Infographics for Visual Literacy

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Image by Rosaura Ochoa (CC BY 2.0)

by Corina Koch Macleod

In 2011, EQAO reported that students had difficulties with answering questions about the graphic selection on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Here are three things you can do to help students to improve their visual literacy:

Create a reading plan for reading graphic texts. Skilled readers often have a plan in mind when approaching any kind of text. How do you go about reading a graphic text? The following questions will guide your thinking as you help your students create a reading plan for reading graphic texts:

    Questions for Creating a Reading Plan
    • What are the features of graphic selections?
    • What is the purpose of the title? 
    • What do captions do? Why does the creator describe visuals in this way?
    • In graphic texts, words and labels are chosen carefully, and are used with purpose. How do the labels relate to the visuals? 
    • What kinds of visuals are used? Graphs? Tables? Pictures? Symbols? Maps? 
    • How do you read each kind of visual? What details do you need to attend to? What do the visuals mean? Can you say what a visual is about, in a sentence? 
    • Why did the creator choose these visuals to represent an idea? How do the visuals relate to the heading or title?

    Provide opportunities for practice. Infographics present information using visuals and text, and they are potentially wonderful tools for building visual literacy. To view a range of infographic styles, consider using some of the infographics from this website and this website in your teaching.
    Sometimes, the best way to understand something is to create it. Encourage students to create their own infographics as another way of demonstrating their knowledge of a topic. You can even have students create an infographic for how to read graphic texts! Students who are tech savvy can check out iMindMap and these free tools for creating infographics.

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