There are obviously plenty of ways to use photos effectively with English Language Learners and other students.
I’m going to share some ideas here, and hope that others will chime in with comments.
Of course, photos from the Web can have some use restrictions. Fortunately, there are millions that have few or none. You can find information and resources on how to find them at The Best Online Sources For Images.
Online “virtual” corkboards are great tools to use with online images. See The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”).
Here are my choices for The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons:
My personal favorite is using photos using the Picture Word Inductive Model. As I described briefly in my recent New York Times guest post, and in my book, it’s an “inductive learning process where students first brainstorm twenty words related to a picture, then put those words into categories and add new ones that fit those categories. Next they complete a “cloze” (or fill-in-the-blank) activity with sentences about the picture which are then put into categories of their own. They convert those sentence categories into paragraphs, and, finally, arrange the paragraphs into essays.” You can see sample pictures and read more about it here.
A related lesson is using Picture Data Sets. For example, students can identifying images that fit a specific criteria (one week my ninth graders compiled images of Jamaican music, Jamaican history, and Jamaican nature attractions and then wrote about each one). These can also include students putting images into different categories and then having other students try to identify which ones they had in mind. Sites on The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”) list work very well for these kinds of activities.
Picture This! Building Photo-Based Writing Skills is a post from The New York Times. It describes in detail a somewhat similar process, though with some major differences, that would be suitable for all students. It’s a good exercise.
Image Detective is an online media literacy activity. It’s a nice web exercise, but its process can be adapted any photo. First, the teacher or student poses a question about the photo. Next, the student identifies clues in the photo that help them answer the question. Then, the student investigates background information on the picture and/or topic it represents. Finally, the student makes his/her conclusion. The final project looks like this:
My Question Is:
Clues I’ve Identified:
I am fairly confident that:
My best reasons for thinking this are:
A question this raised for me is:
Through Holly, I’ve learned about a neat Ning group called Images 4 Education:Exploring Images In The 21st Century Classroom. It’s chock-full of ideas on how to use photos in lessons, and definitely worth a visit (or two or three).
The New York Times Learning Network also suggests another good way to use photos — by students adding “thought bubbles” to people in photographs. You can read more it in the “warm-up” section of this post.
Picturing America is a site sponsored by the National Endowment For The Humanities, and it’s quite impressive. It has an interactive gallery of historical images, and provides lesson plans that include some pretty good ideas on how to use them.
I’ve recorded a five-and-a-half minute podcast on “Using Visuals to Teach Text” for Linworth Publishers, who have published my first two books, English Language Learners:Teaching Strategies That Work and Building Parent Engagement In Schools.
On the same page where you find the podcast, you’ll also find a link to a short article I wrote for the Library Media Connection titled Freire’s Learning Sequence. Or you can just go directly to it here.
A picture is worth a thousand thoughts: inquiry with Bloom’s taxonomy is the title of a very useful resource from Learn NC. It shows a photo, along with the original Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. By clicking on each thinking level, you are shown questions about the photo reflecting the level. It’s a very simple and visual way to teach Bloom’s Taxonomy, and can easily be replicated as a student assignment in any classroom. I like this interactive A LOT.
Regular readers are familiar with Tom Barrett’s “Interesting Ways” series, where he shares countless ways to use different web tools and teaching/learning strategies (you can see all of them at that link). They are on several “The Best…” lists. He’s just published another great one called “20 Interesting Images to use in the Classroom.”
I’ve written about another photo less at “Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo”.
I’ve written quite a bit about the Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) as a wildly effective instructional strategy. The PWIM is most well-known for being used in teaching English, but it can also be used very effectively in the content areas. I wanted to share an absolutely phenomenal Science lesson and a fairly decent Social Studies one.
If anyone has suggestions of other good content lessons using the PWIM, please let me know.
I’ve previously written how I used photos of my students in class to promote their metacognition. It’s always gone well. Alison Anderson wrote a guest post in Richard Byrne’s blog that I think took that concept a step further and has made it a regular occurrence in her classroom. In the post, titled Look At The Camera and Say “Think,” she describes how she takes pictures of students at work and asks them for their homework to describe what was happening and what they were thinking. She describes it more in-depth and shares a lot of other good ideas. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Ana Maria Menezes, an English teacher in Brazil, has worked with teachers in other countries to create a neat An Image A Week project. Each week, students share a photo and write about it. You can learn all about it at Ana Maria’s blog post, PROJECT: An image a week (with EFL learners).
Photos with Strange or Funny Details Deemed Most Memorable is from Scientific American. It reinforces what most of us know already when we pick photos to use in class.
Dave Dodgson comes up with a creative way to use pictures in the classroom.
Analyzing Primary Sources: Learning from Images is from The Barat Educational Foundation.
The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me list includes several tools that let you provide audio descriptions to your photos and then share them.
Shelly Terrell has created an excellent slideshow called “Working With Images” that shares a number of ideas on how to use images with English Language Learners:
This year, it seems like the fashionable web tool to develop is one that will annotate images. I’ve posted about several of them on this list, and others didn’t it make it.
However,the incomparable Richard Byrne discovered what might be the best one of them all. It’s called Szoter. You can read about it at Richard’s blog and see a video there (however, at the time of this posting, Vimeo appears to be off-line completely).
Using the online version of Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model (see my previously mentioned “The Best” list or my book to learn more about that instructional strategy). You can link to it or embed it, as I have done here (as long as you leave some white space around the image, the labels will still show up when you embed it):
Students are going to love using this!
Wendi Pillars provides a nice step-by-step explanation about how to use the Picture Word Inductive Model with English Language Learners.
What A Neat Lesson Idea For Using Photos!
Front Page News Photos Stimulate Lively Debates in Adult ELL Classes is a useful article from TESOL.
Feedback, as always, is welcome. Please contribute your own suggestions on using photos in the classroom.