- Our district is really big on alternative assessments and allowing students more choice in how they display knowledge
- I like finding new ways for students to display their understanding.
- I don’t need another stack of essay to grade (okay, this is the real reason.)
I was inspired by the idea of having students create an infographic as a way to demonstrate their understanding of a topic. Pinterest is full of them because they are visually interesting but informative at the same time. Plus, they would force students to think outside the box in ways that an essay doesn’t really encourage.
At this point the class had read the first ten chapters of Pride and Prejudice. I gave them a few topics to re-explore in this section: the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, the importance of dance, what it means to be “an accomplished woman,” and Mrs. Bennet’s schemes to get her daughters married. They had to reread and annotate to draw some conclusions and I selected a few articles for them to read for background on the culture. They had to display their knowledge as an infographic.
There are plenty of infographics out there to get ideas. If you do an image search, you’ll find a ton. I told students they could draw one if they chose, they could use a program like Word or Prezi, or they could use an online infographic creator like Piktochart. (The last option may require you to create an account. I told them to use the email their school provides for them, which they don’t really use for anything.)
Below are some examples of student work. The first three were created using the templates on Piktochart. The fourth was done on Photoshop and the last was done by hand. I was really pleased how they came out. They were very easy to grade and forced the students to think about how to organize their information creatively and effectively.
Learning should be fun! Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store for fun comic resources like those below.
I have recently bundled a few of my most popular products so that you can purchase them for a lower price at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
This set features all of the parts of speech comics and I recently added activities. A fun and easy way to review the parts of speech or introduce them for the first time.
This bundle collects all of the Shakespeare activities. There’s a biography of Shakespeare, a lesson on iambic pentameter, and a lesson on Sonnet 18. All of them include supplementary activities.
This bundle collects all of the poetry comics in which poets explain poetic devices with their most famous works.
This bundles collects all of the comics that address the common problems students have in their writing: subject verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, comma splices, and more. Each comes with revision activities and teaching ideas to help you teach students to avoid these common errors.
Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for giveaways, freebies, and teaching ideas!
I have had a subscription to The New Yorker for over twenty years. It’s a huge time commitment to keep up with. I’ve thought about dropping it several times so that I can do things like eat and sleep, but I always keep it because of the cartoons. Years ago many magazines published cartoons, but now only The New Yorker and Playboy provide well paying venues for cartoonists. I doubt my wife will let me subscribe to Playboy, so The New Yorker remains me only steady dose of magazine cartooning.
The look of the cartoons has changed a lot of the years from the days when Arno, Roth, and Lorenz were the top dogs. Some of the new cartoonists I really like, but some of them don’t have much visual appeal for me. Then there’s Tom Chitty, whose work has recently appeared in the magazine. I was completely bewildered by the look of his drawings at first. “How the hell did this get into The New Yorker?” I thought. Eventually, though, I began to look forward to his outright bizarre looking cartoons and became a fervent admirer of his work. So much so that his cartoons are the ones I most look forward to.
This is the one that turned the corner for me and I thought, “Okay. I’d like to see a LOT more of this guy’s work.”
Here are a few more. His humans are gloriously weird looking.
This has been a pretty good school year. In fact, this is the first year in a while where I’ve felt energized all the way to the end. I’m even still enjoying my freshmen.
I’m obviously looking forward to summer, although I tend to be much happier during the school year. And I don’t really buy into the “teachers work all year long” story. I do some work over the summer, but in general it’s stuff that I like to do, such as read books and short stories that I might teach the following school year. It keeps my mind engaged and sure beats sitting around the pool doing nothing (at least I think so. with two young kids, I never have much of an opportunity.)
However, this summer I’m going to set some real intentions, most of which center around staying healthy. Once nice thing about teaching is that it keeps you active. One day I used a pedometer to measure how much I walked during a typical day and logged three miles.
This lack of activity during the summer probably explains why I feel the need to have shorts that are an inch larger than my work clothes. I really want to stay in good shape, so I’m setting some intentions for the summer to keep me that way. They are:
1. An hour of physical activity a day. This can include walking, Nordic track, yoga. I might start swimming at the pool during rest periods.
2. Salads for lunch (and no chips). I tend to eat pretty healthy during the school year and get lax during the summer. Salads for lunch seem like a good way to stay healthy. I’m pretty much off chips during the school year, and I’d like to keep that going.
3. Drink like I’m still working. My wife is a teacher too, and it’s easy to get into the “one more glass” syndrome especially when every day’s a Saturday. This summer I’m going to be more mindful.
Some other goals:
4. Play guitar every day. I used to play a lot in high school and have really let my playing lapse. It’s a great outlet and I always feel better after I do it. Good way to get into that state of flow that educational researchers are always talking about.
5. Read War and Peace. I’m in a book group with a few other English teachers, and this is the book we decided to read this summer.
The author of this article is David Rickert, who leads parallel lives as a cartoonist and teacher. When not creating comics out of thin air, David teaches high school English Language Arts in Columbus, Ohio. His witty and engaging cartoons turn abstract and complicated concepts into concrete and concise images to embed content into our long term memories. Let’s face it: he makes boring topics entertaining. Check out his Grammar Comics and more resources to bring life to your ELA instruction at his store.