Yesterday was a good day.
Any time that I can spend with social studies teachers, talk history content, and share ideas about instructional best practices has got to be a good day. That was yesterday.
But I noticed something. A lot of what we were doing revolved around visual things, not just text. We always think about social studies being a text-based activity. Documents and text books handouts and lots of paper. But much of what we did yesterday involved images and maps, Google Earth and videos.
Part of it is that I truly am a visual learner and so my brain naturally tilts in that direction. But good instructional practice and brain research is telling us that using visuals is a great way for content to connect with kids.
A recent addition to the visual toolbox we have access to is the infographic. So what’s an infographic?
. . . graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.
Unsure what a infographic looks like? Here’s one on gamification in education. My first thought when I start thinking about using infographics as part of social studies instruction is to use them as final products and assessments of learning. But I think we can also use them as actual instructional tools as a way to deliver foundational knowledge.
Where to start?
A couple of steps for both you and your kids:
- Figure out the take-away. What do you want your audience to actually learn? Is there an action you want them to take? Is there something you want them to understand or to feel?
- Browse through what other people have created. Jot down ideas you get for layout and graphic presentation. A Google search works but start with Visual.ly, Informationisbeautiful.net, and Datavisualization.ch.
- Think through a “script” for your infographic. Grab a legal pad or whiteboard and list as many options for conveying your story in 30 minutes. Think about the type of infographic that might work best timeline, flow chart, relationship/proportion graphs, etc.
- Using your legal pad or whiteboard, sketch out a rough draft. Then, using one of the tools listed below, create a virtual version. Be sure to have someone else look at the rough draft before getting too far in the process – you need some feedback.
- Create the final version.
(inspired by Daily SEO Blog)
Three great tools for creating infographics: