The Power of the Image

To stay true to the spirit of this blog post, I will begin by crediting a fellow blogger for inspiring it, so thanks to John Sutton of Creative Blogs for raising the profile of copyright infringement – a hugely important consideration for any blogger.

Images are a fantastic tool for bloggers. A well chosen picture can hugely enhance a blog post and add another dimension to your writing. In particular, on twitter, tweets with an image attached are likely to get more views, likes and retweets, simply because they catch the eye of the reader. It’s easy to overlook a text only tweet, but if there’s a picture attached you are more likely to make that split second decision to read the tweet.

This begs the question – where should we get images from and how do we know they are safe to use?

For years now, I have wrestled with the dilemma that is Google images. On the one hand I know that nearly all the children I teach will, at some stage find themselves searching images unsupervised. Given that, is it not sensible to teach them how to use it safely and responsibly by using it in school. On the other hand, should I not be pushing them towards alternatives sources of images which are safer and more secure? The answer, of course, is both.

When it comes to image searching it’s not just the suitability of the image which is important. The other significant issue is copyright, and it’s something which is potentially about to get a lot more serious – there are ‘copyright trolls’ out there actively targeting schools who infringe copyright, threatening fines up to £800. Copyright is an issue which is equally important to children and teachers – the number of times I see teachers posting images (in their own posts and posts by children which they have approved) subject to copyright on blogs proves it.

At least in schools we (should) have the filters to ensure that in the vast majority of cases children will not find unsuitable content on Google images, and in the unlikely event that they do there is a clear teaching point – stay on the page and tell a responsible adult so something can be done about it. We can therefore teach children how to find copyright free images on Google in a relatively safe environment. However, once they are away from school, any filters in place are unlikely to be as robust and may not be there at all. We are also compelled to inform parents about the potential dangers and what they can do to mitigate them of tools such as Google images.

This is where images search resources targeted more at bloggers and children in particular can be introduced. There are a number of sites which enable to you find and re use creative commons images. These include photopin, pixabay and photosforclass. If you are using any of these it’s worth checking search terns before introducing to children – on the former two sites I have found some images which would be unsuitable for children. There is also an increasing trend for apps to embed creative commons searches. Currently, Pic Collage includes this feature, and there are plans for it to be incorporated into Book Creator too. This is great for children, as it means they can find appropriate, copyright free images without even having to leave the app they’re using.

As with all internet safety dilemmas, the key word is awareness. We as teachers need to be aware of the dangers of unfiltered image searches and copyright breaches. We also need to be aware that children do not have the same safeguards in place when they are away from school, and that they need help to use them safely and responsibly. Finally, parents need to be aware of these issues and of how they can support their children to help them stay safe.

The Power of the Image

Autumn CPD round-up

I’ve been privileged to attend three great CPD events in the last couple of months. Mark Anderson visited our school back at the beginning of September to deliver a day of inspiring iPad ideas. More recently, Teachmeet Rammy (#TMRammy) organised by Casey Lynchey was without doubt the best one I’ve been to and featured a great range of presenters as well as star turns from ‘Curriculum Imagineer’ Hywel Roberts and Rob Smith of the Literacy Shed. It was also refreshingly lacking in sales pitches, something which has blighted some of the other recent Teachmeets I’ve been to. Finally, last Friday I attended the ICT in Education conference (#ictliveuk) in Salford which again featured some fantastic speakers and a broad range of suppliers.

In no particular order, here are some of the ideas I have taken, with credits where I can remember, apologies for any omissions. I have also included twitter handles, should you wish to add any of these inspiring presenters to your personal learning network.

Seesaw – one of the biggest challenges using iPads in a non 1:1 environment is sharing and assessing children’s work quickly and efficiently. I have tried Showbie, but for me the time taken getting children to log in and out on shared devices made it unviable. Since then I have been looking for a better solution. This was something I mentioned to Mark Anderson before he visited us, and his suggestion was Seesaw. The first great feature is that you can log in with a QR code. All the children need to do is scan a code and then pick their name from a list, this is a game changer for shared devices. Once logged in you can share from a huge variety of apps straight into Seesaw, or if the app you are using doesn’t support integration you can use the camera roll as an interim step.

From a teacher’s perspective, Seesaw stores all work submitted in queues so you can quickly review your students’ work and offer written or verbal feedback, in a similar way to Showbie. My initial impression is that this is an app which solves a massive issue, and after Mark’s initial demo a number of my colleagues have also used the app for their classes.

Mark introduced us to the Adobe suite of apps for creating content – Spark Post, Spark Pageand Spark video. With these apps you can create professional images, videos and web content, great for publishing to twitter or blogs.

Ticket-O-Matic (by Sarah Wright – @sarah_wright1 at #TMRammy) – If you have a geography based topic this could be a really fun and useful site. With just a few basic details you can create fake airline tickets which could be good for a topic starter, writing prompt or display. Here’s an example which literally took a minute to make:


PingPong, also by Sarah Wright at #TMRammy. This is a very easy, snap assessment tool which you could use at any time in a lesson – there are some simple templates such as multiple choice, true/false or you can invite children to send an image if you want a quick written response. It’s a bit like the brilliant Kahoot, but requires even less setup and can be used on the spur of the moment.

Post-it Plus – This is one of those apps which provides a solution for a problem you never knew you had, again from Sarah Wright and also from Mark Anderson. Post-its are great for capturing an idea from a student or colleague and then collating them together in one place. Whilst you have some great instant information, what happens to it after that. At best you might take a picture which will linger untouched on your camera roll, at worst they will be picked off the board and never be seen again. Post-it Plus organises and saves a group of post-its from one image, meaning you have a meaningful record of all the ideas gathered.

Skype in the classroom (from Simon Hunt – @simonjameshunt also at #TMRammy) – a great way to connect to other classes around the world. With Skype it’s possible to connect with classes with similar interests or you can adopt a ‘lucky dip’ approach. You can also take virtual tours or connect with experts. Whichever approach you take, it’s a great way of extending learning beyond the classroom and broadening the horizons of your pupils.

Plickers (from Kathryn Byrne – @kbyrne64). This is something I’ve seen before, but not for a while. It’s a great assessment app which enables teachers to quickly sweep a room for assessment. The great benefit is that the results are recorded down to individual student level, meaning you can get the snapshot for AFL purposes during the lesson together with the detailed data to help you follow up post lesson.

Powtoon – used by Adam Chase (@_geekyteacher) to show the potential for Minecraft in the classroom. Not only did he showcase Minecraft as a great vehicle for inspiring reluctant writers, he also showed the potential for Powtoon to provide inspiring presentations in the classroom.

Notability – shown by Dan Lord at #TMRammy. This is not an app I’ve used, so the details are a bit sketchy (if you’ll pardon the pun…) but it’s an app which enables you to create your own notes with pictures, notes and text, annotate PDFs and organise them in a structured way. It’s quite expensive at £7.99 for the basic version. I will be trying it over the next few weeks, so I’ll post a review on here in the near future. Most of the reviews on the app store refer to it as a tool for University students, so it will be interesting to see if there’s scope for use in earlier years education.

Go Noodle – I can’t rate this site highly enough. It has loads of videos which you can use as a stimulus in the classroom. The range is huge, from exercise based brain breaks to songs to teach children what a syllable is. Although quite American in flavour (flavor?) they are highly relevant and very professionally produced. If you take one thing from this post, please let it be this. Huge thanks to Diane Ellithorn for sharing this at #TMRammy.


#TMRammy in doodles, by Helen Parkinson of Holcombe Brook Primary.

Finally, I saw a fantastic presentation by Andy Hutt which was brimmed full of quality, easy to use and mostly free ideas for effective use of technology in the classroom. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Colorized History – another American site which converts historical black and white photos into colour, offering a very different and sometimes surprising perspective on historical events.
  • Creative Commons Search and Photos for class– high quality, safe, royalty free images.
  • Hemingway app – test the readability of your writing (or that of others). Good opportunities for use in SPaG activities.
  • Story jumper – a free site for making and publishing books. Books can be printed at a cost.
  • Sway – high quality, interactive reports and presentations.





Autumn CPD round-up