Any teacher who has embarked on a research writing unit or taught students how to write a research paper knows it is a arduous and, often, unrewarding task.
After teaching the research paper this year, I knew my students needed to refine their research skills. Many needed more practice “searching smarter,” evaluating resources and analyzing information. That said, I dreaded the prospect of reading another 170 research papers.
The Common Core Standards emphasize the importance of conducting both “short as well as more sustained research projects.” They also require that students “use technology…to display information flexibly and dynamically” and “synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.”
Inspiration struck one night when I stumbled on an infographic titled “Get More Out of Google.” Infographics are research dense, visually interesting and a fairly new trend in the technology space. The next day, I asked students to explore a collection of infographics in small groups. I encouraged them to discuss the infographics.
- Which infographics were most compelling?
- How was research visually displayed?
- Did they want to learn more about any of the topics covered in the infographics?
That night I posted a discussion topic on our Collaborize Classroom site asking students to select between two “big” ideas, modern day slavery and gender inequality. I explained that they would be researching one of these topics to create their own infographics.
I took my classes to the computer lab to conduct their research. I guided them through a “Got Credibility?” Google form I created to train them to analyze their resources to ensure the information they found was credible.
Once students had found compelling research and evaluated the credibility of the information they found, they began designing their own infographics using Piktochart. It was an interesting challenge to communicate their main points using charts, maps, graphs, and images.
The end products were a wonderful mix of research, media and design! I don’t even think most of my students realized they were doing “research” because they enjoyed the process so much.