Digital Photography in Your Classroom

Presenter: Charlene Chausis, Technology Trainer
Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL
Apple Distinguished Educator 2003


School Website:


Dr. David Thornburg writes, "it is important that educators move beyond the mechanics of camera use, and image editing, to the design and implementation of curriculum-based projects that take advantage of digital images to help students understand things in new ways." In this workshop, we will explore classroom activities and online resources, and work to create a lesson plan that incorporates digital images.



Visual Literacy and the Standards

How important is visual literacy?

The enGauge Report on 21st Century Skills ( lists visual literacy as one of the key skills for the future:

"Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking,decision making, communication, and learning.

Students Who Are Visually Literate:

* Have Working Knowledge of Visuals Produced or Displayed through Electronic Media
* Understand basic elements of visual design, technique, and media.
* Are aware of emotional, psychological, physiological, and cognitive influences in perceptions of visuals.
* Comprehend representational, explanatory, abstract, and symbolic images.
* Apply Knowledge of Visuals in Electronic Media
* Are informed viewers, critics, and consumers of visual information.
* Are knowledgeable designers, composers, and producers of visual information.
* Are effective visual communicators.
* Are expressive, innovative visual thinkers and successful problem solvers."

There are a number of ways to teach with visuals. Annette Lamb provides several examples of "Digital Visuals" and activities at

As educators, how can we be sure our students become visually literate?

The National Archives website provides reproducible worksheets to assist teachers and students in evaluating and analyzing written documents, photographs, cartoons, posters, maps, artifacts, motion pictures and sound recordings. Download copies of the worksheets at:

These pdf forms have been created as "typeable forms" so that students can type into them and print out their reflections!

Refreshed Standards from ISTE

“What students should know and be able to do to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world …”

More Online Resources

My links

Take Better Pictures (IL-TCE presentation)

Digital Imaging in Education -- Dr. David Thornburg

Dr. Arnie Abrams Handouts

Every Picture Tells a Story, Using Digital Photographs as Tools -- from Ellen Wiley

Establishing a Framwork for Digital Images in the School Curriculum -- Glen Bull & Ann Thompson

Learning and Leading with Technology (Themed Issue), May 2004

(Electronic download to ISTE members)

Keep it Simple: 101 Digital Photo Activities for K-5 -- Melanie Holbrook

Sample Lesson: Mother Nature Pattern Maker


Primary Access is a pilot project developed at the University of Virginia. This web-based digital tool designed for history teaching allows students to incorporate primary source documents into a short digital movie. Images and historic artifacts are placed beside the text of the student’s script. Students can record an accompanying narration in their own voice. The resulting online digital movie can then be reviewed by the teacher for historical accuracy and content.

Write the Primary Access director, Bill Ferster ( for a pilot account if you would like to explore use of this tool. (Note – this is currently a beta site; documentation and support materials are currently limited.)


DigitalStoryteller is the sister project to PrimaryAccess; where PrimaryAccess focuses on history education, DigitalStoryteller is intended for English/Language Arts instruction.

Adobe Digital Kids Club

From Annette Lamb, High Tech Learning

Digital Photo Safaris: Authentic Learning Across the Curriculum -- LOTS of ideas and sample files!


Recommended Reading

Teaching With Digital Images: Acquire, Analyze, Create, Communicate

by Glen L. Bull and Lynn Bell

ISBN 1-56484-219-3

$37.95 on Amazon or from ISTE (member price: $34.15)

Download a pdf excerpt from the ISTE Bookstore.

Award-Winning Digital Photography Projects for the Classroom

by Dr. Arnie Abrams

$32.00 (book with CD) from

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Last Updated: July 25, 2007