Google Slides is a great tool for digital graph annotations. Students can use their own graphs that they create using Google Sheets. Or, you can provide students with a graph, or other form of data, for them to annotate.
What are graph annotations?
Graph annotations are similar to any other type of annotation. Graph annotations are marks that are added to a graph in order to make them easier to interpret.
Students can add a wide-range of marks to their graphs to make them easier to read. These marks include(but aren’t limited to):
- Arrows to point out specific data points
- Boxes to point out specific sections of the graph
- Text boxes to explain what that data means
It works best to come up with a set of shared symbols and marks that students should be using in your class. This will help students to understand what is expected in a graph annotation.
Why should Google Slides be used for graph annotations?
Presentation software (including online platforms like Google Slides) allows students to freely move items around their page. In contrast, word processing software requires that items be added using an in-line format. This significantly limits the types of annotations that can be created.
Google Slides also allows students to create custom slide sizes. In the file menu, there is a “page setup” option that allows you to create a custom slide size. You can make a slide 8.5 x 11 in order to print on a regular-sized piece of paper.
Alternatives to Google Slides
Microsoft Powerpoint is a similar platform. It would give students the ability to move items around on their page. Students call also use Google Drawings for additional features, though I find students have a little more difficulty annotating their graphs in Google Drawings.
How can graph annotations be scaffolded?
Graph annotations can be scaffolded in many ways. For instance, you can provide students with a guiding question to help them with their annotations. You can also provide them with arrows to specific data points and empty text boxes. This will show students what they have to explain and what types of annotations are required.
How can graph annotations be used to support an argument?
When I have students create graph annotations they must identify parts of the graph and explain what they see AND what it means. The items that they see on the graph can be used as evidence. The explanation can be used as the reasoning component.
I have students create two separate text boxes for an item to show what they see and what it means. This practice helps students distinguish between evidence and reasoning when Engaging in an Argument.
Want to see how this works?
Check out this video below to see how graph annotations work.
- Making a Graph using Google Sheets
- Graphing in middle school and beyond
- My ultimate graphing resource bundle
- “What I See, What it Means” Free Graph Annotation Activity from iExplore Science