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Use Pictures or Artwork to Spark Creative Writing

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/25/2012

Need to spark some creativity in your students' writing? Ask students to respond to non-print media, such as photos. This is a simple way to integrate technology in a language arts lesson.

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    Responding to Non-Print Media -- Photos

    Using interesting pictures to spark creative ideas is one way to get students writing. As the saying goes "a picture is worth a thousand words," have students take a picture and turn it into a great story with many descriptive words.

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    Preparation for Lesson

    It is great if a teacher has access to a projector that is hooked up to a computer. Pictures can be shown to students through the projector.

    The photos can be pictures of settings alone, pictures of people, or even pictures of animals. It is best to have a variety of photos so that all students can find a photo that interests them.

    To find great pictures, one can take original photos. Or, one can search the Internet. Many pictures are free for educational use at the Pics4learning website and Wikimedia Commons (please check their use policy). There are many more websites that have great educational photos; it just takes a bit of time to search and to read over the use policies.

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    Steps for the Lesson

    Step 1 -- Tell students that they will be completing some creative writing. For inspiration, they will be using photos. The teacher will need to decide if the creative writing genre will be a short story, poem or essay. Or, the teacher can allow the students to decide how to respond to the photo in writing.

    Step 2 -- Show the photos to the students. The photos can be part of a Power Point slide presentation. Or, all of the photos can be on one slide that is "frozen" so that students can view the photos during the class period as they write.

    Step 3 -- Explain to students that they can choose a photo to create interesting settings, characters, conflicts, or story lines. A few students may ask if they can use a couple of photos to create a piece. The teacher needs to decide in advance if students are allowed to use more than one photo to write the piece.

    Using photos can be a fun way to add pizzaz to a creative writing lesson. In the future, students could even bring in interesting photos.