Design for Informational Writing


Recently, I worked with the Grade 4 team to help them present their informational writing.

The students had all chosen a non-fiction topic to write about and done some research. They had then gone through the writing process and created a piece of writing. We wanted to help them to take their writing and display it in a way that was clear and interesting for the reader.

Working with the Grade 4 tech mentor, Haidee Betts, we started with a mentor text about bulldogs that the students had used for this unit. It had one small picture and a chart, but it was far from appealing to the reader.

I then took all the words from the text and put them into an A3 Pages document in separate text boxes. I found some Creative Commons images of bulldogs and used Preview to select the part of the image that I wanted to put into my document.  

Once I had a number of pictures and the text in the document all placed when I wanted them, I decided to try to make a few tweaks to the document. But I didn’t want to change my original document, so I made sure that the page thumbnails were visible by clicking on the view button on the top left of my Pages document, and selected Page Thumbnails. I then selected the first page and selected Edit > Duplicate or the keyboard shortcut, Command (⌘) D. 

This is a crucial stage in the process for the students. Now they have the chance to try out some different things with the layout and design of their page and still have the ability to go back easily to their original layout. Most importantly, they can continue to duplicate their pages and this is a great record of their learning

To support the teachers and students, I decided to make a number of tutorial videos to help explain some skills that might be used when creating this type of document in Pages. I put these tutorials on the school Vimeo channel and arranged them into a portfolio.

In one of the videos in the portfolio set, I talk through my design thinking in relation to the bulldog article. This is one of the skills that students need to continue to practice and work on in everything they do. We can’t have one unit during the year on design and never talk about it again. We must cultivate the skill of design in our students in whatever they are doing. This goes for our teachers too who, whether they realize it or not, are modeling their understanding of design in everything they produce. They are our best resources when it comes to helping students get their message across clearly.

After working with some of the students, it was great to see them work to create some great informational posters.

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Doug Taylor says:

    Great post, mate. Love the Pages duplicate idea. Thanks for the tutorial ideas, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *