Finding Photos

Have you ever watched a student’s presentation and half the photos they used were watermarked? Sadly, I have seen teachers and administrators do presentations with watermarked photos. Just because an image is on the search result page doesn’t mean we are allowed to use it.

Copyright is an important issue, but I don’t want to spend all of my post discussing it so I will share Common Sense Media’s video on copyright to explain the basics.

Finding Photos

The easiest way to find photos is to use the “Advance Search” option for your search engine. Every search engine has a “usage rights” filter for images. The most important option for the classroom is to use the “free to use or share” filter. The images can be used in different ways, Power Points, blogs, or a poster for the classroom. Sometimes though, search engines do not provide the best results. There are other tools and sites that may provide better photos for your class.

I use Flickr to find images licensed under create commons for presentations. There is an advance search option to filter images by Creative Commons. Flickr also has The Commons; a project to create a public photo collection. Institutions like the Library of Congress and NASA (to name a few) have provided images under a new usage guideline “no known copyright restrictions.” Most of this collection is older photographs, great for history classes.

Another site for images of historical value is The Internet Archive. It is a great site for music, video, documents, and other cultural items in digital form. A warning, this is a vast and unfiltered collection. It takes a little work, but you can find great content for your classroom.

There are so many sites dedicated to housing photos for anyone to use. One site I use is Pixabay. You do have to be a member, but all photos are published under Creative Commons Public Domain deed CC0. Simply put, all images are in the public domain to use, even commercially.

My suggestion is to find the sites you like and share them with your students (there are photo housing sites on my photography Symabloo mix). Also, teach them to use the advance search options for their favorite search engines. Let’s get to some lesson ideas.

Lesson Ideas

I like to use just the search results to have my students think critically about a topic. One of my favorite lessons is to use the search results to understand a word’s connotation. I use a worksheet that asks the students to think about their connotations of a list of words. I take it to another level by having them use the word to do an image search and evaluate what the search results show. For example two of the words on the worksheet are rich and wealthy. Try it. You will see some interesting differences. This generates a great classroom discussion.

The search results alone can be used in different ways. Searching can be a bell ringer. Let’s say you are about to start a unit on World War II, have students image search the war and write their response on paper. Then use those responses to investigate what they know.

If your students are blogging, photographs add a dynamic factor to their writing. Especially with the option of adding text to the photograph, it creates a great visual opening for their blog.

Photographs are a great way to get kids thinking and to enhance their learning. Share your favorite housing sites or any of your lesson ideas in the comment section. On Wednesday I will share ideas to use photography in fun ways and how to share photos for the classroom.


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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