One of my more popular “The Best…” lists is The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons. Though that list includes several online tools, I recently realized I hadn’t included many that I use and have previously posted about. So, I thought I’d bring them all together in a new list.

You might also want to explore The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me for even more online photo tools.

Here are my choices for The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons:

I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail in this month’s ASCD Educational Leadership in my article, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online. Thinglink’s recently announced for educators and students that you can now annotate fifty images free, and the cost for far more is next-to-nothing.

Students can pick photos online or upload ones that are reinforcing the theme we’re studying, and label the items. In fact, you can even choose to have your photos/videos be able to be annotated by others, too!

“ImageSpike” Seems — Almost — Just Like “Thinglink”

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.

Pic-Lits lets users pick an image from selection and then “drag-and-drop” words onto the image. The user’s creation can then be saved with a link posted, or it can be embedded. It has some elements that might make it particularly useful to English Language Learners. The words you can choose from are labeled by their parts of speech, and once you drop the word on the image you can see all the different verb conjugations and choose one. You can write a poem or describe the picture. You also have the option of writing whatever words you want if you don’t want to be limited by the words available to drag-and-drop.

Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.

I take photos (and have students take photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.

In Looking For Assets, Not Deficits I talk about a new site and strategy called TimeSlips.

Image Quizzes is a very helpful post from Life Of A Perpetually Disorganized Teacher.

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter”

Post it is very similar to Szoter. You can upload an image from your computer or from a url address (you can put the url address of a photo in the “File Name” box and it will work, too). Then, you can easily annotate/label different parts of the image.

Quizlet Gets Even Better – You Can Now Create “Interactive Diagrams”

Using “Spot The Difference” Pictures With ELLs

Googlink: Creating Interactive Posters with Google Drawings is from Eric Curts.

Use Google Drawings as an Alternative to Thinglink is a post by Richard Byrne.

Caption Bot is a cool tool from Microsoft. You either upload an image or input its url, and its artificial intelligence software will provide a simple…caption. It seems pretty accurate and, more importantly if one is thinking about it as a language-learning tool, the captions are very simple. I’m wondering if this could be a cool self-learning tool for ELLs – they take images they find interesting on the web, try to write their own captions for them, and then make a comparison to what the Bot says?


Capsure – Share Collections of Images With Audio Notes is from Richard Byrne.



The Image Annotator is a new tool from Class Tools that allows you to…annotate images. Class Tools has lots of neat…tools and is on The “All-Time” Best 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners list.  You can learn more about the Image Annotator at Richard Byrne’s blog.

Caption Cat posts photos where you can write captions.  The site is probably inappropriate to have students use, but the images could be useful.  Thanks to ANA CRISTINA for the tip. I’m adding it to the same list.

Teamimg lets you upload an image, annotate and comment on it, and then allow another person to do the same. It could be a lot better if it allowed each person to make more than one comment, and not have the annotations move around, and I assume they’ll make those kinds of improvements in time.

Most ELL teachers probably already know this, but Google Jamboard is ideal for online use of the Picture Word Inductive Model. It’s super-easy to upload a background image, and then have students use “sticky notes” to label objects in it. Google Drawings can work, too, but I think Jamboard works better.

Discussing Art is from Art Inspired.

How to Annotate Images on Google Jamboard is from Richard Byrne.

Feedback, as always, is welcome. Please contribute your own suggestions on using photos in the classroom.

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