Life Graph


In the Life Graph activity students will create a graph that shows the main events of a character’s life and assign a value to the importance of each event. The purpose of this activity is to synthesize and evaluate the importance of events in a character’s life.

Learning Strategies 

  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing
Interacting with the Text, Sequencing

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Staircase of Complexity
  • Text-Based Answers


  • Read a text (fiction or non-fiction). This activity works best with novels that span a lifetime, or an autobiography .
  • Create a sample life graph to use when you model for students.
  • Decide whether student will complete a paper-based graph or a computer- based graph.
Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce life graph.

    Explain to students that the purpose of the life graph is to look at both specific events and the life of the character as a whole.

  2. Teacher models a life graph.

    This model can be based on a character or be a personal life graph. The purpose of the model is to provide a sample that shows the setup of the graph, with events on the x-axis and the value of importance on the y-axis. The values should be on a five-point scale from least important to most important.

  3. Create a personal life graph.

    Ask students to create a life graph based on their own life as a tool for practice.

  4. Brainstorm events from the character’s life.

    Individually or in small groups, students will brainstorm events from the character’s life.

  5. Rate each event.

    Students will assign each event a value from 1 to 5 (least important to most important). For each value assigned, students must provide supporting evidence for their value; for example, “I gave (the event) a score of 4 because…”

  6. Create the character life graph.

    Students will create the actual graph. This can be done on paper or using a computer program.

  7. Synthesize the life graph.

    Students will write a one- to two-paragraph synthesis of the life graph that includes a summary of the most important events and an analysis or reflection on the life of the character.

  8. Conduct share-out and discussion

    Students will share their graphs in discussion groups of four to five students. The discussions should revolve around the events selected, ratings given, and the analysis and reflection of the life of the character. What similarities and differences arose between the students?

  9. Reflect on process.

    Students will reflect on the process of creating the life graph: · How did creating the life graph help you better understand the character? · How did this help you understand the plot or the text?

Downloadable Resources 
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