Friday, February 20, 2015

When Students Can't Find Pictures

Photographs are a component of our video/podcast...or video podcast. In an upcoming blog entry I will deal with what apps or tools students use to create their projects, but for now I want to deal with the imagery question.

How I Handle Images:
Some students will want to Google images and be done with it. I want to dissuade them from this approach.

  • Who: Anyone and everyone and anything. I try to get students to gather as much as they can even if it appears off topic. Gather first, sort later. You will find that as the due date draws nearer more students will discover that they do not have enough photos, or enough of the right photos, etc. Gathering as many as we can early will help us all later.
  • Why: Images help us tell a story. They help inform. They help provide context.
  • What: Start with family images. Write, call, ask family for pictures of family. You would be surprised by what already exists...and new pictures of family or family locations can inspire new depths of writing. Pictures of cultural or family objects and places work just as well as people. 
  • How: 
    • Some pictures will be emailed to the students. 
    • If students have a personal device with a camera, they can take pictures of pictures.
    • If students know family members are on social media like Facebook, students can take screen shots of any relevant family photos.

How I Handle Literal-Minded Students:
This will happen. A student is writing about the impact that her grandfather's woodworking had on her as a little girl. But then she realizes that no photos exists of her grandfather's woodshop let alone pictures of her in her grandfather's woodshop.

  • Any photos of you and your grandfather together will work...
  • Any photos of your grandfather will work...
  • Any photos of you will work...
  • Any photos of something your grandfather made will work...
  • Any photos of your grandfather's tools...or a tool that reminds you of him will work
Sometimes students will hyper-focus on finding the exact photo of the exact moment in time noted in their writing. We need to help them learn the skills of applying a photo or image in context.

How I Handle Students at the End of their Rope
No photos exist. They really did look. They asked. They emailed. They scoured social networks. But the great-great-grandfather who felled a forest all by himself in Bavaria left no images behind. Now what? Google?


I try to keep a cache of links to sites providing royalty-free images. However, I always point students towards art first. The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers tons images online. All searchable by geographical regions.

If art fails, then yes, by all means, use any of the links on this wiki: 

Also, I pulled these sites by reading Troy Hicks and following him on social media.

India, 1735, A Lady Playing the Tampura
How I Handle "I Still Can't Find Any Images!"
Find one image. One. And let's consider this more of an audio podcast.

That said, I let it be known that I expect more than one voice to be on the podcast. (What?) Since we are bailing on using images to help us share our story and information, pull in the voice of your parents, your siblings, your aunts and uncles and grandparents. Interview them.  Use snippets of what they share and remember.

Some students will actually thrive under these conditions. Relieved of the photo hunt, students can use voice recorder/memo apps to interview family members. Also, it takes some of the pressure off of them to have things to say.

Students can craft questions around the topics that interest them most--the topics in which they are beginning to connect with in their families.

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