‘Image with a Message’ Activity/Project

Activity, DS106, How To, LwICT, Project 19 Comments »

Are you looking for an engaging computer-related activity or project for your students? Regardless of the grade or subject area in which you teach, I think I have an idea that you will find both stimulating as well as educationally relevant.

Over the past few years, much emphasis as been placed on technology integration throughout all subjects in the K-12 spectrum. However, many educators may become frustrated because they feel that their students need to be scheduled into the school’s computer lab to use technology in a meaningful manner. Others may feel that image acquisition is restricted based on their school or divisional filtering policy. To help reduce such frustration, I propose that students complete this “Image with a Message” activity, on their own time, to demonstrate that they can use basic technology skills to enhance other assignments or projects in any discipline.

I asked myself, what are the main tasks or concepts that all students should be able to perform when using technology. Regardless, of the particular curriculum, I believe that each student should be able to use the technology to accomplish the following three basic tasks:

  • search the Internet critically;
  • enhance projects with images from Creative Commons; and
  • give appropriate credit.

Students who can accomplish the above three fundamentals will be better prepared to use technology in a meaningful manner to enhance many school-related assignments and projects.

I want to remove the hassle for all teachers who feel that it is necessary to gain access to the school computer lab before recommending that students engage in any computer-related endeavour. Why must students always use computers at school? In many cases, students have access to computers at home, in public libraries, or in community centers that are more sophisticated than the equipment in their respective school computer labs. Furthermore, asking students to work, perhaps in pairs, outside of school fosters important collaborative skills that have life-long benefits. Perhaps individuals who don’t have access to a computer at home can be teamed up with another student who has ready access.

“Image with a Message” Activity Overview

Each student must create a JPEG image that combines the following three components:

  1. a famous quotation or statement that has relevance to the subject being studied;
  2. a “Creative Commons” image that combines to illustrate the above quotation; and
  3. the computer address link which identifies the “Creative Commons” image.

“Image with a Message” Lesson Steps for the Teacher

Although the following steps are directed to teachers, I have also included a somewhat similar student handout (in both Word and PDF formats) at the end of this blog entry.

1.    For students who learn best by seeing the “big picture”, educators should showcase some of the samples that I have created for this blog entry or select other “Image with a Message” creations from some of the following sources:

2.    Since each student’s final JPEG image will be emailed to the teacher, on or before the assignment due date, it is best to determine a standard image size. For example, one may recommend, based on the screen resolution of the computer in one’s classroom or school lab, that each project’s final image dimensions must be 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 pixels.

3.    Team up students in pairs. Ensure that students who do not have access to a computer outside school are matched with a partner that has access to a computer with internet access. Even though students are working in pairs, each student must create his/her individual “image with a message”.

4.    Select a famous quotation that is relevant to the subject area. Team partners must select a different quotation and a different image. Possible sources of quotations, from famous individuals, may be located at such web sites as:

5.    Review the Creative Commons License Types at:

6.    Demonstrate how one can use the Flickr Advanced Search at: http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/

For example, to find the previously shown “light bulb” image, I entered the words “light bulb idea” (without quotes) in the top search field. I then checked off the “Photos/Videos” media type. Lastly, and most importantly, I checked off the bottom “Creative Commons” filter by selecting the two qualifiers to “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and to “Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon” since I hoped to combine or re-mix an image with a quotation.

7.    Browse through the various “Creative Commons” photos until one finds a suitable image and click on its thumbnail to see the larger version.

8.    To help return to the selected “Creative Commons” image, bookmark it or identify it as a favourite.

9.    Click the “Actions” button to “View all sizes” and, most importantly, click the top “License” link to verify that one has permission to use the image selected.

10.  Select the image size which is closest to the previously determined standard image size in Step #2.

11.  Demonstrate how to download and save a relevant, appropriate-sized “Creative Commons” image.

12.  If students have access to Microsoft Office, they can use the “Insert > Picture > From File” menu items to place the downloaded image into a blank PowerPoint slide. If not, one can use the “File > Open” menu items to load the “Creative Commons” image into a “paint-type” program. Remember to resize the image to fit the final standard agreed-upon image dimensions.

13.  Position a text frame appropriately on the “Creative Commons” image and enter the chosen quotation and author. Choose an appropriate font, size, and colour and then position this quotation to maximize impact.

14.  Return to the bookmarked “Creative Commons” image (in Step #8) and copy the image address source. Repeat the above step by inserting this web address near the bottom of the image and size it appropriately to give the necessary “Creative Commons” attribution.

15.  During the save process, PowerPoint users should click the down arrow at the end of the “Save as type:” field, scroll down and choose the “JPEG File Interchange Format” to save the current slide as a JPEG image.

16.  Once the final image and quotation layout has been finalized, make certain to save the JPEG image using the student’s first and last name as the image filename. (e.g. Robert-Finigan.jpg or Adya-Singh.jpg)

17. To complete the activity, email the final image as an attachment to your teacher and support your partner with their “Image with a Message” creation.

Next Steps

Teachers, or a student-team, should insert all the JPEG images into a PowerPoint presentation that can be shared with a class. Students might be encouraged to vote on their favourite “Image with a Message” and discuss why such slides have impact. Make certain to save such a PowerPoint presentation for subsequent years as one will find it beneficial to use local, student-created images to challenge new students to the subject or grade. Some teachers may choose to print some of the “Images with a Message” and display them on bulletin boards within the classroom.

Teachers often wonder how to challenge students who complete projects early or want to extend their learning. I would recommend if such individuals are using PowerPoint, that they investigate the steps outlined in my earlier blog post entitled “PowerPoint Pizzazz“. The technique, which readers are encouraged to view at this video link, demonstrates how colourful PowerPoint slide images can be made to “come alive” during a presentation. Perhaps such students might be challenged to create very colourful “images with a message” that can take advantage of this “fade to colour” technique.

“Image with a Message” Samples

Although the original Creative Commons licensed image above specified “No Derivative Works”, I contacted Rémi Janner who graciously allowed me to add Albert Einstein’s quotation to his amazing picture and share this remix. Thanks Rémi for your understanding and willingness to share.


Take care & keep smiling :-)

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