Glenda Funk HIGHLAND HIGH SCHOOL, POCATELLO, ID
12th Grade ELA : Unit #5 - The Readiness Is All: Engaging Your Students in Persuasive Writing : Lesson #3

Creating a Banned Book Infographic

Objective: SWBAT create an infographic about their free-choice (banned) book that utilizes texts and images to reinforce a theme.
Standards: RL.11-12.7 W.11-12.2a W.11-12.2b W.11-12.6
Subject(s): English / Language Arts Differentiation
60 minutes
1 Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Overview and Context - 0 minutes

Ready. Set. Write. These three words set the tone for my pedagogic philosophy about writing: For students to improve their writing, they must write often (preferably daily) and they must write in quantity.

I expect students to be ready to write daily. Additionally, rather than announcing an essay assignment at the end of a literature unit, I focus students attention on preparing for major writing assignments throughout our study of literature and weave focused writing instruction into the literature units. 

As a teacher, it's my job to help students find their writing voices and to show them they have important things to say.

This lesson is part of the Persuasive Essay Writing Unit. It's a lesson I created as a prewriting exercise to help prepare students for their banned book essays. 

2 Introducing Infographics - 15 minutes

Pedagogical Rational: 

I have some artists in my classes, and thinking about tapping into their artistic gifts is something I think about often, especially since I think about teaching English as an artistic profession. For example, I love the ekphrasis (representations of art in literature) in classical Greek poetry. Really, using art in language arts classes harkens back to the origins of literature. I think the same can be said for math, and in writing this, I'm thinking specifically about Archimedes and Leonardo Di Vinci. 

Giving students the opportunity to create infographis is a way to guide their research and writing. An infographic requires students to think both critically and creatively. Really, we use infographics whenever we represent information in a visual format. Of course, I'm applying the term to a broad definition. 

For the sake of the lesson, I define infographic thusly:

An infographic presents information in both text and image format. It is a juxtaposition of images and words designed to present complex ideas in a concise and easily understandable form

Wikipedia offers a nice history of infographics with some good images to show their evolution. 

To help students visualize infographics and to hook them into the assignment, I show them an infographic. The web has a plethora of options, but Visual.ly is a great website for viewing the best inographics available. 

The infographic below shows the difference between traditional and 21st Century ways of presenting information. I show students this infographic for two reasons: First, I want to introduce them to infographics so they can see what they are, and second, I want students to have inspiration for their infographics.

Infographics Explained in Infographic Form

This blog post is the source for the infographic above, and it offers some suggestions for using infographics.

Student Information:

I typically choose to show an infographic relevant to the assignment, which in this case is based on banned books. That's why I chose to show the following infographic to students, and point out the various parts of the infographic by asking them, "What do you notice about the inogrphic?" and "What did you learn about banned books from the infographic?" This gives students a sense of the assignment as it relates to their banned books.

Banned Books

Teaching a New Form of Technology
Lesson Planning

I learned an important lesson from my friend Michael LoMonico, senior education consultant at the Folger Shakespeare Library: Showing kids tech tools, even when we teachers haven't completely mastered them, is a good idea. Kids have skills I don't possess. I learn from them. If it weren't for my students, I wouldn't know how to use Google, how to embed videos, etc. The list of what i have learned from teenagers is long and varied, so I don't worry about what I don't know. I just worry about offering students opportunities for creative expression. I worry about them feeling stifled by formulaic teaching and the one-size-fits-all mode of education.

3 Infographic Assignment - 25 minutes

Since I'm more interested in student research and critical thinking, I pay less attention to the format they use for their infographics. Also, I have not yet mastered how to create the infographics like those on Visual.ly, where I have attempted to create one but have had my submissions deleted because they don't meet the site's standards! I tell students this because I want them to see me as a learner, someone struggling with new modes of expression, someone who realizes learning new things takes time and effort and experimentation. 

First, I ask students to research banned books. I give them a handout with information about how to research the day before we go to the media center. I want them to have time to think about and process the assignment.

I explain to students that their research will inform two assignments:

1. The infographic, an student example of which is here: Screen Shot of a Student Infographic

2. The persuasive essay

Next, I give students a handout: Banned Books Project. With students, I read the handout and explain its points as we progress through it. It's important to allow students time to ask questions along the way. 

I also promise students that we'll have some lab time and that I'll be showing them some examples of infographics. 

What My Students Say
Complex Tasks

The infographic assignment was exceptionally difficult for my students. I had hoped they would create infographics similar to the two I showed at the beginning of the lesson, but they did not. Instead, they used familiar formats and those I introduced. I now know that I will need to create the kind of infographic in the examples before I can expect students to do make these. Simply, I need to model the task. 

Still, kids had some good ideas, but they need to do more with the assignment in most cases. One student's Prezi  Another student's Hunger Games ppt, which has superb information in an old format.

4 Infographic Examples - 15 minutes

Since I define infographics loosely, I give students many options for creating theirs. That said, I want them to create a plan for their infographics so provide them instructions for doing this: Inforgraphic Plan. Among the options, I suggest the following:

  • Animoto: Teachers can request an educators account so students can create videos longer than 30 seconds.
  • Prezi: Students have already seen me present several Prezis in class.
  • Golgster: This is a great poster site that allows embedding videos and music, but it is blocked in my school, which limits students' ability to work in the lab. There is an educator account option. Some of the glogs have inappropriate images and language, so that can present a problem
  • Pecha Kucha: A Power Point option that uses  20 slides set on a timer so each slide lasts 20 seconds. 
  • iMovie and Windows Movie Maker Live: We have Movie Maker in our labs, but I use a MacBook Pro, so I encourage students to check out the resources they have on their various devices. 
  • infographic: Well, the assignment is to create an infographic, and, arguably, I'm talking about a presentation. I want kids to move into the infographic world, so I invite them to experiment and ask other teachers for advice since my knowledge is quite limited. 

One student asked if she could create a poster. I said, "Yes. We can then snap a picture of your poster and project it when you give your presentation." 

I take students to Prezi.com and show them how to create an account and invite them to watch the video tutorial. I give students brief information about Pecha Kucha:

  • 20 slides
  • 20 seconds each
  • Each slide on a timer
  • At most 3-5 words per slide
  • Pecha Kucha is a 6:40 presentation

I tell students I'll help them individually and suggest they read about Pecha Kucha on their own. I promise to show them an example later.

I show students an Animoto I created for a presentation on Life of Pi I gave to a local club around the time the movie was released. 

Link