Graph Annotations Made Simple

January 17, 2021 2 Comments

Google Slides is a great tool for digital graph annotations.  Provide students with a graphic display of data and help them apply this strategy to make sense of the material.

What are graph annotations?

Graph annotations are similar to any other type of annotation.  Graph annotations are marks that are added to a graph.  They include comments, symbols, questions, and other notes.  Interpret even the most difficult graphs with the help of graph annotations.

How do you annotate a graph?

Students 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 helps students to understand what is expected in a graph annotation.

Using Google Slides™ to make Digital 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.

Check out this video below to see how this works.  If you are planning on using a PDF, find out how to add it to your Google Presentation here.

Alternatives to Google Slides

Microsoft Powerpoint is a similar platform.  It would give students the ability to move items around on their page.  Also, Google Drawings provides additional features to help with graph annotations.  However, I find students have more difficulty annotating their graphs in Google Drawings.

Providing Scaffolding

Scaffold graphs annotations in one of the following ways.  First, provide students with a guiding question to help them with their annotations.  Or, provide them with arrows to specific data points and empty text boxes.  This shows students what they have to explain and what types of annotations are required.

Using Graph Annotations 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 are used as evidence.  They come up with reasoning to explain how the evidence supports the claim.

Students create two separate text boxes for an item.  In the first box, they write what they see.  In the second, they write what it means.

This practice helps students distinguish between evidence and reasoning when Engaging in an Argument.   “What they see” serves as evidence.  “What it means” represents the reasoning components of their argument.

Other Resources

Original posted on January 25, 2020.  Updated January 17, 2021

Erin Sadler

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  • Angela White January 27, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    This is gold!! Thank you.

    • Erin Sadler January 27, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      I am so glad it is helpful!

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