Have you noticed that some of your students (probably many of your students) struggle to pay attention for even a short period of time? Odds are that’s affecting their retention. The downside is that they won’t be able to recall information correctly and their learning will be impaired.
The big problem is that the human brain wasn’t designed to sit still for hours, absorbing tons of monotonous information. According to Robert Sylwester, author of How to Explain a Brain, “it seems our brain was designed to pay attention to sudden, dramatic changes and to simply ignore or monitor subtle differences, steady states, or gradual changes”.
Classroom teachers are in a constant battle for attention, but maybe that’s because they’re using the wrong tools and methods. Dr. Judy Willis, neuroscientist and middle school science teacher, suggests that “stories and the use of images, pictures, and visual tools” get students to pay attention consciously. Fortunately, we might have a solution. Enter infographics.
Infographics as a visual learning tool
As a classroom teacher, you may have heard that infographics are extremely powerful tools for teaching. Humans are visual creatures – half of our brain is dedicated to visual functions. Moreover, 65% of the population are visual learners.
What’s even more impressive is that as images are processed simultaneously, we process them 60,000 times faster than we process text.If you are interested in learning how to increase learning efficiency by using infographics, keep reading.
The Basic: Giving infographics as research material.
This simple method is surprisingly effective. You need to teach a specific topic to your group of students. You assign some reading from the textbook. However, the classroom material isn’t enough, so you also give students an infographic. Here are the steps:
- Create your own infographic (you can download our how-to manual here). Using someone else’s material is also fine, as long as you attribute ownership. Beg, borrow, steal, right?
- Create context on why the graphic is an important piece of information. Start with exciting information on what the design is about and use other materials to complete the lesson (videos, news links, other embedded content).
- Have students analyze the graphics on their own.
- Debrief as a class. Students should be able to draw conclusions or insights from the material.
Help Me Understand: Explaining Rules or Clarifying Processes
Lucia Viale is a kindergarten teacher with a classroom full of 34 children age 3 to 5. When they are playing, coloring, or talking, everything is good. However, when she needs them to perform a certain task, all hell breaks loose.
This used to constantly be the case during snack time. After researching visual learning, she decided to experiment with infographics.
“I designed a huge, extremely visual infographic to teach kids the simple steps they need to follow. It was kind of like a checklist. Then, I hung it next to the blackboard, so everyone could see it.”
That amazing infographic is long gone, but here’s another example. This infographic simplifies the decision making process of packing for a trip.
The Endless Debate: Making Comparisons
Soledad Bisso is a classroom teacher at San Pedro High School. She is always looking for new, innovative methods to improve student learning. That’s when, courtesy of a close friend, she stumbled upon infographics:
“My first experiment was a simple design comparing and contrasting Microsoft Windows vs. Apple OS X in a fun and surprising way for my students. I printed a copy for each student and handed them out before the lecture. They were hooked.”
Here’s a graphic example of comparing and contrasting using London vs. Paris. They are two gorgeous mega-cities, but each one of them has its unique style and culture. Presenting those differences in a mere checklist would be boring for students. They might not be able to recall any of the important points because they weren’t paying attention. However, presenting them in a beautiful, compelling infographic might change everything.
The Scientist: Sharing Data or Showing Trends
Data and numbers can be tricky. They contain huge amounts of useful information, but they need to be presented in an orderly, visually clarifying manner.Some students despise math because of the complexity, but thankfully infographics allow teachers a great crossover between numbers and language arts.
Whenever you may need to present data in a memorable way, a great idea is trying to find an infographic on the subject. For instance, if you need to lecture about data on the happiest and unhappiest countries in the world, this might be a great resource.
The Napoleon Method: Visualizing a Timeline
As a student in middle or high school, history is one the main subjects you need to learn. Historical awareness is key to understanding the context in which we live. The problem is that most students don’t get this, so they have trouble seeing the value in memorizing dates, names, and historical events.
If you need to explain the historical evolution of the wedding, lecturing your students about how every culture did weddings differently won’t cut it. The solution might be turning the information into a visual story or an illustrated timeline. Students can engage with it, and in turn, improve learning and data retention.
Bonus Download: The Teacher’s Guide on Creating Amazing Infographics
We used Piktochart to create a simple and useful infographic on the 8 steps you should to follow to create a simple infographic for your students. Click here to download it.
Thanks to Lucia Viale from Mark Twain School and Soledad Bisso from San Pedro High School, both teachers with experience utilizing infographics in the classroom.