Adding Text and Filters

Before I get into the topic of adding text and filters to photos I wanted to address a couple of points. First, I have a Symbaloo mix (PhotosforClassroom) that has a collection of links to apps and websites that you can investigate.

Second, regarding students’ access to a camera, I try to have students use their own photos as much as possible. Most of the time students will use their phone, but not every student has a phone with a camera. In that case I had two ways to handle the situation. Most of the time students ask to borrow a friend’s phone. However, I also had a class iPad that students could use to take photos (with the apps I have listed below). When designing a lesson that is going to include photography you will need to be able to handle some of these small hurdles.

Finally, before I talk about adding text and filters, if you have journalism students in class, this is a great opportunity to let them shine by allowing them to give the class a mini lesson about taking good shots. At the beginning of the year I do cover how to use their camera and talk about things like the rule of thirds. A couple of years ago I had a journalism student ask if they could add some information when I was done. After that, I first asked if any of my students would like to do the presentation.

OK, now to adding text and filters.






   Apps (Apple):

befunky (free)

Typic and Typic Kids (both $1.99)

Path On (1.99)

Poetics (1.99)

  Apps (Android):

befunky (free)


Lesson Ideas:

Adding text to a photo is a powerful way to connect concepts to real life examples. One example is vocabulary, especially with any second language a student might be studying. With the international keyboards available on mobile devices students can correctly spell out vocabulary for their language studies. In some of my grammar lessons we have conjugated verbs with photos. The students were asked to photograph an action and then add the text of the verb tenses on the photo.

In science class this function can be used for classification of species. Maybe you have a botany unit on flowers. Students can take photographs of flowers at school or outside of school and label the picture with the common name and the scientific classification.

The opportunities to mix writing with photography are numerous. Instead of just writing a sentence or paragraph on a topic, allow students to take a photo and write on it. I have used this idea for students to share their favorite quotes from books, write haikus, and describe settings. This brings me to the filter option.

As an English teacher I am always trying to get students to understand the concept of voice or tone in what they read, but more importantly in how they write. The filter option is one of the tools I use. For almost every photo assignment I ask them to add a filter to match the tone of the words they write. Below is on of my favorite examples.

Quote from Tuesdays With Morrie

Quote from Tuesdays With Morrie.

Students were asked to pick a quote they liked from the book Tuesdays with Morrie. They were to try to stage a shot that represented that quote and add a filter to match the tone. I think they did a great job.

You don’t have to use filters, but filters can allow the students to add even more of their personality to the lesson. And the more they connect to the concept the more they will remember.

On Monday, I will discuss the use of photos from the Internet. If you can’t use mobile devices many of the ideas shared today can be accomplished by using photographs from the Internet. I will discuss copyright but also share some great sites and ways to find photos students can use, plus share some new lesson ideas designed for photos found on the web.

Try some of these tools and let me know what you think or share some of your lessons that incorporate photography in the comment section.



About jboelhower

I am a husband and a father. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years.
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