Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Ideas: Photo Puzzles to Introduce New Topics

Last week at a PD training, a presenter showed us the most simple but totally engaging way I’ve ever seen to introduce a new topic in the classroom.

Absolutely one of those, “how have I never thought of this before?” ideas- which is why I had to share it with you during this month’s Bright Ideas hop!

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Imagine you’re in my class and you walk in to see this on the board:

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Ask the students what this is, and what evidence they have to support it. Kids might say a mountain, a canyon, etc. based on the creasing and shape.

Next, show them this one.

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Hmm. What do they think it is now? Do they notice the dark spot, and what do they predict that might be? Do they see the little bit of white in the corner?

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Ooh- now THIS one should change some minds. Now they might not think it’s some sort of landform. Maybe someone will guess that it’s an alligator?

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Now, with this photo, will they still think alligator? Someone might explain that the teeth look different, or that the snout is rounded. Maybe they’ll notice the missing teeth, and wonder why teeth might be missing.

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Did you guess the photo puzzle right? Today we’re learning about DINOSAURS!

There’s also a popular game app called 4 Pics 1 Word, where players are given four seemingly unrelated pictures and have to find the word that ties them all together. For older kids, introducing a new unit or novel with a puzzle in this format would be a lot of fun.

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Can you tell what this one would be?

While photo puzzles might just seem like a fun fluff activity, if it’s done right, it’s not! With the right guidance from you, kids will be brainstorming, thinking creatively, discussing, justifying their opinions with evidence, and evaluating the validity of others’ ideas. (Helloooo Common Core speaking and listening skills, right?)

And could you picture having students create their own for books they read, or concepts they’ve learned about? What a thought-provoking hallway display and fascinating assessment it would be to have them create and explain these!

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How to Create a Photo Puzzle

1)  Find a high-definition image. (I suggest Morguefile.com or even a Google image search if you’re just using it for educational use in your own classroom.)

2)  Open the photo as big as you can.. (You may want to download it.)

3)  Zoom in and crop sections of the picture.

You can use a photo editing program, or just take a screenshot. On Windows, you can press your keyboard’s PrintScreen button to “copy” a screenshot to your clipboard, or even easier- use the program Snipping Tool (which probably came on your computer but you didn’t know it!) to save just part of what’s on your screen with no cropping needed. On a Mac, look for the program Grab (also already there!) or click Command-Shift-4 and then check your desktop.

Of course, you could also put your images into a PowerPoint for easy display, or use a program like Picasa to easily create a collage for a “4 Pics 1 Word” style image.
I am so excited to use these photo puzzles with my class this year! Do you have any more ideas for me?  : )

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If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, I’d love for you to join me on Bloglovin, Facebook, or Instagram for more teaching ideas and resources! (And some cute dog pictures, because... I'm kind of obsessed with my dog, haha.)

Be sure to visit some other entries in the Bright Ideas Blog Hop, too! If you’ve never browsed through one of these before, I highly recommend it- there are over 200 high-quality, 100% ad-free ideas from some of the best teacher bloggers out there!


6 comments:

  1. Jenny, this is the cutest idea!! I can't wait to try it out in my classroom :) Thank you so much!!


    Laura Love to Teach

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  2. Fun fun fun! What an engaging way to introduce a new topic! Thanks Jenny!

    Kate
    EduKate and Inspire

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  3. Kids go crazy for nonfiction stuff! Love this idea!

    Jennifer from Simply Kinder

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  4. Love the idea of 4 pictures/1 word for introducing a topic! Must stea--use this idea immediately! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love it when I find new ideas! These are great. I can just picture my students engaged in discussion about these. Can't wait to try them.

    Mona
    First Grade Schoolhouse

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  6. I love this idea! What a great way to work on inferential thinking!

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!