One of the first topics in a composition course relates to understanding purpose, audience, and context. Many text books provide excellent activities for practice revising paragraphs or messages for various purposes and audiences. However, I have found keeping students' attention challenging when working with typical composition texts. I thought I could enhance student understanding if I could appeal to their visual and social media taste. Hence: the infographic. Infographics are certainly useful in helping students convey data concisely and meaningfully. In this activity, however, I started with an infographic and had students create a paragraph based on the data. To further enhance student understanding of purpose and audience, I gave each group of students the same infographic. Next, I tasked each group to write a couple of paragraphs based on different scenarios. Students began with brainstorming about their purpose and audience. They considered tone, appeal, and style. They drafted their paragraphs and posted them to a class discussion board. Students had a weekend to review each group's paragraphs and make comments. At our next class meeting, we reviewed the paragraphs and the writing choices using the projector.
I've found this activity to be eye-opening for students as well as for me. I'm attaching my handout here in case you'd like to try. While I selected a childhood obesity infographic, there are many other topics to choose from; simply search your topic + infographic on Google Images.
Reference for infographic:
GLOBALHealthPR. (2012). GLOBALHealthPR childhood obesity infographic 2012 [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://www.globalhealthpr.com/ihsms-2-0/