I got off track in the assignment for week two. I buried myself in the readings and the Diigo list and then totally forgot that all I really needed to do was talk about the power of images (and then use them powerfully!)
But let me stay off track for a second here because I need you to watch this hero talk about typeface choices. I touched on this a little in my post last week and this guy does what I was feeling too polite to do – he tells us to stop using Comic Sans! (Also please take a minute to check out this wickedly awesome site about Comic Sans use – www.comicsanscriminal.com) Watch it below:
This is my favourite moment:
But he ends with the same sentiment that will kick start my real thoughts for this week – we just need to be context appropriate.
How can we manipulate imagery to foster effective communication?
Last week I committed to improving the instructions that I gave to my students about their own blog posts. I would spend some time in class discussing blog layouts and media literacy and I would use a better blog rubric to assess them. So I decided to include my own students on my COETAIL assignment for this week.
Inserting images into blog posts
My students spent a lesson researching different types of bank accounts around the world. They found out about savings accounts in Brazil, Japan, the USA and they talked aboutinterest rates and diplomatic privileges (no joke). Then they got very excited about offshore banking and Swiss banks in the movies. If you were wondering if 14 years olds could spend 60 minutes on banking websites they answer is YES. Yes they can.
After some whole class discussions and a couple of days to ask their parents about banking, I asked them to write a blog post about one or two things that they learned in the lesson. I gave them some vocab words that I thought they should try to include and I also posted a couple of guiding questions for the small number of students who said that they didn’t really find anything interesting (or said that they didn’t learn anything). In addition to the task, I asked all students to include some links to their posts as well as some images. So their weekly assignment is now the same as mine. (I used this blog rubric by Andrew Churches – the rubric link is an auto download.)
We talked about how images can attract readers and get them instantly focussed on the task. The students looked back at their own posts and at their peers’ and they all agreed that posts with images were far more visually pleasing. “The images tell the reader straight away what the post is about”, “The images just make it more fun to look at” and “Images are faster to read than words”. The last quote sent us all off on a massive tangent about reading images – similar to what happens here at the NYTimes.
The students knew that they needed to find images that were creative commons and they knew that they had to cite them. But few (if any) had a quick and easy method for this. Before I’d even watched Kim’s video I had made my own that uses Google Image searches and works specifically with images from Commons Wikimedia
Here is my tutorial video – I actually made this as I was explaining it to my students. (The audio was horrible so I deleted it)
I’m going to come back to this post and write a part two with a bit more of a focus on the research behind visual literacy.