Tag Archives: visual literacy

Final Reflection on My Library Learning

This TEDx talk sums up what people need to know; a library is more than just a collection of books.  It is the distribution of ideas and information that is important, not the medium (Bennett, 2014).  In the beginning, when I told people that I had decided to study to become a teacher-librarian, they were surprised to find out I would have to take 10 courses to receive my Diploma.  As I admitted in my first blog post, that was my reaction too.  I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know.  A teacher-librarian does much more than build and maintain a collection of resources, and on this journey I have learned that it is important for a teacher-librarian to:

  • be a leader in the school community
  • advocate for the library program
  • create a space, both physical and virtual, that meets the needs of all its users
  • teach a wide range of literacies including information literacy, digital literacy, visual literacy, literacies across the content areas as well as reading and writing strategies
  • facilitate collaboration among the staff to provide more learning opportunities that will ensure student success

A library website can encompass all these ideals.  So, in reflecting on the creation of my final vision, I can’t help but reflect on the entire process of working toward my Diploma, as so much of what I put into my website I learned from other courses.  This course has allowed me to create a platform using digital technology to share that learning, as well as create something I can use professionally.  Even though I have made a “fake” website, I did visualize a real school when creating it; the one where I realized I had found my niche, and that started me on this new journey.  So, depending on what school I end up at, some information contained in my website will have to change, but much of what I have created I will be able to use anywhere.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.17.18 PMThe challenges I faced were frustrating, but overcome as I took advantage of the expertise available online.  Of course my website will continue to be a work in progress.  Most pages are incomplete, but they do provide an idea of what I want to accomplish.  By providing professional development opportunities on the Teacher page for my staff, I can help develop my role as leader within the school community.  Using my website to showcase resources and services that are essential to the success of students will help me advocate for my library program.  By creating a blog that highlights school community events, as well as pages for students, teachers and parents, I can ensure that my library can meet the needs of all its users.  By providing lessons for both students (Research Tools page) and teachers (Teacher page), I can help improve multi-literacy competency for all learners.  Having a space for teachers on the Teacher page to highlight their library projects will help me facilitate collaboration.

Though it is a difficult time for teacher-librarians, it is also an exciting one as we reinvent ourselves for the digital generation.  Though our core values remain the same, and I am certainly not ready to give up books just yet, digital technology allows us to engage learners outside the physical space of the library.  It lets us share our ideas, knowledge, creativity and imagination with those outside our local community as well as receive others’ ideas and knowledge for use by us; helping us to create life-long learners within ourselves, our colleagues and our students.  So though I don’t think there is anything that will replace the joy I feel of turning the pages of a good book, I am ready to embrace this new medium as an added dimension to my role as teacher-librarian.

pinned by Barbara Schmid



 Works Consulted

Bennett, C. (2014). The library is not a collection of books: Charlie Bennett at TEDx Telfair street.  Retrieved at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFGCB51xb6U

Image Citation:

Bradley, P. (2014). Flickr. Pinned by Ashley Louden at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155233518380680576/



Filed under LIBE 477

Reading Review: Conclusions

The purpose of my reading review was to find digital technologies to help teach visual literacy.  I was able to find some good resources and I enjoyed looking into them in more detail this week.  There are a few I will definitely bookmark to use to help me teach visual literacy.  Reviewing my results, I found the most useful sites to be Learn NC and Edutopia.

Finley’s blog post on the Edutopia website, Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies, was helpful and has some good ideas on teaching visual literacy.  He offers strategies that teachers may be familiar with for reading text, and gives insight on how they could be used for reading images.  Searching the Learn NC site from the University of North Carolina yields pages of links for ideas and lessons for teaching visual literacy in the classroom.  They range in grades from K-12 across a variety of subjects.  Though many lessons are specific to the North Carolina area, there are still a lot of general ones for teaching visual literacy.  For example, one link, Resources For Teaching With Photographs lists websites and activities to use in the classroom.  These include an activity on optical illusions to help explain how our brains often misread the images we see, as well as a collection of photographs where students are prompted to spot which are real or fake.  The activities are interesting and there are pages of other resources and lessons that I am looking forward to checking out.


I was a little disappointed with the blog by Gary Abud, Digital Activities For Visual Literacy.  At first glance it lists a number of apps along with ideas about how to use them to support visual literacy.  However, like Marqueed, most of the apps are not educationally based, but for professionals to use for collaboration.  Though they seem to have educational value, I would prefer to use something designed for students in mind.  I did like Write About This, “an app for emerging writers that prompts the student to write about what they notice in a picture.”   I also liked Visual DNA, which is an image-based personality test.  It is a great way to think about your feelings and emotions in terms of images rather than words.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 12.55.11 PM

Visual DNA: one of the questions in the personality test.


The ColorMatters site is different from the others I looked at. It does have a global colour survey students can take, but I was hoping to find more online activities on the site.   Instead, it mostly gives information about colour theory and how it relates to media images and branding.   Therefore, I think it has some excellent  information that could be used for a combined lesson on visual literacy and media literacy.

According to the literature, the term visual literacy has been around for awhile (I found articles from the 1990s) so even though I have only become familiar with it in the last couple of years, it shouldn’t be considered a “new” literacy.  I think what is new, is that with the rise of digital technologies, teaching visual literacy has become essential, not just as a way to engage visual learners, but as a necessary competency for all students.  Though I found numerous articles discussing the importance of visual literacy, I was a little surprised that I didn’t find more strategies for teaching it using digital technology.  Some of what I did find seems very useful, utilizing online activities and photo collections to develop lessons.  However, other suggestions focus on trying to use available apps that are designed for purposes other than teaching visual literacy.  Though there is value in using these apps, I would prefer using something that is intended to help students become visually literate.

Now that I have some resources to teach my students visual literacy, my challenge, as a teacher-librarian, will be to design lessons and collaborate with classroom teachers to teach visually literacy to our students; especially challenging in the content-driven curriculum of high school.

Works Consulted

Abud, G. (2013, August 16). Digital Activities For Visual Literacy. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://abud.me/digital-activities-for-visual-literacy/

Finley, T. (2014, February 19). Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies. Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/ccia-10-visual-literacy-strategies-todd-finley

Marqueed Collect and Discuss Images. (2014). Retrieved January 31, 2015, from https://www.marqueed.com

Thibault, M. (n.d.). Resources for teaching with photographs. Learn NC. University of North Carolina. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/678?ref=search

Welcome to Color Matters. (2015). Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://www.colormatters.com


Filed under LIBE 477

Reading Review: Potential Resources to Support Visual Literacy

I started my search for resources to teach visual literacy through the UBC library online catalogue. I first searched using “visual literacy”, then added “teaching” and finally “visual literacy and digital technology”. Most of the articles were studies about the importance of visual literacy, what it is and how to teach it using art, picture books, graphic novels etc. There were some very useful articles that will be helpful to me in terms of teaching visual literacy, but they didn’t quite fit the criteria for this review so I didn’t include them in my results.

For finding specific ways to teach visual literacy using digital technology I thought I would be more successful with a Google search. I found a number of possibilities searching the phrase “teaching visual literacy”. Including keywords such as media literacy and digital technology did not seem to add to the results. There are many sites I found that I think would be useful, but the following are the ones I think most fit my inquiry in using digital technology to help me teach visual literacy.


  1. http://www.colormatters.com

This site talks about the importance of colour to communication.  You can take a global colour survey and see how people associate colour with emotions, power, death, etc.  You can explore the articles on the meaning of colour, colour and branding, colour psychology in medicine, colour in history, colour science etc.


  1. http://abud.me/digital-activities-for-visual-literacy/

This site has links to others with digital activities that help support visual literacy or teach visual literacy to students including an interactive tutorial from the Three Brain Networks, an image-based personality test called Visual DNA and a game app called 4 Pics 1 Word.  I am looking forward to checking them out in more detail to see how they support visual literacy learning.


  1. http://www.learnnc.org/search?phrase=visual%20literacy

From the University of North Carolina, this site contains a list of resources and lesson plans about teaching with photographs, mapping skills as visual literacy, using photos as discussion using Bloom’s Taxonomy etc. There is a lot here and I hope I will get some ideas I can use.


  1. https://www.marqueed.com

I found this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcO4kfJn3-M) on using a program called Marqueed to teach visual literacy. Design professionals are able to collaborate and discuss images using this site. With a class, the video suggests you can set up your own collection of images and have students discuss them as a visual literacy exercise. It looks interesting.


  1. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/ccia-10-visual-literacy-strategies-todd-finley

This blog post talks about strategies for teaching visual literacy.  One strategy is something called Five Card Flickr. Students create stories from 5 random photos with the same tag from Flickr. Searching the Edutopia site, there are a number of other posts about visual literacy that I would also like to check out.

I am looking forward to checking out these sites more closely to gain a better understanding about how I can learn about and teach visual literacy.





Filed under LIBE 477

Reading Review: Visual Literacy

Though there are many important issues I thought about for this reading review, I kept coming back to information literacy, as it is what put me on the path to becoming a teacher-librarian. I found when working in high school libraries, students often did not understand how to properly research a topic or find reliable sources/websites. I felt that with so much information, literally at their fingertips, students needed to understand how to find, evaluate and use it effectively. However, my view of information literacy has expanded to includes other literacies such as media literacy, digital literacy, and visual literacy. Of these, visual literacy is the only one I had thought little about in my teaching practice. I am not a visual learner, and though I understand the importance of allowing students to learn and/or express their understanding of a topic visually, I had never really given much thought to visual literacy; the ability to make meaning out of a variety of visual images including artwork, photographs, diagrams, etc. However, as students are receiving massive amounts of highly visual information from the Internet daily, it is essential that all students understand how to interpret this visual data.


In my studies I have read about the importance of visual literacy and collected some ideas for using picture books and graphic novels in the high school classroom. However, I haven’t yet looked into how to specifically teach visual literacy. As I am not a visual learner, I find this a little daunting. As this course is meant to expand our knowledge of digital technologies as learning tools in the library and classroom, I would like to find some ideas to incorporate technology with teaching visual literacy.


Through other courses I have become more comfortable using technology, but still feel the learning curve for me is pretty steep. I feel kinship with Douglas Adams’ rule about technology that “anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” (Adams, 2002) However, I realize that teacher-librarians need to reinvent themselves in this era of information abundance, as we are no longer its keepers. I am not sure what I will find for resources about digital technology and visual literacy because I am not sure what is out there. I have investigated sites like Animoto, Prezi, Glogster, Popplet etc., but only in terms of offering ways for students to express their learning visually, not to specifically teach visual literacy.


Depending on my initial searches with the keywords visual literacy I may also search digital literacy and media literacy, as visual literacy is important in these literacies as well. Since I am trying to find resources to help teach visual literacy I will also include keywords like teaching, education, in the classroom, and lesson plans. Hopefully I will find some great ideas about using digital technologies that not only help visual learners, but ones that can be used to teach all students visual literacy.





Adams, D. (2002) The Salmon of Doubt. New York: Ballantine Books.



“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

– Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

(Found at goodreads)




Filed under LIBE 477