Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘photos’

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

Cultural geography, online photos, and the Field Museum of Natural History

I consider myself a fan of museums. Maybe more than a fan. There’s not much that can beat a good museum. I can easily spend hours browsing displays, talking with docents, and learning tons.

And there aren’t many museums that can get the better of me. The Smithsonian. National Air and Space. World War One Museum. But there’s only one Field Museum. It’s huge – some 24 million objects. I’ve never made it through the entire thing. But still so cool.

So when I found out that the Field Museum is posting some of its photos online, I was pumped. The hundreds of photos are perfect for geography and cultural geography teachers.

I especially like those from the 1893 World’s Fair. But you can find historical images from a wide variety of places and times. Read more

WhatWasThere: Old pics and new maps

Lisa from Maryland stopped by the other day to browse the Google Maps Gallery post and left a quick comment about the similarities of the Maps Gallery and a site called WhatWasThere.

(Lisa works as a Secondary Social Studies Mentor in the Howard County Public Schools and also made sure to pass on another great D-Day photo source and oral history archive.)

I had never heard of WhatWasThere. I’ve heard of HistoryPin. And Histografica. And I’ve even heard of Smithsonian’s interactive maps. But WhatWasThere?

Nope. And it’s so cool. How have I not run across this before?

The WhatWasThere folks say that their project

was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past.

The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world.

And for the last few years, they’ve been collecting old photos and pasting them onto Google Maps around the world.

Using the site couldn’t be much simpler. Read more

Don’t go to the Retronaut photo web site. I’m serious. Don’t do it.


I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about Retronaut. I just found out about the site this week and am still playing it. So I’m not quite sure how to explain it.

Retronaut is an archive of historical photographs. But not just normal historical photographs. The site’s tagline is:

Retronaut – see the past like you wouldn’t believe.

The photos are, mmm . . . different. As in quirky. Kooky. Unexpected. As in Lenin without a beard, Hitler signing autographs, England’s Prince Charles performing a Cossack dance, Nixon with Robocop kind of unexpected.

But trust me. Do not go to Retronaut. It’s like a re-start of a NASCAR race with three laps to go. You know there’s gonna be a crash but you can’t look away. Retronaut will suck you in and you can’t get out. I have no idea where it gets its photos but they are addictive. Do. Not. Go. There.

I’m serious. It’s too late for me. Save yourself. 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!

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!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,772 other followers