Using Photographs to Dwell in Poems

As I was working belatedly yesterday on adding some new features to one of my National Poetry Month displays on the exterior of the library, I began thinking about what I might feature in addition to student created poems, quotes about poetry, and images of favorite poetry books.  Perhaps because I was surrounded by Ms. Frost’s 9th Honors Literature/Composition students with whom I’ve been immersed in presentation zen this past week, it occurred to me it might be fun to combine favorite lines of poetry or short poems with a carefully selected photograph to unpack a feeling, idea, or image I associated with the lines of poetry or short poem.

After I completed a few slides in PowerPoint, I shared what I had created with Ms. Frost, and she was so excited about what she saw that she plans to work with the library and use this approach to help students dwell in poems by focusing on key lines and images to tease out the concepts of imagery, connotation, and mood.  We plan to use student created slides and convert them into picture files that can then be printed as flyers or posters for hanging or display on art easels to feature throughout the library; we’ll also be sure to include an artistic tag to give students credit for their creation.  I also see this kind of activity as another learning exercise in visual thinking that can be used for a poetry immersion unit and an entry point into discovering new poems.

I hope you enjoy the slides I’ve created so far—to be able to immerse myself in this kind of thinking and content creation was therapeutic for me intellectually and emotionally.  Most of my days are spent as an instructional librarian (which I LOVE), but I relished the opportunity to use most of the workday for content creation as it was great mind candy for me and ultimately, a springboard to a wonderful conversation for some new collaborative efforts with Ms. Frost and her students.  I’ll be working with the wonderful Joy Mabry at our district “Teacher Center” to create poster sized prints of these slides as well as the student generated content to help celebrate and honor poetry year round—I’ll blog an update as soon as we have the new creative works up and on display in the library!

Another source of inspiration came today during a Google chat with my good friend and colleague Diane Cordell, an amazing librarian and lifelong learner.  Diane shared a poetry reading created with  VoiceThread, and I thought how cool it would be for students to choose a poem (either one they have composed or one of their choosing) to read and to add images to represent the poem; they could then narrate these poems individually, with a partner, or as a small group.  I see this kind of learning activity as another way of students remixing and interpreting poetry through sound and audio!

What ways are you using visual literacy or multimedia as an entry point to poetry?

Library of Congress Adds Lincoln Photos To Flickr Photostream

The Library of Congress had added a new photoset featuring President Abraham Lincoln to its Flickr photostream!  You can read more about the new addition at the LOC blog or at the Flickr blog to get the scoop on these historic photos.

The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults

A few months ago, I blogged about the Georgia Archives Digital Vaults, but have you seen the National Archives Digital Vaults?  Many thanks to Sandi Adams for pointing me to this FABULOUS resource! 

What can you do with the resources in The National Archives Digital Vaults?

  • Create a movie
  • Create a poster
  • Search by tag or keyword
  • Collect primary source documents and images for a project

For lesson plans and ideas, go to the Educator and Student Resource Page at  In addition to great resources for teachers and students, teachers can find wonderful guides and handouts to use with students that explain primary sources and analysis worksheets for an array of primary sources, including written documents, photographs, maps, cartoons, sound recordings, posters, and motion pictures. 

Go to to access these materials!

You may also want to read this great blog post by Glenn at the HistoryTech blog at

This is a resource that can make history come alive for students!  We would love to collaborate with you as a teacher and develop a project or research unit that incorporates this treasure trove of primary source documents.   Please let me know if you would like to explore ways to incorporate the digital archives into your instruction!

Contribute Your Photos, Past and Present, To Virtual Georgia

Here is a great initiative from the Georgia Archives if you haven’t heard about it yet—I am posting the original press release.  March 1 is the deadline to contribute; visit the Virtual Georgia for more detailed information! 

The Georgia Archives, a division of the Office of Secretary of State, has created a way for Georgians to help preserve the history of the state through a program called Virtual Georgia. Georgians, or anyone with photographs related to Georgia, may nominate pictures to be included in the archives permanent collection. Pictures are nominated by being uploaded to the Virtual Georgia website. The program is slated to last through March 1, 2008.

According to Secretary of State Karen Handel, Virtual Georgia is based on an earlier archives program called Vanishing Georgia. Between 1975 and 1986, archivists from the Georgia Archives traveled throughout the state and copied historically significant photographs held by individuals who wanted to share them with future generations. During the program, Vanishing Georgia preserved nearly 18,000 photographs. Now, said Secretary Handel, we want to use modern technology to accomplish the same thing.

The archives is looking for photographs that show Georgians in everyday life, said David Carmicheal, director of the Georgia Archives. We want images of family and business life, street scenes, architecture, agriculture, school and civic activities, important individuals and events in Georgia history, and even landscapes. In particular, we urge Georgia’s emerging ethnic communities to nominate images of their ceremonies and activities for inclusion in the archives.

Nominations can be uploaded using a simple form at (click on “Virtual Georgia” in the margin). Archives staff will review all the uploaded images and select the ones that are most representative of Georgia’s varied culture and activities. Those will be added to the archives permanent collection.

Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State’s office offers important services to our business community, our government, and our citizens. These services include an efficient and secure election process, and the regulation of corporations, securities, and professional license holders. The Office also controls the state archives and the Capitol museum.

Virtual Georgia Contribution page

Virtual Georgia Collection Page, available in Virtual Vault