This week’s design principle involves selection. Basically, the idea is that, as a designer, I need to pay attention to visual and auditory stimuli. I decided to take the information I used in an old PowerPoint and redo it. The PowerPoint was too busy. I built a plot mountain on an image of an actual mountain (The Grand Teton) which I thought was really cool. However, since the first use, I have never used the image again because even in transparent mode, it stood out too much to be useful.
Here is my image:
Assumptions: This graphic will be used by 7th grade students in ELA classes. Students often have trouble following plot events and untangling the events in a story. The plot mountain is a tool teachers often use to assist students in determining the story sequence. This graphic is the first for a lesson on plot structure.
Solution: This graphic is not a new concept. However, my visual puts the plot mountain and its associated terms in close proximity. This visual is an improvement on one I created in the past to teach the vocabulary used with plot. With this visual I created a simple line drawing for the mountain rather than using a photo. The problem with the visual I created several years ago is a reversal of figure and ground. The background photo is distracting to the learner (Lohr, 2008, p. 105). I chose to color code the terms so that I could place them appropriately on the mountain. I wanted to represent visually that rising action and falling action are not single events, but a series of events, so I placed three dots for each.
I plan to create a similar image with space for my students to write questions that will help them discover each of the plot elements in a story. Students will also receive a blank plot mountain to analyze a fairy tale.
User-Test: I will be conducting a user test on Facebook as well as asking family members to look over the image. I would like to know if the color-coding is distracting, or if I should continue it into the vocabulary section. I would also like to know if the visual is useful.
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Update: My users replied that the colors on the image were too light to be legible. They also suggested continuing the color code at the bottom of the page. My brother wondered about the down slope after crisis, so I adjusted the lines to show the slope continuing upward, but indicating that the crisis is a sort of mini-climax. Another user thought that the terms protagonist and antagonist needed definition, so I took those out for now. Those will be defined on a separate visual. Finally, I moved the dots off the mountain to better show the points of the diagram.
Here is the original image: