In our last segment on Infographics for STEM, we looked at:
- what infographics are,
- why they are so popular now,
- and what they look like in a classroom.
In this segment, we will look at:
- more examples of infographics in STEM lessons, including interactive infographics
- how to use infographics in your classroom
- professional development opportunities
What does an infographic look like in a classroom?
(If you are viewing this on a mobile device, you may need to click on the images to enlarge them)
In this screenshot, you can see that we are in the infographic lesson for the Solar Energy Unit of our Energy Resources STEM project. Just as good readers make predictions before they read novels, good readers of infographics scan the text and make predictions. Since we want to make students aware of their metacognition, we ask them questions about what clues they used.
Look at the Math concept displayed and think of a question that would fit your grade level. For instance, in this example, I know that this grade level works to the 10,000s place. I selected the two numbers on the page that stay within that range.
Double dip. How many Math concepts can you cover with one image? Common Core, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced all work with progressive questions that build on each other. Don’t be afraid to put multiple questions on one page.
What is an interactive infographic?
In interactive infographic is an infographic that can be manipulated in some way. Sometimes, just hovering over a section of the image creates a pop-up. Sometimes, it is hyperlinked to more data. Let’s take a look at an interactive infographic here. Click on the picture below and explore for a few minutes.
- Take a moment to look around the infographic. It helps if you look in a clockwise motion, starting with the top left corner. What information will this infographic give you?
- Scan your eyes to the top right corner. What is pictured there?
- Continue to the bottom right corner. What picture is there? What information will be there?
- Follow this pattern to the bottom left corner. What can you expect to see there?
- Finally, direct your eyes to the middle of the infographic. What does it say to do next?
- What happened when you clicked one of the circles?
Spend some time with the infographic before you use it with students. What information do you want them to learn? Don’t be afraid to bring English Language Arts into the conversation too. In the example above, I used the infographic to reinforce the ELA concept of Greek roots and affixes.
You can still incorporate Math concepts in an interactive infographic. You may need to take a screenshot of the infographic to really highlight that section. In this example, I used the same screenshot for three math questions.
How do I teach my students to “read” infographics?
It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Even if you are not labeled a “visual learner”, you have been using your eyes to make sense of the world since infancy. Fortunately, there are strategies to harness that instinct. Just as young readers are taught directly how to read a book, 21st century students need to be taught directly how to “read” visual text.
Students don’t have to “read” infographics on a computer. You can print them. In fact, by printing them and placing them in a page protector, your students can interact with the infographic even more. I LOVE the ideas presented in this article on IdeasForEducators.com.
As students become more adept at reading infographics, you can prompt to respond to 6 common questions in a journal or online text:
Finally, students should reach a deep level of analysis.
Ask students to find and analyze an infographic. They should be able to answer the critical thinking questions:
· Does the infographic cite their sources? and, Are the sources reputable?
· Is the data relevant?
· How old is the data?
· Is there an angle or bias coming through?
· What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is it to educate, entertain, or sell something?
· Are you being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics?
· Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data?
Where can I learn more about this?
Since visual text is becoming more and more prevalent, professional development opportunities
exist to help teachers.
Visual Thinking Strategies offers professional development on how to analyze works of art and other visual text. With the rise of infographics, there has been an insurgence of webinars on the topic. You can search directly for infographic webinars. If you are ready to create your own infographic, you can search YouTube for infographic tutorials.