean, median, mode, and range are.  Be sure to explicitly teach this vocabulary.
  2. Teach Fraction Operations FIRST – In order to be successful with this standard, students need a foundation in adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators, changing improper fractions into mixed numbers, simplifying fractions, and some knowledge of multiplying and dividing fractions will come in handy too.
  3. Ease Into it – I learned this one the hard way.  The first time I taught Fraction Line Plots, I jumped right in, and just like jumping into a freezing swimming pool, I jumped out and reconsidered almost immediately.  Students SHOULD HAVE learned the basics of a line plot in fourth grade, but often, they need a refresher about how line plots work. I always start with making sure they remember how line plots function as well as how to answer some of the question types while using whole numbers. Next, I make sure to ease into the difficulty of fractions in the plot.  At first, it seems like, my kids can TOTALLY add fractions up to eighths, no problem! But, when you toss the added difficulty of dealing with a line plot into the mix, it can be much trickier for them than you may have expected.  After the whole numbers, I stick to fourths and halves for a few graphs before working into the eighths .
  4. Take Your Time – I usually spend at least a week on this topic.  It can take the students some time to really get a handle on how to interpret the questions, answer each question differently, and recall how to do each necessary operation. It also takes them some time to build strategies for solving the various questions more efficiently.
  5. Have the Students “Own it” – At the end of the unit, I have my students create their own graphs.  This can be about a set of data I have given them, or even better, they can gather their own data about a topic that interests them (fraction data, of course). After the students have gathered data and made their line plots, they create a set of questions they would ask about the graph if they were the teacher.  We then spend a day where students get to partner up and answer one another’s fraction line plot questions. This makes an AWESOME culminating activity for the test, or project to grade as an alternate assessment!

Fraction Line Plot Anchor Chart


After struggling through my first year of teaching this standard, I came up with a unit that makes it easy to teach students to make and interpret fraction line plots in their entirety.


In this unit, you will find:

  • A data analysis vocabulary slide
  • Introduction to (or review of) line plots lesson using whole numbers
  • Slides with accompanying student worksheets for 7 different line plot graphs with questions to help the teacher guide the students through the lesson
  • Lessons to help students create their own fraction line plots and Fraction Line Plot interpretation questions.
  • A post-test
  • Answer Key

Here is an example of one graph slide (notice the single question at the bottom) and student page from the unit:

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 5.45.05 AM.png



I also included a table of contents for easy, quick reference that outlines the difficulty of each set of graphs included.  Additionally, the vocabulary is slowly built into the unit by providing explanations of the tasks and gradually releasing the students to know the definitions by the end of the unit.

I think you will find that this product really makes teaching your students to make and interpret their own fraction line plots a breeze!  Please feel free to comment below on any suggestions you have, or how using it worked for you!


Happy teaching!




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