Describing a photo 20 different connected ways

I love examining a good image. As a trained geographer I always examine an image in 20 different yet connected ways.

Sounds intense but it really is quick and can be an extended starter task or a collaborative task on the same image. I like this avenue best:)

I’ll do it in numbered points so you can see the level of depth to the thinking that can be applied to a single photo.

1. Say what you see?
2. What could you hear?
3. What would you you smell?
4. How might people be feeling?
5. What would/wouldn’t you touch?
6. What would your taste buds sense?

As you can see this links to our senses. A simple skill to employ with a photo but one that the students finds stretches them.

This all applied to the NOW. A concept I have used lots and many will have read via the great David Didau ‘The Learning Spy’ with the concept of examining a photo from a variety of temporal avenues:

7. Before
8. Before, before
9. After
10. After, after

Thinking of a photo in these four ways is fascinating and gets students being creative and also reflective.

11. To the left of the image
12. To the right of the image

Add further strength to this and allows imaginations to run riot:)

The next few are geography categorising skills but can really focus students into specifics of an image or get them thinking of likely or possible issues:

13. Social
14. Economic
15. Environmental

I am putting this second last but if I am honest it should be 1st!

16. Scale – is there something or someone in the image that you can scale and therefore qualitatively make judgements on sizes of elements of the image? Say a fence. Most ones we walk past can approximately be 1m 20cm ish hence the qualitative judgment. As long as the student designates the scale value. A car height 1m 50cm ish a sheep 1m in length. Hen apply that scale to other aspects of the image.

So far many of you will be thinking wow this is a lot and how on earth do students keep track of this and organise it?

17. Post it notes

This technique has transformed this method of examination of an image. I get students to stick 6 over the image. Students then lift each post it note up and then examine that specific aspect of the image. This helps to break down the image into manageable chunks. But more importantly actually stretches descriptions (other command terms) of the image. I find that many students limit their photo analysis to the big hook of the image that stands out and as a result aspects are neglected or missed.

I like multiple coloured post it notes. Say yellow can be senses; oranges I use for before(s) (half a post it each); greens I use for afters splitting the post it for after and after after; pink social; lighter yellow economic and environmental.

This is then developed into a structure to write up at his stage.

18. Students review their analysis of the photos and they rank which section is the most important, second, third, fourth, fifth and then the least important section. This then became the paragraphs that students write up their photo analysis.

You could reduce it so that students examine the same image and one does senses; one before before, before; one after and after, after; one social, economic an environmental. Then students share their analysis with each other team teaching. Then the others on the table collaborate by analysing the image an then on the back of the post it notes green penning any additional thinking for that aspect as a feedback/ critique element.

19. A great extension and stretch and challenge activity is where you remove all of the post it notes and get students on other tables to predict what the image must look like from the descriptions, labels that are on the post it notes. One could be reading what it says on a post it and then another can draw what they say showing thinking for speaking and listening:) Then the other table evaluating what they created.

20. I often get students to use my Question grid against the image incorporating all the aspects above. It allows students to take greater control of the image and really gather its elements in their mind as they formalise the questions.

Like my philosophy at the minute. Give it a go. I promise you you will be amazed at the greater thinking that your students generate from it:)


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