Saturday, May 11, 2013

Info on Infographics

One of our history teachers recently asked me about the possibility of students creating infographics.  I love the idea as it's a fantastic way to combine research, reading, writing, and design skills.  Here are some simple steps to consider:

1.  Expose students to a few infographics that can serve as mentor texts.  Begin with something like  What is an Infographic? to guide students in thinking about the power of this tool, but then provide students with examples specific to your subject area.  I suggested The Age of Exploration and History of Pyramids to our history teacher.
2. Consider having students complete an Infographic Analysis Exercise.  An exercise such as this could be done as a whole class, in small groups, or individually, and it guides students in thinking about how an infographic is constructed before they ever start creating their own.
3.  Design backwards.  As you build your assignment, don't forget the standards.  I pulled a few of the Common Core Reading History standards for our history teacher to consider.  Any of these could serve as an excellent starting point for designing an infographic assignment.

History Common Core Reading Standards:
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3 Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

4. Guide students through a planning process.  Creating an infographic is an excellent opportunity for students to work through the process of brainstorming, planning, drafting, reviewing, revising, and publishing.  Try something like this Infographic Planning Outline.  Working through this process will guide students in thinking about the audience and purpose for their work, which are essential in determining the content, design, and organization.  I particularly love the idea that infographics can be organized using one of the LATCH methods (Location, Alphabetical, Timeline, Category, Hierarchy). This Five Hat Racks video is a great way to convey that idea to students.  Also, consider what students will research and how they will synthesize the information in a unique way.  The last thing we want is for it to become an exercise in copying and pasting.
5.  Be sure to choose the right tool.  There are several infographic tools out there, but many are cumbersome.  My current favorites are and

6. If you are part of Liberty Public Schools, check out these Common Core aligned rubrics that could work well with infographics.

You might also require students to turn in their annotated research with the infographic.  This is a great way to emphasize the process as well as the product. Online annotation tools like Diigo or Scrible are fantastic for this.
7.  Publish, publish, publish!  It's never been easier to actually publish student work to a wide audience.    Think Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, and more!