Tag Archives: Learning standards

Line plot and dot plot: What’s the difference?

They are the same thing!

Line plots and dot plots show how data values are distributed along a number line:

For some reason, the Common Core Math Standards call them line plots in the standards for grades 2 through 5, and dot plots in grade 6 onward. Don’t confuse line plot with a line graph, which has two numeric values on X and Y axes, with the points connected by lines.

Visualizing data in line plots and dot plots is the backbone of learning to describe and compare groups of things and reason statistically about real phenomena that are naturally variable. It makes sense to introduce line/dot plots to very young learners and to use them frequently throughout the grade bands. They have only one axis, are simple to make by hand, are easy to read, and they tell much about the nature of a group. They are wonderful for a first look at data to get a sense of what’s there.

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