My 8th grade students have actually been waiting and looking forward to their Social Studies Final this year. They knew it was coming. I did a "practice round" of infographics earlier in the year. (Read about that here.)
Infographics are a visual image such as a chart of diagram used to represent data. Infographics can help you simplify a complicated subject or turn an otherwise boring subject into a captivating experience.
After our practice round I felt confident that the students would be able to use Piktochart and improve from their first attempt. I specifically showed the kids a few "tricks" that I learned from some of those "overachievers" the first time. I showed both good and bad examples of things I wanted and didn't want.
Every single student improved.
I was so impressed to see how they took a couple of suggestions on fonts, text boxes, backgrounds, and pictures and ran with it. Their topics were taken from the 4th Grade Kansas Social Studies Standards. Not only did they have to do research on each topic, but they also had to remember that their audience. 4th Graders. Everything on the page had to be written at a level they could understand.
Enough with the words. Let's see some of the final products. **I asked permission from the students to use their infographic and list their names as the creators.** This is just a sample of many, many great results!
|Created by Will|
|Created by Hunter|
|Created by Johnny|
|Created by Morgan|
|Created by Ben|
|Created by Emory|
|Created by Natalie|
|Created by Jaiden|
|Created by Taryn|
What I learned from this project...
- The kids love this! By far this was the most well-received project I have done all year. The kids KNEW they had to do a good job. They KNEW the final product would be used.
- I love Piktochart. They have the "self-guided" tour to allow the students independence in learning the program. I didn't have to guide them every step of the way. It truly was independent.
- With a good, solid rubric, this was easy to grade.
- The peer evaluations were super effective for everyone involved. I warned them that as they are critiquing their peers it is NOT their job to guard the feelings of their partner. It is their job to point out what does and doesn't work on the poster.
- The pairing of the peer evaluations were differentiated. Those who struggled with design last time were evaluated by those who have a knack for design. Those who excel at content were to evaluate someone who struggled with gathering information.
- Compliments from me were genuine. Faced beamed with confidence. I even overheard "Hey, did you see my infographic? I'll show it to you it's awesome."
I first got the general idea for making infographics at a conference I go to four times a year. We are part of an original group who came together because of a grant from Teaching American History. I wrote about this group here.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for teachers to attend and participate in professional development workshops. As we dive into another round of school budget cuts, I am fearful that many teachers will lose the opportunity to attend workshops because it can be seen as an "easy" cut. However, research has shown time and time again that the most important factor in a students' successful education is the teacher in the classroom. I hope that districts across the country will continue to support the continuing improvement of all their teachers.