You know what the Common Core State Standards ask your students to do. They need to cite textual evidence to analyze a text. Or determine a theme and analyze it’s development. Or determine the central idea of a text. You have taught lesson after lesson on these skills.
Your students have written essay after essay to show you what they know. Some are getting better at essay writing. Others have taken to muttering rebelliously and are never able to locate a writing tool or a piece of paper.
It’s the perfect time to teach your students a new way to show what they know – by having them create an infographic.
Google can provide a variety of definitions and some great infographics about infographics, but basically, an infographic is a visual way of presenting data. There are plenty of programs and apps that your students could use to create an infographic, but you don’t need to spend any money for extras – a PowerPoint or Keynote slide is the perfect infographic template.
Start with something basic. Ask your students to determine the theme of their book club book and find three textual examples to support the theme. Have them create an infographic of that information, including symbols to support each of the three examples.
You don’t need to know much beyond the basics. Whether you are using Keynote on your iPads or PowerPoint on desktops, as long as you teach your students how to add text, images, and shapes, they will teach each other the rest. My inability to create much in the way of animations and transitions has never prevented any class from mastering them, often to excess.
For quality control, create a quick rubric. Assess the content and the graphic design. Remind students that the purpose of every element of the graphic design is to support and reinforce the message of the content. The first time, make a sample infographic that will meet standard and ask students to suggest how you could improve it so that it would exceed standard. Include examples that don’t meet standard, like a slide my 6th graders created about Spartan culture that lost points because of the fragile, cursive font and pastel color scheme. Remind students that they may not use transitions involving flames unless their theme actually involves things that burn.
Then turn your students loose. They’ll likely be like a recent eighth grade class, nearly silent, heads bent over iPads, fingers poking screens. Every student was engaged and working hard. Every student was able to complete the assignment.
Once the work is done, have a gallery walk. Pull up the infographics in the computer lab or on an iPad set out on each desk. As students read each infographic, have them write their compliments and questions on a comment sheet set out for each infographic, signing their name to each comment. Put a class list on your clipboard and evaluate the comments your students write for helpfulness and specificity in their critique of the theme work and the graphic design. Have the students submit their infographic to your dropbox account.
Don’t worry – they’ll still remember how to write an essay.
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