How do children learn to interpret visual media?
With so many different media images in their everyday environments -- from commercials to cartoons to billboards -- students need practice to understand and talk about many different kinds of images they encounter. Different students will have different interpretations, feelings, and ideas about media used in the classroom. Teachers can model for students how to ask good "how" and "why" questions: How does this image create meaning? Why do you have the interpretation that you do, and how might someone else interpret it differently? We know that there is no one "right answer" when it comes to media interpretation. But there are some basic components of visual literacy that teachers can reinforce in their classroom. These include careful observation of details, appreciation for context, and the habit of making inferences from limited information. It's also important to value multiple perspectives and always ask about what is included and what is left out of photographs and other visual media.
- What are the characteristics of a classroom where children feel free to share their interpretations?
- How do teachers decide what kind of images to bring into the classroom?
- What should teachers do when their students' intuitive responses are unexpected or uncomfortable?
- What do students learn from creating photographs?
- How can visual analysis and creative media production support students' listening, speaking, reading and writing skills?