Infographics are “a visual presentation of information in the form of a chart, graph, or other image accompanied by minimal text, intended to give an easily understood overview, often of complex subject.” Dictionary.com

As an adult learner, I love infographics. As the definition mentions, they make complex subjects easier to understand, and they are a great way to get a lot of information in a short amount of time. I’ve always loved the infographics in TIME magazine, and I was so captivated by Megan Jaegerman’s collection of infographics for the New York Times. An infographic packs a heavy informative punch, and in a very visually appealing way that keeps the reader’s (or observer’s) interest.

 

But- the million dollar question- how to make infographics work for 8 year olds?

The thing about infographics is that they are a lot to visually unpack- because they have so much information, and in a way that is not like the books and articles we usually give elementary students to practice their reading strategies. Children are used to looking for a problem, solution and characters in fiction texts, and in non-fiction, thinking about the main idea of a chapter or chunk. In infographics, they need to process the visual pieces, as well as the textual pieces, and then think about the bigger picture: What is this infographic trying to teach me?

First I did some research about what infographics for elementary students look like:

And as I looked at the various infographics, I decided that there was an order to the steps we could teach kids to process through an infographic.

Let’s take this one for example:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 8.48.40 PM

Source: Turbo Tax via ASPCA 2012)

To process this infographic kids need to ask themselves a series of questions:

  • What does title tell me?
  • How is the information organized? (What are the different sections or parts?)
  • How am I supposed to look at this information? (Top to bottom, Left to right, center-outside)
  • What are the pictures showing?
  • What words match each part of the pictures?
  • What do the words tell me?
  • What is this infographic trying to teach me, overall? (What is the main idea?)

In my classroom, I think I could use this graphic to not only launch our persuasive writing unit, but also to teach some important digital literacy skills.

Our persuasive writing unit is our next one, and I think I could incorporate this in to show students that there are multiple ways to present information, and to convince people that something is true. I also think this could be a great way to reinforce the digital literacy skills we have just been beginning to learn about in the last few weeks. We could have partner and class discussions about the student answers to the questions above, and the different conclusions they reach based on those questions.

I’m excited! It also seems like, according to the internet gods, the next step in this chain is to have kids create their own infographics. I would be so interested to hear about if anyone has done that in a middle-upper elementary classroom? I would love to hear any tips and tricks, and what programs you use.

Jackie