Scatter Plots for ELT

... and 10 + 1 activities
for the communicative classroom

A scatter plot is a graphical technique showing the relationship between two or more variables.

Combine this with the human brain’s ability to process images and patterns rapidly and more efficiently than plain text.

What do you get?

A powerful way to boost students’ enthusiasm about communicating their ideas, no matter the linguistic level.

The activity I propose is low-prep but generates lots of language practice and production. Use my Google Jamboard Template or just draw it on the board. And out with the “So, how was your week?”, in with the “Mark and tell!”.

Instructions for the Google Jamboard Template

Here’s a video to show you how you can use the clean template (the last frame) in my Google Jamboard to create your own variation. (Don’t worry – the brand watermark you see is only for the video.)

10 + 1 variations of Scatter Plots for ELT

  • Pairwork

    Students in pairs ask each other questions to find out more about the events and their relevant positions on the diagram.

  • Guessing game

    The horizontal axis represents years. The teacher marks 5 important dates and their relevant emotional position. Students ask the teacher yes/no questions to try to guess the events.

  • Business English

    The learners think about a project they had in their department/company. They mark important milestones on the horizontal axis. Individually at first, they mark the degree of achievement each milestone represents. Then in groups they discuss and re-negotiate the positions on the diagram. The diagram could also work for customer satisfaction, a product's life cycle, career paths, and so much more.

  • Storyline

    Students choose their favorite fictional (from a book/movie) or not character. They mark the character's main events and emotions on the diagram. They use the diagram to reconstruct the storyline and interpret the character's emotions.

  • Predict the Future

    The students imagine a day, week or year in their life in the future, say 20 years from now. They place sticky notes and elaborate on their predictions.

  • Peer Feedback

    Particularly after student presentations/ project work. Write the students' / groups' names on the horizontal axis. Students place their feedback accordingly.

  • Lesson reflection

    Students think back on the day's lesson. They mark the activities on the horizontal axis and mark their positions according to how useful/enjoyable they found these activities.

  • Course evaluation

    Learners evaluate the course and the degree of satisfaction for each unit/module (marked on the horizontal axis) and elaborate on their choices.

  • Classroom management

    Students express what they consider proper -or not- behaviour in the classroom by placing sticky notes on the diagram, which show their emotions in reaction to specific examples (marked on the horizontal axis), e.g. chatting, interrupting, shouting, etc.

  • Self-assessment

    At the beginning or at any time during a course, students assess their level of understanding/mastery for each skill. It could be as general as 'speaking/listening/writing/reading' or as specific as 'meetings/negotiations/emails', etc.

  • Bonus: Retrieval Practice

    This is such a powerful learning strategy that I recommend using it as a staple warmer activity, instead of just asking 'Who can tell me what we studied in the last lesson' or 'What do you remember about ... (fill in with structure/ function) that we studied last week/month/etc.' You can either mark the structures on the horizontal axis, or let students mark those themselves freely. Not only will recalling enhance their learning but also you will know instantly which points to revisit/expand on.

This is a truly versatile and easy-to-use activity. I’m sure you’ll come up with many more variations. And please do share them with me when you do! I’ll update the post with your recommendations (and give you credit, of course!).

Inspired by the amazing educator and every teacher’s best friend Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook and his Digital Summit.

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Let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “Scatter Plots for ELT”

  1. Hi Vicky! Thanks a lot for this one! It’s amazing how versatile scatter plots are. I’ll actually try to use the predict my future. I believe it will work very well as a pre-speaking activity! Many thanks


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