Comics and Digital Story Telling as an Assessment Option

Sunday, December 23, 2018 No comments
It's important for students to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create, but sometimes it is hard to keep up with new digital artifacts that we can incorporate into our assessment options. I've written posts about students creating infographics, discussion topics, blogs, and memes, so today I want to add comics or digital stories to that list. I'd love to hear about the things your students are creating so I can add them to our repertoire!

Why Should Students Create Comics?

  • Students have to think critically about audience, tone, and purpose to communicate content. 
  • Many students have read and enjoyed graphic novels in the past like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Manga, March, and many other titles. Creating digital stories for them can be engaging and tap into valuable prior knowledge. 
  • Digital stories can be told in almost any discipline for almost any content. 
  • Digital stories can meet many of the narrative standards for ELA and literacy across the curriculum. 

Which Tools Should We Use? 

What do Student Samples Look Like? 

Here are 4 student samples from my 9th grade English class. After finishing the graphic novel March by John Lewis, (about the civil rights march in Selma and lunch counter sit-ins), students created comics that retold other events of their choice in the civil rights histories of African-Americans, Latinx-Americans,  Muslim Americans, The LGTBQ+ community, and more. 

Student Created Infographics

Friday, December 21, 2018 No comments

TL;DR Infographics are a great way for students to combine critical thinking, design elements, and content knowledge to show mastery or share information with peers. Want to see some student examples? Scroll down. 

What Infographics Can Assess?

Infographics can be used in pretty much every discipline to assess content standard mastery. Here are some ideas of major assessments that fit nicely with infographics:
  • Research: I mostly use infographics as an additional way to assess research standards so that we are doing more than the traditional research paper.  My rubric usually assesses use of credible sources, MLA/APA citations, main claims, and supporting evidence. 
  • Conceptual Knowledge: Infographics are also ideal for students to demonstrate an understanding of content. Instead of a traditional test or project, students could do a deep dive into the content to communicate the concepts in another format. 
  • Design: In order for students to create successful infographics, they have to pay attention to audience, purpose, color schemes, white space, and logical/emotional appeals. These decisions help students process and prioritize information, which is a vital part of critical thinking. 
  • More? I'm sure there are more elements that I'm not thinking of.  Feel free to leave comments/questions/suggestions in the comment section below. 

What does the lesson flow look like? 

  • Analyze and Critique Published Infographics: Before students start working, I think it is always a good idea to show some samples and have students google more samples to get the general idea of what infographics entail. Then, go through them and have students find elements that they think are especially weak or strong. This plants the seed of what they are trying to accomplish in the end. 
  • Work through the research or content: I teach AVID, so I'm big into having students take focused notes on the research or content that they will be using for the infographics to organize themselves and process information before the creation begins. For us, this is a lengthy and interactive process, but it could be condensed significantly.  
  • Create: We do a lot of the creation in class because I try to #ditchthathomework, but many students work on it at home also because they don't make enough progress in class or because they get so into it that they want to put in the extra time. 
  • Critique Peers and Revise: Part of my philosophy of education is that the process is more important than the product. Because of that, I usually have students share a fully complete first infographic to a padlet and then peers evaluate each other and give suggestions for improvement. We have a discussion about trends in strengths and areas for improvement. Students use the discussion and peer feedback to go into their work and strengthen it. 
  • Publish: Even though the learning can always continue, we do celebrate the products that are completed when we are ready to move on as a class. 

What tools should students use? 

  • Venngage: This year, we used Venngage and I thought it was pretty user-friendly and the templates made it easy for students to create really beautiful products (easy google single sign-on for students). I posted this page of tutorials in my google classroom. The 5-minute getting started video was all the overview that most of my students needed to get started. One thing to know: with the free version, students cannot share/download their work, but they can publish it and share a link with you. There are some samples that students made with Venngage below. Sorry the purple one got cut in half! 
  • Google Drawing: Heidi Resnik and I worked together on helping multiple teachers in different departments at ACHS create infographics with students using google drawing. Here is the basic slide deck I created to help students get started on creating infographics with google drawing that relies heavily on the chart function. If you want to use that slide deck please click file > make a copy and do not request access! Thanks.   There are some samples below of student infographics made with google drawing below. 
  • Canva: I haven't used Canva with students, but I have used it for my own personal projects and it's pretty awesome. 
  • Piktochart: This used to be my go to infographic maker years ago when I taught at St. Bonnie because it was one of the first ones to market.  Students created really intricate designs, but they found it a little tedious to use, which is why I went with Venngage this time. 

What do student infographics look like? 

Samples from my 9th grade AVID class on a research topic of choice using Venngage,, and other online resources: 

Samples from my 11th grade English class about the Harlem Renaissance, made with google drawing and academic databases.

 Would you use infographics as an assessment?  Holler at me with questions, comments, or suggestions!