A huge part of the teenage experience in 2020 is living and learning through images. Students are bombarded by images through their social media. They absorb the majority of their information through images, so it is necessary that they begin to learn the skills that drive media. The skill of synthesizing information from facts to images is incredibly hard. It requires several steps of curating, prioritizing and transforming the medium of information to create engaging visuals that can still tell a complete story. Infographics are an amazing way to show information without boring blocks of text. It requires complete mastery of information to create and offers the audience an easy way to comprehend large amounts of information.
Infographics are perfect for media savvy 8th graders studying the driving ideals revolutions.
In our latest unit students have been exploring what led to the American Revolution , not just in actions and flashpoints, but through the ideals and writing of the founders. In the past students have created timelines throughout the classroom which gave a visual/spatial understanding of the events and how they lead to war and the creation of the United States government. This year students are in and out of the classroom oscillating between virtual and in person learning. The unit needed to be restructured.
This year while implementing the EduScrum framework students are given more authority in their learning. To maintain this I developed a project that would be teacher led from one end and student led from the other. I would teach the American Revolution by scaffolding learning experiences and faciliating class discussions. Students would take a formal assessment on the American Revolution at the end to ensure that they were reaching learning goals.
The student led part of the project would be an advanced research project. Students chose to research the French, Russian, Chinese or Cuban Revolutions. Middle school students have minimal exposure to any of these revolutions or cultures so there needs to be extensive scaffolding to lay a ground work of knowledge before real research can begin. In their assignment grid several links and resources were provided for each revolution to ensure that the base layer of information was reliable and verifiable. Students had to use several of the provided resources for their research cards and practice their Question Formulation Technique to generate questions to drive their research forward.
Students created online research cards to organize their research, but as we all know the research initially gathered is usually not enough to fully solve the puzzle we’re tackling. Student then had to organize their newly found information into a graphic organizer that would begin to help them tackle the infographic that would be their end product. The graphic organizer was created as a checkpoint in the project to make sure students were not just learning about the revolutions, but the targeted areas that were most important for our learning goals.
Finally, students were ready to create. There was several guides to help them structure their infographics. Outlines, Instructions, rubrics and examples were given out, reviewed and recorded to be watched over and over.
Students were to create infographics that would visually show the aspects of both the American and their revolution. All parts of the graphic organizer had to be present visually and this was the real challenge.
How without blocks of text could students show the battles of the American Revolution? How could you SHOW Mao’s Cultural Revolution?
This was the hardest and slowest part of the projects. Students really struggled with how to take the mountains of information they had uncovered and turn them into understandable visuals. Again, they sorted information, prioritized what they felt was most important to show their audience and create an engaging visual.
The struggle was real. They sweated it out. Asked questions and brainstormed. I met with each group daily to help them sort through their ideas.
The results are incredible. Never did I imagine the levels that 8th graders could climb to.
All of the infographics were created in Canva and all are 100% by 8th grade students.