We have become such a visual society that images and graphics really are an important part of our communication skill set. Why not include charts as a way to reinforce a concept in a persuasive written piece? Recently, a local high school English teacher did just that.
When introducing a unit on The Holocaust, she asked students to rank their Top Ten for Who is Responsible for The Holocaust? The teacher posted a link to a Google Sheet in her Google Classroom. There were nine categories in protected cells and students could add their own tenth category. Then, they entered numbers to rank each category. Next, students converted the spreadsheet data to a pie chart. Then, they inserted the chart into a Google Document and wrote a justification for their choice of ranking.
Basically, the teacher saw three different types of effective responses for this assignment. One student simply did a numbered list. The pie chart helped to illustrate the ranking for the students to choose the level of responsibility and the student chose the ranking to be ten for most responsible and one for least responsible. The justification was written with the highest ranking as the first numbered point. Other students who wrote a numbered list ranked ten as leas responsible and one as most responsible. So, the written justification certainly became an important part of the assignment.
Other students chose to write their justification in essay format, writing a paragraph as a way to explain the choices. A student took the essay format one step further by changing font colors to match the categories on the pie chart as the explanation was detailed. Sometimes the best differentiation comes from giving only basic instructions and allowing students to interpret!
Creating visuals solidifies ideas and concepts for readers and for students creating the visuals as well. More importantly, an assignment like this gives the teacher a starting place for knowing what information is banked in students’ prior knowledge and what needs to be learned. Amazing formative assessments don’t have to be locked into a ten question bubble sheet. Why not smash a few apps together and really learn more about what students do and do not know?