Instructional Strategy: Headlines-Legends

Headlines-Legends data stories provide students with a graph that ‘tells’ one or more possible stories. Students interpret the graph, and summarize a key finding or main idea by writing either a caption for the graph, or a headline. 

Goal: Students step back from details and think about an overall important idea or inference that can be taken from the graph. What is the important take-home story, or what is a key feature of the graph in a real-world context?


Example: Tuva Data Story Coming to a Boiling Point

The graph shows the temperature at which water boiled at different altitudes above sea level.




  • What trend do you see in this graph?
  • Write a headline for the graph that captures how relationships shown in the graph could matter in a real-world situation.

Implementation ideas
: Encourage students to develop headlines and legends that relate the graph to a real situation, phenomenon, or event. Ask students to reflect on whether or not the graph is the best way to communicate the story.

Related resources

Ritchart, R.; Church, M.; Morrison, K., 2011. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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