Tag Archive | Graphica

Infographics In Math

Blogging is a norm in my classroom to learn and practice mathematical concepts.  I find that engaging my students in realistic stories helps them construct their own meaning of third grade math.  Lately, the stories have become more complex.  About a week ago we worked on a problem around my co-teacher’s recent wedding reception.  The children had no problem applying the mathematics, but it was difficult for them to keep track of all of the information.  I thought that infographics could be one tool they could use.  
Throughout the year, I show my students how to break apart complex mathematical stories.  Using a strategy from Comprehending Math, I show them how to read the problem and determine what they know (K), what the want to know (W), and what conditions there are (C).  Over the years I have used a KWC chart, and have also shown the children how to underline what they know, circle what they want to know and highlight/box the conditions.  This typically works when what they want to know and/or the conditions are limited to one thing.
Back to the wedding favor post…
As I conferred with my students I noticed they were not struggling with the math at all.  I was confident in their abilities to solve the entire problem.  Yet, as I was looking back at their comments on the blog I realized that they when they went to respond they were missing chunks of their answers.  I decided that infographics would be a good way to meet a variety of their needs.  That night I took the post, broke it apart and created an infographic to model the process for them. 
Using the picture from the blog post, I highlighted the condition with a green arrow to show that we had to spend less than $500.  Next, I created the table that would be helpful in solving one part of the problem.  I highlighted how much it would cost to make one favor and added a note next to it explaining what I was showing.  Then I highlighted how much money would be spent in all and how many favors would be bought in all.  Again, I included a note explaining what that was showing.  Another part of the problem requested to know how the favors would be paid for in exact cash.  I included the money and a speech bubble explaining what it was showing.  In the end, I included a post-it note on the picture to pull all of that together in a few sentences, explaining the entire infographic
The end result?  Some of them were really jazzed about the idea, while others not so much.  Some of them tried this with the next problem about baseball gear.  My baseball fanatics were happy because they drew a baseball field.  Quite creatively, they decided that they would label the position with the corresponding dollar amount.  For example the item that cost $4 would go on second base and the item that cost $8 went in center field.  They used one dugout to hold the conditions and then another to host the table that would help them calculate.  A couple of them swore that they would never do an infographic again, but they would now start using a table instead.  All good, because I really just want them to find a tool that works for them and use it!
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Going Graphic: Revising

If you know third graders then you know that they despise revising.  Completely developmental.  And even though they become more comfortable with it by the end of the school year, they still require a bit of prodding to do so.  Because we are writing Graphic Novels, I decided that it would be best to use some qualities of Graphic Novels to focus in on during revision.  But…I stressed how these tips and tricks could be used for any genre.  Even though I was already familiar with these writing tips, the book, You Can Do A Graphic Novel reminded me of them!
The rule of three. Ahhh.. How they loved the rule of three. Third graders love lists and itoften comes up in their writing. This was helpful in keeping their writing elaborate yet succinct. We briefly talked about how quickly we could put our readers into snooze mode by making these lengthy lists.  One of the best ways to keep our readers alive and interested is to limit our lists to three items.  
Then we talked about the rule of three when it came to characters. They all knew each of their characters well, their traits and characteristics. They loved this when they were able to realize how they could make their reader draw this conclusion about their characters. If you want your character to be a certain way, then you should have him/her behave that way at least three times.  They loved this!  Because they had already decided how they wanted their characters to be, they re-read their scripts to make sure they were doing something to show that trait at least three times.  
I enjoyed sitting down to talk to them about how they did this because each of their characters were so unique!  One of the partnerships is writing a vampire comedy and as they were talking about how they made sure their characters Devon was sarcastic and Sassy was sassy, I was literally laughing out loud!  What was even more interesting was that there were a couple of partnerships that had multiple (five and up) characters and they were bound and determined to do this for each of their characters!  We talked about quick color-
coding and/or abbreviation system that they could use to check, and off they went.  
The other Graphic Novel element we talked about was the twist (another great tip from that book).  The twist is the part of the story where something unexpected happens.  We referred back to a few of the read alouds we had done over the school year (The Giver, Tiger Rising, Skeleton Man) and realized that the twist in these stories happened close to or during the resolution.  They decided that this would be the best place to put a twist in their stories.  One partnership is writing a zombie story and they decided to have anti-zombie fighting colonel become a zombie (very Battlestar Gallactica)!
I have to say that one of the best things about revising this way was that there were no, “I don’t need to revise” comments made.  They were happily going back into their stories deleting and adding!  There were probably a few reasons for this.
  1. They are loving the genre.
  2. What they were focusing on during revising was how to make a really good graphic novel.
  3. I called them tips and tricks (thanks, Ralph Fletcher!).

It was nice not having to cajole twenty kiddoes into rereading their stories, deleting unnecessary parts, and adding more details!

Going Graphic: Scripting

All writing begins with an idea.  And writing graphic novels is no different.  We began by going through our notebooks looking for things we may want to write about, characters we might want to develop, topics or genres we may want to explore.  Once the children had a few ideas they jotted their names and three possible ideas on a post-it note. This made partnering them up easier. I wanted them to have fun writing and for them to do this they would need to be writing with similar interests. Once partnered, it didn’t take them long at all to comeup with a story idea.
But, if you know elementary students, and in particular third graders, they hate planning. Or should I say that they don’t feel as if they need to plan? We’ve been using a pretty simple story structure all year: problems, attempts, resolution. Using this structure they began planning their novels. They began with their simple story structure and from there added a few things. We talked about climax and where it usually occurs in a story.
We talked about characters – heroes and villains – and decisions that had to be made as writers: who will triumph in the end? So many of my students were concerned because all of the books that are written for their age end happily and that is NOT how they wanted their story to end. I loved this conversation, being a rule – breaker myself, and assured them that it was THEIR story and they could make that decision if they wanted.
Drafting came easily to them. They were happy to write their script. Quite possibly they just liked the formality of the word script, but they spent six DAYS scripting! Abbreviating a character’s name to show who is speaking was a favorite. But then we got into other aspects of script writing. Want your character to do something instead of speaking? Write it in parentheses. Do you want the narrator to speak, or transition from one scene to another? Use brackets. Using these tools brought joy to the process.