Tag Archives: environmental education lessons

The Power of an Infographic

As an alternative to report writing or giving a presentation, an infographic is a compelling way for students to demonstrate their learning. Due to its visual nature, an infographic portrays facts, data, images, and a call to action in a convincing and appealing format. When we teach students the tools for designing their own infographics, they acquire a variety of essential skills. Here’s a list of the values of teaching students how to build an infographic.

infographic

Apply Research Skills

In order to present the facts and images that are fundamental for an infographic, students need to build search skills. In a couple of recent blogs, we outlined some tips for teaching explicit strategies for online research. Limited reading and scanning skills, irrelevant sites, advertising, and biased websites are stumbling blocks to students finding reliable, appropriate results quickly. If we teach them how to search, they will achieve greater success in finding trustworthy information fast. Making an infographic is a great way for students to boost their search skills.

Develop Digital Literacy

An infographic can be designed for almost any subject area. Topics in science, geography, visual arts, history, and language arts can all be expressed using images and brief text. Multiple technology skills are developed:

  • graphic design
  • digital citizenship
  • online search strategies
  • communication and word processing
  • web-based publishing

Promote Critical Thinking

An infographic has very limited text. When creating this type of document, a student needs to evaluate all the information and determine which facts are most important and engaging. An infographic has different sections, so they need to organize the layout in a logical way. Finally, the headings of each block of information must be interesting to capture audience attention. Therefore students must synthesize, paraphrase, and describe the topic in brief but intriguing titles. These skills are in the top two levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, evaluation and synthesis, where students master the most complex learning tasks.

Inspire Creativity

Infographics are lots of fun to create! Choosing layouts, picking color themes, drawing icons,
listing fun facts, making an image carousel, and displaying surprising numerical data are just some of the elements to design and construct. Students find it highly motivating to make an original infographic. Spark the interest of students from Grades 6 and up with a novel assignment. Inspire them to make unique infographics that both demonstrate their learning as well as inform others.

Develop Real World Communication Techniques

An infographic presents a topic using universally recognized symbols and images. Text is brief and enticing to attract and hold the viewer’s attention. Students need to understand the topic, but they also have to convey it in an authentic way that will captivate readers. An infographic is likely to be web-based, so it should mirror contemporary media. There is a lot of information to compete with, so it must be accurate and convincing. The student isn’t writing a report for the limited audience of one teacher. It is being written for the public. Quality, grammar, vocabulary and tone are critical with a global audience.


Learn How to Create an Infographic with TechnoEarth

technoearth icon

TechnoKids’ newest project, TechnoEarth, instructs students how to build an infographic about an environmental issue. They play the role of environmental stewards as they design an interactive infographic about an important problem. They learn how to outline the cause, harmful effects, stakeholders, location, and solutions using a highly engaging format. Learn more about TechnoEarth here.

Create an Infographic Using Google Sites

Middle school students can design an infographic using Google Sites. Google Sites, is a free app to anyone with a Google account. It is primarily a web design tool. However, it has many features that make it the ideal way for students In Grades 6-9 to create an infographic that is interactive, compelling, and lots of fun to build!

In a recent blog, we listed reasons for teachers to assign an infographic as an innovative method for students to demonstrate their learning. An infographic’s characteristics – simple graphics and brief text – as well as its interactive nature make it an ideal means of communication. As an alternative to report writing, students must use higher order thinking skills such as analysis and synthesis to summarize and condense information to the most essential facts to create an infographic.

google sites

The next decision is “What app should we use?” Here are some reasons to use Google Sites as an unlikely but ideal program to easily create an interactive infographic with elementary and middle school students.

Google Sites: A Great Fit for Making an Infographic

Divide Information Visually with Layouts

In Google Sites, the banner for the page title and various layout options are perfect for designing an infographic. The image blocks visually divide the separate parts of the infographic, which may be headings and text, clipart, number facts, links, and pictures. Sections draw the reader’s eye through the various parts of the document. The nature of simple web page building using image and text blocks makes creating an infographic with this tool so suitable.

infographic
Create an infographic using Google Sites that chunks the information into sections using Layout options.

Add Professionalism Using Themes

Google Sites helps students produce a professional looking infographic using themes. When a theme is chosen, the web document is limited to a coordinating palette of colors and fonts. This not only results in a high quality design but the publication appears well organized and integrated too. Scanning through the infographic is easier when the parts have a similar appearance.

Search for Images

Working within Google Sites, students can find and display the simple images that are typical of infographics. These cartoon-like pictures are used to convey data or facts quickly. Using the Insert Images tool, students search with keywords. By restricting the results to just Clip art or Line drawings, they can eliminate photographs and just find basic, universally recognized images ideal for an infographic.

icons
Search for simple images that convey a message.

Create Collapsible Text

One more reason to use Google Sites is that it provides collapsible text. This element can be added to create a box of text that can be expanded or collapsed by the viewer. Using this feature, you can give the option of looking at the contents or not, and thereby saving space on the document. In TechnoEarth, a collapsible text box is used to list sources of information for the infographic. If the reader would like to check facts or find out more about the topic, they can click to enlarge and see the contents. Often collapsible boxes are used for FAQs, allowing a viewer to scan through the questions and only read the answers of the ones in which they are interested.

collapsible text
An infographic will often list sources of information. Use collapsible text to show or hide the reference list.

Add an Image Carousel

Infographics do not typically use photographs, but instead have cartoon-like images. However, there is a limitation to using just icons to advocate about an environmental issue. This is because photos that show the cause or harmful effects can make a powerful statement. The good news is that Google Sites lets you do both using an image carousel.

To make an infographic engaging and interactive, the image carousel feature can be added. It shows a collection of picture files, by scrolling from one to another. To keep the publication true to an infographic, the first image should be an icon of a camera. However, after that the images can be photographs. In the TechnoEarth project students include on their interactive infographic, photographs showing the effects of an environmental issue.

Create image carousel of photographs.
Create image carousel of photographs.

Insert a Google Slide Deck

Another great feature of Google Sites is the ability to insert a document made in other Google Apps such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and more. To keep the viewer engaged, students can add a rotating slide deck created in Google Slides to an infographic. Using the many features of Slides, the deck can have distinctive layouts, unique formatting, word art, graphic organizers, and more. The slides display brief facts and eye-catching images. They are set to play automatically, adding interest and variety for the reader.

Use Google Slides to illustrate facts about the environmental topic.

Design a Unique Drawing

Another file type that can be inserted into Google Sites is an image created in Google Drawings. As an alternative to searching for ready-made clip art, students can create their own one-of-a-kind artwork to add to their infographic. Instructions in TechnoEarth explain how to use the tools in Google Drawings to produce simple, but powerful icons. These graphics grab the viewer’s attention and communicate a concise message.

Google Drawings
Use Google Drawings to create original icons. Insert them onto the infographic.

Highlight Locations with a Map

Google Sites allows users to insert interactive maps constructed using Google Maps. Most infographics pinpoint the location where an issue or topic is happening. The drawback is that viewers only see a static image. However, with Google My Maps viewers can actively explore. By clicking on custom map markers, they discover interesting facts and photos about each spot.

Google My Maps
When the viewer clicks on an icon, facts and photos of the location display.

Learn How to Design an Infographic Using Google Sites

technoearth icon

Want to get started on an infographic using Google Sites? TechnoKids has a project for you! In TechnoEarth, middle school students become environmental stewards as they design an interactive infographic. They use Google Sites, as well as Docs, Slides, Drawings, and more. They follow instructions to select an important, real-world issue. The infographic outlines the cause, harmful effects, and solutions. Stakeholders are identified. A thematic map shows where the problem is located. The final web based infographic will inform and inspire.

What Is An Infographic?

What is an infographic? An infographic is a big picture that summarizes a topic. It is a one-page publication that presents information in a graphic way. Simple icons, symbols, maps, and charts combine to explain the data. Text is only used as labels or to briefly describe facts. The viewer explores the content by studying each section of cartoon-like images.

what is an infographic?
What is an infographic? An infographic is a one-page publication that presents information in a graphic way using simple images and text.

Why Use an Infographic?

An infographic is a simple but powerful way to communicate. There are many reasons to use it:

  • catches the interest of the viewer
  • outlines many facts in a compact space
  • conveys data quickly using images
  • informs without lots of written information
  • engages the viewer to think about the topic, because they must explore each part
  • makes a complex issue easy to understand

How Can Students Make an Infographic?

Now that the question “what is an infographic?” and “why use an infographic?” have been answered, the next question is “how can my students make one to demonstrate learning?” Older students with strong graphic design skills can use professional software such as Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately, not all schools have access to this software, as it is expensive.

Another option for creating an infographic is to apply the drawing and image tools in Microsoft Word. This does limit the design to a standard-sized piece of paper. Although this is a suitable solution for students who are proficient users of Microsoft Office, beginners or younger learners may struggle with arranging their content.

A third choice for designing an infographic is to use Google Sites. Google Sites is a web creation tool that is typically used to build websites. However, the ability to add sections, combine simple images with text, rearrange the layout, and have an infinite page length make it ideal for students who lack strong graphic design or word processing skills. Please note, this option does require students to have Google Drive accounts. Moreover, if your students have school accounts, they must be granted permission to use Google Sites.

View an Interactive Infographic Designed Using Google Sites

how to make an infographic
Discover how to make an infographic using the lessons in TechnoEarth.

How Can Students Design an Infographic using Google Sites?

Are you interested in designing an interactive infographic using Google Sites? In the TechnoKids project TechnoEarth, students play the role of environmental stewards. They select a real world problem and are guided in the research and design of an engaging infographic.

Google Sites, Slides, Docs, and Drawings are combined to build the document. Simple, compelling graphics and brief, captivating text spark interest. To make it especially appealing, the project is interactive. The viewer can browse a rotating slide deck, explore a map, and click through an image carousel. The web-based infographic is a powerful way to communicate an important issue, promote public awareness, and inspire action.

TechnoEarth shows students how to use Google Sites to design an interactive infographic.
Integrate TechnoEarth into a geography, science, or digital literacy class.

Think Green, Teach Green – Earth Day 2020

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

technoearth icon

On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment. They brought awareness to the extinction of wildlife, destruction caused by pollution, and loss of wilderness. In 1990, Earth Day became a global event with 141 countries and 200 million people organizing to campaign for environmental issues. As its 50 year milestone approaches this year, the movement continues to challenge everyone to make a difference. The energy and enthusiasm of young people is a powerful force to drive change and impact our planet.

Teacher Resources for Earth Day

Earth Day Online

Earth Day is just one of the many online sites available to teachers and students. It includes ideas and resources to inspire and drive climate action:

Register an Earth Day Event

View events in your area by zooming in on the Earth Day site map. See the range of events in the world. Or place a dot on the Earth Day site map by registering your own event. It can be a clean-up, rally, teach-in, art fair, or your own idea!

Get Informed on Environmental Issues

Read about the range of areas in which Earth Day initiatives are working. Sign up as an Earth Day School to get on the map to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Commit to what your school will do in 2020.

Download Educational Resources

Browse through activities and lessons provided specifically for educators, for example:

And there’s lots more!

TechnoKids Earth Day Event

Only from April 2 until April 15, 2020 get TechnoEarth technology project at special promotional pricing.

Teach the whole curriculum unit to create an interactive infographic using Google Sites based on a specific environmental issue. Step-by-step instructions support middle school learners as they explain the cause, harmful effects, stakeholder interests, location data, and solutions to a local or international problem.

Combine Google Docs, Slides, Sites, Sheets, My Maps, and Drawings to produce a web-based publication. Integrate the unit into a digital literacy, science, or geography unit to mark Earth Day 2020. Download the project into your TechnoKids digital library here.

Fun Activities to Take Earth Day Action

Have less class time? Pick a single, quick lesson to inspire and raise awareness as Earth Day approaches on April 22. Here are some ideas.

TechnoKids’ technology project TechnoEarth teaches students to become environmental stewards. But you can pick and choose some lessons to teach in a single day or just a few computer classes.

Explore a Sample Infographic

To encourage Earth Day action, students can examine the sample Acid Rain infographic provided in the TechnoEarth resources. In Assignment 2, they learn about the features of an infographic and the reasons to use this format to inspire awareness. They answer questions about the contents and design of the sample. In just one brief lesson, spark an interest in environmental concerns.

Discover TechnoEarth Fact Sheets

Included in the TechnoEarth resources are 13 fact sheets on a range of environmental issues. These are provided to support learning. Environmental topics are complicated issues with scientific detail and complex vocabulary. The fact sheets are simpler, one-page outlines that may replace online research to save class time or to meet individual student needs. As an Earth Day lesson or to spark further interest, students analyze the fact sheets:

environmental education lessons
13 fact sheets are included in TechnoEarth resources
  • Acid rain
  • Clear cutting
  • Endangered species
  • Garbage
  • Invasive species
  • Mountaintop mining
  • Nuclear energy
  • Oil sands
  • Overfishing
  • Plastic pollution
  • Poaching
  • Water consumption

Create an Image Carousel of Harmful Effects

TechnoEarth includes optional lessons to challenge students. Session 2 Extension Activity lists instructions to make an image carousel in Google Sites. A series of photographs is selected to portray the harmful effects of an environmental problem. The pictures create a photo gallery through which the viewer can scroll. Research the images individually or have students collaborate in pairs or groups on a specific topic. The collection creates a compelling view of the problem in one stand-alone activity.

Inform with a Pictograph

Another quick, Earth Day lesson is Session 3 Extension Activity. Use the Big number slide layout in Google Slides to make an eye-catching pictograph. With iconic, universally recognized symbols, students create a visual that graphically depicts the numerical data of an environmental issue.

earth day data
Simple, universally recognizable images are used in infographics.

Pinpoint a Problem Location

Produce a thematic map about a particular environmental issue using Google My Maps. In Session 4, a map is created to highlight worst offenders, best stewards, disaster sites, at-risk regions, successful conservation projects, or legally protected areas.  A marker locates the place, the icon style of the marker is customized, and interesting facts and photos are selected and included. Publishing just the map can be an engaging way to communicate the scope of an issue.

Google My Maps
When the viewer clicks on an icon, facts and photos of the location are displayed.

Boost Search Strategies Using Environmental Issues

TechnoEarth Session 1 Skill Review gives students tips about how to find information fast. They learn explicit, effective search strategies. Then they apply their skills to search online and find results for specific environmental topics.

Students Are Spreading the Word

TechnoKids was recently contacted by a master’s student at San Diego State University. He has written a thorough and highly engaging article as a guide to vehicle recycling and is looking to share his work. Thank you, Carmen, and congratulations on your contribution to the environment.

TechnoEarth Technology Project and Activities

Whether you can allocate just one class or a complete unit of study to promote environmental awareness, TechnoEarth is an ideal resource for Earth Day celebrations. The half price promotion is only available April 2 – April 15, so act now and order here. Spark an interest in students to become environmental stewards!