Thursday, January 22, 2015


Infographics for Novels

I finally have a moment to post about a great project that I did with my students last semester. We were reading Julius Caesar and I wanted them to work on their digital skills in a way that isn't just technology. I also wanted them to practice their essay skills without writing an essay.

I decided to make an infographic project! They had to compare (or contrast), William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to Tina Fey's Mean Girls. There are other movies you can do this to (21 is one I've seen many teachers do), but I like Mean Girls because the high schoolers can really relate to it. Plus, I teach a lot of exchange students from other countries. Since my school is private, I appreciate the ability to point out that no, not every public high school in America is like their pop portrayal.

The assignment:
Mean Girls, has a lot in common with Julius Caesar. Just look at the themes! However, since the movie and play have vastly different settings, and audiences, it isn't just a modern adaptation (like Ten Things I Hate About You and Taming of the Shrew). In your infographic, create an analysis of the play vs. movie where you argue the basic story of Julius Caesar was changed specifically because one one thing. Please support your ideas with at least 6 pieces of textual evidence (three from the movie, and three from the play).
For example: They could argue that because Regina was much younger than Julius Caesar, the movie becomes a comedy rather than a tragedy.

I got students started by telling them they could think about which characters were alike, and then why they are different.
For example:
Cady -Brutus
Many students also want to say Gretchen is like Caesar (mainly because of her monologue where she suggests Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. Give freedom here! Whatever makes the most sense to them, is what they should support.

They could also look at the setting
For example:
Students High School vs Politicians and Soldiers in Rome
60BC vs 2004
A small town near Chicago, Illinois vs The Roman Empire

And anything else they found interesting! Heck if they wanted to I'd be happy if they wrote about fashion, or diction.

Some example, "thesis statements" from my students (you can see their complete infographic by clicking on the links)

This was a great way to get them practicing essay writing skills, without making them write essays. They needed to find support (quotes), interpret the quotes, and analyze them to support their argument.

 It was challenging, but they really enjoyed it!

This could have been done entirely as a homework assignment, but we spent two days working on it in the computer labs my school has on campus.

There are quite a few infographic tools to choose from. I let my students select their own, but in the future, I plan on limiting it to one site. This time troubleshooting the whole class got complicated as they each needed different directions.

The three sites I suggested to my students were:

They were all free sites and I thought they all worked just fine. My students seemed to prefer piktochart. I would suggest you find the one that you like the most since you'll be the one answering their questions.

That's it! Has anyone else used infographics with their students? I am looking forward to including them in my speech class!


  1. Hi Carissa,
    I'm putting together a presentation for a workshop on infographics in the classroom. I've been looking for examples in different content areas and found your blog. Would you allow me to use one of your images from this post in my presentation as an English example? Of course I would link to your blog and credit you. Thank you so much,

    1. Of course! Will your presentation be available online after? I'd love to let my students know that they were "featured" and give them a link.

      My Speech class also uses infographics for research:

  2. Hi Carissa,
    I came across your blog post after seeing your comment in our 2ndaryELA Facebook group on Piktochart. This is great! I'd love to try something similar w/ my 6th grade ELA gifted students. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Lit with Lyns

    1. I really really enjoyed it. The best part is some students really pick it up and end up using infographics in their other classes (really impressing teachers). I teach yearbook and journalism too now, so being able to find students who are gifted at layout is a plus :-)

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hello Carissa,
    I'm a student with an infographic assignment. As a senior in college this is a first for me. The assignment is reflective and I am having a hard time finding a way to create flow. Any suggestions?


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