Infographics are everywhere and our students need to develop literacy skills to make sense of them. This resource is a very good way to kickstart an exploration of infographics in your classroom and one you will keep going back to throughout the year.
The California Academy of Sciences has put together an that employs infographics as a way “for students to practice key science literacy skills”. If you are new to infographics and would like to know what they are and how to use them in the classroom, this is a great place to start!
While the focus of these lessons is science, this toolkit can be used as a how-to guide on infographics in any content area. In fact, the worksheets from Activities 1 & 3 can be printed out and used, as is, to analyze just about any infographic. The website is simple and easy to navigate. It contains a Teacher Toolkit and five easy-to-follow, sequential lesson plans that include lots of opportunity for interaction among your students.
To start you on your infographic journey, I would recommend watching the fun and informativethat is cited in the Teacher Toolkit. In the video David McCandless, a data journalist, shows his audience the infographic below and asks for guesses on what they think the data might represent. What do you think it could be?
The infographic is included as part of Activity 1 and can be downloaded as a PDF or a powerpoint. When I showed it to my students, they noticed that there was a peak in March and mid-November and wondered what those months had in common. They guessed it might represent rainfall amounts, cold patterns, snowfall, patterns in spending money, retail sales, homicides, or suicides. Watch David McCandless’ TEDtalk, to find out what the data above represents and see Activity 1 below for ideas on how you can use it with your students.
provides background knowledge for teachers on what infographics are and why it makes sense to use them. You will find explicit connections to the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards in the toolkit.
data graphic interpretation handout with an infographic of your own choosing that correlates to content you are currently exploring with your students.includes: a lesson plan, a worksheet, and a set of six infographics. The point of this lesson is to introduce students to infographics and have them analyze the message of the infographic. You may prefer, as I did, to use their
I chose to use an infographic that breaks down the elements that are in the human body, which fascinated my students. There’s a lot of numbers in that infographic, so I also used it as a springboard for contextualizing a math lesson. I then followed up with an additional resource, from ASU School of Life Sciences, to verify the numeric information that was presented since the infographic did not cite a source.
Visually Representing Data
asks students to compare identical information that is presented in different ways. An example is shown below:
How is the data represented in each graph? What do you like or dislike about each graph? Which one do you think is most accurate in depicting the data?
While the worksheets in this activity are specific to this set of graphs, the compare & contrast questions that are featured could be used with any set of graphs that contain similar data.
guides students through the process of how to critique graphics. My students were really engaged in this activity, which I believe was due to (1) allowing students to choose which infographic they wanted to evaluate (2) the varied and interesting set of infographics that are in this set and (3) because they knew they would be presenting their review to the class.
A rubric, Graphic Principles for Visualizing Scientific Data, is introduced in this lesson which serves as a guide for lessons to follow. This lesson gets students thinking critically about how the information is presented in the infographic with the objective of laying a foundation that prepares students for making their own graphs.
includes a data set, graph paper, and instructions on several different ways to graph the data set. This activity gives students a really good sense of how important it is to think carefully about how the visual representation of data significantly impacts the message that is being communicated. The activity includes a link to a video, , created by California Academy of Sciences that you can share with your students to give them some background information that makes the data meaningful.
extends the former activity and guides students through the process of thinking about how they can represent data visually by giving them the task of drawing a sketch of a data set, with the end goal of turning that sketch into an infographic. Suggestions on free online infographic tools that students can use to create an infographic are supplied in the Teacher’s Toolkit.
A few final recommendations
- Longish infographics: A few of the infographics included in these activities were originally designed to be viewed on a computer screen or electronic device and don’t lend themselves well to the printed page. Thus, if you have technology available it may be advisable to have your students pair and share a laptop, desktop, or tablet to view and analyze infographics that are longish. Links to the infographics that are featured in the activities are cited in the lesson plans.
- Color: In most infographics color is used to help convey the message, so if you have access to a color printer you should print out at least one copy of each infographic in color. You can them slip the infographics into page protectors for students to share.
- For some ideas on how to use infographics and math to contextualize your instruction, see my post at Tech Tips for Teachers (a World Education Resource), and my article in The Math Practitioner, a newsletter published by The Adult Numeracy Network (ANN).
Please use these activities with your students and let me know how it goes. And if you find any other great infographics that work really well with your class, please share them in the comments below.