Teaching Strategies: Conventions and Visuals

Feb 14 2007

Teaching Strategies: Conventions and Visuals

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Analyzing Visual Representations of Information to Determine Conventions

    Creating Visual Representations of Information

      • Students collect data and practice representing it in a visual form (table, graph, illustration, etc.).
      • The class can compare different representations and discuss what each version emphasizes/deemphasizes, etc.
      • Jessie’s favorite version—Colors of M&Ms
        • Provide each student/group with a package of M&Ms. Ask them to count the number of M&Ms in each color. (At this point, the whole class could create a table with “actual per packet,” “total,” and “average” information represented.)
        • Ask each student/group to create a visual representation comparing the amount of candies in each color included in their packet.
        • Give students information about the reported color break-down, as provided on the M&Ms website. (See handout)
        • Ask each student/group to create a second visual, comparing their actual color distribution with the company’s reported distribution.

      Repurposing a project for a different audience

        • As the examples above demonstrate, re-composed assignments could include a visual component—to inform, to persuade, to clarify, etc.
        • The re-composed product also could take an entirely visual or multimedia form:
          • Written proposal (to persuade) –> Video argument (to garner support)
          • Written synthesis of field research (to inform) –> Admissions video (to recruit)
        • Or vice-versa:
          • Video argument (to peers) –> Written proposal (to stakeholders)
          • Clustering (to illustrate relationships) –> Analysis paper (to compare one relationship in more detail)
        • When these types of activities are paired with a reflective analysis of the choices students are making, they facilitate meta-discussion about conventions and expectations, as related to audience and purpose.

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