Thank you Best Buy for supporting the
use of digital cameras in the classroom!
"When students take the pictures
and actively use them for purposeful knowledge, you have a dynamic combination
for engagement and active learning." (McAnear, 2004, p.4)
Your students come to you with ideas
of what math is. Unfortunately, for most of them their ideas consist
of worksheets, textbooks, chalkboards, extreme boredome, and the feeling
that they just can't get it. They may have had some good teachers in
the past who taught with manipulatives or had them use the computer
for some drill & practice.
I am sure that almost none of your
students would ever include digital cameras or images as tools they
associate with math. This is one of the reasons why they can be such
a powerful tool in the mathematics classroom--they change the way students
view math. No longer is it a class where the teacher lectures about
& defines procedures related to a new concept before handing out
a worksheet or assigning pages in the textbook for homework. Interesting
and engaging projects can be designed around the use of digital
cameras and images,
projects that have the potential to motivate students at a far greater
level than a simple worksheet. Indeed, digital images can make many
concepts come alive. In addition, the selection of subjects and their
use requires critical thinking and reasoning on the part of students.
Framework for the Use of Digital Images in the Mathematics Classroom
In the May, 2004 issue of Learning
and Leading with Technology, Glen Bull and Ann Thompson provide
readers with a four-step framework for the use of digital images across
all content areas. Any activities mentioned below fall under one of
the four following steps:
Where does one find digital images to use in the classroom? One way
to acquire digital images is to use an image search engine, like Google
Images. Another way is to simply take photos with a digital camera
and import them into your computer.
Use of images can involve many kinds of analysis on the part of the
student. Our goal is to get them to see mathematical concepts in real-world
- Create: Educational
activities often involve products. Many technologies make it easy
to incorporate digital images (see blogs,
Products are not always meant to be read only by a teacher, but also
to be communicated to a larger audience. (Bull and Thompson)
Images for Classroom Use
Using Digital Cameras
The NCTM theme standard Connections
states that students should be able to connect mathematical concepts
to the outside world. Teachers who use digital cameras
can get students out of the classroom and into their environment to
capture real-world examples of mathematical concepts. Perhaps the most
common example of this that I have found is having students find geometric
concepts around the school grounds (see
an example lesson on The Apple Learning Interchange). Students can
easily find examples of parallel lines (sidewalk cracks, power lines),
right angles (bricks on a wall), shapes, geometric solids, and on and
The sidewalk cracks are examples
of parallel and perpendicular lines.
The bricks form right angles.
Digital cameras and images
can also become the basis for project-based
learning artifact. In the 2004-2005 school year, I had my 7th grade
math students complete a probability project. Throughout the project
I took photos of them playing games with a digital camera and then had
them use the photos in a blog
entry describing the theoretical and experimental probability of the
game they played.
Using the Internet to Acquire Photos
to Use in the Classroom
The Internet is a gold mine for finding
digital images to use in your classroom. On numerous occasions I have
found photos from Google or another photo site and used them on worksheets,
in a blog entry, for writing prompts, or for something else. Below are
some of my favorite sites for finding photos to use in the classroom.
Favorite Sites for Acquiring Photos for Classroom Use
- Millions of users, million of photos. This is Web
2.0 at its finest. This photo sharing site allows users
their photos, or add keywords to them when they upload. When
you search for photos here, you enter a tag into the search
box and any photo that has been tagged with that keyword is
returned. Tips for using Flickr:
- Try a tag search for math nature and you will
get photos from folks who have tagged photos with those
words. Go to the site and try this.
- You can also do a group search for photos. Do the same
search from above and your results will show groups who
have uploaded photos with the theme math nature.
- This page contains links to special image databases under
the following categories: Art, Astronomy/Space, Animals, History/Society.
Some of the links include Astronomy
Picture of the Day, FWS
Image Archive, and American
- From the site: "Yotophoto is a search engine
for free-to-use stock photographs and images. These are images
that are either in the Public Domain or released under generous
GNU FDL or similar licenses."
- This site is full of stock photos for professionals. It is
still full of photos that are great for classroom use.
- Another site meant for professionals but full of of photos
appropriate for classroom use. This is a comprehensive site
on digital photography with tons of information on cameras,
reviews, links, and more.
- A copyright free image library for teachers. I can't say I'm
real high on this one--there just isn't the depth here that
you'll find in the sites above.
& Communicating Concepts with WritingPrompts
One of the best ways to assess whether
students understand a particular mathematical concept is to use a photo
as the basis for a writing prompt and have students solve the problem.
The photo in the problem below provides context for a writing prompt
that assesses student knowledge of perimeter:
Mr. Williams would like to
put a fence around the Verity School playground. The rectangular
playground surface has a length of 85 ft. and a width of 120 ft.
How many feet of fence does he need to purchase to enclose the
I have numerous examples of photos
I have used as writing prompts at my classroom blog from two years ago.
Check them out at verity7math.blogspot.com.
Photo of the Week -
Analyze & Communicate
I am currently implementing a project
on my classroom blog called
the Photo of the Week. Each week I post a photo that I have found on
the Internet in which a mathematical concept is evident, to me at least.
It is up to my students to do some research to find out what the concept
is and then post their guess at the Photo of the Week blog. Below are
some photos that I have labeled with a mathematical concept.
you see? Check out the following:
Check out the above photos and see what thoughts
come to mind. Do you see something different than I see? Think of
a problem that you could write about each one.
with Digital Photos
So you've sent students
onto the school grounds to take photos. Now they have cameras full of
digital images waiting to be placed somewhere. So what are the options?
Here are a few...
Flickr: The Ultimate
If you are serious about using digital photography in your classroom,
then you must go to this site and bookmark it right now! (well, after
you've finished reading this page) Flickr is a Web-based photo organizing
system that has many powerful features. Here are a few:
- The first and most impressive feature
of Flickr is it allows you to post photos to your blog. This makes
the blog another canvas for your students' work. For example, the
real world connections photos above could be posted to a blog with
full description. See some examples from my class below. (Danger:
Millions of photos reside on this site and it is easy for students
to come across something they don't need to see!)
- Students can create slide
shows with the photos they upload to the site.
- Because Flickr is Web based, you
don't have to worry about whether it or will work on your PC or Mac.
You also don't have to worry about how to get your photos to the Web,
if that is one of your goals.
Once students have acquired their photos
and imported them into the computer (another topic itself), they then
have multiple choices for slide show applications, depending on the
platform. For PC users, the most common application is PowerPoint. On
a Mac, they can place the photos into an Appleworks document and create
a slide show from that document. The best application is for creating
slide shows on a Mac is iPhoto.
This application does it all: imports, organizes, edits, & exports
albums as slide shows (& Web pages, photo books, & individual
photos). In addition, iPhoto allows you to put music to the slide show.
Just about any blog
host allows users to upload
photos to their blogs and use them in an entry. Have students use
blogs to post photos of assignments that they have completed in
class with a description of the process and results.
Check out more on blogs in the
Word Processing Documents
for using the digital photos is simply to insert them into a word processing
document and add text for each photo. From there, any one of
a number of products is possible.
McAnear, Anita. "The Power of Images." Learning
& Leading With Technology, May, 2004: 4.
Bull, Glen . "Establishing a Framework for Digital
Images in the School Curriculum." Learning and Leading with Technology
31 (2004). 05 Apr 2006 <http://www.iste.org/inhouse/publications/ll/31/8/14b/index.cfm?Section=LL_31_8>.