Information Literacy and Misleading Graphs

 In Elementary, Lessons and Ideas, media literacy, Resources, Secondary




This lesson was created as the culminating project in the The Association for Media Literacy’s Spring 2022 Additional Qualifications Course.

The AML is grateful to Jennifer Kerwood for her creativity and permission to share this lesson. Please credit Jennifer Kerwood when you share the lesson.

by Jennifer Kerwood OCT

Grade: 6
Time: 4-6 double period blocks
Cross- Curricular: Media Literacy, Math, Language (Reading, Oral Communication)


In this lesson students examine bias (producer and consumer) and various messages (values, social, and/or political) in media. They learn how these concepts are represented in various media forms and how to spot them. Students closely examine misleading graphs as forms of media. They then create a tweet that includes a misleading graph.

Curriculum Expectations

Media Literacy

Understanding Media Texts
1.2 Making Inferences/Interpreting Messages
1.3 Responding to and Evaluating Texts
1.5 Point of View

Understanding Media Forms, Conventions, and Techniques
2.2 Conventions and Techniques

Creating Media Texts
3.1 Purpose and Audience
3.4 Producing Media Texts

Reflecting on Media Literacy Skills and Strategies
4.1 Metacognition


Data Literacy
Data Visualization
D1.3 and D1.4

Data Analysis
D1.5 and D1.6


Oral Communication

Listening to Understand
1.2 Active Listening Strategies

Speaking to Communicate
2.2 Interactive Strategies
2.3 Clarity and Coherence


Reading for Meaning
1.5 Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
1.6 Extending Understanding
1.9 Point of View

Understanding Form and Style
2.3 Text Features

Media Literacy Concepts

Key Concepts
2. Media Construct Versions of Reality
3. Audiences Negotiate Meaning
5. Media Communicate Values Messages
6. Media Communicate Political and Social Messages
7. Form and Content are Closely Related in Each Medium

Triangled Questions

What might be this media experience’s (implicit and explicit) messages?
What values are being promoted?
Whose point of view do the values represent?

Who is the target audience for this text?
How might I change this text to make it more effective?
How might this text be changing society?

Who produced this text?
For what purpose(s) was it produced?
Who profits from the consumption of this text?

Fake News Triangle

Does it use verifiable facts and information; sources; contain links?
How might its form- blog, tweet, editorial- affect its credibility?
What values are promoted?

Might the fact that it is trending influence you to believe or to suspect the news?
Are there elements in this news that appeal to your biases? How?
How might this news story be changing society?

Search multiple sites for this news. Can you validate it?
On which platform(s) is the news posted? What might you infer about the news story’s purpose from knowing this?
Who might gain- and who might suffer- from the consumption of this news?


* Students will develop an understanding that media contain biases and will learn how to navigate various sources of media
* Students will consider how values messages are portrayed through media
* Students will identify some of the advertising techniques used in graphs and how they can be misleading
* Students will use what they have learned to create a misleading graph/tweet to portray a specific message


* Projector/Smart Board
* Laptop
* News Articles (same topic, different sources)
* Graphic Organizer (news articles)
* Chromebooks
* Graphic Organizer (examining graphs)
* Chart Paper (or equivalent)
* Art supplies (markers, paint, scissors, etc.)

Differentiated Instruction

* Audio, visual, hands on, and computer activities
* Opportunities for whole class, partner, individual work
* Checks for understanding done through oral communication and written responses
* Closed captions for all video-related tasks
* Graphic organizers for focus and organization


Assessment for Learning

* Small group and class discussions
* Observation notes
* Padlet

Assessment as Learning

* Jigsaw activity
* Group presentations and discussion
* Padlet
* Production task check-in

Assessment of Learning

* Production task
* Gallery walk

Lesson 1 (Set-up)

Minds On
Watch video: Google Nose

Class Discussion
* Did you believe it? Why or Why not?
* Why might someone fall for this advertisement?

* What aspects of this video make it feel believable?



How might we determine if the media we experience is “real” or not?

Class Discussion/Lesson

* Thinking critically about the media we experience

Fact check
Check other sources
Verify the source
Use The CRAAP Test

* How to examine media for bias and why it’s important


Small Groups Examine News Articles
* Each group will get a news article (same topic, but from different sources) to examine and complete a graphic organizer

Who produced this text and why?
Is this source credible? How do you know? Does it use verifiable facts and information?
How might its form affect its credibility?
What values are being promoted?/Whose point of view do the values represent?
Who is the target audience for this article? What are its implicit and explicit messages?
How might this article contribute to changing society?



* Students will return to their home groups to discuss their particular media source
* Similarities and differences will be examined

Early Finishers may watch videos from Misinformation Overload

Lesson 2

Minds On
Examine Graph

The UK’s progressive debate

View post on

* What do you notice about this graph? Look at the writing, the bars, and the numbers. Is there anything misleading about it?
* Who do you think published this graph?

  • Action
    Class Discussion/Lesson
    * Discuss four ways to manipulate graphs
    Y-axis (disproportionate scale making changes in data sem more or less significant)
    X-axis (inconsistent data points)
    Scale (improper scaling in pictograms)
    Cherry picking (only including certain data points on graph to reinforce certain narratives)

Watch video: How to Spot a Misleading Graph

Examine graphs- Small Groups

* Each group will get a graph to examine and complete a graphic organizer
How is this graph misrepresenting the data? How could you change this graph to make it more representative of the actual data?
What values are being promoted?/Whose point of view do the values represent?
Who is the target audience for this graph?
Who do you think produced this text and why?
How might this graph contribute to changing society?

* Group presentations
* Class discussion

Lesson 3 (Extension)

Minds On

Have you ever shared anything you weren’t sure was true?

How did you decide whether or not to share it?


Play- Break the Fake Quiz (whole class)


* In small groups students will create a tweet (see examples in activity above) that includes a misleading graph
* Each set of 2 groups will get an opposing scenario card with data and a goal. They must use parts or all of the data given to create a misleading graph that supports their goal and then embed it in a tweet
* Students will have 2 check-ins with teacher to discuss progress and expectations (assessment for learning)


Gallery Walk

* Students will guess at each station the values being promoted, the point of view being expressed, and how the graph is misleading

Class Discussion/Presentations

* Groups will present their tweets to the class
* Class discussion on how audience perception matched (or didn’t match) with producers’ intent for each group
* Review what we have learned and how to apply this to future interactions with news media, especially those with graphs



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