Introducing Students to Infographics [ACTIVITY]
As a visually oriented guy, I've ALWAYS dug infographics as a tool
for quickly communicating information to an audience. There's something
engaging -- and easy to consume -- about infographics that make them a
really neat tool for capturing the attention of readers.
as a guy who believes that students CAN be powerful and CAN have a
voice in today's world, I've always wanted to find ways to introduce my
students to infographics.
I figure that if they are going to be heard, they've got to start creating content that audiences will actually enjoy.
of that thinking boiled to a head when two of my favorite middle school
language arts teachers asked me if I could help them to dream up a
lesson that would engage our students in the process of creating
The first decision that I made was to abandon computers completely in the lesson that I was creating.
was a practical decision in a lot of ways: First, there simply aren't
enough computers in our building to get all of our 130 students on
machines at the same time. Best case scenario: We sign up for the
computer lab and get access to 30 desktops for a class period or two.
if we HAD regular access to computers, though, our sixth grade students
just don't have the technical skill necessary to efficiently manipulate
the kinds of programs that graphic artists use to create infographics.
While I may have been able to teach those skills to my students,
the lesson would have taken weeks instead of days -- and with a MASSIVE
curricula to churn our way through, we didn't have weeks for this
So I decided to create a kit of paper materials that my kids could draw from while assembling an infographic.
Much like the digital kits that I recommend to teachers interested in digital movie-making (see here and here),
the paper kit for our infographic project includes a bunch of
pre-assembled content (statistics, facts, hashtags, titles, sources,
dividers, arrows) connected to the topic of our study: The California
Condor -- an endangered bird that we've chosen to adopt.
You can check out the kits -- one includes vertical content and the other includes horizontal content -- here:
I used PowerPoint to create the slides that you see in these collections -- and found a TON of helpful and engaging images on The Noun Project website.
The two separate kits work together as one whole collection. They're
separated simply because infographics need both vertical and horizontal
content to be visually appealing.
Our plan is to
give groups of students paper copies of the entire collection and then
to turn them loose in the hallway to create jumbo-tastic-infographics by
arranging content and then gluing it down to butcher paper.
they've completed their infographic, they'll be asked (1). to defend
the choices that they make while assembling their infographics and (2).
to evaluate the content, layout and visual appeal of the infographics
created by other groups.
Here's the direction sheet for the assembly and evaluation process:
creating the kits for my students, I tried to include enough content
for the kids to assemble a pretty detailed infographic on the plight of
the California Condor.
But I also tried to include
distractors in the collection as well. There are slides that are
interesting, but wouldn't neatly fit on an infographic that's designed
to raise awareness about the reasons that the Condor is endangered -- or
worthy of our protection.
That's where the higher-order thinking comes in, right?
my students don't have to do much of the grunt-work associated with
this project -- in an attempt to save time, I've already tracked down
the content that will appear in their infographics -- they DO have to
make careful choices about what to include in their final products.
students also have to think about layout and design. They've got to
find ways to organize the content that I've assembled for them. They've
got to make sure that their infographic isn't cluttered and that they
use text features to create clear visual divisions in their final
So whaddya' think?
Does this sound like a worthwhile lesson?
More importantly, do you think it will work?!
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