Like a general preparing for the battle, my classes were grinding out all the practice tests available, touching on low-points in
the data, and refreshing ourselves on organizational patterns to respond to numerous writing prompts in preparation for our upcoming state standardized tests.
Each day came with its own challenges, but it was time to take the foot off the gas and calm the storm before we dove into six-days of testing. However, there was still more pieces I wanted to hit upon.
Therefore, I needed something different. Something to trick students in practicing the skills without thinking they were in the drudgery of practicing for the evil test.
Many of the scholars’ downfalls — in data terms — was informational texts.
So how could an informational text turn into something better and engaging. The answer was an infographic. Everyone sees them in magazines and usually refers to them as a text feature, but it it much more complex. It’s actually very much like an essay; see the video below.
After examinging “Killer Smog” (April 2016, Scholastic Magazine), “Smog So Thick, Beijing Comes to a Standstill” (as seen in April 2016, Scholastic Magazine), a short NBC video on smog and Skyped a college professor from Heibei University (China) scholars were asked to synthesize the central idea into an infographic. Each was asked to cite evidence from all of the sources in their creation.
Over the course of three days, scholars pulled together all of their evidence and created an infographic based on seven steps:
1-Select an Engaging Topic (pollution)
2-Determine Purpose and Structure (What am I trying to communicate? Create a thesis statement to share your idea. Also, how will it be organized?)
3-Gather the Data (We used the information from our readings, Skype, and further research, if needed.)
4-Organize Data (We created a hierarchy of data and worked from most important evidence to least important evidence.)
5-Plan and Play (Scholars explored PiktoChart, manipulated the templates, and learned by trial and error. Afterwards, each scholar created their visual by hand and then went back into PiktoChart to create it.)
6-Create and Evaluate (As scholars worked, their work was compared to professional infographics.)
7-Publish (Infographics were published via the class blog.)
Utilizing an infographic as my assessment allowed the opportunity for many different scholars to shine. The better writers were not necessarily the creative minds that easily created an infographic. Instead, it was the middle level students who raised to the top. Also, some of my struggling students shimmered because writing does not come easily. However, this assessment allowed them to use the basic understanding of the writing process and their creativity to display mastery of my writing standard.