“Well-designed visuals do more than provide information; they bring order to the conversation.”
—Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger
Language learners often struggle with understanding and using academic language. One reason is the large amount of text and jargon found in research journals and websites.
We can help our language learners visualize their research and practice using academic language by having them design engaging digital poster presentations with free web tools and apps.
Students can use these digital poster creation tools to embed videos and images to support their written research. Instead of having a long essay only you will read, students are able to share their research with their peers and others in a visually appealing way. Moreover, when students are able to visualize their research, they are expressing a deeper understanding of the concepts they have explored and are able to make a meaningful connection with their research.
Recommended Web Tools and Apps
Recommended free web tools and apps, include EduBuncee (web/iOS app), Thinglink (web/iOS/Android app), Canva (web/iOS app), Biteslides, EduGlogster, Smore, Tackk (works on any device), Educlipper, and TES Blendspace. Each of these free web tools and apps help students illustrate their findings through multimedia and visuals. Students can work with templates provided by the digital tool and access a free library of stickers, fonts, icons, images, graphics, charts, shapes, banners, and more.
All of these web tools provide students with tutorials on best practices for using their platform. In addition, Canva provides several lessons from their free online design school and free online courses on designing a visually appealing poster.
Lesson Ideas and Tips
For the first digital poster project, I recommend giving students a topic and a template or example to work from with all the information they need to provide. Below are a few quick activity suggestions with examples from the free web tools listed above.
- Students can diagram and label the cycle of an insect, animal, states of matter, or the weather. Check out this example of the life cycle of a butterfly created with EduBuncee.
- Students can explore planets or countries and display facts and information in their posters. Check out this poster about Mars created with EduGlogster.
- Students can research elections and create posters for their favorite candidates or create their own campaign poster as if they were running for office. Check out this lesson plan from Canva.
- Students research their favorite athlete and display statistics, autobiography information, and other facts. Check out this Thinglink example.
- Students can create vision boards or About Me digital posters. Tackk has a simple About Me template for students to complete.
- Students create a poster about a famous person or time period in history. Check out this example from Smore.
- Students can research plants, animals, insects, landscapes, and countries and display information and facts in a digital poster. Check out this example created with EduGlogster and this example created with Biteslides.
- Students explore an element of digital citizenship and provide solutions on how their peers can become better citizens. Check out this bullying poster created with Blendspace.
Presenting Their Research
When students are finished designing their posters, they need to display their research and creativity to an audience who will provide them with feedback and use their research in valuable ways. These are ways to help your language learners present their digital poster projects:
- When students are finished designing their posters, curate them in a Pinterest board or Storify. These tools help you display their digital posters in one spot so students are able to receive likes and comments.
- Host a digital poster presentation event. Students walk around, view and evaluate each poster presentation. This article provides information on how to setup a digital poster presentation session.
- If you can access a few LCD projectors or interactive whiteboards, then students can display their digital posters on bigger screens.
- Students can prepare a short mini oral presentation, then answer questions from their peers. In this way, your language learners improve their academic speaking skills.
- Get students to submit their digital posters to a contest, such as Google’s Science Fair.
- Get students to present their posters to a panelist of experts from the community (engineers, CEOs, community leaders, or government officials). You might be able to have these panelists invest in the idea or research or provide your students with scholarships. Check out this post with tips for setting up a team of panelists to judge student posters.
For more ideas on how your students can conduct research for their multimedia posters, check out this post, Research Writing with Digital Tools. Check out all of Shelly’s tips for teaching English with technology!