Tag Archives: middle school

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.

Boost Online Search Strategies: A Fun Activity

In the previous post, we listed a set of tips to develop online search strategies. Try this skill building activity with middle school students to apply those tips and raise awareness of ways to find trustworthy information fast.

technoearth icon

This activity is from TechnoKids technology project TechnoEarth. In this project, students learn how to use Google Sites to design an interactive infographic about an environmental issue. The search activity below is a Skill Review from Session 1, in which students learn about environmental stewardship and infographics. Then they pick a topic of their choice and use a template to research the cause, harmful effects, stakeholders, location, and solution.


Explore Online Search Strategies

1. Try many keywords

search strategies

Some topics use different terms to mean the same thing. For example, both algal bloom and algae bloom refer to lots of algae in water. Compare the search results for algal bloom and algae bloom. Look at the list of sites, questions, images, or videos on the page.

  • Are the results the same for algal bloom and algae bloom?
  • If no, which keyword do you think is the best? Why?

2. Be specific

boost search strategies

Pretend your research topic is poaching of rhinos.

  • What is a solution to the problem?
  • To narrow the search results, what phrase did you use?

3. Pick from the dropdown menu

search drop down

The dropdown menu in the search box suggests keywords. Let’s say you are researching smog. List two suggested phrases you think would be helpful.

4. Refer to People also ask

search people ask

Many people ask questions about environmental issues. Search for plastic pollution. List a question from the People also ask section that you find interesting.

5. Check the URL

search strategies

The website address can give a clue about who made the web page. Find a government website about overfishing. The URL might end .gov or .gc.ca.

  • What is the URL?

6. Skim and Scan

skim and scan

Save time! Find a website about harmful effects of acid rain. Scan the search results for words that match the facts you need.

  • Which search result do you think will be the best? List the title.
  • Scan the description. Which keywords are in bold text?

technoearth
Design an infographic using Google Sites. Improve research skills and search strategies.

Boost Search Strategies with Middle School Students

web design for kids Google Sites

There is LOTS of information on the Internet. When students are conducting searches for specific topics, they can become overloaded with results. Irrelevant sites, limited skimming and scanning skills, advertising, and unreliable data are all factors that can make online searching time-consuming. Competent Internet search strategies can help students to locate high-quality sites quickly to get the facts they need.

Here’s a list of tips to boost Internet searches. In the next blog, we’ll post an activity to use with students to discover different ways of finding information by applying these tips.

search strategies
TechnoEarth includes a skill review to boost search strategies.

Search Strategies to Find Information FAST!

Try many keywords:

search strategies

Some topics have more than one term used to describe it. Each will provide different results.

Be specific:

boost search strategies

To narrow search results use a phrase that states exactly what you want. The more precise, the better.

Pick from the dropdown menu:

search drop down

As you type into the search box, a list of suggested phrases appears. This can save you time typing. Plus, it offers helpful keywords.

Refer to People also ask:

search people ask

The People also ask section has popular questions. The answers can quickly provide you with the information you seek.

Check the URL:

search strategies

Look for sites that are well known organizations, government agencies, or educational pages. The URL of these sites end with .org, .gov, or .edu.

Skim and scan:

skim and scan

Read the title. Check the description for the keyword. It will be bold. Glance over the text looking for words that match the facts you need.

Notice if the site is an Ad:

boost search strategies

Websites can pay to be at the top of the search results. The listing will be labeled Ad. Just because it is first does not mean it is the best.

Check the sources:

search strategies sources

A website may list their sources of information. Often, they are links to online articles. Verify that they are high-quality. If they are, use them.

Use Find to highlight facts:

search strategies using find

If there is a lot of text, use the Find feature. Press CTRL+F on the keyboard. Type a word into the search box. If it is on the page, it will highlight. Jump to each place where the word appears using the Previous and Next buttons.

Use multiple search engines:

search strategies using search engines

Use more than one search engine such as: Bing, Google, or Duck Duck Go. Each provides different results.


TechnoEarth to Boost Search Strategies

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TechnoEarth Technology Project

TechnoKids’ newest project, TechnoEarth, inspires students to become environmental stewards. As they research an important issue, they develop and refine search strategies. Then, using Google Sites, they design an interactive, web-based infographic that outlines the cause, harmful effects, and solutions. The publication also summarizes stakeholders, highlights interesting facts, and pinpoints the location of the problem. Students inform the public about the environmental issue, raise awareness, and spark action.

Check out the next blog post to get a fun activity from TechnoEarth. Students search for information and explore these tips to build proficient search skills.

Think Green, Teach Green – Earth Day 2020

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

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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!