Photo Ops: 10 Innovative Ways to Use Visual Media

6/1/2011 By:

If you’re lucky enough to have digital cameras at your disposal, here are a few picture-perfect ways to use them.

By Ellen Ullman

1 Produce public service announcements.


Here is a sample Glogster with video and photo components (not made by the student but embedded).

Students can make PSAs about any topic you choose, such as the environment. Have them take photos around town and then use Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 to create the announcements.

2 Study textures.

For a fun art project, have students take close-up pictures of a variety of textures, including brick walls and dead grass. Along the way they can learn about warm colors, cool colors, and textures. If you like, they can turn the pictures into a collage.

3 Do an interactive book report.

Glogster (www.glogster.com) lets students turn assignments into interactive extravaganzas. Just add text, images, music, and video to make Glogs, or posters. In addition to book reports, your students can make pro-and-con Glogs about controversial topics, like global warming.

4 Learn about machines.

Take pictures of simple machines around your school—including levers, screws, wireless routers, door hinges— and turn them into a PowerPoint presentation.


A fifth-grade class did a Geometry Hunt and were assigned specific geometric terms to find and photograph. It became collaborative because each small group of students was assigned different terms and then became responsible for teaching those terms to their classmates. Katie Deibele is the classroom teacher who assigned this project.



5 Go on a scavenger hunt.

Put students in small groups and give them a list of geometric terms to find examples of and photograph. Take the lesson further by asking the groups to teach their classmates about their assigned terms.

6 Write an autobiography.

Younger students can write a personal story with which to introduce themselves to their classmates. Have them take pictures of their interests, home, family, pets, and activities; write a story; and put it together using Microsoft Photo Story or Glogster.

7 Promote healthier habits.

For health class, ask children to develop a healthy snack and use cameras and Windows Live Movie Maker to create commercials that they could use to sell it.

8 Improve scientific skills.

Science teachers can photograph experiments at various stages and post the pictures on a class blog. That way students can check out what they missed in class or use the pictures to study.


A texture collage

9 Act like a CSI.

Take mug shots of faculty and staff to create a schoolwide CSI event based on a “crime” such as “Who stole Mrs. Smith’s eraser?” Students can interview faculty suspects, collect DNA , and turn the mug shots into wanted posters that they can hang in the hall (along with pictures of the “crime scene”).

10 Lights, camera…

Create Common Craft (www.commoncraft.com) videos by writing a script, drawing or cutting out pictures, and putting the drawings or pictures in order. Use a camera to record, sliding the pictures in and out of view.

Thanks to the following educators for sharing their terrific ideas: Sherry L. Annee, biotechnology instructor, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Indianapolis; Juli Burok, library media specialist, Haldane (NY) Central School District; Tami Junkermeier, media specialist, Minnetonka (MN) Middle School West; Jill Lebiedzinski, technology teacher, St. Alphonsus Elementary Catholic School, Maple Glen, PA; Kelli Whiteside, media specialist, Deephaven Elementary, Minnetonka, MN

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