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Tools of the Trade: Multimedia Posters and Charts

By Rita Sorrentino

Tools of the Trade: Multimedia Posters and Charts

Pick a letter from A to Z. Did you say C? Right. The letter C gives us many avenues for brainstorming the benefits of infusing technology into our teaching and learning environment: curiosity, connectivity, creativity, choice, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. Good start. Oh, did someone just mention chaos and control?  Yes, technology can usher in a less-orderly classroom as the focus shifts from teacher-centered to student-centered activities with a wide range of information sources, productivity tools, and personalized on-demand learning.

There is a lot to consider when making decisions to transform teaching and learning with technology that encourages students to ask questions and find problems in need of solutions. With the colossal amount of information available today, our students still need strategies to guide their learning, skills to evaluate sources of information and choices to demonstrate how to construct and curate their digital products. Pedagogy still matters as we strive to successfully infuse technology into our teaching and learning environments. 

Seven years ago, my friend’s son was on his way to an interview at a special admit high school. He was excited and she was worried. He was not carrying anything in his hand and she knew he needed to bring the required documents, artifacts, and special project for the interview. Offering to wait until he ran back inside to get what he needed, he just smiled, pulled out his USB drive and assured her, “I got this covered, Mom.”  Although she considered herself to be an above average user of technology at that time, she realized that her son (as well as her students) were moving beyond traditional means to gather information, organize materials, and document learning. (By the way, her son aced the interview, and is currently finishing up his sophomore year of college.)

Multimedia Posters and Charts

Today there are many (often free) tech resources that engage students and provide them with valuable learning opportunities. Creating and designing digital projects with multimedia provides both the process and the product for thoughtful authentic learning. Consider incorporating the following into your repertoire.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.22.15 PMInfopics

An infopic combines text and photo to convey a message in an appealing way. This format can be used by students of all ages to summarize a lesson, display data, or make political commentary. Infopics are easily created on mobile devices because you can snap a photo, save to the camera roll and open in another app to edit and layer text. This process of creating infopics forces students to listen or read more attentively in order to decide on the salient message to create and share. At his Learning in Hand website, Tony Vincent, an edtech advocate passionate about connecting students with digital age tools, demonstrates the process and reviews recommended apps. As an example, he suggests that the students take turns each day to create and share an infopic of a lesson. These can then be saved on a class blog or website making these  visual summaries stand out in their memory.


An infographic is a visual representation of data. You find them in journals, newspapers, commercials. On Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything, she suggests using infographics for creative assessments. When students create infographics, they are applying information, visual, and technology literacies.  Although infographics are popular with representing large amounts of numerical data about an issue or science topic, students can also create infographics to share a book review, present a news article, construct a timeline of historical events or use as an addition to a student’s research presentation. Infographics are effective methods for teaching, learning and understanding. With the tools to make them now freely available, why not give it a try.

Tools to Consider

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.23.16 PMPicCollage is a free app for creating multimedia posters from your pictures or drawings. It includes options for background colors and patterns and icons to use on your collage. With its simple interface, it is an excellent tool for organizing thoughts visually. After it is saved to the camera roll, it can be printed or shared digitally.Students could use PicCollage to advocate for a particular issue, present research or retell a story or display steps in a science experiment. PicCollage for Kids is a new option if you want to disable photos from the public gallery, remove social media connections, and use without creating accounts. Both versions are good choices for students or teachers making a photo project or just having some creative fun putting  a collage together quickly. In the image on the left, students retold the story of The Gingerbread Boy with the emphasis on transition words. Something in this manner can be displayed as an anchor chart for writing support.

Piktochart is a an online tool more geared toward middle students and above for creating infographics from beautifully designed templates with options for images, text, and graphs. Although originally geared toward business and statistics, Piktochart does lend itself for classroom projects. As students organize information and make choices for design, they will develop skills in critical and analytical thinking. With the free version users can work on up to five charts at a time. Each template can be exported as JPEG or PDF file for sharing or displaying. Click here for an example of an infographic comparing the two novels, I Have Lived a Thousand Years vs A Separate Peace. (There are some typos, but the organization and content is on point.)

Undoubtedly, there are many more tools for creating multimedia posters and charts for teaching and learning.  Please share your favorite tools and/or experiences in the comments below. In so doing, we add another C word to our list of benefits derived from incorporating technology in our practice – Community.

Rita Sorrentino profileRita Sorrentino is a recently retired teacher from Overbrook Elementary School in Philadelphia. Rita is finding new pathways for working with teachers and students to use digital tools for reading writing, speaking and listening. She presented ‘Beyond Superheroes: Using Comics Across the Curriculum” at the PETE&C Conference in Hershey in February. Rita joined the Pennsylvania Writing Project in 2004 and the Philadelphia Writing Project in 1994.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. mbuckelew #

    WOW! Every time I read your column, I takeaway so many ideas for my writing classes. Your ideas are practical but also inspire me to think about ways to thoughtfully use technology to enhance, build literacy. Thank you for sharing these technology applications for the classroom — I can use the specific and substantive strategies you share in my undergraduate and graduate classes. Molte Grazie

    Liked by 1 person

    May 12, 2016

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