“The most powerful words in English are, ‘Tell me a story’”
– Pat Conroy
We are very excited to join educators tonight on Twitter for the ShelfieTalk with Katie Egan Cunningham centered around her book Start With Joy (2019)!
In her chapter on “Story”, Katie talks about the power of image reading:
One of the simplest ways to spark a storyteller voice in students is to have a daily image to talk about. It can be an image from a recent read-aloud, an image of children the same age as your students engaged in something joyful, or a compelling photograph of somewhere you’ve been or of a landmark site. When the image is character driven, it can spark discussion about what the character might be thinking, feeling, or saying. Students get to image the life of the character beyond the photo as they develop their storyteller voice. When the image is setting driven, it can spark discussion about what students see, what makes them think, and what makes them wonder. Any image can be used to imagine other sensory details like smells and sounds that we can’t see but we can invent. When images are used as a foundation in understanding stories, students are given a primer in the craft techniques that will soon make their verbal and written stories that much stronger (p. 108-109).
Three of her suggestions for using images to encourage students to ask, “What’s the story here?” are:
• Invite students to create their own captions for what they see
• Join online conversations to see what students around the world come up with
• A weekly caption contest
In her book Teaching Talk, Kara Pranikoff suggests using these three questions to springboard idea growing around images:
• What are you thinking?
• What ideas do you have about this picture?
• What specific details give you these ideas?
Visible Thinking suggests the following sentence starters to spark talk around works of art, images, and other interesting things:
• I see…
• I think…
• I wonder…
The New York Times suggests asking these questions of images:
• What’s going on in this picture?
• What do you see that makes you say that?
• What more can you find?
If you are interested in using images with your students as a way to spark your storytellers, to use talk to grow thinking, or to inspire wonder, here is a compilation of resources to find images that might work for you: