31 August 2014

Make an Interactive Infograph Syllabus

Gone are the days of laborious infograph building in Microsoft Word. No longer must I link page after page to convey semester essentials!

Now I make a single infograph syllabus on Piktochart to convey the basics of the course, download the image in .jpg or .png form, then upload it to my ThingLink stream to click and add hotspots with pop-up information boxes and links.

Now there are a few things you will still have to include on any syllabus, pop-up boxes or no, which I squeeze into 3 sections with as few words as possible and as many simple images as possible: introduction, grades, and expectations.

Here, you give students the basic rundown of your course, including contact info, school supplies (unless, perhaps, you're going paperless), and course components.

Contact info: Include every way students can get in touch with you on the syllabus itself (I, for one, still have to send home a printed copy):

  • Class webpage/blog (preferably a shortened URL)
  • E-mail address
  • Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Instagram
  • Google Voice
  • Remind/Schoology/Edmodo/Google Classroom code
On the ThingLink, you will want to tag each of these with a direct link for students to click on to reach you whenever possible. I also indicate which is the best way to get a hold of me for quickest responses in and out of school.

School supplies: Find photos of the actual supplies that you want to see in front of you when they walk in the next day. I put them together in 1 image in paint, mostly because you only get to upload 20 images free in Piktochart. You need not label them in the infograph, but you can add a tag in Thinglink with a specific list (i.e. size/type of notebooks or binders) and maybe reasoning behind less conventional supplies like earbuds.

Course components: for us language teachers, the ACTFL 5 Cs diagram is a pretty addition to the infograph and sums up components beyond just language (though Sandrock's suggestion for a re-working seems more accurate to me, if less infograph-syllabus-friendly), and you can link to ACTFL's standards for more information. Piktochart also has some free clip art you could use to convey the 4 proficiency skills, which I link to ACTFL's proficiency level expectations. I also uploaded a parrot from openclipart.org to link to more information about being a novice. Assessment categories or units are useful information to list nice and big. 

Sometimes I run out of room in the top section for more detailed components, like when I'm in English mode and I include novel covers, or if I include links to ForAllRubrics or the class Evernote of the Interactive Notebook. In the case of Evernote and ForAllRubrics, I searched for logos and combined them in a single Paint image to cut back on my uploads.

Of course students need to know what goes into their grades. It would be nice to be able to post a basic rundown of standards-based grading and how to achieve the different levels in graph form, but, alas, district policy precedes the dream. So I have my Pie Chart o' Weighting, the Continuum o' Letter Grades and percentages, and Late Work and Make-Up Work policies. I think it's also useful to put some key dates in, like when major projects/portfolios absolutely have to be submitted--which you could link to a class calendar on Thinglink. Most of the linking I do on this section, though, is to explain what all is included in the weighted categories and why, perhaps some specifics on assignment length (pages, word count) and/or basic rubrics. I think the video explanations of portfolios that I made with Powtoon were an especially popular link this semester.

Finally, I have a little symbol straight from Piktochart for each "expectation" I have--almost more like procedures in some ways. I have a tardy icon, an absence icon, a materials icon, and a consequences icon. I'm also supposed to get the whole thing back signed, so I leave room for a little slip to be snipped off at the bottom with parent signature and student name. I don't usually link anything on this section, but I could clarify, say, materials policies.

Here are some things you may want to remember as you create your interactive infograph syllabus:

  1. If you can summarize something in an image: do it. You can explain on the Thinglinked boxes.
  2. Use preloaded graphics wherever possible--not only are uploads limited, but the whole search-download-upload process can be about halved if you avail yourself of Piktochart icons.
  3. If you're required to include it--by department, school, district, or state--go ahead and type it out as required.
  4. If you need to print, make sure you stick to a white or light background and high contrast color schemes.
  5. Negative space is key to infograph construction: putting the same amount of text in your infograph syllabus as you did in your regular one defeats the purpose of infograph conversion.
  6. Embed your ThingLink in your class webpage for easy access, add it to your Google Classroom "About" section, add it to your resources in Schoology and Edmodo, or link it in your class Twitter profile or blog.
And with that, I present this semester's interactive syllabi (including the First Day Fun Station):


  1. LOVE this! I just made my first one and posted it to my school page. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sra. Spanglish, grazie mille!!! This is awesomeness!!!

  3. I love how you've made you syllabus interactive with ThingLink! Thanks for sharing!