Journaling: Picture of the Day

Writing is a skill that is pushed in elementary grades. In NC, especially with mClass benchmarks, teaching writing is focused on more than ever. In my district, we are required to keep a writing portfolio of work samples from students throughout the year to show each child’s growth.

One of my graduate school colleagues shared a strategy with me that she uses in her second grade class called Picture of the Day. During Picture of the Day, students look at a picture that is projected on the Smartboard. Students use their inferencing skills to figure out what the picture is about. Teaching inferencing is a hard concept, so what better way to practice than with photography!


I am using this resource from Hello Literacy. (Hello Literacy has an abundance of great literacy resources, so if you haven’t checked it out, you should!) I love this resource because the author shows you step by step how to create a journal using the Picture of the Day strategy focusing on inferencing. The first step is finding actual photographs to show students. There are many websites and Pinterest boards with Picture of the Day resources. For teachers that teach middle and high school, this blog also gives other websites for photographs, including NASA and National Geographic.

The photographs from National Geographic are very interesting because they are from photographers all over the world. National Geographic does a fabulous job of giving the viewers background about the photograph. The particular photograph above is entitled Natural Curves and gives a subheading of “The soft light of autumn colors a stand of aspens in Colorado in this National Geographic Your Shot Photo of the Day”.

After displaying the picture, have students discuss what they see in the picture with a partner or group. This allows students to activate their prior knowledge. Then, students write down their inferences in their notebook. The teacher would lead a group discussion around the photograph to talk about what the students notice.

After these discussions, students would elaborate on their own inferences, adding details from the discussion. During this process, the teacher would provide anchor charts for students to use as a resource while constructing their response.  Students and teachers would complete this entire process Monday through Thursday.

One neat part of the Picture of the Day strategy is the assessment piece that is given at the end of the week. Students are given the picture of the day (or it is displayed) on Friday and write their final inference that they have made throughout the week without using any help from peers, discussions, or notes.

I like the idea of using Picture of the Day within my first grade classroom in the place of traditional morning work. Students would benefit from practicing writing in an informal way. The students and I would engage in discussions about inferencing during our Morning Meeting. This would be a great way to transition into our Literacy Stations and Guided Reading groups.

I plan on sharing this strategy with my K-2 colleagues at our PLC meeting next week. I hope this strategy can help more students practicing their inferencing skills while becoming better writers.



2 thoughts on “Journaling: Picture of the Day

  1. Anna Doyle November 9, 2016 / 5:27 pm

    This reminds me of activities I have discussed within the context of Visual Art Education classes. I like the way more traditional literacy skills have been mixed in with the visual literacy component. It seems like a really nice way to get students to make concrete observations about the types of things they are always noticing and thinking about.


  2. rachaelhyaduck November 10, 2016 / 1:19 am

    This sounds like an excellent activity! I am currently in a pre-student teaching placement where the students are required to write in their journals at the start of every class period. Sometimes students have difficulties coming up with topics or ideas to write about. I feel that this would be a great tool to use with these students! Even if it is just asking the students to write a story based on what they see. I feel like more of the students would get really involved with their writing. I also really like the idea of students practicing their inferencing skills through this activity. Great post!


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