Creating Infographics: Making Numbers Sing

… Few people will appreciate the music if I just show them the notes. Most of us need to listen to the music to understand how beautiful it is. But often that’s how we present statistics; we just show the notes we don’t play the music” Hans Rosling

Like many people I love Hans Rosling. Rosling is a professor of Global Health, who uses statistics, storytelling, and social media to re-think what is happening in terms of development throughout the world. He makes statistics “sing” and makes numbers act like a football soccer player.

For my grade 8 development unit, the final assessment is an infographic answering the unit question “What is progress?”  And so, when I prepare them for the assessment I have two goals for the students:

      • Students will be able to present information in an interesting way
      • Students will be able to interpret and analyze statistics in a meaningful way


We spent a couple of weeks looking at how countries are classified as Lower Economically Developed Countries and More Economically Developed Countries. We defined developed indicators and explored resources that give statistics of these indicators. Teaching development is one of my favorite units, because it lays the groundwork in understanding why the world is the way it is. And with Hans Rosling’s video (which my students LOVE), we start to see that the complex issue of progress and development can be summarized in an intriguing way.

And this acts as the segue to our assessment on infographics

Introduction to Infographics:

There are so many infographics out there that it is easy to show models. I show them examples from International School of Bangkok (whose link I can no longer find) and I show them examples of infographics websites. We look at definitions of infographics and try to come up with what we think should be included in an infographic.

And then I saw a post on  homemade infographics and I thought it was a fantastic way to introduce infographics. I kind of geeked out to be honest with you. This site has awesome ideas of how to present information with simple tools. We looked at examples from this site and then figured out how to make our own.

So to start, I gave them boxes with random supplies and random assignments.

They then had to use various resources to find appropriate statistics to represent using poker chips, yarn, balloons, and other random supplies. I loved that they had to use their computers for research, but the actual creation of the infographic was low-tech. They had 60 minutes to prepare their inforgraphic and then they had to share with the class. Some students had to compare birthrates in different countries.Others had to show variations of GDP per capita or HDI or gender inequalities.

This is what they came up with:

From top left, going clockwise: GDP/capita (poker chips), HDI (popsicle sticks), Life Expectancy by gender (balloons of different sizes) , and literacy rates by gender (pink water vs. blue water).

We then started to think about whether the homemade infographics fulfilled the requirements we established and which one of ours was the most effective.

Final Assessment: 

The final assessment requirements were pretty simple (though we talked about it a lot more than the text might suggest).

      • Create an infographic that answers the question: What is progress? Quality of life in the countries of your choice.
      • Combine text, visuals, and statistics in an interesting and informative infographics.
      • Pick 2-10 indicators that best answer the question above.

Students created some interesting and informative infographics.

I believe that having thought about what is progress and what the goal of infographic helped each student know what was required despite the simple instructions. All of my students chose appropriate statistics, though perhaps not all made them “sing”. And so, some students who struggled with how to visually represent the idea of non  -linear economic/social progress were given the opportunity to reflect on the question on their blogs.

All in all, I can tell you that I will never ask my students to create online infographics without doing “homemade” infographics first. Besides being a good way to introduce the infographics, it’s always fun to play with balloons and popsicle sticks.

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
This entry was posted in COETAIL @YIS, Humanities, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Creating Infographics: Making Numbers Sing

  1. msbecs says:

    Completely awesome.

  2. lauren says:

    Wow – I really love this!! Such a great and creative way to have students think about data. I love it!

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  4. Absolutely love the handmade infographics as an introduction! So much fun!

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  6. Royan Lee says:

    This is the coolest learning experience I have seen described in some time. Your students sure are lucky ones.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this lesson. I love the way you had the students start with found, low tech items. This really helps reinforce that infographics are not a new thing and don’t have to be just computer based. I would imagine this was also a lot more for for certain types of learners.I would love to try this with some of my primary students and see what the result is! I loved getting to know Hans Rosling and his work a bit as well. I love the sense of humor he brings to his work and the amazing things he is doing. This fun video with Rosling and Bill Gates made me smile, check it out!

  13. Thanks so much for stopping by! So glad it resonated with you. And that’s a new Hans Rosling video for me…there is something about him that just makes me feel a little more hopeful about the world 🙂

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