About a year ago, I attended a technology conference at Motlow Community College in Tullahoma, Tennessee. It was a wonderful experience due to the plethora of information and cool sites to take home and use in our own classrooms. One of these resources, I share with you now. A lot of times when we think about discussion in our classrooms, we cringe and try to come up with relevant topics. But what if you didn’t have to? After attending the conference, the Social Studies teacher down my hallway began using one of the sites I picked up as a writing prompt warm up periodically. The page is called The Big Picture and it’s on the Boston.com website, home of the Boston Globe. Instead of having her students read current events, she would have them look at a picture from the news of the week, read the caption and write a response. For visual people, like myself, this is a great way to connect with a story instead of just reading text on a page.
It is a great way for students to respond to media, make inferences about the events in the pictures and the emotions portrayed. In the middle school setting, these are all skills that they are tested on during the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). For the Social Studies teacher in my hallway, this was a quick and easy warm that usually lead to great conversations about politics, culture, and personal motivation, all of which needed to be addressed in her state benchmarks. The great thing about this site is that a picture can literally paint a thousand words, or in this case, produce a thousand different ways in which to use it in your classroom. Images can capture imagination and attention, both of which we struggle to keep on a daily basis. Try it!