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Tutor Tip of the Month: Photojournalism -- Making Pictures Come to Life

(From The Library as Literacy Classroom by Marguerite Weibel)

Good photographs capture our attention and remain in our mind’s eye long after we’ve seen them in a book. In fact, good photographs have the same qualities as good writing. Helping students learn to "read" good photographs will help them to develop the critical perspective necessary to read good writing later in their literacy development.

Sample activities:

1) For pictures that recall important events of history, ask questions similar to the following:

If you were alive at that time, describe your memories of this event or time. How old were you? What were you wearing or doing? How did you feel about the event at the time? Do you look on this event differently now? If this event is unfamiliar to you, what have you learned about it from the picture? Does it alter your previous understanding of the time or place involved?

2) For pictures that suggest a particular mood, ask questions similar to the following:

What is the mood in this picture? What about the picture creates this mood? How does the mood of the picture affect you? Might it affect you differently at different times of the day, seasons of the year, or periods in your life?

3) For pictures that are striking because they are particularly graphic (such as a picture of a dramatic rescue) or because they point to some disturbing truth (such as a picture of a homeless person sleeping on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange), ask:

What about this picture is disturbing or memorable? Why do you think the photographer took this picture?

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