Monday, February 6, 2017

A Fresh Spin on Expository Writing

Michelle Trainor is an 8th grade language arts teacher at Noblesville East Middle School. This is her third year teaching in a 1:1 iPad setting, and she is a member of Noblesville Schools’ Vanguard Group, a group of teacher leaders collaborating to integrate technology in transformative ways. 

One of my biggest passions is helping students come to love learning in a new way. Throughout the curriculum creation and lesson planning processes, this passion has guided me to helping my students think about expository writing differently through the creation of infographics.
Infographics are visual displays of information through which the creator has to think critically about the purpose of sharing this information, the target audience, and the evidence used to support one’s ideas. Simultaneously, students are tasked with evaluating their information to decide what is best represented visually and what calls for further explanation. In other words, having students create infographics is a refreshing way for students to synthesize their expository writing skills while producing an artifact that they can share with a larger digital audience.

Prior to beginning the infographic creation process, students completed an outline as if they were writing a traditional expository essay--what is your thesis? What supporting evidence do you have? How will you explain the ways your evidence supports your answer? This emphasis on the expository writing skills prior to the infographic creation process led to stronger application of those skills later on.

From there, I introduced my students to the following tools: Canva, Piktochart, and Smore. Students ultimately had a choice in which tool they wanted to use, but I encouraged students who are more interested in design and proficient iPad users to select Piktochart. Students who tend to need more support found that Smore worked best for them. Canva was perfect for those students who wanted to take small risks. Piktochart and Canva are available through the app store, and all three are available through the web.
Next came the creation process! This took place over the course of a week with moments for peer revision and teacher feedback along the way. As students worked, I would conference with them on the ways in which they were incorporating the information they previously outlined. In the end, this fresh spin on expository writing led to more thoughtful writing and evaluation of their own ideas! Here is an example final product made by one of my students:

No comments:

Post a Comment