Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Using Flickr to Develop Vocabulary Review

This is the first of a series of posts and I will be sharing that will provide easy entry into using technology with your students to engage them and facilitate learning. As we all know, the things that we learn the easiest are usually a result of the manner in which we learned them. I like to think of this as engaged learning. For example, you’re driving along the road when you come to what appears to be a four-way stop sign. You stop, notice a car coming from the left and expect that car to stop too. You start to proceed through the intersection only to hear the car to your left lock up it breaks and screech to a stop at your driver side door. Unbeknownst to you, the sign you neglected to see at the intersection was “cross traffic does not stop.” By all accounts, the knowledge you just acquired regarding that particular intersection is indelibly stored away in your “gray matter.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create that type of instruction in our classroom, albeit not as dangerous? The following example works primarily due to the fact that most students have not studied their literature vocabulary using a PowerPoint driven lesson. It accomplishes its engaging “factor” through a bit of novelty (fact being the teacher has not used PowerPoint to provide a vocabulary lesson in the past) and through visuals that provide hooks to students as to the meaning of the words. Both of which are fine instructional tools to engage learning.

I took the story Seal Surfer by Michael Foreman, out of the State adopted Houghton Mifflin Language Arts text and developed a little PowerPoint presentation to strengthen vocabulary lessons in the text book. Using Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/, and the images other photographers have taken and shared on the site under Creative Commons licensing, I combined them with the story’s vocabulary lessons. The initial investment in time of gathering the complimenting Flickr images to go with the story vocabulary will be reused over and over in subsequent lesson examples. This example will demonstrate how to search for images licensed under Creative Commons copyright, save them to your local computer with their original author’s information embedded into the images so they are easy to cite when used later. These images will be combined with the key vocabulary words to create a simple PowerPoint presentation that you could use with your students.


Flickr is a web site that thousands of people all around the world use to share and get feedback about their photographs. Many of the images are licensed under the Creative Commons copyright license. A Creative Commons license means the author of the work will allow other people to use their photographs in other works, whether that be PowerPoint presentations or a school report. I find Flickr to be very easy to use and share many of my own photographs on my own Flickr account. That being said, I would only recommend this site for teachers to use and would never recommend individual student use without direct adult supervision. To use Flickr to gather images licensed under Creative Commons copyright, you will need use the advance search function in Flickr. In the search window check the boxes for finding photos that are licensed under Creative Commons, type in your search term, and review the results. When you find an image that you would like to save and use in your own PowerPoint, click on the image, select the appropriate size, and then right-click the image selecting the “Save Image as…” option. Be sure to save the image in a location you will remember later when you are creating your PowerPoint. The last part of this process is to embed the link to the original image on Flickr within the photograph’s image properties. This way you can properly cite the original author of the photograph when you import it into your PowerPoint presentation.
Seal Surfer Vocabulary PowerPoint Presentaton (Click to Download File)
The following Jing videos will walk you through the processes described above:

1. Create a title slide of the cover of your story using your cell phone and edit the image online in the free software called Picnik.

2. Search Flickr for photographs licensed under Creative Commons

3. Create your PowerPoint Vocabulary Presentation

Let me know how it goes and if you create a vocabulary based PowerPoint send me a copy so we can share!

Next time, learn how to take your finished PowerPoint presentation and repurpose it in different formats for additional "learning mileage!"

Until next time...

John

6 comments:

Joe said...

Great idea! This also works well for junior high science vocabulary. I have had my students make science flash cards using Flickr and PowerPoint.

Brian Bridges said...

This I've never thought of. This is why you and Joe Wood are both in my Google Reader. Can I have a gin with your edutonica?

brian

james said...

Our school filters out Flickr from Internet use in the classroom, so what do you suggest for vocabulary pictures, etc.

james said...

Our school filters out Flickr, so what do you recommend in creating pictures, etc., for Vocabulary Words. (Quizlet.com, is awesome, but it gets filtered). I also teach third grade, by the way, with the same curriculum, it seems (Houghton Mifflin, California). Am looking for vocabulary pictures with Scott Foresman curriculum for Social Studies, and Harcourt Brace for Science.

John Patten said...

Hi James,

Can you get to http://compfight.com from your district network? This is a nice image search site that will allow for CreativeCommons image searches. I would try it before turning students loose on due to the fact I have not used it much and it may contain questionable content. Not sure.

james said...

Thanks John. It appears compfight.com also uses Flickr. In any case, it also is filtering out the picture (I get a blank box with an x where pictures should appear, when viewed at school).

Jim