Posted by: shineonali | October 6, 2010

The Power of Pictures

This course has focused on visual literacy.  Not something I have thought a lot about before now.  I mean, I knew it mattered, but I guess I figured…there’s enough on my plate with reading and writing, oral language and listening, not to mention math, science, social studies and social skills.  Oh, and metacognition.

Looking at technology through a visual literacy lens (or vice versa?) I am convinced of the power of pictures.  The eye movement study Jeff told us about, Presentation Zen, Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind all speak to the essential…increasing…need to be critical thinkers when it comes to creating, choosing, and viewing images and videos.

More importantly, I have discovered many entry points for discussions, lessons, and projects that will either focus on or enhance visual literacy.

One that I came across a looong time ago, but now feel like I can tuck in to my teaching more purposefully, was a “view finder” activity.  Students create cardboard “frames” of varying sizes, to represent wide-angle shots, mid-range, and zooming in.  The idea is to notice what is included or excluded in the different shots, and what that could mean…why you might choose one view over another, depending on your message.  Kids in upper elementary are realizing that the written word is not  infallible…my version of events might not be the same as yours.  But we tend to trust a photo or video to be “truthful” about reality.

Speaking of trusting images, I’m so surprised at the use of video clips going on lately in the media.  Taking a clip of an Obama speech where he says that taxes will go up a lot, across the board–without playing the bit before and after that shows it’s actually completely different point.  (Jon Stewart pointed this out with a nice rebuttal version.)  Earlier in the summer, there was the speech by Shirley Sherrod, that was taken completely out of context, making her seem to admit racism.  I am blown away by these cases, even though I’m sure this is not a new phenomena.  Partly because it seems so blatantly wrong.  Partly because now, with everything recorded and thrown up on the web, it’s so easy to refute!  Do they figure, the damage is done before attention is called to the manipulation of the videos?  Do they hope that the majority of the audience will never even find out?

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