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WebMentors Teacher Helpline: NYC Helpline: How To: Incorporate Technology in the Classroom

Using flickr.com in the Classroom
Pamela AuCoin

Thankfully, the days of tediously cutting out pages from magazines and newspapers are over. Google and Yahoo image searches, as well as flickr, have rich databases of photographs, illustrations, and other images with the click of your mouse.

My favorite photosharing database is flickr (flickr.com). Any one can share their own work. It is also a place to view and download pictures in the "creative commons." Students can upload their own original and/or found work from google image searches.

If you want to use flickr in the classroom, I recommend you create your own class account. This makes it easy for you and your students to access their work. It will also give you the option of keeping your work private. This will alleviate parental concerns about cyber-exposure.

Here’s an example of how I use flickr in my classroom: I had students search for images for a Soviet propaganda project. They were able to find some images on flickr, but not as many as they would have liked. I instructed them to do Google image searches and then upload their work onto our flickr group page.

Flickr is not only a great place to find images, it invites student collaboration and participation. Students can embed comments on the image itself. This is where the students do some real analysis--they can add text in the image, using either the notes or description features.

For my "Propaganda during the Russian Revolution" project, students had to analyze how the propagandists used color and slogans to get their messages across. For example, some wrote about how the Bolshevik workers looked strong and handsome, whereas the capitalists looked fat and lazy. For another activity, students created dialogues for the characters, making it even more interactive.

I spoke with some of my colleagues and they shared how flickr could work in their subject area. Math teacher John Campanella mentioned how an image, such as a four leaf clover, could be used to teach symmetry. Chemistry teacher Tom Cork mentioned using images to illustrate how polar compounds dissolve into other polar compounds. As a homework assignment, students could analyze images of a man and a woman on a date and to write about how this photo explains the concept.  

The steps:

1. Get a flickr account and create your own class page.
 
2. Instruct students to get their own flickr accounts. Get your students' flickr email addresses, and send their invitations to join your site. I keep my page private, to keep outsiders away. Students will then get their own accounts, and accept the invitation.
 
3. Begin by uploading pictures on your flickr group page. Once you model this skill to the students, they usually catch on very quickly.  Show them how to embed comments. Once they click to enlarge an image, they can click on the "add note" tab. Then write your sample comment.   Model how to embed comments.
 
3. Give them specific guidelines for commenting. I tell them to brainstorm ideas in their groups first, so only the best ideas get embedded on the pictures. Once they’ve done this they can type them in. Some sample comments: "Red is the dominant color in the poster, which represents communism," or "Notice how the farm looks like a fairy tale. The bright colors make collectivism look utopian."
 
4. Project sharing: I like to have different groups share their work. Students can view other group work and add comments in the box below. I like them to add their own ideas, if they think there are any key points that have been left out.
 
5. Connecting to the content: Students should relate their work to the content. They should understand that propaganda was a tool for the Bolsheviks to gain mass support and encourage them to keep fighting against the "evil" bourgeoisie.

If you use flickr or a similar application in your classroom, e-mail me; sharing ideas is what Teachers Network, and teaching, is all about.

Pamela AuCoin teaches World History at Queens High School for the Sciences at York College (New York CIty). Visit her website: http://sites.google.com/site/educationtechlab/

See also: Documenting Your Year with iPhoto by Allisyn Levy

 

 

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