debrief: Project Citizen & infographics

As my classroom moves into a new project, there are quite a number of proud moments that are worth sharing.  First, I’ve got to give credit to the kids who put together some great research binders.  Many were really engaged during my workshops on how to make relevant graphs in Word, and it certainly showed in some of their final products.  Having the mayor, our principal, school librarian and even parental involvement was motivating for them.  They really stepped courageously up to the plate to show that they’d like to see some school and community problems eased, if not erased.  They demonstrated great composure, too, when tackling some hot-button issues like teen pregnancy, Link Card (welfare) abuse and poor school budgeting.  They told stories, but stories that we knew on which they spent time on empathizing.

I will definitely be pursuing face-to-face interviews more in the future in order to encourage field research on topics.  I found it a great community outreach opportunity.  I designed a scaffolding activity that asked students to engage in a mock phone call to set up interviews; it really helped to ease some of (to be expected) worries about sending young students into the community to do research.  During that activity / oral communication quiz, students really got a kick out of being able to call my desk phone using their cell phones, too.

It’s worth noting, too, that I did get an opportunity to teach a couple students how to make infographics using Illustrator, as per one of my original goals for this project.  The infographic was part of the Advanced column on our project rubrics, with other advanced graphs an option as well.  (If students did a demographic study within a particular survey question… say, breaking down results from males vs. females… then they, too, could earn Advanced credit without the extra tech skills.)  I’m pleased to present one of the infographics that I have uploaded with the student’s permission.  Their group surveyed students on teen self-image, collected open-ended responses as well as data from closed responses.  The student I worked with on this infographic more or less taught (him/her)self after I walked through a step-by-step tutorial from Vector Tuts Plus with (him/her).  Check out the student work sample below.

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