Archive for the 'Visual Literacy' Category

Assessing Learning with Web 2.0: Images/Visuals/Flickr

When we apply critical thinking to how we use images/photos/flickr in Web 2.0, we can assess how well our students communicate.

The following rubric applies the “Universal  Intellectual Standards” by  Linda Elder and and Richard Paul which was modified by Gerald Noisch in his Learning to Think Things Through.

Tuttle's Web 2.0 Assessment for Images
Tuttle’s Web 2.0 Assessment for Images

Develop Visual Literacy Skill of Picture Interpretation (English example)

As an English teacher, I had my students do many visual literacy skill activities.

One of the most powerful one was in comparing the images of the same character from different productions of the same play. For example, I would ask them to compare Titania, the queen of the fairies, from A Midsummer Night Dream using these two images ( titania.jpg and

2 Versions of Titania

I would ask the students to tell me what the director’s interpretation of each character was.
Usually students would have blank stares.

I would ask them for the differences between the two pictures. I would make a chart as they spoke with the characteristic on the left, the 1st Titania in the middle, and the 2nd Titania on the right so the first few entries might be

Characteristics…………….. 1st Titania…………………… 2nd Titania
clothing………………………….color pink,light…………….. black and dark green
wings……………………………. pink…………………………….. none

After they had listened many characteristics, I would ask them “As you look at all the characteristics for the first Titania, what one word, phrase, or image of Titania summarizes those characteristics?

Then student make their own charts as they analyze the different images of the same play characters. They find their own images for other characters (or the staging or the setting) from different play versions, analyze them, and identify the director’s interpretation. They move from looking at a visual to evaluating it for its message.

How do you help your students to become more visually literate in your subject area through technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Developing Visual Literacy Skills in the Primary Classroom

The Three Little Pigs

Very young children make choices about what they want to buy based on what the package looks like. They pick library books by the cover.

So how early should we educators begin educating our students in visual literacy and media literacy? As early as possible.

We can have students analyze two book covers and ask them what each tells about the main character. For example, there are numerous versions of The Three Little Pigs, each with a different cover. A search of Google images will reveal many book covers. We can ask questions such as “Who is on each cover? What action are they doing? Are they happy? Where are they?” and ask for the students to point to the part of the cover that answers each question.

We can ask students to predict what will happen next in a picture book based on analyzing the images on the present page. They can identify what in the picture leads them to think a certain thing will happen.

As we read a book to them, we can show them an image of what might be a house or a location from the book and ask them to decide if the house is the same one that they have heard described. They can tell why or why not based on the image. Again, an image search on Google for “Three Little Pigs” + house will show many different houses.

So what other visual literacy activities do you do with primary students? Intermediate students? High School students?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


How does technology use help your students meet the school’s academic goals?: Visual Literacy

1) The visual literacy score for a recent project

2) How this activity help you in understanding “How Does Technology Use Help Your Students Meet the School’s Academic Goals?”

Better Learning and Expressing of Learning through Visual Literacy

Our cave ancestors were visually literate; their lives depended on how well they could visually read the world around them. Today our students are visually literate within their world of “electronic images” such as TV, videogames, and the Web; they want to be visually literate in their school which is often devoid of visuals.


One major component of 21st century skills is Digital-Age Literacy. This literacy consists of scientific/technological literacy; visual literacy; and cultural literacy. Visual literacy is the ability to see, to understand, and ultimately to think, create, and communicate graphically. Students can use images that are realistic or abstract. They can use an image by itself or any image with words or sound. They can use one image or a series of images. They can use visuals to express their voice, their views, and their conceptualization of a information. They can learn to read and express themselves from the knowledge level up to Bloom’s evaluation level using visuals. They can work with visuals individually or in groups. However, the ability to read a visual depends on the student’s background knowledge. We can help students to learn visually in school through providing them with a variety of images.


We can start with helping students learn to read and to express themselves with still a single visual. The students can:

  • Identify the basic content of the picture

  • Get information from the picture

  • Put an item into its context through a visual

  • Learn new words from visuals.

  • Analyze an image for its media impact

  • Depict the meaning of written materials through a created or chosen visual..

  • Write about a topic due to the power of a single visual

  • Analyze information from a chart or graph


When teachers and students use a series of visuals, students increase in their learning through in-depth analysis and understanding. A group of visuals may be in visual series where the main object and background change or visual series where only the main object changes. Studens can:

  • Tell a story through structured visuals

  • Write through structured visuals

  • Show changes over time using a series of visuals

  • Represent the many steps in a process or an event

  • Compare and contrast several images of the same event

  • Ilustrate the many different perspectives of a single event through many visuals

  • Show a discrepancy or misconception through multiple images.


Teachers can help students to read visuals from other cultures, countries, and time periods. Students can:

  • See up-to-the-moment images from a country

  • View many images rapidly to get a visual overview of a country’s geography or of a topic

  • Compare how different cultures deal with the same event through visual comparisions

  • Contrast paintings of the same event from different time periods

  • Discover that a visual may look like one thing when really it is portraying something very different unless they know the culture or time period.


Teachers and students can obtain and produce visuals easily. They can use:

  • A digital camera or digital camcorder to record class, school, and community images

  • Inspiration like programs to create graphic organizers that consist of visuals

  • Word processor and insert graphics from the Web or from the digital camera

  • Use iMovies (Mac) or Window Movie Maker (PC) to produce their own movies.

  • Web sources such as and for still images

  • Web sources as a GoogleEarth for geographic images

  • Web resources such as for movies


Teachers can employ meaningful visuals in the classroom and can have students express themselves visually so that students can demonstrate their deep knowledge about a topic.


Some Resources:

Shows photos that can be used by students and teachers as long as they give credit to the authors (about 56,000 photos)

Focuses on the use of Flickr

Allows students and teachers to locate images by geographical location

Is the site for the International Visual Literacy Association

Has many visual literacy activities especially historical photos

Demonstrates good examples for K-8

Visual Literacy: Solid Education or New Technology Focus

I do many presentations and workshops on topics such as visual literacy. I am constantly amazed at how teachers want to hear about the newest and best technology but they do not want to hear about good educational approaches that involve technology. If I mention a new-to-them website such as a site that allows them to find pictures from various locations such as there is excitement in their eyes. I hear an “Awww” from the audience. If, on the other hand, I show them how them how they can use digital images to develop higher level thinking in their students in their subject area, I see the boredom. They will admit that they have not done any of these in their classroom and that they did not know about scaffolding within visuals. They even admit that they did not even know of these uses but their eyes still gloss over as I go over the educational-based learning approaches to using visuals as I am using vivid images.


Visual literacy, particularly using visuals of all sorts to learn from and to express learning is such a rich area for the classroom P-university. Visuals can be used to teach new vocabulary(body parts for health), to clear misconceptions (is a trench a little curved area on the side of the road or a very deep hole used in wars?), to show concepts that are hard to understand (chaos theory abstraction vs shoreline from high above), to promote “what next” or “what if” thinking (two pictures and predict what will happen next) to show changes (a plant growing over time), to see current up-to-the-moment culture from another country, to compare two items (such as two flowers).

Create a visually rich learning environment that does not depend on new technology!


Digital Camera and the Classroom Websites: Visual Learning Irony

I have been preparing a presentation on using the digital camera to improve student learning in the various subject areas. I found tons of websites about the topic such as

Most of them described a multitude ways in which teachers could use digital cameras.

However, I find it highly ironical that when a website tells about how teachers and students can use a digital camera in the classroom, it does not show actual photographs. If a website is emphasizing visual learning, then the website should use visuals! This seems to be the same as describing the Mona Lisa instead of showing her in an Art class. Imagine if a math teacher could not show students what a square or triangle looked like!


Students can be engaged in learning through digital cameras. Their abstract learning becomes very real when they have to demonstrate their learning. Students already know how to use cameras and probably the only thing for them to learn is how to reduce the memory size to make their PowerPoints or webpages

The following photograph taken in Tijana, Mexico can serve as

  • a writing prompt for descriptive writing for ELA students

  • a writing prompt for comparison writing (the man and the statue) for ELA students

  • an analysis picture for Social Studies students of the Mexican culture

  • a speaking prompt for Spanish students.


Mexican musican and statue



RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior ( Equally important, a letter […]
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]

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