Picture Write

In a stack of papers called Writing.

  • Dec
  • 18
  • 2007

Pears lined up on a window sillSomething hit me tonight, browsing around and thinking about how to fix a mess I’ve made of student writing this semester (more on that tomorrow — possible solutions first, though you don’t know the exact problem yet). I’ve spent several years with quotations on the board as the Daily, around 15 minutes of writing and discussing where the target is a certain amount of words. This becomes a route exercise within weeks. Maybe photos can streamline this daily exercise, making a more powerful tool to improve writing along the way.

Flash Back Three Years

Playground scene
When I taught freshmen three years ago, I regularly assigned picture writes (the essay handout) during the first semester. With a detailed image thrown onto the overhead, students took notes based on the 5 different senses (the organizer handout). Imagine describing this image to someone who has never seen it. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch: how would you make that person see this picture through your words?

Narrative Sophistication

Yaake: Face-making and dancing masculine celebration in NigerHow did you happen to see this image? How did you get there to witness this image? That moves the assignment from recollection of facts to a narrative, a step up the sophistication ladder. So if I can pull 2 images per week, we’ll Picture Write on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the end of each month, in addition to the regular writing we’ll be doing, students will take one of the eight picture writes they have and turn it into a finished product. Now we’ve got a focus on academic and personal writing. Too much of either one results in a weak writing program (and I usually emphasize one over the other).


Catching a bird


1. Damian Bariexca says:

[12/22/2007 - 5:09 am]

Great info here, Todd. In NJ, one of the components of our state-mandated High School Proficiency Assessment requires students to respond in writing to a picture; I’ll be sending my colleagues a link to this post in the new year (and using these myself) to help my kids prep for the test in March.

2. Your Job Doesn’t Fufill You; You Fulfill You | Inner Education for Inward Educators says:

[7/21/2009 - 2:31 pm]

[…] with video, and I now use art as a visual to inspire creativity in writing (though I also owe Todd a lot of props for […]