How To Use Photos To Teach


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Humans are visual creatures. In fact, 90% of information the brain processes is visual, and the brain processes this visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Teachers have to incorporate visual elements into their teaching methods. Using photos is vital to being able to teach students effectively. 

Use Photos to Build Reading Skill 

You can develop lessons for your students using a storyboard tool like, using photos from a variety of sources. StoryboardThat is a powerful visual communication tool that is designed to help educators build online courses. It is perfect for a course so focused on photos. 

Photos are important tools in helping students to understand text and by using them with storyboards, you will create a highly interactive visual learning platform for your students.  

The photos can help the students draw inferences about the text, question it, and apply those lessons to the text. 

There are three steps to this:


Firstly, your students have to describe what they have observed. These are descriptions of what they are seeing as well as inferences that go beyond what they are seeing. Students should take detailed notes, trying to observe as much as possible.  

Give an Answer 

Here, you ask questions about the photo. The questions should be written, and students once again should be required to write out their answers. These questions should be related to the photo that the students were asked to describe. 

Apply What Has Been Learnt 

Ask the students to take the inferences and observations they have drawn from the picture and apply those lessons. In this section, you don’t have to directly use the photo, but the theme of the photo. So, for instance, if the photo is about sharing, the students can discuss and write out ways to share, and then act those out. 

This section can be used to introduce new skills to students. Your students can work alone, or in pairs, or even in groups, although if you want to have each student learn a lot, they should work at most in pairs.  

Use Newspapers 

Newspapers are a great start to applying the principles above. They are a wonderful source of photos that teachers can use. Many newspapers have educational photo content aimed at students and their teachers. For example, in 2013, the New York Times launched a Learning Network, through which they publish a new photo every Monday, in the “What’s Going On in This Picture?” section. Teachers have been using the network ever since to start conversations with their students. Teachers are encouraged to ask their students what’s going on in a picture, what the students see, and what more they could see. After students have posted comments, the Times republishes the photo later in the week with descriptions of the photo. 

When using newspaper content, indeed, this is true for all materials, you want to speak to your students at their level. 

You could ask students to write captions or descriptions to newspaper photos and even add headlines. Show sections of the photo and ask your students what they think the whole picture is about. Let the students tell stories about the photo.  

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