Using Picture Sets
Critical thinking involves making reasoned judgments by assessing various options in light of criteria.
The importance of the student tasks
Each Picture Set poses one or more critical thinking questions that students should be able to answer based largely on the images within the set. These tasks require more than descriptions of the contents of the images—students must draw thoughtful inferences and reach grounded conclusions. The tasks can be adapted to suit students’ diverse learning needs, and the requirements of social studies and science curricula at various grade levels.
Teaching the tools
Learning to think critically requires acquiring the appropriate intellectual resources or “tools.” The specific tools depend on the nature of the critical task associated with a picture set. See Strategies for investigating pictures for detailed instructions and resources to teach students some of the tools they will need to inquire critically into the various Picture Sets. Students should have some background knowledge on the topic prior to trying to interpret a Picture Set. For many of the sets, teacher background information is provided. This can be communicated to students in a condensed and simplified form. Consider creating complementary critical thinking task(s) based on the background information and the judgments students are making about the Picture Sets.
The central role of criteria
Thinking critically involves using criteria as the basis for assessing options and making reasoned judgments. Asking students to make observations and draw inferences about one or more images involve consideration of criteria such as:
- accurate and relevant observations
- plausible and insightful inferences
Teacher resources and student handouts provided with each Picture Set suggest relevant criteria for consideration. Consider the option of developing criteria collaboratively with students.
Opportunities for differentiation
Differentiation of learning in a critical thinking context has two foci: the complexity of the critical challenge and tools, and the level of support provided.
Differentiating the complexity of Picture Sets:
- choose from among the suggested tasks those that will be most appropriate for various students
- adjust the number of images assigned to various students
- simplify or revise the handouts for various students
Differentiating the level of support provided to students:
- scaffold tasks
- provide a worked example
- assign students to work in pairs or groups and introduce cooperative learning techniques such as “think/pair/share”
- partition the images
- model the process
- use the suggested teacher resource materials to develop intellectual tools and strategies for investigating images prior to assigning student tasks
Using Picture Sets with digital technologies
Many of the critical tasks can be addressed by using various digital technology tools and resources provided with the Picture Sets. Consider having students use:
- powerpoint slide sorters to select, group, or rank images
- annotation and labeling features such as callouts, autoshapes, and text boxes
- graphic organizers and templates included with word processor packages
- audio recording sound tools
- text or video chat tools
Interactive whiteboard technologies
Critical inquiry can be enhanced through the application of interactive whiteboard tools. See the following examples of the use of various interactive whiteboard tools with images:Tools for Smartboard
For more information about the TC² model, please click here.