Common Core! However you may feel about it, it’s here… for now. Common Core has replaced old state standards, and one day Common Core will be replaced by new standards. There will always be someone, probably clueless, to tell us what to teach, how to teach, and to make sure that everything can be made into an acronym; they love making acronyms. The constant here is we the teachers. Whatever the standards become, it is up to us to find a way to turn them into fun, meaningful lessons that prepare our students for the future. Here is an example of how we can do that.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.4-9 are the areas of the Common Core concerned with Production and Distribution of Writing and Research to Build and Present Knowledge. An awesome way to turn this set of standards into a fun, meaningful activity for your kids is to have them make infographics. Infographics, an amalgamation of the words information and graphic, are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. Having my students create infographics has had a positive impact on my their learning. The high level thinking and tech skills an infographic requires students to use is manifold. It takes a true mastery of a topic to be able to create a good infographic. And, with the rise of free, online infographic makers like Piktochart.com and Infogr.am they are easier than ever to make.
Recently, my students completed their first infographics of the year, which also happened to be their first infographics ever. In an effort to cultivate freedom, creativity, and autonomy, I did not give my students much in the way of direct instruction on infographics. I gave them two example infographics, pushed them a video on L.A.T.C.H via Schoology, and gave them a rubric outlining what makes for an “A” infographic. I didn’t tell them how to use the websites, nor did I tell them what their infographics should look like or what their thesis should be. I only told them their infographic should reflect the title of the Level (I call units levels) we were on: When Worlds Collide. In Level I: When Worlds Collide, my kids learned about Native Americans, Christopher Columbus, and their interactions and impacts on each other and History. Here are some of the infographics my Sophomores created:
I’ve discussed areas for improvement with my classes, but, overall, I was happy with results of their first ever infographics. The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive; they really enjoyed this creative take on a research-based paper, and I was thrilled to provide them a fun, meaningful activity that worked within the confines of the Common Core. As I said before, there will always be something in place that tells us what and how to teach. It is up to us to find a way to teach within the confines of the standards we are given and still provide valuable lessons that prepare our students for college and the real world. As long as we do that, the Kids Are Alright.