The Infographic – My New Best Friend in the Classroom

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I am not above trying something new in the classroom. In fact, it is what has made me enjoy teaching for almost 30 years. As a history teacher, there are certain skills that I try to teach each and every day. Most of them are analytical as my students examine photographs, cartoons, maps, charts, graphs, assorted primary documents, and texts, . Every day is like a potpourri of information.

In the past few years, I have been getting into finding new ways to get more information across and to make it more memorable. Luckily, the new tool that is making my job as a teacher easier is something called an infographic. They are part map, part chart, part graph,… and you could go on and on.

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What I like about the infographic is the visual aspect of it. Usually bar graphs and pie graphs are very dull to look at but an infographic is pretty stimulating for a young mind. In fact, I love looking at them.

I don’t remember when I saw my first infographic, but the more I look for them on the Internet, I tend to think back to Discovery magazine and they had infographics in them all the time. There’s just tended to be word bubbles with pictures and there’s really not that much structurally different with what they did and what’s being done today.

A simple specific Google search will bring about any number of different infographs. The more specific, the better. If you’re studying World War II, do not type World War II infographic in Google images. Type the specific battle or event and you will get what you search for. If you are looking for something on the Vikings, don’t type Vikings. Put in whether you want a Viking Gods infographic or Viking ship infographic, as examples. These are much more fruitful searches.

For most of the last nine years, I’ve been teaching US History and World History with one section of literature. I enjoyed the literature because it was integrated with what we are doing in history class. This year, I went back to teaching geography instead of literature and the infographic has become a staple of learning about other countries around the world. Most of them are pretty clean looking and easy to find;  you just type in the country and infographic.

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You can also have the kids make their own infographics and that’s a good way for them to learn how to read them. We are a Google school so my students use Google slides to make their infographics with numbers, pictures, and clip art. They save it as a JPEG. Then they email it to me. It’s not that big of a deal, but they actually get to create something rather than answer some questions about it. They like to show off what they learn.

There are also some free services you can use out there with Canva being the most well known one.

Here’s the key thing to take away about infographics: They’re not replacing basic social studies skills. They are actually reinforcing social studies skills by combining visual analysis in a new format.