Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing with Picture Prompts

I may have mentioned before that I teach in a very rural area. By rural, I mean that students have driven tractors to the high school (no joke). Because my school is rural, we can sometimes be a bit behind on technology. As of last year these are my classroom tools:
  • 3 Classroom Computers with one printer (no extra gadgets!)
  • 1 Overhead Projector
As the year went on I realized that maybe I should try to incorporate some of my own technology into the the class. The best tool I had was an Ipod Classic. I also had an A/V cord that connected my Ipod to the TV.

Now I wanted to get my kids writing, and I was almost as bored as they were of cheesy sentence prompts. I wanted to give them something visual. I did a search for picture prompts, and the best thing I could find was a selection of mystery pictures by Chris Van Allsburg from his book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

I used the pictures and the kids loved it. (Here is a slideshow of pictures)

As I looked around a bit more, I realized there wasn't a whole lot that was labeled for pictures prompts (at least that would come up in a google search). Then by some luck, I stumbled upon MNBC's Week in Pictures. This is a great site, because they give you some amazing pictures every week. Here are a few I used with my students:

The site will give you captions and a little context, but you can also just have the kids make up what they think is happening or is going to happen.

All you have to do is save the pictures, and project them (I used my Ipod). The kids will have a blast. It is open ended so the creativity can explode.

Enjoy. Let me know your results.


  1. Thanks for sharing these ideas- what a great way to have students be creative while exposing them to great photographs. Love the idea.
    I got involved in the 365 challenge this year and have been finding amazing resources for students to create great multimedia projects using the pictures they take as well.
    Thanks again for the ideas,

  2. Hi Ian
    Love this idea of picture prompts and the two examples you have given. Now bookmarked! Have you looked at the Big Picture -
    You will get some amazing shots there.

  3. I use Flickr's group, EdTech365/2010 because the majority of the images there are taken by educators and are licensed under the Creative Commons licensing. I often will use one of the images as a blog post image prompt whereby my students provide the text as a comment. I always let the image creator know about this & provide them with a link. My kids always get a kick when the image creator responds back.