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ictenglish - [ICTs in English] ICTs in English Weekly update - Visualising Relationships and Ideas from Texts

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[ICTs in English] ICTs in English Weekly update - Visualising Relationships and Ideas from Texts


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  • From: Hamish Chalmers <hchalmers AT ashs.school.nz>
  • To: ictenglish AT lists.tki.org.nz
  • Subject: [ICTs in English] ICTs in English Weekly update - Visualising Relationships and Ideas from Texts
  • Date: Wed, 30 May 2012 16:26:14 +1200

Hi everyone,

Themes in texts are complex - rich in interrelations, sometimes oversimplified when articulated in a single word (or even single sentences) and notoriously difficult to help students develop understandings around. To make things worse, we often present text studies in discrete parts - plot, characters, setting, style and themes. While this is helpful in some ways it can also incorrectly suggest that these areas are all discrete elements of texts without much in the way of relationships between them.

A good text study will most likely identify the relationships between these elements - how character behaviour and relationships informs our understanding of themes, how setting, style and plot do this too and how they all work together. Getting students to explain their understanding of these relationships can be a challenging task however.  

A while back, I posted a link to visual.ly, a site primarily for publishers and creators of infographics. Infographics are all about communicating complexity cunningly-well in a visual format using a whole bunch of techniques we’re familiar with as English teachers along with a whole bunch more we might not have seen before. Infographics work really nicely with text-based understandings too and the number of infographics on visual.ly based on films and novels (pulp fiction timeline, Tron character relationships, Inception timeline Lord of The Rings character threads and Back to the Future timeline just to get you started) would be an awesome place to send students to wrap their heads around designing infographics on texts.

Groups and/or individuals working on different elements of a text would not only develop their own understandings on the complexities between these elements but could also provide an awesome bunch of resources to share among each other. They could produce these electronically if they have the expertise and resources or make them up by hand. These kinds of activities have probably been delivered to students by onto it teachers for ages but the sheer awesomeness of some of the examples on visual.ly could really highlight for students the amazing level of detail and complexity that can be communicated in an effective infographic.

It would be awesome to hear about any electronic tools people are aware of that could be used for creating infographics. Inkscape (or any vector-based graphic tool) would be great for those students with expertise or keenness but I’m wondering whether there’s some out there that are more usable?

Hamish Chalmers
Facilitator: ICTs in English
http://englishonline.tki.org.nz/



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