Natural breaks in the school year prompt reflection, and my students examined their independent reading habits and progress so far. This month, I asked students to create infographics to tell the story of their independent reading for the first semester. This was our first attempt to examine and create infographics, and we found it challenging to distill pieces of information into a clear visual format, but the challenge required us to think carefully about what was true and what we want to be true.
My students and I have ongoing conversations about reading habits, recommendations, and individual goals. I'm constantly trying to move this toward a genuine conversation about reading, but I admit that grading and testing requirements sometimes cast a shadow over our time and topics during reading conferences. However, independent reading time and choice are fundamental to our class culture.
We classify books that challenge us as purple, books that are just right for us as blue, and books that are quick reads for us as green. We do a lot of discussion about the reason why a book might be green or purple for an individual reader, and our focus is not on comparing with each other, but being aware of our own trends in terms of how complex our texts tend to be. We also recognize that green books have a rightful place in our reading lives.
We analyzed several different types of infographics before we started, including an example I made about my own reading this year. We talked about what kinds of statistics might be relevant to compile, and looked at design elements – not too many colors or fonts, some images but not everywhere, and the power of proofreading. The key requirement was that the infographic needed to accurately reflect the real reading they had been doing.
Since we built our infographics in Google Slides, a few students created a whole slideshow, so their elements were spread across different images.
I was genuinely excited to review these infographics, and even more interested in recommending books based on students’ reflections. My favorite thing is seeing more and more autonomy in their own views about themselves as readers.
These student infographics are honest reflections of a moment in time. Although the infographic was an assignment, each is a spur to a new conversation, rather than a wrap-up. There are some powerful stories within this student work, and questions to pursue.
As the calendar year closes, I'm reflecting about my own reading, and I'm grateful to my students for their honest self-examination and their continued, inspirational efforts to be better tomorrow.
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.