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Posts tagged ‘images’

Picturing US History: Building visual literacy

Using photos, videos, and other types of images is one of the most effective ways to hook kids into your content. Images can create emotion, explain events, generate questions, and help solve problems.

But sometimes it can be difficult integrating visuals into your instruction. What images to use? What activities work best? How can you align these activities with national and state standards?

Picturing United States History: An Interactive Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence can help. Created by the folks at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center with funding support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the site is a digital project based on the belief that visual materials are vital to understanding the American past. Read more

Tip of the Week: Old Pictures and other useful image sites

We know how powerful the integration of images in our instruction can be for our students. Part of the problem is actually finding images to use. The Library of Congress and the National Archives have some great stuff. But where else can you go when you need photos?

I’ve written a ton about where to find photos and how to use them. And I recently ran across a handy site focusing on historical images. Called Old Pictures, the site organizes its collection by themes and has some nice stuff.

Need more? Try some of these:

Multimedia Presentation Resources for Teachers
Access to a wide range of copyright free resources
Digital Librarian: Images
Huge collection of resources
Nations Illustrated
7,700 pictures from around the world
New York Public Library Photo Collection
30,000 digitized images from books, magazines & newspapers also original photographs, prints and postcards
NYPL’s Digital Gallery
Tons of historical documents!
Copyright-friendly images for educators
Easy to use digital library illustrating more than 200 years of history
Picsearch – The Search Engine for Pictures
Pictures of Places
A directory of links to websites providing pictures of geographical places and sights
Free educational use of tons of history related images

Have fun!

3 infographics tools that you and your students should be using

Yesterday was a good day.

Any time that I can spend with social studies teachers, talk history content, and share ideas about instructional best practices has got to be a good day. That was yesterday.

But I noticed something. A lot of what we were doing revolved around visual things, not just text. We always think about social studies being a text-based activity. Documents and text books handouts and lots of paper. But much of what we did yesterday involved images and maps, Google Earth and videos.

Part of it is that I truly am a visual learner and so my brain naturally tilts in that direction. But good instructional practice and brain research is telling us that using visuals is a great way for content to connect with kids.

A recent addition to the visual toolbox we have access to is the infographic. So what’s an infographic?

Read more

Tip of the Week –

We need to be doing more document analysis with our kids, especially images. This could be photographs, maps, paintings, posters and cartoons. One of the problems with this is that kids often see just the big picture rather than the details. There are some nice techniques that you can use to help kids see the bits and pieces of visual documents:

But I ran across a cool (and useful) tool this last week that you and your students can use to easily view image details. Called, the site lets you enter the URL of any online image, map or painting and it will display a high resolution file. converts your image to the Deep Zoom format, which lets you smoothly and efficiently explore the whole image, no matter how large.

This allows you to zoom way in on specific stuff, move around, zoom back out and highlight specific items in the image. Try it from the front of the class or have kids use it in groups as they complete their document analysis.

Zoom also gives you a specific Zoom URL to your image as well as an embed code that lets you stick the Zoom image on your website. Because Zoom has clickable controls, the site also works on most mobile devices. So ask kids to access your link on their phones or iPads as a bell ringer or learning outside of class.

What document will you zoom in on first?

Have fun!

Tip of the Week – Online Photo Editing Tools

I often get questions from teachers who need a tool to quickly edit a photo themselves or whose students need fast photo editing tools.

You can always use the old standard Photoshop and its offshoots. Of course, you’ll need anywhere from $80 – $700 to purchase it. Or you can use any one of the great, free online tools out there. I’ve listed a few of the best below:

My favorite? Google Picasa. I really like the ease of use, the ability to upload and store tons of my own photographs, quick method of creating folders and the incredibly cool way of publishing online albums to share with others.

The good news? Because these tools are so quick and easy to use, you can try them all and decide for yourself.

Have fun!

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Photos that changed the world

One of the most enjoyable things I do is spend time working with teachers and primary sources. There’s just nothing like a really cool document, even if it’s just one that you find online.

I especially like a good photograph. And so when I started running across different lists of “important” photos at the end of 2009, I had to stop and look.

You know the sort. Most important photos of the year, of the decade, of all time. Most important photos if you voted for Obama, if you read Twilight books, if you call it soda or pop. You get the idea.

Afghan girl at Nasir Bagh refugee camp, 1984. © Steve McCurry / Magnum Photos

But it did get me thinking. Are there lists of truly important photographs? Photos that changed the world? And if these lists exist, how could I use them in a history class?

As it turns out, those lists do exist.

A few things come to mind:

  • Ask kids why these photographs made the cut and others didn’t. What makes them special? What impact did they have, short and long term? Was the impact positive or negative?
  • Start a unit or lesson with an image from the list that is content or era specific. Provide some background and have kids predict what the upcoming unit or lesson will be about.
  • Use the Visual Discrepant Event Inquiry method with one or more of the photographs.
  • After instruction, have students create a list of possible titles for a specific photograph.
  • Put kids in smaller groups, provide access to multiple lists and force each group to create a shorter list of just five or 10. Compare lists and have each group justify their decisions.
  • Have kids list and share human geographical characteristics of an image.
  • Print out the different photos and ask students to sort them by categories. Don’t define the categories. Do them same thing with small groups. Ask them why they used the categories they did.
  • Have kids discuss what the lists would look like if a person from India selected the photographs? How about some one from eastern Europe or China or Nigeria? Are the lists above too “western?”

I’m sure you can come up with a few of your own. Let me know what works for you!


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