Friday, February 26, 2016

Make it Visual with Infographics

Nonfiction writing is such an important skill for students to work on, but it might not always be their favorite writing style.  There are many ways to build up students for nonfiction writing, one being, Make it Visual. Infographics combines text, images, and data and clearly and concisely creating a visual story. Infographics can be a great support of nonfiction writing because it asks students to rethink the information and tap into not only informational literacies, but also visual and technology literacies, fostering a creative space for students.  I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with 6th grade teachers, Kearce Linder and Julie Breza, and the 6th grade students at Solon Middle School to create infographics.   

Students used an infographic tool called Piktochart.  Piktochart is great because it logs in with Google, it has a simple drag and drop interface, and gives students immediate access within the program to great clip art, fonts, and word and photo art simplifying the process for students.

The students were taking their student-chosen nonfiction writing assignment and translating it into an infographics.  Ms. Linder and Mrs. Breza invited me into their classrooms to help introduce their students to Piktochart.  I was able to give students an overview of the program and students were able to explore the potential of this tool.
As a wrap up from this project, Kearce Linder and I discussed her thoughts on incorporating infographics into nonfiction writing.

As the teacher, like about this project?
As a teacher, I found it very powerful that students were able to have creative control over how they wanted to represent their information. Some students are more comfortable with expressing their thoughts through text, some are better with visual or graphic representations. This project allowed students to take what they learned through their writing projects and present that information in a way that played to their strengths. It was fun to watch students explore a tool they hadn’t used before. They were excited, which had me excited!

What did your students gain from creating infographics?
The most important thing that I think students took away from working on their infographics was another tool to have in their toolbox. We teach them how to use programs like Powerpoint and Prezi, and now they have another tool to reach for when they are asked to present something.
The other thing that I think students were able to do was find a new purpose for summarizing information. Because they were drawing information from a five paragraph essay and condensing it into an infographic, they had to select what information was the most valuable and important to their topics. Asking them to visually represent this information gave it purpose and made the act of summarizing applicable to a real life situation.

What do you think is the greatest strength of using infographics in the classroom with students?
The greatest strength of using infographics in my classroom was finding a new, innovative project to get kids excited about writing for an informational purpose. Sometimes students have a hard time seeing the value in learning to do research - or as we like to call them “I wonder”- projects. By using infographics, which is an emerging digital industry, students are given a purpose for which they are researching and writing. Students like to create and like to experiment with graphics and like to read a text that is visually pleasing. An infographic incorporates all of these aspects to increase student motivation.

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Technology Consultant from Grant Wood AEA. Want to share what's going on in your classroom or collaborate me on an upcoming project? Feel free to email me.

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