My book Pinocchio Rex and Other Tyrannosaurs, is chockful of text features, including this fun infographic:
The process of designing it began with a VERY rough sketch by me.
Let’s face the facts. My drawing skills leave a lot of be desired, but this sketch was enough to give the talented folks in the HarperCollins art department an idea of what I had in mind—a grouping of visual elements that work together to show that the tyrannosaur family lived on Earth for 100 million years, and while it’s final members were gigantic, fearsome predators, they’re earliest ancestors were about the same size as us.
Basically, the infographic summarizes one of the book’s central tenets by drawing on information presented on many different pages. The process of conceptualizing it was very similar to the process students engage in as they analyze and synthesize research notes while preparing to write a report.
In this article, I discuss the reasons students plagiarize instead of expressing ideas and information in their own words and offer some solutions. By third grade, children know that they shouldn’t copy their sources, but they struggle to evaluate the information they’ve collected and make it their own. We need to offer students a variety of ways to think carefully and critically about their research notes, and infographics is one tool we can offer them.
Here’s a terrific infographic that summarizes the information in my book No Monkeys, No Chocolate.
This wasn’t a school assignment. The student did it in her own in her free time because she really wanted to understand the process described in the book. I especially love the bookworm dialogue she wrote. It perfectly captures the voice I used in the book. It also shows that she understands the function of these characters—to add humor and reinforce the ideas in the main text. In Common Core lingo, she understands my author intent. See how powerful infographics can be?
When students take the time to represent their notes visually as infographics (or other combinations of words and pictures) during their pre-writing process, they will find their own special way of conveying the information. Instead of being tempted to plagiarize, they’ll write a report that’s 100 percent their own.