Infographics Part 1 & 2: Invitations to Inquiry

Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. 2014. “Infographics Part 1: Invitations to Inquiry.” Teacher Librarian 41 (4): 54–58.

Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. 2014. “Infographics Part 2: Practical Ideas for Your School Library.” Teacher Librarian 41 (5): 64–67.

Students are often working on visual displays or reports in a school library. One way to convey information graphically is to create an infographic, and a library can introduce this type of document to students. These two articles suggest practical ways librarians can have students interpret and create infographics.

Reading Visual Representations

Rubenstein, Rheta N., and Denisse R. Thompson. 2012. “Reading Visual Representations.” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 17 (9): 544–50. doi:10.5951/mathteacmiddscho.17.9.0544.

The authors are teacher educators at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and the University of South Florida, Tampa. The authors argue that students need to learn how to understand visual representations, and suggest that a framework used for learning how to read can be applied to learning how to “read” images. Like reading literature, interpreting visual representations can require making inferences and going “beyond the data” by predicting and extrapolating. The Question-Answer-Relationship (QAR) framework is from reading theory, and can be used to ask students more meaningful questions when they interpret visual representations like graphs and charts. They describe several question types: “Orientation” (what is on the surface), “Right There” (stated explicitly within the text), “Think and Search” (found after considering symbols or making calculations or comparisons), “Author and You” (student synthesizes the author’s information with what the student already knows), and “On Your Own” (student uses only background knowledge).

Zoos, Aquariums, and Expanding Students’ Data Literacy

Mokros, Jan, and Tracey Wright. 2009. “Zoos, Aquariums, and Expanding Students’ Data Literacy.” Teaching Children Mathematics 15 (9): 524–30.

The authors share suggestions for integrating mathematics and science into a fieldtrip to a zoo or aquarium: studying the animals ahead of time, visiting the location ahead of time to choose a specific area, simulate or demonstrate animal behaviors and scientist behaviors. They also offer tips for how to run the fieldtrip and what to do after the fieldtrip. The lessons and activities can be supported with a school librarian. For instance, a school librarian could introduce various graphical organizers that students can use during their fieldtrip to help them record their observations. Or, the students could do research about the animals they see on their fieldtrip.

Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program

Lambert, Nancy Jo. 2013. “Check Out the Math: One Elementary School’s Library-Based Math Program.” School Library Journal. September 12.

A school librarian created a new statistics word problem each month, posted it in the library, and invited students to participate. The word problems were all based on real library statistics: how many books were overdue, number of bookshelves needed. In many elementary schools, all classes visit the library every week or every other week. This is a great way to show students how math is connected with everyday life, participate and discuss problem-solving together.

Lesson Overview

Students are invited to participate in an optional activity in the library, where they respond to a statistics question that changes each month. The questions address solving real questions or problems in the school’s library. Students must write out their problem-solving technique. Students with the correct answer may receive a library-related benefit, like an extra check out.

Lesson Goals:

  • Students can apply different strategies to solve statistics word problems.

Lesson Plan Materials

  • Create statistics word problems using your library’s real statistics and problems, and consult with your teachers to have them provide you with feedback about the questions and possible solutions.

Common Core State Standards this Lesson Supports

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

  • AASL 2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.

InspireData – Data modeling software

InspireData® was originally developed by TERC in Massachusetts with grant funding from the National Science Foundation. TERC also developed and administered a program called Mixing Math, related to a published paper “How Wide Is A Squid Eye? Integrating Mathematics into Public Library Programs for the Elementary Grades.” InspireData® is aimed at students in grade 4 through 12 and lets student collect, enter, explore, and display data. The software comes with lesson plans and suggested activities. InspireData® 1.5 (as of December 2014) provides database templates and databases with sample sample data, as well as a survey tool. They claim that their lesson align with “data literacy standards”, but do not specify which standards (but they reference AASL and ISTE standards elsewhere). The company’s white paper is undated, but the most recent citation is from 2008, with most citations from the 1990’s or early 2000’s. They offer a free 30 day trial and educator pricing.


  • Electronic Education Report. 2006. “Inspiration Launches InspireData For Data Analysis by Students” 13 (13): 5–6.
  • “How digital tools prepare students for the 21st century: A CollinsConsults White Paper Prepared for Inspiration Software, Inc.” Inspiration.
  • Website citing evidence that their software is effective: