A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Words, words, words. Students will fall in love with words, when they are equipped with vocabulary. And students who love words learn better. When teaching language arts, we are teaching students the art of using language. Language Arts is composed of six components: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Viewing, and Visually Representing. Hence, the more words that students know, the more equipped they are with the paired mediums (written language, spoken communication, and visual language).

Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Viewing, Representing


Students need to know, that they can use many tools to add meaning to their thoughts and ideas with words. One such tool is a list. Lists are so simple, that even Benjamin Franklin used lists for decision making. Below is a lesson that will illustrate how lists can be used when building word consciousness.

The Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of photos that can be used to deepen the learning of students.  A collection of photos worth exploring is the work of Margaret Bourke-White because her photos are rich for analysis and critical thinking. But, students may lack sophisticated words needed to analyze the photos properly. Hence, there are a few strategies that teachers can employ that will empower students as they are emerged in a learning experience.

The library of congress provides a free online analysis tool for students to use that facilitates a deep analysis of photos as well as critical thinking. And, as students are using the tool, it is a good idea to equip them with a list of words that will facilitate their analysis. The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists contains many different lists that teachers can use with their students. Click here for an example of one list, that can be used during the analysis. Click here to see a sample lesson that illustrates how to use photos and lists to build word consciousness. Students can share their findings using Emaze.

In this podcast episode, I am using a picture from a book entitled, You Be the Detective. Before I use professional pictures with students, I decided to use a drawing and requested that students look closely at the drawing in order to determine what is wrong in the drawing. This exercise tapped into my students visual literacy.


Diamond, L., & Gutlohn, L. (2009). Vocabulary handbook. Baltimore, Md: Brookes.

Treat, L. (1983) You’re the detective! : 24 solve-them-yourself picture mysteries / Lawrence Treat ; illustrated by Kathleen Borowik. Boston : D.R. Godine.

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