Friday, June 14, 2013

Infographics Create Better Writers

Dailyinfographic can be a high school social studies teacher's best friend, but beware.  A new infographic is published every day, so there is always something new to use in the classroom, but it's not really meant for teachers as there are all sorts of infographics covering all sorts of topics.  For instance as of this writing, the last couple of infographics are about beer, which I love, but I don't spend much time talking about in my classes for obvious reasons.  However in my psychology class, I have used infographics on the effects of alcohol and marijuana, which were extremely helpful in understanding states of consciousness.
How to Twitter is one of my favorites for all sorts of reasons as it covers Twitter from start to finish for beginners and experts and is chock full of useful information.
Increasingly infographics can be found all over the internet, but also beware as they come from all sorts of different sources with some being very reputable and others not so reputable.  (Can you see a possible lesson on evaluating sources  and information literacy here???)
From the above examples, you can see some of the range of infographics, but how do they help create better writers?
I believe that students should write everyday as they need to keep working on organizing and expressing their ideas, however, many students on the internet can find something close to an answer in text and then paraphrase or worse, copy and paste their answers.  With infographics very rarely presenting information in a sentence, the students have to create their answers in sentences from the information in the visual or bullet points.  As I started using more infographics, the students' writing got exponentially richer and many students reported that they liked looking at the visuals more than a block of text.  We were killing two birds with the same stone.  While the students were forced to write better and for themselves, many also WANTED to write about the content.  
The two main tools I use with infographics are focused "how" and "why" questions and clear and constantly referenced rubrics.  With those we can use infographics to help create better writers.
What do you think?

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