Emily Bryson ELT

Emily Bryson ELT using graphs to tell a story. THe story of my drawing skills over time - peaks at high school, dips for a while, then increase after doing a graphic facilitation course.

Lesson idea: using graphs to tell a story

Telling a story is a great way to get students communicating. But often when I student hears ‘tell a story’, they are at a loss for ideas or find it hard to remember all the key incidents. This lesson idea simplifies this process immensely. Stories can be told with just one line.

For example, here’s an example of a story of someone’s fitness levels. Draw it for the students and ask them what they think the person was doing at each point of the line. Here, they can use their critical thinking skills to figure out that perhaps the peaks were races the person had been training for while the troughs were periods when they were quite sedentary. In the early part of the graph, the person’s fitness yoyos while in the later part they have got a bit more routine about their fitness. Then, ask students to draw their own fitness over time. This could be over the past year or over their lifetime. Ask them to explain their graph to another student, then write about it.

Here’s another example of a story using just one line. In this example, students can discuss why this person’s drawing skills reduced after high school, and what made them increase their skills. They can then reflect on whether their story would be similar, and draw their own. Again, ask students to describe their ‘story in a line’ to another student, then write about it.

NB: This is my drawing journey over time. Dr Neil Cohn found that many people stop drawing after high school.

You can create stories using one line for all sorts of topics. For example:

  • My language learning journey.
  • My confidence with [speaking in English].
  • My interest in [cooking].
  • Time spent [shopping].
  • My [digital skills] over time.

You could, of course, use multiple lines and compare. For example, you could ask students to reflect on their progress so far with each skill in English, and have them represent each skill as a different colour. Give them a blank graph to get them started.

How would you use this idea in class? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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