Friday, June 21, 2013

Infographics and Research



CCS W.8.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

I have been thinking about infographics – a visual representation of data. A topic that many are discussing on the CLMOOC- http://blog.nwp.org/clmooc/  One area that I fail to give enough attention too is research. The CCS states that students should participate in short research projects, and all I have managed to fit in is one major research project and a resulting research paper. SO the idea of infographics caught my attention.

With the possibility of Infographics, students can think of questions they want to answer and they can create an infographic to not only display the resulting information, but they can share this information thus utilizing the speaking and listening skills as well. 

Some questions I thought of include:
·         Do teenagers get enough sleep? (Polling students on the number of hours of sleep they get on average each school night)
·         Does good organization correlate with good grades? (I thought maybe they could poll a number of students on use of their agenda book, use of locker, use of a folder system/binder and what their average grade is in their classes….)
·         Should school start later in the day? (Polling students on a scale of 1-5  on how sleepy they are in the morning, afternoon and late day)  
·         Does education pay? (Researching statistics on pay scales in relation to level of education)

I also stumbled upon a Kids Count Contest for Infographics that offers a cool research tool that kids might utilize to research information about kids and their well being across the US or even in their own state- http://sparkaction.org/content/how-create-winning-infographic
Of course my hope is that students might also generate their own questions in which to poll others in the school for the results.

Showing students Infographics and why they are used, their importance, and their benefits would be our first step after we formulate the question, carry out our research, and compile our results.

Some great sites that offer teaching tips and examples include:
10 Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/awesome-free-tools-infographics/


Both of these sites provide a great introduction to Infographics, examples, and tips on best practice.  The Infographic site that I have been experimenting with and have found good results and ease of use is  http://www.easel.ly/    It is still in Beta form at this time.
This site has some fabulous samples of Infographics as well!  

Another recommended easy site is http://piktochart.com/  The downside is that you have to log in to save the Infographic, and that might be a problem for students in a school setting. There is no way to print the graphic, so I will have to continue to experiment with different venues to find one that might work for students in a school setting. I do know that Google has some capacity to build charts and graphs, but many schools (mine included) do not  permit students to use Google  in the classroom setting.

That’s not to say that student couldn’t create their Infographic by hand or even using Word, and the Kids Count site noted above does discuss this as well.  The great thing about kids, they are VERY innovative and creative and I am always amazed by what they are able to produce when left to their own devices.

Another aspect of the CCS I think might work well here is the CCS RI.8.7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.  
Provide the same information in an article, via a video and in an Infographic and have students compare/contrast the advantages and disadvantages of each medium and its ability to express an argument, to convey information, to persuade, etc. I was able to do this with the dangers of smoking. My students read an article about the dangers of smoking, they watched a video of “Dr. Oz” discussing and showing the dangers of smoking and I showed an Infographic that showed a person with diseased lungs, yellow teeth, etc. each body area labeled to discuss the dangers/effects of smoking. ( I just went to Google Images and searched for effects of smoking) Hands down the kids preferred the Infographic and provide some good reasons why. They enjoyed the activity and we had good discussion on the benefits of each format as well as the disadvantages for readers.

Here is a great blog post on implementing Infographics in the classroom written by Chris Miller, a middle school teacher in Wisconsin- http://mrmillernyr.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/clmooc-reflection-infographics/  His blog is titled- “The Second Level: A  Middle School Teacher’s Perspective”

In the upcoming school year, I hope to post pictures of my students’ Infographics as well as a reflection on the project. In the meantime, I played around with another infographic site-http://infogr.am/beta/   and here is what I was able to develop: http://infogr.am/Does-education-affect-my-future/

Amy