Essential skills: Image search

At this time of year a few teachers plan alternative final assessments instead of an exam. (I love that!) Some of the essential skills for projects involving multimedia include finding and appropriately citing content. Sometimes we take for granted that kids have these things in their ‘know-how’ tool kits. Below are a few tips we provide to emphasize quality and a culture of citation.

Learning about creative & intellectual property in a ‘share & remix culture’

Criteria for success

You can locate images that are licensed to share and reuse.
You can check sizes of images (pixel dimensions) so they are not fuzzy in your presentations.
You can cite the sources of images appropriately.

Your Work, Creative Commons & Copyright

Watch this 2.5 min video about for a quick overview.

Which search tools?

1. Creative Commons Search This is a good place to start:

Change the settings to look for something to Modify, adapt or build upon > Type in your search terms > then click which source you want to search. (I suggest you take a look in more than one! Try Wikimedia Commons, Google Images, and Flickr.)

Creative Commons Search








2. Google Image Search

Within Google’s Image Search there are some helpful tools well worth exploring that will help you narrow your search further to content suited to the project. Take a peek under each of the heading — Size, Color, Type & More.

Google Image Search

To refine your search terms you can also go to the Advanced Search > click the wheel on the right.

When does size matter?

No one enjoys looking at fuzzy images in a presentation. There are two things to consider; the ratio of the pictures you choose, and their pixel dimensions.

Most computer screens and TV monitors have a ratio of 16:9. (Also called High Aspect Ratio or HD – High Definition.) This diagram helps visualize this. (It is 16 units wide by 9 units high.)

  Pixel diagram

Pixel dimensions This tells you how big an image is. You will want to find images that have enough pixels per inch to completely fill the screen ratio.

Most cameras shoot 4:3 ratio which means images won’t fit neatly. As a guide, look for images that have dimensions that are between 2048  x 1536 , 1600 x 1200, or 1024 x 768.

(Images dimensions of 640 x 480 are borderline–they will look slightly soft not crisp and clear. Anything below this I would completely avoid!)

Look for landscape oriented images. (e.g. otherwise you will have to crop a portrait oriented image if you are going to fill the whole screen.)

my breadfast


Sizes smaller than these will mean you have to stretch pictures to fill your screen resulting in poor quality results that look fuzzy and pixely.

low pixel dimensions = fuzzy poor quality images


JASCD TIOM workshop summary

One of my personal goals in facilitating PD is to not do exactly the opposite of what I’m usually trying to advocate for. I hope I was true to myself and my beliefs this past weekend at TIOM. Here’s what happened in the session I led.

Three ideas and three tools to support student engagement and questioning:

1. Prediction – Experience is the best teacher so I attempted to create a model in which people got pulled into the topic by engaging in a prediction activity. I chose five ‘influences’ from John Hattie’s book, Visible Learning, and we used Polldaddy to gather participant responses. Read more about the power of prediction in the article What’s Your Best Guess? Predicting Answers Leads to Deeper Learning

2. Peer Instruction – Next we watched a short clip about Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction strategy which was highlighted in the article Rethinking the Way College Students Are Taught. I asked people to take note of what students were doing and what kinds of questions were being employed in this strategy as we watched. We then used AnswerGarden to capture ideas. I like this tool because it forces you to narrow responses down to just 20 characters.

3. Question Formation Technique – Lastly, we took this strategy for a test drive
with the prompt “Sage on the stage vs guide on the side.” I participated too, and I was surprised at the range of questions I could generate when I “let go” a bit. At Step 4, after improving our questions we selected ‘priority questions’ and posted them on TodaysMeet. We came up with some great questions which I would have personally loved to explore further….guess the strategy worked on me!

I had a good go at fulfilling my own goal…be “the walk, not the talk.” I also got to meet and learn from some really interesting people!

Try It On Monday – JASCD Workshop


I’m really looking forward to learning and sharing at the JASCD TIOM Workshop on April 21.

I’ve had quite some fun preparing to share on a topic I’m most passionate about:

The Power of Prediction: Strategies & tools to support student engagement & questioning.


What activates prior knowledge, and engages and motivate us more than an intriguing question? How can we use technology to support students to develop their own questioning skills? At the heart of constructing and extending knowledge and ideas is the art of asking good questions. In this session we’ll look at some Web 2.0 tools and how we might use them to support question, prediction and response strategies.






Dragon Dictation – a favorite app

I love Dragon Dictation on the iPad. I’ve just finished transcribing several hours of student focus group comments using Dragon Dictation. Last year I did all my student comments using this app. It takes a little bit to get used to but once you develop a work flow it’s definitely a time saver. The copy or e-mail options makes using your dictations so fluid.


Curation Tool

I’m intrigued about how curation and critiquing skills can be learnt, taught and incorporated into 21C classroom practice. With more tags and voices out there than ever, the need to be able to evaluate, validate and weigh up information is critical.

The ‘skill set’ is by far the most challenging part to tackle, however the presentation side of things seems to keep getting easier. is a service that aggregates feeds and presents them as an online newspaper. I’ve found it a helpful tool to organize and catch up on Twitter feeds I’ve missed. It’s pretty straight forward – you just drop in the feeds (hashtags, lists and profiles on Twitter and Facebook) you want included and ‘Voila!’ I have started to think about ways this tool might be useful for school, teachers and students. Aggregating and presenting class research findings? Sharing PLN links with interested faculty? Student curation on topics of interest for a club, class or cause? Tools are only as good as the uses we find for them.