Data Charts

Literacy Strategy #11

What is a data chart?

Data charts are a tool for students to use when they need to organize information about a topic.
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When to use a data chart:

Data charts are useful...

  • During a thematic unit to record information about a big idea (such as the solar system or stories written by a single author)
  • During a thematic unit as a way to begin the unit. Students can record information as they read.
  • As a pre-writing activity (so students can collect and record information for an essay or report)


Step 1: Design the data chart
  • The teacher or students choose a topic and decide how to set it up.
Step 2: Draw the chart
  • The teacher or students create a skeleton chart that fits the topic on a piece of butcher paper, construction paper, lined paper, or it can be word processed. Characteristics of the topic are written across the top of the page, and examples are listed in the left column.
Step 3: Complete the chart
  • Students complete the chart by adding words, pictures, sentences, or paragraphs in each cell. Sometimes you may have to redesign a chart to accommodate information that students have found that they want to include or find relevant.


Data charts can be used in all elementary grades. When used in lower grades, you can have students write key words or short sentences. You can also use a smaller chart. With upper grades, you can have students write 2-3 complete sentences or a paragraph, and you can have a larger data chart.

CCSS Standards

Data charts supports CCSS for Reading: Informational Text and Writing

  • Students conduct research projects
  • Students draw information from multiple print and digital sources
  • Students use the writing process to plan, revise, and edit their compositions