Lessons Integrating Information and Communication Technology within a Curriculum Area


Ryan Hainstock


Visual Stories

Grade Level


Subject Area

Any subject that wants to use images (photos or videos) to support curriculum. This can provide a good introduction to students across the curriculum, but may be too basic for advanced courses

Overview of unit/lessons/activities (assumptions of prior knowledge/learning)

As students create more multimedia projects, it is important to teach them the effective use of images in telling a story or explaining a process. This can be applied to both still imagery and video. Just as we teach students how to compose an effective writing piece, it is necessary to teach them composition of images if they are using visuals instead of traditional text. The lesson will focus on image composition and how images can be used to promote comprehension and provide emphasis for ideas and concepts.

Correlations to ICT and curriculum outcomes

BOC 9.2 (relates to 6.2) use and create information texts in a range of media, using specialized text features of those media to support the communication, with teacher assistance
BOC 9.5 (relates to 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4) from a range of resource options, knowledgeably select, manage, and use technological resources to solve curriculum problems and enhance their learning, with teacher guidance
SEHI 9.2 (relates to 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6) identify and demonstrate the values and techniques of mass media, popular culture, and electronic information environments, and evaluate the effects of these techniques
SEHI 9.3 (relates to 6.7, 6.8) understand, model, and assume personal responsibility for the acceptable use of copyrighted and other information resources
SEHI 9.4 (relates to 6.2, 6.7, 6.8) demonstrate an understanding of, and a commitment to, accuracy, and ethical behaviour, and personal privacy and safety as they create and distribute information about themselves, others, and curriculum topics under study
PTS 9.3 (relates to 6.1, 6.2, 6.4, 6.5) write and represent their research using the structures, features, conventions, and techniques of specialized publication and presentation formats with growing fluency
PTS 9.4 (relates to 6.5, 6.6) assess the quality, comprehensiveness, biases, and perspectives of print, media and electronic resources for use in their curricular studies, with teacher guidance
PTS 9.5 (relates to 6.4, 6.5, 6.6) critically evaluate how style, form, source, and medium influence the accessibility, validity, and meaning of information independently

Curriculum outcomes as they relate to the subject being taught.

Projected timeline for preparation and for carrying out activities

Class One – Introduction to image composition
Class Two – Assign a multimedia project.

Equipment Requirements: (computers, software, etc)

Any program where you can manipulate photos and run them in sequence with text or audio support (Comic Life, PowerPoint, Photostory, iMovie, Pinnacle, MovieMaker)

Teaching materials provided (Blacklines, worksheets, templates, teacher materials)

  • Presentation explaining some rules of image composition
  • Example of a finished product in Comic Life
  • Copyright/Royalty-free images that students can use in their product
  • Rubric

Resources available for teacher/student use (websites, references, etc)

Tutorials for various software titles that you can use:


Other resources:

Detailed instructions for each activity or lesson (teacher notes, activity information, learning strategies, teacher role, student roles)

Lesson One: An Introduction to Image Composition (1-2 hours)

  1. Start with a discussion with students around how they get their information. Brainstorm the various media that they use and what they see as the benefit of each one. Ask the students what role images play in their use of media. As a class, discuss the benefits and drawbacks of images as a communication tool. You can use the information in Chapter 2 of Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18-Year-Olds to generate discussions. (http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/Executive-Summary-Generation-M-Media-in-the-Lives-of-8-18-Year-olds.pdf)
  2. Following your discussion, break the students into groups of 3-4 and have them record their impressions of various images that you display (best to use an LCD Projector, but could be done with a computer for each group). You can select particular photos that you think will engage the students, or visit a site like http://www.blipfoto.com/ for a wide collection of engaging photos displayed in an attractive format that changes everyday. Depending on time, you can assign groups one photo to analyze, or run through a series of photos with the class with each group offering their interpretation. In their interpretation, however, you should have the groups discuss:
    1. What is the first thing that you notice about this photo?
    2. What do you think this image is saying to you or how does it make you feel?
    3. How does the presentation of the image support the message?
    4. How would you present the same message in an image you create?
  3. After discussing the attributes of the various photos, go through the PowerPoint on image composition.
  4. Return to the class as a whole and examine a series of photos that are used to tell a story or provide information. You can find some effective photo essays at http://www.fiftycrows.org/, http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/index.html or http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/ Ask the students to watch the series of images and discuss the following questions.
    1. What was the message in this presentation?
    2. Do you think this was more effective than other forms of communication (i.e. print, audio)? Why or why not?
    3. How did the composition of the images support the message?

Lesson 2 – Creating a Visual Story (2-4 hours, depending on choice)

  1. Now that students have a background in image composition and the use of images to send a message, it is time for them to create a product. You want them to tell a story or explain something to their audience with images as the main medium. The stories can be supported with text and audio using a variety of programs available in schools. There are a number of options here in how the assignment is structured.
    1. You can have the students take their own photos using a digital camera.
    2. You can have them collect images from the Internet (following copyright, of course)
    3. You can use the provided images which fall under public domain copyright and can be used.
  2. The focus of the project depends on your curriculum. It could be an opinion piece around a world issue, it could be an explanation of a scientific process, or it could be a story. The important part is that students create a product where they have planned and used images to support their message. The images that are provided lend themselves to a story (they include photos of bears, rabbits, park rangers, etc.) so all grade levels could use them.

Student products expected

Each student is expected to tell a story (using one of the available software titles) that uses images to support text or audio. The rubric provided evaluates the effectiveness of the images and the overall impact of the multimedia product. The students can use a variety of multimedia software titles, depending on their comfort level.

Samples (include teacher notes, assessment information, student work if available)

Example of a finished product using ComicLife
Other examples: http://mediastorm.org/ - Appropriate for high school classrooms, some powerful photo essays.

Logistics (organization, grouping, management issues, access to technology)

Some group work in the introductory lesson with an individual project in the final lesson. You will need the students to use a computer with software that allows them to incorporate digital images and text and/or audio. You will also want to have access to an LCD projector and computer for sharing images and a PowerPoint.

Assessment information (e.g., rubrics for products and/or process)

Rubric for final product

Possible extensions

This is a good activity to get students thinking about composition, and could be extended to video, animation or other multimedia projects that go beyond still images. Could also lead to lessons on media literacy and how choices in image composition change meaning and influence audiences.

Adaptations for students requiring additional support

There are a variety of software titles available and not all students have to use the same one (or any) to achieve the appropriate outcome. Similar results can be reached through the use of posters or storyboards. Students can create a basic arrangement of images or use an intricate arrangement of images, text, audio, and other media. Teachers should be able to accommodate all learners.

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