Monday, 1 December 2008

A River of Images

I love the power of images and their adaptability for teaching, so I can't say that I'm upset to be almost overwhelmed with really great tools for exploiting Flickr at the moment. The latest of these is Flickriver, an incredibly simple Flickr search tool that creates an endless webpage (just keep scrolling and the page keeps getting longer!) of Flickr images based around either a search term or whatever it finds interesting on the particular day you visit the site.

This is great because it provides you with and endless stream (or I should say river) of images as you scroll down the page. You can keep scrolling and pull in thousands of images to the page.

This is what it looks like. I started by just scrolling through the random images that appeared when I opened the page, then I went back and typed in 'sport' to see what images would appear.

How to use this with our EFL ESL students
This is a great tool to use with a projector or an interactive whiteboard as we can put it up in front of the whole class. Most of these suggestions would also work if we had students working in small groups or pairs around a computer too.

  • Word association - Get your students to associate words with the images as you scroll through them. 1 student to each image. Once you have got through 20 or 30 words, get the students to work alone or in pairs and try to write down all the words they heard. You can scroll back through the images to help them remember.
  • Brainstorming vocabulary - Type a tag word based on a theme you will be studying into the search field and scroll through images getting students to suggest words that the images evoke on the topic.
  • Rapid sentences - You could do a similar activity to the word association one, by working round the class getting each student to produce a sentence about each image as they appear (one student for each image). This will enable you to push the students fluency, by getting them to think quickly as you scroll to the next image. Again you could consolidate this by getting them to write down or try to remember the sentence that was produced for each image. This will ensure that students do actually listen to each other.
  • Stream of consciousness story - You could make the above exercise more challenging by telling the students that each sentences for each image had to become part of an ongoing story and then see if they can remember the story at the end.
  • Picture grammar drills - You could use the pictures to create drills, by telling the students they have to make a sentence about each picture using a particular verb form. This could be present continuous (describing what is happening in the picture) 'going to' + infinitive (predicting what is about to happen in the picture) present perfect (describing what has just happened before the image was created). This makes drilling a much more engaging and creative activity. Each student could create a drill sentence per image and the other students could copy them or you could go round the class getting a different student to create a sentence individually for each picture.
  • Memory game - Get your students to watch as you scroll through 10 - 20 images. Then stop and put them in pairs to try to remember what all of the images were and describe them. Then scroll back and see how many they got right.
  • What's the association? - If you try more abstract words such as 'skinny' or 'vocabulary', the images produced can have only a very tangential connection to the search term. This is perhaps a good way to get students thinking more carefully about the way the words are used and what connotations they have as they try to explain the connection between the tag word and the image.
  • New words dictionary - As new words come up during the class you can search these and find images which help students to understand the new word. This strong visual should aid their memory. They could even decide on which image best illustrates the word and copy it into a digital vocabulary record of some kind.

What I like about this site
  • It's free and very easy to use
  • The site gives you access to far more images / flashcards than you could possibly ever carry into class
  • There is a constant stream of really high quality striking images
  • One of the things I like is the unpredictability. The images change each time you return to the site and there seems to be a constant stream of new ones.
  • Really nicely designed site

What I'm not so sure about
  • You might find the odd inappropriate image depending on what your search term is and depending on the age and cultural background of your students.
  • The site does sometimes produce some very curious results for some words!
  • Sometimes you can get a sequence of very similar images, if someone has just uploaded a batch of images with the same tag to to flickr.
Well there it is. Flickriver, another really great image tool. I hope you enjoy it and are able to use some of these ideas with your students and of course do leave a comment if you want to suggest other ideas.
Related links:

Nik Peachey


QarlosJO said...

Thanks for the link. Sometimes it's hard to fin good pictures for materials design and this site has a good stock of them. Thanks again.

Nik Peachey said...

@ Qarlos

Gld you found it useful.