What is an infographic? Well, to put it simply, they are visualizations of information. They are easier to understand when you see one–You know it when you see it!
What is the infographic lesson?
This infographic lesson prioritizes a day-long independent work time, for students to complete the infographic portion of their companion book project. In this unit-based project, students create a companion book for a novel they love. The companion book includes multiple chapters of essays, research, fan-fiction, and infographics.
With the infographic portion, students develop and explore complex topics related to their novels from a perspective of their choice. For example, in the past, one student selected The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld and researched plastic surgery in the United States for her infographic. Another student read All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds and produced an infographic about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was amazed by my seventh-graders’ interest in complicated and complex topics relevant in our current society.
What is my rationale?
Students have written two essays about their personal choice book for this unit, and now they will practice research skills to communicate information about a topic related to their novel. For example, if a student is reading Monster by Walter Dean Meyers, they may choose to research the topic of juvenile incarceration.
Here, students explore a topic of their choice outside of the confines their novel and entering the realm of the real-world. This connects back to my research regarding complex thinking skills as well as a common thread throughout Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question–When we push ourselves to learn about things that interest us personally, we are not only more invested in our learning, but it naturally makes our learning become more authentic (2016).
Examples of infographics completed in my seventh grade English classroom:
I also posted about this on my classroom blog, if you would like to read that update for more information/context!
Further, the research infographic well aligns with the TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge) framework, which I explored in an earlier post, by allowing students to use technology within our classroom to construct and communicate their understanding of a complex topic. I intentionally made their research chapter of their companion book something different than the first two chapters, which had been essays. By allowing students to become literate in a more nuanced, visual form of information communication, the infographic, they were able to create products they were proud of. Not only does it increase they potential for turning their learning into a visual representation, but it also improves their information literacy.
Why should you try something new?
I guess to close, I urge you to try and address the CCSS in fun, exciting, and innovative ways, but never do something just because. I had to think about altering this, from originally being a research paper to an infographic, long and hard before presenting this idea to my colleagues. I think that it is important to have a clear rationale when switching things up!
Technology can be very alluring sometimes, and I think that is because it offers so many avenues for us to explore. As educators, I think it is vital for us to consider the benefits and setbacks of which technological resources we want to use, and when we want to use them if we desire to deliver the best education as possible to our students.
Berger, W. (2016). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.
All images belong to Guadalupe Bryan unless otherwise stated.