Bringing Infographics to Life

2ag Kelso's Choice WheelGrade Two students are able readers, but it is developmentally appropriate for them to be reading leveled picture books as all of my students are developing reading and writing skills. Additionally, in my classroom we have several Learning Support and English as an Additional Language students.  When the message is not clear, the pictures spur conversation and allow the class to debate what the text might mean. By using this infographic in small group sessions, students and teachers are able to discuss concepts, record ideas for implementation and share examples of their practice.

Understanding the Inquiry Cycle

We are an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school and have a framework which supports our curriculum, guiding our students in their learning journey. We call this the Inquiry Cycle. The PYP is an inquiry based program  where students lead their learning by following a series of steps: Tuning In, Finding Out, Sorting Out, Going Further, Making Conclusions and Taking Action. This model, based on the work of Kathy Short can be quite complicated for young learners and often uses vocabulary which is advanced for their age. By translating the inquiry cycle into an infographic, the students are able to make connections between the theory and their own learning.


Kathy Short’s Inquiry Cycle is a cornerstone of PYP pedagogy and practice

In 2ag, we use the infographic below repeatedly throughout the year. Our knowledge builds in stages as we work our way through our 6 units of inquiry using the cycle each time. At the beginning of the year, students examine each section in  conjunction with what is happening in class. We focused on asking questions in our Communication Systems unit. The students asked teachers and students in our school about how we use systems to communicate information to the different elements of the school community. Students use the infographic to create their own definitions for the “Ask” stage and create their own image to accompany their definition. As we progress through the year, we revisit our definitions building a collaborative class definition which we will turn into an Inquiry Cycle class display. By giving ownership of the definition and the image, it makes the learning relevant and accessible to the students. Unfortunately, as it is so early in the school year, I do not yet have a display built for this class. I will begin to develop it with my Second Grade class after the Winter break in our third unit.

Infographics in Action

A good example of how this process works with an infographic is our class created version of the Kelso’s Choice Wheel. Kelso’s Choices are a system of problem solving strategies for students to manage peer conflict and behaviour on the playground and within the classroom. Our students work with the School Counselor and each other to understand the programme’s elements and how they can make good choices in different situations. We shared our 3D infographic with the Primary School during our class assembly and the Kelso’s Choice Wheel which my students created in on this post. The text which supports each section is on the back of each pie piece as they held them up during the presentation and read it out to the audience. The class composition has now been hung up in the hallway outside of our classroom, to help educate the rest of the school and remind them of the positive choices they can make when interacting with their friends.

thecycleofinquirybasedlearning’s inquiry infographic which 2ag annotate throughout the year.



Local & Global Interactions


Within our Grade Two classroom the focu2ag-post-boxs has been “communication systems enable local and global interactions”. As part of the student inquiries they investigated the postal system, how mail travels and by extension the mechanisms which work together to deliver messages across the world. A strong language focus included letter writing and the conventions surrounding sending messages in an addressed envelope to another person and place. Visual literacy plays a strong role in communicating the framework and function of systems, as well as the structure of a letter and layout of addressed envelopes.

In our unit, students decided that communication systems are developed to meet a need. By examining the people, parts, organization and purpose of systems; they inquired into how communication systems help us and why we need them. They French Post Boxcan explain how accessing and sharing information enables us to connect locally and globally through the use of maps and technology.

The students created a postal system for the primary school and used self-selected images of post boxes to help create their own. As we are an international school, we were able to find images of Switzerland and our home country’s national post boxes increasing global understanding. Strongest was making a local connection, as they chose to paint the class post boxes orange & black writing, which are the school colours.  

Visual imagery supports the language curriculum extremely well. Graphic organizers are key to supporting students in their writing development and allows for more successful communication opportunities. As they begin to blog this year, our Grade 2 students make strong connections to Digital Citizenship practices and are learning to cite their sources. Our class uses the visualizer in our room to explore stamps from around the world and were able to connect to their developing understanding of the globe. The wall map in our room is a place of annotation and engagement. Experiences are share as our Flat Stanley pictures are posted upon their return from adventures with relatives in other countries. Our class continually adds layers to the web of our personal connections through imagery on our wall map.

As I mentioned previously in my post Fight the Empowerment, imagery is incredibly important to me when communicating my message. Often they are the source of my inspiration to get writing DODH and help me to develop my author’s voice. Imagery tells the untold story and Postes Canada - Canada Post Mailboxfuels my creativity. I am especially pleased that the new theme showcases my feature images so nicely; although my categories absurdly cover them. I have yet to figure out how to remedy that, so if anyone knows please pass it along @GroverAndrew. While using the Creative Commons to search for digital images I found that tips from Kim Cofino’s video were very helpful. Do not underestimate the power of a visual explanation, accessible by users at their own pace and specific learning needs. I appreciated how I could split my screen and follow along while selecting an image. Personalized tutoring.

One of educational technology’s greatest strengths is the ability to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways. Just as my hero Alvin Toffler predicted, workflows have changed as computers enhance the ability to tailor the access to information.

tank man

Fight the Empowerment

tank man

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead


What a powerful image.

When I’m writing a new blog post, the biggest struggle is always to have the idea to get started at first. Of course many aspects of the content become immediately accessible within my mind, but I find it extremely difficult to actually start without a previously determined idea. Usually that focal point comes from one or two sources of an image which I choose to be my header; or I write a title, which then gives the editorial slant I intend to take about a topic. However this time, after watching an inspirational TED Talk about student action Extracurricular empowerment by Scott McLeod; two songs leapt into my mind. A mini battle of the bands ensued for the right to title this post. Since we are talking about  empowerment of students using technology; the word power floated upwards, like the cream to the top of milk. Rage Against the Machine’s 1991 song Take the Power Back not only has power in it’s title, but also contains strong verses about making the content of the curriculum relevant to learners and shaking up archaic educational structures. In the other corner,  Fight the Power, a 1990 track from Public Enemy makes a similarly strong statement about making change and advancing progress. As you can see from the title of my post, remixed title of these songs was the winner. Of course, as I wrote my first paragraph, many other songs containing the word “power” have bubbled to the surface of my consciousness including The Power by Snap! and Powerslave by Iron Maiden. Feel free to add your contributions or suggestions of great “power” songs in the comments below.

Now that the title and beginning of my post has been taken care of; the discussion of  technological empowerment in an education, has one key component to it: how educators can empower students and how students can empower themselves. I am lucky in that my classroom has a variety of technology at the students’ disposal. They have access to visualizers, digital cameras, iPads, Chromebooks and Smartboards and as a result, students are proficient with their application within the classroom. As a teacher, I post information on our class website and Home Learning tasks on our Google Classroom. Students have the ability to self-monitor and direct their own learning once they understand the established protocols. Before fully switching over to a digitized classroom, homework was previously posted on the board and copied into student agendas. Time consuming and apt to important details being missed. Once students had access to technology, often in the form of personal telephones, a quick picture of this list a

The French philosopher Rousseau's du Contrat Social inspired European political reform.

The French philosopher Rousseau’s du Contrat Social caused widespread European political reform.

nd out the door they walked. Now, with my curriculum so digitized, students are already accessing content related to their learning on their commute home. Students are adept at using technology collaboratively for learning purposes.  As students mature, they often choose to be involved in clubs and activities which make a difference in the lives of others. There is a deep engagement in Round Square, Student Council, Model United Nations and Global Issues clubs. Youth are naturally forming their opinions on issues related to their local community, school or personal life.  Students join groups which are often used for discussion and sharing of content whether it be for educational or personal use.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau posed that “Man was basically good”  and from the desire to be good, a social conscience is formed.

In our How We Organize Ourselves inquiry on Fair Play we discover which individuals and organisations have promoted human rights. They look at the actions taken by others to address problems and want to contribute. The outstanding TED Talk by McKenna Pope Want to be an activist? Start with your toys is an excellent example of how youth can leverage positive change. Students connect with local experts and sometimes leaders in their field. One student  pursuing his inquiry had the opportunity to interview the CEO of the National Civil War Museum and have a personalized tour via Hangout. Our Primary Round Square Club uses Google Docs to plan the logistics surrounding the school dance. The Primary Student Representative Council uses To collect feedback about school initiatives  and communicate developments throughout the year. As part of their exhibition action the students participated in a JR Action showing how they can make a difference in their own personal lives. Their final product was filmed with multiple iPads and the final movie edited and published across the school platforms by the students.

McLeod posits that “we must get out of the way and allow them to be amazing”. As an educator we want to create the structures and opportunities to allow our constituents to Achieve your Potential, Pursue your Passion & Fulfil your Responsibility as our School Mission states. Natural curiosity, fused with an interest in action; arises in a collaborative environment. Students want to develop their leadership capabilities and we as Educators always encourage the active pursuit of their goals and dreams.