OK... lets talk, just a little, about how we butcher the images we use in our teaching. By "butcher" I mean, how we stretch, hide and alter all those examples of powerful imagery.
Even though I taught for just under 20 years in the classroom, each upcoming lesson found me running to Google, Flickr, and so many other sites to just find the "perfect picture" for that lesson. That process of search made me quite a bit better at hunting and finding pictures, but also forced me to re-think HOW I using them with my classes. This concept has been reinforced with one of my all time favorite books for teaching and presenting called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds where he shows "there is a better way to reach the audience through simplicity and storytelling". Below is a snippet of the book:
Now, my history with photos goes back to my earliest memories. You see, my father has made his life as a photographer and I can remember looking at his photo collections and books. Some of my favorite books were a series called "A Day In The Life". These were books of photos taken by photo journalsists all during the span of one 24 hour period. For example the image below is from one of these called "A Day In The Life of the Sovie Union". It's so powerful... the everyday image of women trying to buy bread in the USSR during one of their bread shortages.
Form History to Geology and ever subject in-between, we have all found powerful images we want to share with our students. What we DO with them is what is almost just as important. So, even if you don't read my book recommendation, here are three tips to help.
Tip #1: "Ignite Discussion, Don't Replace it"
Now for us in education, the use of projectors has allowed us to display images which we once could only talk about or show in a film strip. But once the image is on the screen what should you DO with your class. Please do not just to the easy "so... tell me what you think about this picture?"
Think of yourself as Socrates where you provide NO ANSWERS and only ask more questions. You may not have tons of questions to ask so here is a simple strategy which may help called:
P.O.S.E.R.S Image Analysis
This is a tool which gives students prompts and questions they can use on almost any photo or painting. Here is a link to this document.
Tip #2) Don't Write On Images
Oh dear God... how many times have you seen a PowerPoint slide like this before? Or... (and be honest) have you done it yourself? That's OK... I'll admit it too.
But if you think about it, TEXT ON AN IMAGE, does two terrible things:
1) you can see / analyze the image
2) you can barely read the text (oh... this is an other point for a future blog post but, why are you putting text AT ALL on the slide?)
Now... lets say you just HAVE TO write on an image. OK... if you do I understand and won't judge you, but try using these 5 tips below on this image of excited kids in a classroom:
You can do al of these just in PowerPoint and Google Slides too. The main idea on ALL of these points is: MAKE YOUR TEXT POP! It has to stand out one way or another.
Tip #3) Crop Don't Stretch
This is a pledge that we need to take along with ALL OUR STUDENTS TOO!
The issue is we want to make pictures fit. For example, lets say you like this image of MLK but need to fit vertically into your project. We have all been used to just stretching the image but in almost any program (including PowerPoint and Google Slides) there are crop tools which allow you cut out parts. Below are examples of the original image along with one stretched and one cropped.