Sunday, August 22, 2010

Inspiration from Photos and Poems

Look Beyond the Ocean

          You can always use photos without text to inspire writing, and you can always use text without photos for the same purpose. But when you combine the two, you present a powerful combination of words and images that never fails to encourage students to write. And when you add a relevant quotation, it gets even better. Here's one example.

"As for the future, your task is not to forsee it, but to enable it."
                                                        Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Look Beyond the Ocean

Alone, I face the sea
As waves rush toward the shore
Carrying messages unheard.

What will they say,
Those silent thoughts,
When at last
They whisper to the sand
On which I wait?

“The world awaits,” they cry.
“Look beyond the ocean,
Past the clouds
And out beyond the sky
Where you will find yourself.”
                                          Elizabeth Guybo

        For an anthology due out next year I'm on the lookout for poems by students, teachers, and others. This anthology will be unique because it will combine poems and photos. For more information and guidelines for submission, contact me at hankpix(at)gmail(dot)com  with the word Poetry in the subject line.
        Photo courtesy Megan McCarty. Megan is a graduate of  The University of Central Florida. Visit her blog at

Comic Strips, Cartoons, and Working Lunches

          There seems to be no end to the ways in which you can use photos to inspire writing. Here's one example. Mary Lee Meyer is a teacher consultant at the Prairie Lands Writing Project. See for examples of some of the activities she demonstrates at her writing workshops for teachers. Contact Mary Lee at lucki13(at)grm(dot)net for more information.
         In one activity, Meyer suggests using comic strips or political cartoons from newspapers and magazines to inspire student writing. “Scan an image into Microsoft Paint™ or another photo editing program and erase the words in the bubbles,” she writes. “Then print copies and ask the students to discuss the cartoon or comic strip in small group settings.” Meyer points out that this exercise helps students develop writing assignments that use dialogue          In another activity, Meyer asked workshop participants to take a working lunch during which they recorded at least five digital photos that they thought they could use in a writing assignment. “This was a two-day class,” she writes, “during which participants were required, among other things, to use one of their images appropriately in a written piece.”  This assignment could easily be completed with students at any level in just one day if the students are directed to come to class with photos they had already taken.

 Another Pitch for Write What You See
          Hank Kellner is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos. Available at the publisher, at bookstores and on the Internet at Ask your school or local librarian to order it.          

No comments: