Spooky Photos Help Students Develop Visual Literacy Skills
Grier's Librarian Mrs. Rebecca Woolfrey often partners with classroom teachers to offer library research instruction to classes when teachers assign research papers or projects. She also develops a variety of enrichment activities which introduce students to additional information literacy topics. When she had the opportunity to develop a lesson very close to Halloween, Mrs. Woolfrey decided to go a somewhat spooky route and invited the students in Learning Skills to join her.
As students gathered around the fireplace, taking their seats on the comfy couches and armchairs, Mrs. Woolfrey dimmed the lights. The students first listened to Mrs. Woolfrey read a spooky ghost story by Saki titled The Open Window. After the story, and a sweet Halloween treat, Mrs. Woolfrey distributed images of the variety that make the rounds on social media and in emails. These creepy images included a giant spider on a house, a historical photo of women being punished for witchcraft, a child impaled by a fork, and a shark swimming down a flooded city street. The students discussed each image as a group, looking for clues that would help them determine its validity.
Sometimes the students suspected photos were doctored with software like Photoshop, but they also realized that images could be real, but the stories accompanying them could be inaccurate. Mrs. Woolfrey demonstrated methods for verifying an image's accuracy, which included using Google's Image Search to search the internet for instances of a particular image and by using the fact-checking website Snopes.com.
Through these Halloween-themed images, students learned how images or information about the images can be manipulated, sometimes for the purpose of generating fear. The next time these students encounter some far-fetched photo of a monstrous squid washed up on the beach, they will certainly think twice!