Teaching Children Using Infographics


Infographics are colourful, visual posters designed to inform but in a stimulating and engaging way and I love them.  I would prefer to read an infographic rather than pages and pages of text, and I am more likely to remember the information because it will be eye-catching, dramatic and detailed.  So for this reason alone, I think they are wonderful to use to help children read more carefully, to extract important information and to think about the purpose of a text.

The problem is that a lot of them can be quite complicated.  So here is a collection of some of the simplest infographics I have used to teach children.

infographic

Infographics may contain graphs and charts, flow charts, diagrams, photographs, timelines, maps, tables and blocks of text and lots of information so they are ideal to use as a tool to engage children into learning about the topic or to read and interpret it.

Type 1 – Infographics Showing Instructions and How To’s

This one on the simple game of “Rock, paper Scissors” is perfect for getting children to think about how to write effective instructions.  Suggested activities

1.  Write your own set of instructions for the game

2.  Outline the layout features in the infographic like diagrams, headings, sub-headings and numbering and comment on how they are effective.rock paper scissors

Type 2 – To show statistics, facts and figures

There are hundreds of this type but I love the “If there were 100 people” in the world for it’s simplicity and clarity.  The “International number 1’s” had some children engrossed for a good half hour.  Suggested activities:

1.  If you were one of those 100 people, what would your statistics be?

2.  If you could be number 1 in the world at something, what would it be?

If the World Were 100 People

by KVSStudio.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

1276_international_number_onesTaken from this website.

Type 3 – to re-educate and eradicate myths and misunderstandings

This type of infographic could be used to get children to recall simple facts from.

headache-everything-you-need-to-know_50290fc260bb6_w1500

Taken from this website.

And finally…..

Type 4 – a bit of fun

How Much You Can Trust a Bearded Man?

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
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I Don’t Understand What I Read – How to Help With Comprehension


I Don’t Get What This Book Is About….

As a teacher, I have heard this many times.  Children who cannot comprehend what they are reading, will say this and give up reading the book after a few pages.

Many children can read fluently for their age and understand what they are reading.  But some will struggle with comprehension.  These children will struggle to grasp the finer details of a story.  For example, they may be able to recall the names of the characters but may not be able to:

“Compare two characters in the book. Tell which one you think is better and why.”

Children with weak comprehension may not be able to summarise a passage in a book or even re-phrase a sentence into their own words.  They will copy out the answer from the passage word for word.  They might be able to tell you what happened in a story, but can’t explain why events went the way they did.  They also find it difficult to explain character’s thoughts and feelings, and put themselves in the character’s shoes.

Weak comprehension skills are common amongst children with a low reading age, and children who do not read enough. This is because they are using all of their “brain power” to work out what words they are reading and are just going through the motions of reading.  They fail to see the bigger picture.  So how can you help your child reading comprehension?  Here are some useful tips on how to help your child with comprehension:

Read Every Day

  • Start with a minimum of 10 minutes per day.  Little and often is better than 1 hour on a Sunday.

  • Don’t just read books given by the class teacher.  Have books available around the house, get them from the library or if budget is tight, then buy them from charity shops.

  • Read a variety of genres and also read non-fiction.  Children with vivid imaginations tend to cope better with fiction because they can visualise whats happening in the books.  Getting children to read more factual information can help them learn new words, to think about layout features like sub-headings and fonts, and to slow down and think about what they are reading.

  •  Let your child choose the book.  Don’t force your child to read something they don’t want to. Let him/her choose the books and at the most, make a few subtle suggestions.

  • Read the same book, many times.

  • Don’t make the reading into a punishment.

You will find that children reading every day will improve their reading fluency and they will become more expressive in their reading.  As they get more exposure to words, their sight word recognition will improve.  Sight words are the most commonly used words in the english langauge and a child is expected to read without decoding or thinking about the word.  Examples of sight words are “the”, “after”, “through” and “world”.

Talk About What They Read

  • Read the books your child is reading so that you can talk about it together. Either read the book to your child, listen to your child read or read the book separately. Then talk about the characters and story just like you would be talking about a film after the movies.

  • Ask questions will help your child to think about the book:

    • What part of the reading was funniest?

    • What part was the most exciting?

    • What part was the saddest?

    • Was the main character in this reading good or bad? Why?

    • Which is better…?

    • Would you agree that…?

    • What is your opinion of…?

    • Were they right to do…? Why? Or why not?

    • Who would you choose…?

    • What would happen if…?

    • How would you…?

    • Do you know someone like…?

    • Would you do the same thing in the same situation…?

    • If you had to…what would you do?

  • Point out technical terms like:

    • the author

    • the illustrator

    • contents

    • index

    • genre

    • chapter

    • title

  • Never stop your child when they are reading mid sentence to ask a question.  This will take all the enjoyment out of the reading.

  • If your child comes across an unfamiliar word, discuss the meaning of this word without using a dictionary.

Thinking about characters, settings, the plot, the descriptions, the writer’s voice in a book also helps with writing.  Children become more aware of the ingredients for a good story.  Reading will also improve vocabulary and language skills.

If your child is struggling with comprehension Kip McGrath can help.  Our qualified, experienced teachers can guide your child through comprehension techniques, improve reading skills and help with exams.

Visit our website for more details.

6 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary


Vocabulary building is a fundamental skill in english, as it improves reading comprehension, spoken english and written expression.  Learning vocabulary is not just a matter of looking up the meaning of a word in a dictionary, but a more complex skill that is learnt through seeing and using the word in a variety of ways.  Multiple exposure to the word in different situations and using different learning methods can help with vocabulary development.  A good vocabulary is also important in the 11+ exam and should therefore be started early.

The inspiration from this post came from a comprehension exercise that I was doing with one of my students.  The word “harmless” came up and I had to try more than one way of explaining it to her.  I learned that later she used the word “harmless” to describe herself and “harmful” to describe her little sister in a conversation with her mum.

It was ...

Here are 6 ways to improve vocabulary….

1.  Using Visual Props

  • Draw a picture to show the meaning of the word.

  • Make flash cards with the word on one side and the meaning on the other

  • Download and print pictures or photos of the word

  • Use WORDLE.NET to create word clouds.  Just type words with the same meaning and it generates a word cloud.  This example is all the words which mean “yummy”.

Wordle: Other words for delicious

2.  Acting Out

  • Write down 10 words on flash cards.  Get the child to pick a card and act out the meaning of the word without talking. You can print your own flashcards on Quizlet.

  • You can use props to help you.  I have a cuddly teddy in my classroom because the word “affection” is on our vocabulary list.  So to illustrate “affection”, I cuddle the toy.

3. Traditional Methods

  • Look up the word in a dictionary, or online at dictionary.com

  • find synonyms in a thesaurus, o r oline at thesaurus.com

  • use the word in a sentence

  • describe the word in a sentence

  • find the opposite of the word and explaining the meaning of the opposite word

  • Make the word longer by adding prefixes or suffixes

  • create vocabulary word lists for common words.  I have a collection on my Pinterest.

4.  Vocab Games

  • Matching game – make flash cards

type 1 – 10 vocab words to learn

type 2 – 10 definitions of each word

type 3 – 10 synonyms of each word

type 4 – 10 opposites to each word

Match type 1  to type 2, match type 1 to type 3 or type 1 to type 4.  There are a total of 12 different types of combinations you can try.  Once you’ve mastered 2 combinations, then try to match 3 sets of cards, and then all 4 sets of cards.

  • Online websites

this one called vocabulary.com is really good for older children (age 12 and above)

  • pictionary

parent draws a picture to represent a word, child tries to guess the word

child draws the picture and parent guesses

  • topic words

This game is useful for reinforcing key words  or technical language

Time your child for one minute and see how many words they can come up with related to a particular topic.  You can type the words in wordle.net and generate a word cloud. This one was created from the key words from “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Wordle: of mice and men keywords

5.  Practice and Use

Provide opportunities for your child to use new words and to practice using them in games like crosswords.  Also, use the words in a conversation with your child and try variations of the word, like adding a prefix or suffix to it.

6. Visual Thesaurus

Finally I will leave you with a website recommendation called “Visual Thesaurus” which is an excellent resource for vocab building.

Why We Make Children Answer Comprehension Questions in Full Sentences


Last weekend, I observed one of my teachers talking to a student.  This is how the conversation went:

Teacher: So Adam, why didn’t you write the answers to these comprehension questions in full sentences?

Adam: I didn’t know how to spell all the words.

Teacher: But the words were in the question.  They were right there in front of you.

Adam: My mum said that I couldn’t look at the words.

Teacher: So that’s why you only answered yes or no to each question.

Adam: Yes miss and she didn’t check it so I got away with it.

In fact Adam’s mum made the task more difficult by doing this and didn’t really understand the object and point of this particular homework.

We are trying to encourage Adam to get into the habit of answering comprehension questions in full sentences to improve his spellings and sentence structure. Because he finds reading challenging, he also finds it hard to copy words correctly.  That’s why at my centre, we encourage the students to copy the words from the question, because that way, they are at least seeing the words, writing down the words and making sure the words are correct.  By the time the student has answered all the question he will have seen the words at least 3 times.

Getting into the habit of answering comprehension questions in full sentences gets children ready to answer more complex probing questions when they get older.  At key stage 3 and GCSE level, children are expected to quote from the text and explain their answer.  They need to show that they have understood the text.