Saturday, October 6, 2012

Acronyms, News And Infographics

Source: ASIDE, 2012
Even though it’s an OMG, LOL and BFF world, it doesn’t mean that kids know the meaning of acronyms. Yet, because they are so commonplace and often not defined, many students don’t know what the abbreviations stand for in things they read or hear. This is why at the beginning of the sixth grade we work on identifying acronyms from newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to increase kids' abilities to be news literate.

This lesson also makes for a perfect segue to build in opportunities to create infographics. For the content, the students used Wikipedia in conjunction with host websites for government agencies. What worked out great for this project was the basic information and data listed on the Wikipedia page just above the contents box for each article. It provided enough background content for the infographics. They used this information, in combination with the graphics in, to create the samples in this post.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
Reading or listening to the news can be difficult for students to gain an understanding if they are not familiar with acronyms. They tend to view them as words rather than a shortened form for something else.

Let’s not forget the media literacy component, too. For example, TARP was used in the media to soften the association with a dire situation. Referring to the financial crisis as TARP rather than the Trouble Asset Relief Program played better in the news; it was less of a reminder as to why TARP was created.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
In doing this assignment, the students collected close to 40 different acronyms that were newsworthy. We also limited the number of sports leagues and news organizations on their lists. They tried to locate the actual names in the articles they were perusing in the newspapers, but many times they were not identified.

To find the rest, they used Acronym Finder on the web. Even this was an eye-opener for many of the students. The website ranks the most widely used version of each acronym. Occasionally, that was not the case, requiring more skill in reading the results to distinguish which one fit the criteria for the class.

All in all, discovering the meaning of different acronyms enabled the students to develop a better understanding of what they mean, to recognize their frequent use in the news, and to gather information, graphics, and data for designing infographics.

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