Thursday, January 17, 2008

Picture Yourself Using Flickr in the Classroom – Part 2

In Part 1, I looked at ways to use Flickr with students in grades K-5. Many of my suggestions for using Flickr with younger students might still be applicable at the middle school level, but at this point teachers may want to allow students more opportunities to explore the use of images posted by other Flickr members. This of course will depend upon the students, the teacher, the amount of time the students typically spend online and the projects in which they are engaged. When students are conducting searches within the entire Flickr community there is always the risk of running across something that is not necessarily G-rated. As I mentioned in my last post, Flickr’s content filters and Safe Search settings as well as a user-side rating system for flagging and filtering out potentially controversial photos help to make it a relatively secure environment for students of all ages to explore and interact with digital images.

Flickr in Grades 6-8

As with K-5 students, you may want to set up one Flickr class account or you might want create several group accounts so that more than one student can be logged in at a time.
• If you decide to create multiple class accounts, you will need to have a unique Yahoo! ID and password for each account. Split the class into groups and assign them one of the accounts to upload their photos, etc. If you teach more than one class, you might consider one account per class.
• Another option would be to create a set for each student in the class(es). A Flickr Pro account would be required to create more than 3 sets.
• When working with multiple accounts, be sure to take the time to invite each account to be a contact with all the other accounts. Start by choosing one account to request to be a contact of all the other accounts. Accept the request and make the original requesting account a reverse account. Be sure to allow all the accounts to be friends and family so that the photos can be kept private to everyone in the Flickr community, but can still be seen between accounts.
• The first class activity you do with Flickr could be to invite contacts and reverse contacts. Have each group of students request all the other groups through their profile page using each account’s FlickrMail.
• Start taking photos and uploading. Take photos of everything – class projects, your school, your community, sports, plays, field trips, family, friends, etc. The more photos in your account(s), the more you’ll be able to do with Flickr.

Activities for Middle School Students

• Explore Flickr
Allow students some time, guided by you, to learn about many of the Web 2.0, and let’s face it, cool things about Flickr.
Profiles - You might have each group or class work with their account and choose a screen name and a buddy icon for their account. This can provide an excellent opportunity to discuss Internet safety and review appropriate screen names, icons, avatars, etc.
Tagging - Review with students the use of the upload tools and permissions, titles, descriptions and tags. After using Flickr for a while, have students compare tag lists or clouds to learn about folksonomy. Determine the most popular tags and compare it to the Flickr's all time most popular tags.
Add notes - Create an interactive image that includes rollovers with popup and links using the notes feature. Here are a few examples:
Or, have students take a photo of a 3-D project, i.e. a diorama, and label as in

• Visual Story Telling
Join the group Tell A Story In 5 Frames for Educators. This is an education-related group I administer, so I can make sure the group rules are adhered to and it stays a safe group for students and teachers. Have students develop stories they can tell with 5 photos. The photos they choose to use for their story will have to be made public or they will not be seen in the discussion. After all students have posted, have them comment on each other’s stories. Discuss with them the value of positive feedback and what types of comments are appropriate to include.

• Writing About an Image
Have each student conduct a Creative Commons search for photos using a tag of their choosing at This will require students searching within the entire Flickr community. Discuss, in advance, what should be done if an inappropriate photo is returned in their search. You might want to pre-select some tags related to a topic you are currently studying. This would allow you to search prior to the students to make sure the photos returned are appropriate. Students can then download one of the images from their search into a word processing document and write a paragraph about the image. Alternatively, students could use a wiki page and insert the picture using HTML code and then write their paragraph. Other student's could then review, edit and/or contribute additional writing about the image. Or, choose a photo from Flickr and show it to your students. Have them write about it for a specified period of time. Another option might be to have the students use keywords as tags from current news stories to find and download a photo related to a current event. Students could then write a news article about the current event using a photo they found.

• One Picture, Many Pictures
Select an image with the appropriate licensing and have each student download the image and modify it using MS paint, Photoshop, etc. All the "new" photos can then be uploaded to Flickr into a set or discussion.

• Virtual Photo Fieldtrip
Have students look for images (using tags) from a certain part of the world that you are or will be studying. Have them find photos of the same place from at least three different people. Using PowerPoint, have the students create a virtual field trip to present to the class using the pictures they found. Students could also cut around themselves in other photos and place them onto the photos to create the appearance of actually being there.

• Search Flickr using one of these third party Flickr search engines:
Flickr Related Tag Browser
Spell with Flickr
Flickr Storm
Color Fields Colr Pickr

• Illustrate a poem
Have students select words in their favorite poem or song to link to photos on Flickr. Or have them write their own poems or short stories.

Feel free to sing along with this example:
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Take me out
To the ball game
Take me out
With the crowd
Buy me some peanuts
And Crackerjack
I don't care if
I never get back

Let me root, root, root
For the home team
If they don't win
It's a shame
For it's one, two,
Three strikes you're out
At the old ball game!

Not to be redundant …And some of the K-5 activities could definitely be used with middle school students, too!

• Make Trading Cards
Have students make photo trading cards using images you upload to your Flickr class account. Students could include information about themselves (name, birthday, favorite class, favorite cartoon, etc.). Or, have students create study aides about famous people using images they draw and scan or photos of themselves impersonating the famous people, such as presidents, explorers, authors, and more. Use a similar approach for famous historical figures or even for geometric shapes you photograph with the digital camera. If students write their own "biographies" of the shapes to study from, they will learn for sure! They can even trade for favorites. Please Note: You will need to change the permission to public for the photos you are using with the Trading Cards Maker. After the trading cards are completed and saved, you can make the photos private again.

• Write a Class Story
Upload a photo to the class account as a story starter. Or, predetermine an appropriate photo to display from another Flickr member’s account using the Creative Commons search feature. Have your students build a story together by taking turns continuing the story one sentence at a time using the comments feature.

• Add Photos To A Map - Have students place the photos from the Flickr class account on the map by the location where each was taken. You can keep the locations on the map private. So you can only see them if they are logged in on the class account. If all of your photos are only taken at school this might not be so great, but if students bring in photos from vacations, field trips, etc., your class map could become full of geotagged images. This could be a jumping off point for a variety of other activities, i.e., graphing the various locations by the number of photos taken.

• Edit Photos with Picnik
Create a classroom Picnik account and edit photos online. Add effects, clip art, frames and text to photos and save back to your classroom Flickr account. Download and print. Great for holiday or special occasion projects.

• Take a Virtual Field Trip Using Favorites and Slideshow
So you want to take your class on a field trip to Rome, but it isn’t in your school’s budget. You can search Flickr for photos tagged Rome, Pantheon, Vatican whatever you want to see and save them as favorites to your class account. Use the view as a slideshow feature to share a slideshow right from Flickr and take a Virtual Field Trip.

1 comment:

pejnolan said...

HEY! Thanks for using my flickr cave point photo for your third "root!" What a surprise.

Babel Fish


Karen Montgomery is the author of Gomeric Hill. The opinions expressed herein are mine and not necessarily those of my employer.