Using infographics for traditional types of reports in elementary school

While technology and access to information has dramatically changed the way our students learn and the way we teach, there are some “classic” learning experiences that still have a place in the classroom in my opinion.  One of these learning experiences is the traditional reports that students typically do in elementary school such as state, animal, or country reports. These reports are often students’ first experience with research and the topic is usually something that is easy to find information on and there isn’t much dispute as far as the facts.  However, the traditional way of writing these reports may not be the most valuable and engaging for today’s students who have been raised as digital natives accustomed to limitless information, flashy graphics, and the urgency to get the information they are looking for quickly.

 

ISTE Student Standard #6 is Creative Communicator:

Having students communicate their ideas and research clearly and effectively using digital products is one of the indicators (6c) for this standard (ISTE, 2017).  Using infographics as a final product when completing a report is one way to meet this standard and engage students and allow them to communicate their learning creatively.

 

Why Infographics?

 

An infographic is a visual image which represents information.  Infographics are a way to engage the reader and convey a large amount of information more quickly than with traditional text. Both creating and reading infographics can be a much easier way to understand information for students that are more visual learners.  Summarizing information and determining importance are two very important skills for students. Creating an effective infographic requires these skills and also encourages the student to consider audience and purpose in order to help trim the content to include in the infographic (Vogelsinger, 2014).  When elementary students are reading through research on their topic and deciding what they would like to share with their audience, determining importance and considering the audience, are two of the skills I am looking for when evaluating them. Using infographics as a final product really stresses the importance of these research and communication skills. Although Bob Dillon wrote an article on digital story creation some of his thoughts on using digital images to convey “stories” apply to infographics. “Digital story creators need to select each image with the same intentionality that each word is chosen for the narrative. Beautiful images allow digital stories to be remembered by more people in a deeper way (Dillon, 2014).”

 

How to Incorporate

 

Vogelsinger suggests that the first step to introducing infographics to your students should begin with having your students look at a variety of different infographics and then engage in discussions on the pros, cons, and purposes of each.  “The key to creating infographics is understanding that the finished product looks deceptively simple. Every decision, including font, shapes, color scheme, and use of white space, will either contribute to or detract from the overall clarity of the message in the finished infographic” (Vogelsinger, 2014).  He also suggests having students begin with a template to provide support in the design process when they create their first infographic (Vogelsinger, 2014). That way they can focus on the text and images they are selecting rather than the design of the product. With elementary students doing reports I might give them a list of information I want them to include and a menu of images to choose from. I would likely create a simplified, custom template specific to the project I am having them complete.  Like with everything in our classrooms, some students will take to infographics quickly and easily and others will continue to need support and encouragement.

 

Different Infographics Apps and Websites

 

Being new to infographics, I only have experience using Pikochart, which I have found very user-friendly and the end results are beautiful and impactful.  On Common Sense Media, which is a website I use often in my work as an educator, I found a list of the top 11 “Best Infographic Design Apps and Websites”. It appears that there are three that are officially suggested for elementary students, although I imagine there are a few more than can be used by elementary students with support.

App or Website Cost Suggested Grades
Canva Free 4-12
The Noun Project Free 4-12
Smore Free (basic), paid 5-12
Office Sway Free 6-12
Easel.ly Free; paid 7-12
Infogr.am Free; paid 7-12
Lucid Press Free to try; paid 7-12
Piktochart Free; paid 7-12
Venngage Free to try; paid 7-12
Adobe Spark Free 8-12
Grafio 3 Paid 9-12

Source: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-infographic-design-apps-and-websites

 

Sources:

 

Code.org website (Retrieved on 2018, February 28)

 

Commonsense.org (Retrieved on 2018, March 17) from:https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-infographic-design-apps-and-websites

 

Dillon, B. (2014). The Power of Digital Story. Edutopia. (Retrieved on 2018, March 17) from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon

 

Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards for Students. (Retrieved on 2018, March 17 ) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

 

Vogelsinger, B. (2014). Inventing Infographics: Visual Literacy Meets Written Content. Edutopia. (Retrieved on 2018, March 4) from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/infographics-visual-literacy-written-content-brett-vogelsinger

2 thoughts on “Using infographics for traditional types of reports in elementary school

  1. Hi Susan,

    It was so interesting to hear your take on infographics and how they can be used in the elementary classroom. I loved your Dillon quote about carefully selecting images and how they have the power to tell stories. Your idea for scaffolding infographics for younger students by providing them with a list of information and images to choose from is so helpful. Thank you also for your list of resources that can be used to create infographics. Many are brand new to me as well.

    Lauren

  2. Susan,
    Great post, thank you for sharing. After reading your post I am now considering doing infographics for some of the many research topics I do throughout the year. I love your idea about using “determining importance and considering the audience” as your main focus. I think those two things are very important skills for students to have no matter what age they are. When you talked about tailoring the infographics by giving them a menu of options was great, especially for primary students. If you use this in your classroom please let me know how it goes.

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