Pictures as stimulii

I always carry a camera around with me – as well as my phone. Why? Because you never know when you might see something interesting enough to use as a stimulus for an article. And why both? Because each one gives better results in different lighting conditions. Interestingly, my camera, which boasts a Leica lens, copes less well than  my phone in the dark – which is why I used my camera for the night street scenes shown here. I like the slightly out-of-focus effect, and the fact that in one of them the darkness is almost overwhelming. I think if you teach you should encourage your students to always carry a camera of some description with them at all times. And if you are a Head of Department, encourage your staff to do the same. Here are my reasons.

Girl and trainFirst, if you like writing, or are trying to encourage kids to write, a photo can be a good way of unlocking so-called “Writer’s Block”. Steve Wheeler wrote about Writer’s Block, and he said:

Sometimes an evocative image will set your thought processes going.

Very true – so why not create your own bank of “evocative” images?

Second, taking photos forces you to look at the world in a different way. For example, it can make you focus on detail, or the bigger picture. What sort of photos might you see if you set your students an assignment like:

Look for evidence of the Industrial Revolution between your home and school.

Take photos of as many different examples of the colour blue that you can find.

Explain how to save your work using mainly photos, graphics and no more than 10 words.

Third, you can use photos, and online repositories of photos, to discuss issues of copyright, privacy, common sense and personal safety.

Night streets

Fourth, if you encourage everyone to take photos of everything (within reason, obviously), and upload them to your VLE or school Flickr account, you will build up a bank of clip art that is better than clip art or stock photography, with which to illustrate work, worksheets, blog posts and anything else you can think of. Why “better” than clip art? Because it can be tailored to your own requirements, and is free.

Night streetsFinally, this is something that can be scaled up really really quickly and easily. If a class of 30 kids each took and uploaded one photo a week, and assuming a 36 week term for argument’s sake, by the end of the year you will have a collection of 1,080 pictures. If you have 10 classes, that figure soars to 10,800.

What are you waiting for?