Standard Lesson

Picture This: Combining Infographics and Argumentative Writing

7 - 10
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Seven 50-minute sessions
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Students need to practice all types of writing, and oftentimes argumentative writing is ignored in favor of persuasive writing. In fact, students may not even understand there is a difference between these two types of writing. In this lesson, students examine the differences between argumentative writing and persuasive writing. After choosing topics that interest them, students conduct research which becomes the foundation for their argumentative essays. After completing their essays, students use Piktochart to create infographics to represent their research.

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From Theory to Practice

Medlock notes that to motivate students to write, student “buy-in” is important. She suggests that allowing students to research topics that are important to them, as done in this lesson, will engage the students. Also, since students will share their research through infographics, their classmates become an authentic audience for their writing, another important component for encouraging writing.

In addition, this lesson allows students to practice argumentation, which is heavily emphasized in the Common Core State Standards. Styslinger and reason that “an understanding of and respect for argument is essential to participation in a democratic society” (61). Classrooms can become forums where students can practice skills to reason analytically, converse about concepts, and acknowledge different viewpoints. In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to examine both sides of an argument and present their information in written form as well as visually.

As Schramm points out, today’s world is extremely visually oriented. She estimates that “85% of what we know is gathered from visual perception” (11). Consequently, students must be provided the opportunity to practice visual literacy skills, as done in this lesson using Piktochart, an online tool that will also increase technology skills.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Classroom computer with LCD projector
  • Computers with Internet capabilities
  • Color printer
  • Various colored highlighters



Use this persuasive ad to help start discussion in Session One.

Use this persuasive ad to help start discussion in Session One.

Use this persuasive ad to help start discussion in Session One.

Use this persuasive ad to help start discussion in Session One.

Use both solar power Webpages to explain how persuasive and argumentative writing differ.

Use both solar power Webpages to explain how persuasive and argumentative writing differ.

This short video concisely defines an infographic.

This image can be used to define the term infographic if YouTube is blocked at your school.

This example can be shown to students during Session Five.

This example can be shown to students during Session Five.

This example can be shown to students during Session Five.

This example can be shown to students during Session Five.


  1. Sign up for a free account at Piktochart, and familiarize yourself with Piktochart. Several tutorial videos are available through the Website as well as at the support page. Test that the program will work on the computers that the students will use to access the software.
  2. Students who have e-mail addresses will be able to create their own accounts, but for those students who do not have e-mail addresses, create an e-mail account at any provider for class use. Use that e-mail account to create a class account for Piktochart.
  3. If you will post the students’ finished infographics, create a classroom wiki at Wikispaces or a classroom Website at Google Sites or Wix.
  4. The links to Piktochart can also be posted on the wiki or Website. If it is not possible to have a Website or wiki, simply provide the Website address for students to type it in the browser or bookmark the Website on the computers.
  5. If this is the first research project for the class, instruction is needed for citing sources. This can be accomplished using the mini-lesson Research Building Blocks: “Cite Those Sources.” Furthermore, if this is the students’ first project citing sources, then using Exploring Plagiarism, Copyright, and Paraphrasing prior to this project would be beneficial.
  6. Also prior to this lesson, students have learned to evaluate Websites. They can be taught this skill by using the lesson Inquiry on the Internet: Evaluating Web Pages for a Class Collection or the mini-lesson Research Building Blocks: Examining Electronic Sources.
  7. Furthermore, before this lesson students have learned how to write effective introductions, thesis statements, and conclusions for essays.
  8. Reserve time in your school’s computer lab or library for students to research and to create their infographic.
  9. Check that the videos and images of infographics are not filtered at your school. If they are filtered, the images of the infographics can be printed outside of school. If the videos in Session One are blocked, use ads from magazines that persuade consumers to purchase their products.
  10. Make one copy of the Peer Editing Form for Argumentative Essay, Checklist for Infographic, Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet, and Argumentative and Infographic Rubric printouts for each student as well as one copy per student of the Essay Map.
  11. For every two students, print one copy of the solar power Webpages at Teen Ink and Alternative Energy for use in Session One.
  12. Consult with your school librarian about databases that the students might be able to access to help in their research.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • analyze infographic samples.
  • write argumentative essays after researching topics.
  • create their own infographics to illustrate their research.

Session One: Introduction to Argumentative Writing

  1. Play for the students at least one of the persuasive commercials. Discuss the following:
    • What is the purpose of the commercial? (to persuade the consumer to purchase the product)
    • What reasons are given for the consumer to buy the item?
    • What words, phrases, or images make the purchase seem absolutely necessary?
    • What is the other side of the argument for not buying the product? (eating too much pizza might lead to obesity, playing violent video games might lead to violent behavior, and watching television constantly is not healthy)
  2. Now explain that presenting just one side of an argument, like these commercials, is similar to persuasive writing, while in argumentative writing both sides of an issue are addressed. Divide the class into partners and give each pair copies of the two Webpages on solar power. Ask them to read the two articles together and then ask them to jot down how the two Webpages differ. When all pairs have completed this task, call the class back together to discuss what their answers.
  3. Project the handout What Is the Difference Between Persuasive and Argumentative Writing? and discuss the two styles of writing. Ask students to find specific examples of the characteristics in the two samples.
  4. Explain to students that they will be writing an argumentative essay which will require them to research both sides of an issue. Furthermore, stress that students will commit to one side of the issue; however, they will present the other side’s claims as required in argumentative writing.
  5. Ask students to suggest possible topics, and then project the handout Possible Argumentative Topics. Allow students time to consider what they would like to research. Stress to the students that they should choose topics that interest them and they would like to read more about. Ask students to add their own suggestions to the list of topics.
  6. Tell students that in the next session they will begin their research, so they need to choose topics before that session.

Session Two: Researching Online

  1. Before students begin researching on computers, remind them to evaluate Websites before taking notes. They should consider the following:
    • Who is the author of the Website? Can the author be considered an expert?
    • What is the purpose of the Website? What is the domain of the Website—edu, org, com, gov? Explain that sometimes the domain provides hints to the purpose.
    • When was the Website written? Is it current material?
    • Where did the author get his information? Are there links to other sites that might be useful?
    • Why is this Website useful? Is it easy to read and navigate?
    • Remind students to cite the sources that they decide to use.
  2. Hand out the Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet. Explain to students that this will guide their research. Tell them to look for specific facts, reasons, and statistics that support their side of the issue. Also, remind them to look for two claims that the other side makes and consider how they will refute these claims.
  3. As students work, circulate throughout the classroom, checking that students are citing sources and finding credible Websites. Assist students who are having difficulty completing their planning sheets.
  4. Assign students to finish their research before the next session.

Session Three: Writing

  1. Check that students have completed their Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet. Allow students who have not finished time to finalize the form.
  2. Hand out the Argumentative Essay and Infographic Rubric. Together read through the first six categories that apply to the essay. As you discuss the rubric again, project the printout What Is the Difference Between Persuasive and Argumentative Writing? to review the following with the students:
    • Argumentative writing addresses the counterclaims, so students need to decide where the two counterclaims they have found will best fit in their essay. Emphasize that the counterclaims are not in a paragraph by themselves.
    • The writing style does not use emotionally charged words but rather relies on facts and statistics to make its case.
    • The reader can definitely tell what side the writer is on.
  3. Hand out the Essay Map and tell students to use this in conjunction with their Argumentative Essay Planning Sheet to outline their essays. As students work on their outlines, circulate around the classroom, checking their planning sheets for strong thesis statements and helping students who are struggling with where to add counterclaims.
  4. As students complete the Essay Map, instruct them to begin writing their rough drafts.
  5. Assign students to complete their rough drafts before the next session.

Session Four: Editing

  1. For this session each student needs two different colored highlighters. Ask the students to use one of the highlighters to mark evidence that supports their side of the argument while using the other highlighter to indicate the counterclaims of the other side that they have included in their essays.
  2. Remind student that they were to find at least two counterclaims while researching and include these in their essays. If they have not met that requirement, tell students they will have time to revise during this session after the next activity.
  3. Hand out the Peer Editing Form for Argumentative Essay. Divide the class into pairs and have the students complete the forms for each other’s essays. Circulate around the classroom and check that students are on task. Once students have completed their forms, allow time for students to revise their essays.
  4. Assign students to complete the final draft of their essays for the next session.

Session Five: Creating the Infographic

  1. Project through the classroom computer one or more of the sample infographics. Ask students if they have seen similar representations of information before.
  2. Explain to the students that these are called infographics. Play either the video What Is an Infographic or project the image An Infographic Is to define an infographic. Cover the following points that define an infographic:
    • communicates a message
    • is very engaging
    • is highly visual
    • helps to explain a large amount of information quickly and clearly
  3. Explain to the students they will now create infographics to complement their essays. Again project a sample and discuss the following about the infographic’s design:
    • uses fonts that are readable
    • uses colors that complement each other (such as dark font on light background and light font on dark background)
    • layers images so that they are still easily discernible
    • uses images that fit the topic
    • keep it simple so message is clear and quick
  4. Explain to students that their infographic will represent the reasons they used in their essays to consider their side as a valid viewpoint. Have students examine the last three categories of the Argumentative Essay and Infographic Rubric so they can then sketch out rough drafts of their infographics that will serve as guides when they move to the computers. As students work on their sketches, help those students who are having trouble thinking of how to turn their ideas into visual representations.
  5. After students have completed rough sketches, model for students how to use Piktochart. Include the following features:
    • layering items
    • uploading their own images
    • changing the color of the text and background
    • inserting graphics
  6. If time permits, have students create accounts at Piktochart or provide the class e-mail you have established for this purpose. Invite students to begin creating their infographics. Circulate around the room, helping those who have problems with the software.
  7. At the end of the session, explain to students how to save their infographic. Tell students that in next session they will have time to complete their infographics.

Session Six: Finishing the Infographic

  1. Model for students how to find and edit their saved infographic at Piktochart.
  2. As students finish, give each a copy of the Checklist for Argumentative Infographic and have students use the checklist to examine their infographics.
  3. As students finish the checklist, partner the students together to examine each other’s finished products, both the essays and the infographics, using the Argumentative and Infographic Rubric.
  4. Once students have had time to revise their infographics and essays, instruct student to print the infographics and turn them in along with their essays for evaluation.
  5. Also, ask students to e-mail you their infographics.

Session Seven: Sharing

  1. Before this session, download each student’s e-mailed infographic to the computer-connected to an LCD projector.
  2. Project each infographic. Based on the infographic, ask to students to guess what each other’s topics were for their essays. Allow time for students to comment on each other’s infographics as well as ask questions about each other’s research and arguments.
  3. Ask students to reflect on their experience by completing the following statements:
    • I now know this about infographics: ____________________________

    • I would still like to know this: _________________________________

    • I found argumentative writing to be easy because ____________________

    • I found argumentative writing to be difficult because _________________

    • I really liked _____________________ about my writing.


  • Have the students turn their essays into persuasive speeches.
  • Post the students’ infographics to the class wiki or Website. Promote the class wiki or Website page to the school community at large, so that others can enjoy the students’ finished projects.
  • Display the students’ infographics in the school hallways or cafeteria for others to enjoy.
  • Create other infographics, such as a timeline for a historical period or an explanation of a character in a novel.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Possible student assessments include:

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