I was working on a High School English assessment project for our district, and we started talking about resources for visual prompts. Visual literacy is becoming increasingly important for our students. Not only is is an important skill to cultivate, particularly in our media-rich society, but it is also important in order for them to succeed on our standardized exams (I won't get into standardized exams, but these help to determine whether or not students will be accepted into post-secondary programs and I want every student to have a world full of options available to them).
One of my colleagues showed me a website that he had been using with his kids. Every Monday his students spend 30 minutes explaining what they see happening in the picture on the New York Times website "What's Going on in this Picture."
(Image credit: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/20/whats-going-on-in-this-picture-april-20-2015/)
After showing an image, students are guided through an exploration of the image as a text. They are asked the following:
- What's going on in this picture?
- What do you see that makes you say that?
- What more can you find?
These questions help students to find an idea in the image and reminds them that they need supporting evidence.
Students are then invited to share their thoughts on the website, giving an authentic audience for their thoughts and words. They can interact with others who have responded to the post. Once a week an online discussion is held to help students to deepen their understanding of the image. After the online chat, more information is revealed about the photo. Students may go back to this additional information to see how it helps them to see the image differently.
Rather than scouring the Internet hoping to find a rich image to use with your students, try out the New York Times' website. They have done the hunting and gathering for you, so you can get straight into teaching your students how and why we need to be able to read images.
Food for thought... How do you teach visual literacy? Do you have any great sources for images?