|An infographic that hangs in my doctor's office.|
Infographics are everywhere: on social media, in magazines and newspapers, even at the doctor’s office. Web applications are making it easier and easier for anyone to create an infographic that looks professional. However, a well designed infographic has to do more than just look good. Ms. Farrar’s 9th grade students at Green Mountain Middle High School found that it takes intentional and thoughtful work to create a strong infographic.
It all began when Ms. Farrar decided to extend her students research projects beyond the explanatory essay. Infographics are well aligned with the elements of strong argumentative writing and she thought they would be an ideal venue for students to explore how authors create effective arguments, in this case using text, images and statistics. Ms. Farrar’s students had researched world hunger, focusing on different continents and causes. Working collaboratively to create an infographic for each continent would allow them to make meaning together, digging deeper into the root causes.
"These are more complicated than they look!" - 9th grade student
Students analysed strong examples of infographics, annotating the elements that made them effective: text, images, statistics, design. We were able to print infographics on a large scale printer, leaving space in the margins for annotations, but the same idea could work using a projector and a whiteboard. What did the students find?
|Student created infographic|
Here are the qualities of a strong infographic they identified:
- A hook that captures the reader’s interest
- A thesis statement that outlines the author’s intent
- Claims that are supported by evidence
- Visual elements that lead the reader through the content
- Color, images, icons and background images that support the message
- Credible sources identified
Students used these same criteria to guide their work when asked to create compelling infographics about their research findings. Ms. Farrar says that this forced them to work harder at synthesizing because they had to represent their thinking verbally and nonverbally. “A lot more inferencing has to happen when you create an infographic,” explained Farrar. Students agreed that this structure forced them to be more intentional about their work. Instead of cherry picking facts and content, students worked on creating a coherent argument and using the visual structure to communicate key information.
Students returned to the criteria when they were asked to self-assess and give each other feedback on their work: identifying areas of strength and areas needing improvement:
- Is there a hook that draws the reader in?
- Is the thesis statement easy to locate and understand?
- Are the claims clearly supported by evidence?
- Does it flow visually?
- Are the visual elements congruent with the message?
- Are the sources clearly identified?
Receiving feedback can be challenging, but students used it to revise and create impactful infographics that effectively communicate their arguments. The pride they took in their work was evident, as one student said, "I've never made something that looked so good while saying so much!"
Here are three infographic creators GM students love: