I have always had an interest in photography. We have a great story in our family. When I was 5 years old I took a perfectly centered, perfectly focused (no auto-focus back then) photo of my parents posing at the public pool where we used to spend the summer. My sister, always wanting to copy me, then took a perfectly centered, perfectly focused picture of the sneakers at the end of the blanket! I always had a knack for it and have studied some of the greats.
Well, for that reason and the fact that many students are visual learners-I use photographs ALL the time in the classroom. If you need a good place to find them this is a great site: This Week In Pictures .
There are archives where you can go back several years into photos culled from various news agencies. It's not something I would let kiddos just surf because there are violent photos sometimes. But they have great human interest pictures. I store them in a powerpoint presentation and just make my own slideshows each week.
I would use something like this:
For my reading warm-up before the lesson. We can practice oral language and I ask them to give me a complete sentence describing the picture. We can ask unanswered questions we have about the photo. They practice making inferences--all objectives we have in reading that are ongoing all year.
I have also started using them in math as well:
As part of our math talks: what unanswered questions do you have in the realm of math? They might say-how many cups are there? How long is the string? I really think this has helped them differentiate between what math is compared to other subjects areas-that's something we have difficulty with every year.
And then I ask math questions about the pics myself. Do you notice a pattern? Estimate how many phone books do you think there are.
Photographs can be such a great tool in making connections between what they are learning and real-life experiences!