How to Read Infographics: The SCD Strategy

new-piktochart_903_8a2035b2468fed4b37b4b82dec9cd930f8f1d96aTo help students become independent readers and comprehend the complex information they will encounter throughout their lifetime teaching comprehension strategies will help them flourish. The capacity to self-direct reading strategies is extremely important in our fast-paced, technology-rich world. Cognitive processes to access and understand information is done automatically in good readers and these are the exact strategies we must model and teach to our students.

The onset of the internet has triggered an explosion in visual information with an increase of 400% in literature and an astounding increase of 9900% on the internet but little is done in terms of supporting students’ gain skills to comprehend information in the area of visual comprehension strategies.

Aligning to best practices in literacy, I created the SCD Strategy to help students understand Infographics. To begin with, students need to understand the general purpose of infographics – Infographics make information visible, tell a story visually that is easy to understand, grab the reader’s attention, and spark conversation. Identify the issue or topic presented and the author’s purpose or claim.

SCD Strategy for understanding Infographics:

SStructure – Infographics have a definite structure just as any other text they may read. The information presented is connected and not just a bunch of random thoughts put together. Have students determine how the information is organized.

  • Is is Chronological? Cause and Effect, Inductive/deductive?
  • Is the information organized by person, event, product?
  • Does the author use data or % to organize information?

Identifying the structure of an infographic helps readers understand the flow of the information and is part of comprehending information.

C- Content – Infographics are constructed around content to help the reader understand complex ideas visually. Students should identify the story the visual content is telling the reader.

  • What is the main claim and evidence the author is using to support it?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is it reliable and current information?

Only 53% of infographics contain data and numbers, have students key in on important words, phrases, and repetition. Most infographics chunk information into digestible, bite-sized segments. Identify the parts and how they relate to the whole.

D – Design – Infographics visually tell a story and relate information to consumers. Not only is content important in this form of communication but design elements help to convey meaning. Making students aware of design principles used in infographics is another strategy to support comprehension.

  • How is Typography used? Italics and bold-faced words jump out to the reader and signal important information.
  • How are Colors used in the infographic? What information is emphasized through the use of specific colors? Do the colors relate to the content or topic? 
  • Spacing, alignment, and whitespace is used intentionally to focus the reader’s visual cueing system, provide direction or flow, or connect like ideas.
  • Finally, icons, numbers, images add to the overall understanding of the message, highlight important information, and help students visualize key points.

Digital communication will only increase the use and creation of visual information and while many students have never experienced a time pre-internet they are not equipped with the strategies that will help them flourish as readers. Modeling and teaching the SCD Strategy will equip students with the necessary skills to comprehend infographics and demystify visual information.

Posted in #edchat, edchat, Infographics, Literacy, reading, Skills, Strategies, students, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tis’ the Season of Giving – 4 Holiday Activities to do with Students Before Break

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With a week and a half left of school before the holiday break many educators take this opportunity to break from traditional curriculum and design alternate activities for students. I, too, enjoyed providing experiences for my students that focused on community and giving back. And even though academic achievement measures weigh heavily on the minds of us all, it is through experiences in which the whole-child is developed, and empathy is understood that we find great joy and remind us that we not only want our students to be lifelong learners but also caring citizens.

4 Holiday Activities that Have Your Students Giving Back to the Community:

  1. Santa Letters – Each year my AP Literature students “played” Santa as they wrote letters to elementary students. During the Community Holiday Celebration, local businesses had parents stop in and fill out forms for their children describing accomplishments throughout the year, holiday traditions, and gifts their children had asked Santa to bring them. And each year my students would craft letters to each child highlighting the information in the forms. Children shook with glee when a letter arrived from the North Pole and my students beamed with pride knowing they made the holidays a bit brighter. This same strategy could be done by pairing with an elementary classroom and would not have to be a community organized event.
  2. 12 Acts of Kindness – Another activity my students enjoyed was based off the concept of “Paying it Forward”. I challenged students to do good deeds for 12 consecutive days for peers, teachers, family members, people in the community, and strangers. The catch was the deed was to be anonymous and they had to keep a log to share with the class of the things they did and their thoughts and feelings on giving back while receiving nothing in return, and at times, not even recognition that it was them that performed the act. From shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, leaving a gift card for a family’s meal, to a positive note left on a car window; students reveled in the experience, were creative in their good deeds, and felt satisfied sharing their good work with the class.
  3. Volunteer – Not every student has extra money to spend on others during the holiday season but mostly all students do have time to give back to the community. As educators, bringing awareness to our students about the different ways one can give back to others through time and sweat equity allows them to make a positive impact as a young person. From bell ringing for the Salvation Army to preparing hot meals at the local shelter, students are eager to make their world better through action. Don’t forget our Furry Friends as well, kids love animals and the Humane Society and local animal shelters are often seeking volunteers to walk and play with the animals.
  4. Adopt-a-Senior – In many communities the nursing home is in close proximity to the school which makes this activity possible. Adopting a Family during the holiday season is a common occurrence, in fact, my National Honor Society kids adopted a family each year and pooled their own resources to help a family in need, but it is also possible to adopt a senior. Many nursing homes have residents who need to be “adopted” during the holiday season for many different reasons. When students form relationships with the elderly much is gained through the interactions. Rich history is passed down, an understanding of the fragility of human life, and a bond and friendship develops. While some residents have specific needs students can purchase and provide for them during the holiday seasons just like they would through Adopt-a-Family, I have found small acts of caroling,Christmasout christmas cards, or simply sharing some cookies and cider makes the largest impact on both the senior and student!   

Thank You for making an impact on children and I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday Season!

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Blogging in the Classroom: Teacher Roles

blogging-in-the-classroomBlogging is a powerful way for students to share their voice on a public platform. Depending on the purpose, blog posts demonstrate student understanding, allow for a virtual space to share ideas or thinking, and acts as an interactive mode to question, create and share. While I believe blogging is useful across the curriculum and applicable to multiple grade levels, I do believe that there are teacher and student roles or responsibilities that are essential to establish when embarking on blogging in the classroom.

In February I wrote a post on Blogging in the Classroom: Student Roles which shared my own personal experience of having my students blog, as well as the student roles to consider when adding blogging to your classroom. This post will highlight the Teacher Roles that are important to consider when having students blog.

Teacher Roles

  1. Model, Be a Writer! – You are the best writer in the room. To have students be successful at blogging the teacher must see themselves as a blogger too. Modeling writing skills by sharing your own work takes the mystery out of the process. Post regularly, fine-tune your own craft and share. Providing students with “mentor examples” of digital writing and bloggers provides students with people’s work to emulate. Modeling also provides an opportunity to create a positive, online presence; as well as address digital citizenship areas that frequently surface when writing for a public audience.
  2. Explicit & Scaffolded Instruction – Like traditional unimodal writing, blogging requires a mastery of skills and strategies that students do not naturally have in their toolbox. Direct instruction through mini-lessons and then application in their own writing helps set students up for success. Not only should content be a focus of learning, but the structure, format, and design elements need to be explicitly taught to our young bloggers. Start with length, visuals, and typography as a way to communicate their message effectively.
  3. Read & Respond – As the teacher, it is important to read and respond to student blog posts. To alleviate the volume of posts I would have to read in my own classroom I would divide the class in half and read and respond to half of the students each week. Students were to read and respond to peers in our blogging community (made up of 4 classrooms around the country) twice a week. Teaching students how to respond on a digital platform was another area that demanded explicit teaching. The driver in their response was to connect personally to at least one thing in a post and to comment in a way that moved the writer forward.
  4. Assess – Finally, assessment of blog posts. While you can use some or all of the posts as a type of summative assessment I would frequently use the students’ posts as formative assessment. This type of formative assessment would help drive my instruction. It was clear what the students grasped as well as what needed further reteaching. When assessing blog posts, it is important to consider both content and product. Aesthetics, voice, design elements are important to bloggers and were all part of the feedback I would provide to students.

A classroom full of bloggers is a daunting and exciting symphony to orchestrate. Depending on the purpose for blogging, teachers can view their roles and responsibilities as ones that are helping develop digital writers now and whenever they write in the future. Interaction with a public audience helps to make writing engaging and relevance and it is through the intentional instruction by the teacher that our youngest bloggers can find success!

Posted in #edchat, #teachwriting, #whyIWrite, Assessment, Blogging, Collaboration, communication, edchat | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Tenets of a Student-Centered Writing Classroom

 

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Today my work consisted of supporting educators on how to teach writing. Upon reflection, we realized that very few of us remember being specifically taught how to teach writing. Sure, we learned a lot about content, genres, and types of writing; but not one person raised their hand when I asked if they had an undergrad program that explicitly taught them how to teach writing. Empowering kids through writing is my passion, and I am driven to change the writing landscape that is found in many schools!

As a teacher of writing, I believe there are 10 Tenets of a Student-Centered Writing Classroom

  1. Teach the Writer, not the Writing – Focus on the learning, not the end product.
  2. Write in Front of your Students – Dispel the notion that writing is magic. Let young writers see and hear your process as you write in front of them.
  3. State the Why – Explain why Good Writers use specific skills, strategies, and resources when they write.
  4. Focus on Transferable Skills and Strategies – Answer and remind young writers how the skill or strategy can be used today and whenever they write. 
  5. Student Choice – Transfer ownership by letting students choose what they write about. Is it really about the content or is the content the vehicle in which demonstration occurs? Learning to Write, not Writing to Learn.
  6. Student Voice – Developing voice takes practice. Have students write often and in various genres. 
  7. Write for Real – An authentic audience and writing purpose engages young writers, provides relevance to writing, and allows them to share their story with the world.
  8. Surround Writers with Exemplars– Collect and share examples of writers and writings that students can gain inspiration from or that challenge them to apply a similar technique in their own writing.
  9. Differentiate – Pull small groups of writers or confer one to one with students based on needs and goals. While whole class instruction is efficient, small groups or one to one learning is more effective.
  10. Never Forget the Share – Honor the hard work young writers do through the share at the end of the class. Sharing promotes a safe community, builds relationships, and can target a teaching point!
Posted in #edchat, #tcrwp, #teachwriting, communication, Differentiation, edchat, Skills, Strategies, Teacher, Teacher Beliefs, writing, Writing Workshop | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

3 Strategies to Support Student Interaction with Complex Text

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Upon graduation, we hope students leave school equipped with skills, strategies, and tools to support a lifetime of literacy encounters. Whether on the job, in college, or informing oneself on Presidential Candidates; students will be continuously encountering text that must be digested and understood independently.

As educators, we must not only place complex text in the hands of our students but also support their learning through modeling and scaffolding of strategies Good Readers use to make sense and solve problems when reading difficult text. Although student understanding content is important, it is a transfer of these skills and strategies we want students to utilize any time they encounter complex text on their own.

3 Strategies to Support Student Interaction with Complex Text

Good Readers…

 1.  Act on the text to support their understanding. Annotation, the practice of making notes for oneself, is one-way good readers interact with complex text to help them make sense of what they read.

Common Annotation Marks – Demonstrate, use, and teach students how Good Readers interact with and mark on text to aid in their understanding.

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Digital Annotation Tools to Explore and Share with Students

2.  Identify difficult words in complex text and use strategies to help them understand meaning. Good Readers work within the word. They identify morphemes to provide part of the definition. Good Readers also work outside the word. They ask themselves what resources can I use to support understanding. For words that are discipline specific, Good Readers use resources, such as “Discipline Dictionaries” to gain meaning of unknown terms which aid in comprehension of complex text.

3.  Finally, educators can model specific strategies during an Interactive Shared Reading. The text is delivered by the teacher while students read along silently. It is typically short and lively and promotes rereading as a way students can make sense of complex text. After the Interactive Shared Reading, the teacher may prompt discussion and support peer interaction about the text. Create a screencast for students to reference for additional support with specific strategies. It is important for students to see the text being read and hear the teacher’s thoughts as they model the specific strategy. Check out these screencasting options.

Resources – Rigorous Reading, Fisher and Frey

 

Posted in #edchat, #Googleedu, #iaedchat, #teachwriting, beliefs, edchat, Literacy, NCTE, reading, Skills, Strategies, Student, students, Teacher, Teacher Beliefs, teachers, teaching, Technology, vocabulary, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment