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Writing Prompts: Photos from Around the World

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 10/23/2012

Discuss photos from around the world with students. Give them tips to use the photo to stimulate creativity and write a unique short story. Using extraordinary photos as writing prompts can really bring a spark to your students' creativity.

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    Looking For New Teaching Ideas?

    London If you're looking for new ways to stimulate your students' writing skills, try bringing in a selection of photos from around the world. Students benefit greatly from learning more about world cultures. Showing them photos from a variety of places is great fun when used as a writing prompt. Besides improving their writing, you will also help them to build a worldview by showing pictures that depict everyday life in other countries. Students will expand their knowledge of the world and about the geography and people of other nations.

    Help students understand that when they take standardized tests they will be presented with a photo or work of art and will have to use it as a stimulus to create a short story. That's why it is important to show them a wide range of photos and art throughout the year to help them grow comfortable with “writing on demand” after seeing a photo. Students benefit greatly from practice doing timed photo prompts. The more familiar Art at United Nations, NYC  they become with the process. the better they will do on standardized tests utilizing photo prompts.

    First, show a slide show of photographs from around the world. You may find photos at museums, get them from your photo album, or borrow pictures from friends.Try to find an assortment of pictures that show life in a myriad of different countries. Often on standardized tests the art used is abstract and the photos used are simply scenes; they do not contain people or action. This makes it harder for students, who must then create a story that somehow mentions details in the photo and yet is entirely of their imagination as the photo itself does not tell a story of any kind.

    Discuss several pictures together as a class. Ask students what they see in the photograph that differs from life in America. Are the elements of nature shown in the setting different? Are the people in the picture dressed in a unique way?

    Ask students to discuss the most interesting aspects of the photos. Ask if any students have visited or lived in the country depicted in the photo. If so, give them time to present information about the country to the class.

    Then give the class a writing rubric for creating short stories. Next, ask the class to make a list of 8 to 10 details from the photo that they will use in their story. They may use the details in the setting or as the names of the characters. Remind students to be creative and look at the photo and quickly list details. Then as they start writing they should incorporate the photo’s details into the story they create.

    To assess this assignment, ensure that students have followed the guidelines in the story writing rubric. Next, assess the story for writing skill and creativity, and grade your students accordingly.