Thursday, May 2, 2013

Expand Horizons with Photography

I started a new routine in my computer lab this year.  As classes come in, I display a photograph on the interactive whiteboard.   When students are seated, I give them a minute to look and think.  I then welcome them to comment or ask questions about the photograph.

We spend less than 3 minutes discussing and looking for clues that may tell us where the photo was taken.  Each image has elicited interesting ideas and concepts, ranging from climate to vegetation, to natural phenomena.  I have been able to introduce vocabulary, such as "rural" and "polar" in context. This routine has given me glimpses of my students' knowledge and knowledge gaps in geography. I can also quickly shift to a world map when explaining locations.

Students are excited when they guess the location.  It has been rewarding to watch them enter with an look of excitement about the image they are seeing.

I use some of my own photographs from travelling.  I also find great photos from these sources:
National Geographic, Lonely Planet and BBC Travel.

My younger classes simply discuss an image, naming what they see and asking questions. It provides oral language practice and sparks curiosity about our world.  National Geographic Photos of the day usually have accompanying information giving context to the photograph. I sometimes use it to tell the story of how the photo was taken.

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