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Picture of the Day

location_on United States

Want to use pictures to improve critical thinking and reading comprehension?

A simple and effective way for students to practice important reading skills, such as observing, describing and making inferences, through analysing pictures rather than text.

HundrED 2018
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Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2018

2011

Established

-

Children/users

47

Countries
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
I use Picture of the Day with my reading groups and students love it! They become such close observers and make inferences based on details and evidence in the pictures.
Jennifer Jones, Creator, Picture of the Day

About the innovation

What is Picture of the Day?

Reading comprehension requires a range of abilities, such as observing, describing and inferring. These skills can be difficult to develop in students, particularly those who are still learning to read. When practising reading, the effort is often predominantly placed on decoding words and identifying the superficial meaning of the sentences, rather than on developing a deeper understanding of the text. As a result, students can struggle to answer questions about the text that require higher-level thinking skills.

Picture of the Day is a simple idea that can improve reading comprehension by transferring the critical analysis from reading a text to exploring a picture. Without having to focus on decoding words, energy can be directed at developing inference and critical thinking skills.

Students look closely at a picture and answer two questions: what can I see and what do I think? The first question focuses on facts and observations, while in the second students make inferences. By using a picture rather than a piece of writing, all students have an equal opportunity to share their ideas without being restricted by their reading level. Through questioning and discussion, students are encouraged to develop their ideas and are supported to become critical thinkers. 

For children whose home language differs from the language of the classroom, Picture of the Day can be an especially powerful tool, as it can support learning of new vocabulary. 

Picture of the Day can fit easily into a daily classroom routine. Once learners are familiar with the format, the exercise can be completed independently. Students are then able to apply the critical thinking skills they have developed through close observation of pictures to their reading. Teachers have observed that reading comprehension skills have improved after introducing Picture of the Day into their lessons.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

Picture of the Day is a simple way to practice high-level critical thinking every day. Children enjoy analysing the pictures and don’t even realise it’s critical thinking in disguise!

Impact

The Picture of the Day resource kit has received over 4,500 positive reviews from teachers all over the world.

Scalability

Picture of the Day transcends age, grade level and country. It removes the layers and makes children feel equal. The tool can be used everywhere by everyone!

Steps

Pick a picture
Use a personal photograph, a photograph found online or one supplied in the Picture of the Day resource kit.

Any picture at all can be used! For teachers looking for more inspiration and guidance, the Picture of the Day resource kit offers 38 weeks of pictures and related assessments, along with an assessment rubric and a how-to handbook. 

Learners look at the picture and answer two questions
The students should be given time to really look at the picture, before answering the following questions: what do I see and what do I think?

The question "what do I see?" is aimed at exploring the facts of the photograph, things people can’t disagree on. These are observations. The question "what do I think?" prompts learners to make guesses and assumptions based on evidence that can be found in the photograph. These are inferences. 

For example, a student might say they see water (an observation) and that they think it's a lake (an inferrence). The teacher may prompt the student to explain how they know it is a lake and the learner may extend the answer by identifying features which support the inference, such as the lack of waves and the trees around the edge of the water. Another inference would be if the student says they think it’s summer, because the sky is clear and blue and it looks like the sun in shining. They could also infer that the time is around midday because the shadows are right under the trees. 

This process should take around 5 to 10 minutes. When students observe all the details of the picture, inferences and conclusions can be drawn that are reasonable and justified. 

Students can record their detailed observations and inferences and then engage in a class discussion to reach consensus on what can be observed and inferred from the picture. This exercise could also be completed orally.

Encourage critical thinking
When learners talk about the Picture of the Day, they should be encouraged speak in the framework of critical thinking.

The below Guidelines for Critical Thinking and these sentence frames for justifying can be used to support students in developing critical thinking skills.

Repeat every day!
The exercise can be led by any educator and incorporated into the curriculum in any way they choose.

Teachers can either make use of the Picture of the Day resource kit or independently find a new picture to repeat the exercise with every day.

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