A few years ago, we bought a digital camera, at my instigation, because at least if the picture was terrible, I could delete it! Even so, with the ease of digital technology, we remain photo-illiterate. My excuse (and I’m sticking with it!) is that we LIVE the moments, rather than take pictures of them. We rarely remember to take our camera with us, and when we do, chances are we forget to take pictures! We often think of and reflect on the times we have had, but rarely do we look at the pictures we managed to take. (Oh, boy, does that ever sound reactionary! 🙂 )
On the other hand, all of my own children are digitally wired! They all bought digital cameras (right after they bought cell phones. Priorities, priorities!) and began to take pictures and upload them on to Facebook, creating album after album. My students are digital as well…and even I must admit, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Photo sharing, for me, is limited to my sisters-in-law sending me their Picassa web album updates, and I ooh and ahh over my nieces and nephew (all of whom are truly the cutest, brightest toddlers I know). My experience with working with digital pictures is the one Smilebox I created for my daughter’s graduation. My goal is to take pictures of my kindergarteners this year, and create Smileboxes for their graduation. I’m going to start taking pictures next week. Promise.
With that in mind, I joined Flickr, and uploaded a few of the digital pictures I have. I then began to research to understand how this tool could work for me in the classroom. Will Richardson talks about how Flickr is more than a photo-sharing site. He states that it has become “true social software where the contributors interact and share and learn from each other in creative and interesting ways.” (p. 100) He refers to David Jakes who lists some great ideas: annotating pictures, using pictures for writing prompts and using pictures to create virtual field trips. Jakes also has a terrific compilation of sites for using Flickr. One of the things I LOVE about these ideas is that we can use any digital image (remember, I take terrible pictures!). This leads to a lesson on copyright, and on appropriate pictures vs. inappropriate pictures.
I also liked Richardson’s idea of using Flickr for current events, although I would tend to use Dogonews with younger students. For older students, the ability to tag photos and search for images on Flickr by tagging invites many possibilities. In the grade five Weather science unit, why not have students search Flickr for a type of weather and create annotated slideshows of the phenomenon they are researching. I am also thinking of our grade 3/4 classrooms, who create digital journal entries with pictures they take in the school. Why not use Flickr and have them create journal entries about ‘found’ pictures, then comment on each other’s ideas?
On the other hand, perhaps I need to rethink my stance on taking pictures: step back, look for opportunities, and if the picture isn’t quite right, there’s always Bluebots!