Using a Digital Camera to Enhance Lessons—from 2007
Many schools have at least one digital camera on hand. They are used to take pictures of the
students at sporting events, school plays, and other school-wide activities. Sometimes, when
something special is going on in the school that day, the camera comes out (“Read Across
America” and Cat in the Hat hats come to mind.) and the pictures are uploaded to the school
and/or district website. However, that is the extent of digital camera use. With a little thought
and creativity, digital cameras can become a valuable classroom tool. Most camera phones have
fairly good picture-taking ability. Many of the cameras have the capability to upload pictures to
any school computer.
Ideas for enhancing instruction using the digital camera:
Math: For an introductory geometry lesson, have students take pictures of objects that
have certain shapes in them (Octagonal stop sign, hexagonal tile floor, rectangular door,
etc.). Upload, print, and make into a class collage.
Writing: Have students who do not draw well take pictures to illustrate a story.
PreK, Character Education: Take pictures of students expressing various emotions
(facially). Have students tell a story about why they made each face.
Science: Since many labs are three dimensional and difficult to hang up or keep around
the room on display, take pictures of the lab in progress, and display in or out of the
Social Studies: Many ideas come to mind, such as pictures at the Department of Motor
Vehicles to show government agencies at work, or of various people in the neighborhood
to represent different cultures.
Make certain students have permission slips on file to allow their images to be used on
Store your pictures of students in a password protected file so students do not have
access to them without supervision.
Do not allow students to send pictures to anyone via e-mail.
Delete pictures from the camera after each use.
As a science teacher, I used my digital camera quite frequently. For example, I used the camera
to record for posterity the models my students constructed to depict the types of lakes we
studied. My students used sand, pebbles, clay, foil, craft sticks and whatever else I had on hand.
There was really no way to preserve these creations in my classroom (the sand and rocks were
falling off, and the lake models were too heavy for the poster board they were glued to. It took
two students to carry them.). So, during my free period, before my next class came in, I stood on
chairs and took aerial shots of them with my camera phone. I printed them out and hung them
outside my classroom, so that people passing by could see what was going on within, without
having to come in! Also, since they are on the school website, parents could view them (they do
like to see their children’s projects!).
Just a reminder, always practice Internet safety with student pictures—I only took pictures of the
projects, not the students themselves.
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