This post first appeared as a guest post on the Educator Collaborative blog leading up to the Spring Gathering. The archive of our free webinar can be viewed here! : )
If you’ve ever logged into a social media site you’ve likely seen an image like this one. Perhaps it had a funny quip or thoughtful quote. These images capture our attention due to their ability to stand out from the sea of words and noise and connect with us in some way. I wondered what would happen if we leveraged these images and words to amplify the learning in our classrooms. How could we take this medium and make it work for kids? What if?
What if we used these concise images as a way to remind students of goals or learning targets? Better yet, what if students created their own reminders to help them be the best that they can be? What if they acted as a class record of lessons throughout the unit? Perhaps these images become printed reminders of accomplishments or digital badges of success across the year? The potential is limitless. Here are a few ways that I’ve begun to explore.
Collaboration, teamwork, perseverance, risk taking, self-control. Each of our students has unique ways that they can grow. I’ve often noticed the school social worker giving little reminder cards to the students she works with. But what if every student had one? Perhaps they refer to their own little image tucked in their notebook before a book club meeting or group work. If students have devices they might make this their lock screen. These images can act as a quick reminder to breath when stressed, listen before they talk, or accept failure as a learning moment. Students might also have a group one during collaborative work to help them with the skills they need to accomplish tasks smoothly together.
Over the years I’ve tried many ways to help students set and keep a record of goals. While my systems have improved I still feel that students often forget these goals in the moment. What if they created images like these and displayed them in a notebook or on their desk? They might keep a photo roll on a device and pull it up by subject as the day goes on. Making goals visual is an effective way to help us keep them at the forefront of our mind and achieve them. Creating the visual; selecting an image, color scheme, and juxtaposition cements the goal for the child and makes it memorable. Today’s tech tools coupled with a little guidance make this a quick and streamlined process.
We might also use these visual reminders to serve as a vehicle for delivering micro lessons- remind students of prior teaching points, essential steps, or set a purpose for the day. These class “goals” for learning can be displayed on a projector screen or smartboard at the beginning or end of class. What if the class quickly helped compose one at the end of a lesson as a wrap up for the day? It might be a simple “today we learned…” statement or hold students’ words, reflections, and examples of great work of the day. Or we might display a slideshow of visuals from recent lessons to play while students work independently or transition. I keep photo albums for each subject in the photo app on my computer. From there I can easily play one as a slideshow right from the app, no muss, no fuss.
Student reflection is an essential part of our school day. We guide students to stop and notice where they are and how far they’ve come. What goals they’ve achieved and what more they need to accomplish. What if we paired student’s own reflections with images of them at work or a sample of the work itself? Students can create and archive them digitally or printed, share them with parents, and display them in any way they choose. These powerful moments capture and honor process over product and value the student’s own words and observations about themselves as learners.
Creating these visuals is surprisingly really easy! To make the images in this post I used Canva a free webbased tool with ready made layouts and simple options which you can master with a bit of play time and experimentation. You might use photographs from your classroom or students can take their own photos. In this case I’ve used images from two sites that offer free pictures for use in creative projects. (listed below) If needed you can do a little footwork ahead of time and build an image bank for or students to streamline the process. These can be stored on a device, USB key, shared photo roll, or shared Google drive or Dropbox folder.
The images in this blog post are from the following websites.
Morguefile offers free stock images to use in creative projects. These images are intended to be altered by the user.
Unsplash also offers free images and is a creative commons zero site.
Canva is a web based tool (they also offer an app) for creating digital images, infographics, and art. While there are paid options within the app it is easy to avoid these and use your own.