Meghan Retallick contributed this post. Meghan sends a weekly "Instruction & Literacy Tip" to her staff. Click here for more "Instruction & Literacy Tips". Click here for all of Meghan's Literacy Booth posts.
This is a continuation of my new way to connect with staff in my district. Each week, I'm sending out an email with tips for best practices in instruction and literacy. This week I've been thinking a lot about how students analyze images. A report from NPR detailed recent research on students' ability to assess information sources. The researchers at Stanford's Graduate School of Education "described the results as 'dismaying,' 'bleak' and '[a] threat to democracy.'" See the full article and/or 5 minute podcast detailing their research here.
Two findings from the study caught my eye:
- Most middle school students can't tell native ads from articles.
- Most high school students accept photographs as presented, without verifying them.
So what do we do? This site might be a good start for holding conversations to analyze images with our middle and high school students.
On Monday of each week, a picture without a caption is posted on the website. Students follow this protocol to participate in the conversation:
1. After looking closely at the image, students think about these three questions:
- What is going on in this picture?
- What do you see that makes you say that?
- What more can you find?
2. Next, students can join the conversation by commenting on the website (or you could discuss as a class and post one comment).
3. After students have posted, they can try reading back to see what others have said, and then respond to someone else by posting another comment.
4. Each Monday, the site's collaborator, Visual Thinking Strategies, will facilitate a discussion from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time by paraphrasing comments and linking to responses to help students’ understanding go deeper.
5. On Thursday afternoons, the site will reveal at the bottom of the post more information about the photo. How does reading the caption and learning its back story help the students see the image differently?
Utilizing this resource on a regular basis will improve student analysis of visuals and inspire critical thinking and discussion skills. What else do you do with staff and students to improve student's visual literacy skills?