Wednesday, December 06, 2006

EduFlickr: Telling Tales

I think I have mentioned a few times in previous EduFlickr posts that Flickr (and other online photo sharing tools) can be a great source of images and that these images can be used to stimulate creative writing. I've been meaning for some time to write a post about telling stories with Flickr but Alan has already given an excellent introduction to fliction. I will therefore content myself some observations and a couple of examples.

Colin's first haircut
Colin's first haircut,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Although I have titled this Telling tales and I've talked about "creative writing", it should not be assumed that the English department is going to have all the fun. Apart from anything else, one of the examples Alan gives is of the Tell a story in 5 frames group where the pictures tell the story. Of course once a visual story has been published, often people give their interpretation in the comments and in the discussion area, so there is still scope for creative writing. However, I think some of the best submissions to this group demonstrate the power pictures to carry a story. For example one of my favourites is Women!, which tells a story in only three pictures. (See them here: one, two and three.) The text with this story gives you more information, but it stands alone as a good story without any words at all.

Flickr groups like this often throw out challenges, for example, the Six Word Story group (only six words because of Ernest Hemmingway's famous six word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never used.") recently had a discussion thread where people submitted six word stories and invited others to submit suitable pictures. And as reciprocity would have it, a number of pictures are submitted be people looking for six word stories. Plenty of opportunity here for cross-curricular work?

My final observation is that "story" can be interpreted fairly loosely and stories can be told within a variety of curricular contexts. For example, could you use pictures to tell the story of a glaciated landscape - from a corrie, through a u-shaped valley and down to a terminal moraine? (Scraping the bottom of my geological knowledge here - maybe Ollie can confirm if this makes sense as an example!) Or, Mr W's story about how to make toad in the hole. Or a photo story on the development of a model. Or... oh, you get the picture!

...And the examples? I thought it only fair to have a go at telling a digital story myself before making this post. So here is my go at a six word story and my first attempt at telling a story in five frames. Leave a comment if you have a go and let us know where to find your stories.

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Chris said...

One of the features of my education in French was a book called "Histoires Illustrees" (can't remember how to do the accents!) - you had a page at a time of sequential comic-type drawings and wrote a story (in French :-( ) to tell what you saw happening. This looks much more fun - but then writing in French was never my forte.

David said...

I had to do something like that for my French O-Grade... but had to do it orally. You were given a few minutes to plan what you were going to say and then you had to record it onto big reel-to-reel tapes. My story was about two boys going swimming in a river. A key point in the story was one of the boys seeing a notice on a tree that said "Danger! No swimming" and trying to warn the other boy.

Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the French word for a sign, so in desperation I remember shouting into the tape, "Regardez l'arbre", since the sign was on a tree.

I was complaining to my friend on the way out and asking if we had ever been taught the French for sign, when he showed me the bit at the bottom of the cartoon story... There was a useful vocabulary section that, among other things, told you what tht French for sign was! ("Affiche", in case anybody cares!) The examiner must of thought I was a nutter. :-)

Chris said...

Ah - but did you ever learn the workd "saperlipoppette"? (think that's how you spell it - it was translated as "crumbs!")

David said...

Saperlipoppette? Ha! C'est un morceau de g√Ęteau!

Ruby said...

Thanks for the idea! I already use story-telling in my lectures for TESOL for young learners, but this is an added dimension ... will explore further and let you know how I get on!
By the way - like the dog story.

Christine Kelt said...


I was on the PGDE course last year (geography)- a group of geography teachers, myself included are currently sharing photos for use in the classroom. If it is of interest the group page is:

I have started geo tagging a few of the images. Oh, and your example of the corrie, u shaped valley, terminal moraine makes sense to me! :)

David said...

Hello Ruby

Glad you found it helpful. (Ruby on wheels! Tee, hee!)

Hello Christine

Yes... you were in my Principles class I think. (Or was it Contexts... or am I havering?) I'm glad the geography idea made sense. The Flickr group looks brilliant. How widely have you publicized it?

Christine Kelt said...

It was the Principles class, David.

The group was set up by a geography teacher based in France. He proposed the group on a widely used geography forum (Staffordshire Learning Net)a few days ago-

I set up a yahoo group for my fellow ex- jordanhill geog. colleagues to keep in touch, and I e-mailed them about the flickr group but they have not joined it yet...


teacher dude said...

For second language teachers, Flickr can be an endless source of ideas for lessons and projects. I'm using Andrew Wright's Pictures for Language Learning as a template for many of my English lessons. Originally written in 1989, it is a great source ideas for using images as teaching tools, almost as if it was awaiting for the advent of the internet and photo sharing services.