Today was my 4th snow day this month, and I was getting a little itchy. So I started reading an educational magazine and spotted a cool article about creating infographics to help demonstrate curriculum to our students. This is certainly common-core appropriate, since we are supposed to give our students access to multiple mediums of content.
But then I thought, actually, it should be the kids creating the infographics. This would be a worthwhile formative assessment where they have to synthesize information and figure how best to show it to their peers. They might enjoy a little variety from the usual posters and PowerPoints. Certainly History, Sociology, and Science classrooms would benefit from this. And I would think clever ELA teachers, like myself, could think of a use as well. So I made one about my snow days.
As you can see, I used piktochart.com. There are many other infographic generators out there, but this is the one I selected at random.
In order to give you an idea of time required for classroom activities: it took me 45 minutes to create this. That includes registering and skimming the options. I chose the blank template because it would take more time starting from scratch. Also, I had no idea what information I would put on the graphic until I started playing around. Then I actually chose images and backgrounds and created the charts. All that was 45 minutes.
Therefore, I would assume a small group who has already gathered their information could easily create one of these within one class period. Research and presentations would take additional time.
For more quick formative assessment ideas, you can check out No Time Like Real Time.
My new teaching column was posted this morning on Reading Today Online, the International Reading Association’s online magazine.
“Sorting out the Details” can be found here.
This photo by Mo Gelber was a finalist in a contest sponsored by Ron Howard. The winner wins a movie based on the photo. Unfortunately, Gelber announced on facebook an hour ago that his photo was not chosen.
But, wow! What a cool idea to base a whole movie on one instant caught in a snapshot.
When I was an editor on my college newspaper, we did a similar ritual for the April Fools’ edition. Chuck, the photo editor, had access to all photos that had ever appeared in the newspaper. Note: this was in the days of film photography. Chuck dropped a stack of black and white 8x10s on a table, and we spent an hour or so sorting through them to find inspiration for fake news stories. (We only did that for the April Fools’ edition, I swear.) I chose a close-up photo of a line of policemen in full riot gear and wrote a little article about how the university had hired tuition cops to torture students into paying their debts.
Flashing forward many years, writing about photos is still a powerful way to unlock a story. In my high school literature class, I show photos from the news as the starting point for discussion as well as grammar and writing assignments. As a writer, I take a ridiculous amount of photos, sometimes of the most mundane things, in order to get a mood right for a future story. If I don’t have a camera with me, I pull a Cam Jansen and record it the best I can in my head and write it down later. That brief moment can be the spark that any writer needs to creating a masterpiece.
Mo, your photo is amazing. Thanks for being an inspiration.
My new article is up on Engage, the International Reading Association magazine, “Making a Point with a View.” It’s all about improving writing instruction by changing the student’s perspective.
In other news: One quarter of revisions finished. I need to get moving to meet my June 30 goal!
Every month or two, I write an article about teaching writing to my high schoolers for the International Reading Association’s online magazine, Engage.
This one’s about using Picasso and Dali. Just follow the link. You may have to register.