MODULE 2 - DECRYPTING INFORMATION
SESSION 4 : DECRYPTING DIFFERENT MEDIAPractical activities
ACTIVITY 2 – Creating a story from an image
To display the image: Computer or paper photo or video projector and projection surface
To write the story: Computer or pen and paper
- Understand the benefits and limits of images as a source of information.
- Channel your own perceptions of reality to challenge and deconstruct them.
In this activity, students examine an image and its possible interpretations. Participants will be asked to come up with a story based on a photo or short video.
The same image will be shown to multiple groups (either as a hard copy or a projection). Each group, working separately from the others, will then have to explain it or tell the story of the image.
- When explaining the activity to the class, you can give them guidance on what type of story they should invent. For example, one group is told to give a more positive and happy interpretation, while another is told to present the photo as portraying a negative, or sad, event.
1. Choose the images: Teachers plan the activity in advance by looking for photos or videos that are open to interpretation or that may even have been manipulated or doctored in the news recently. You can also choose iconic photos that students might not know, such as the man standing in front of Chinese Army tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in the People’s Republic of China.
2. Set up the room: Divide participants into groups and spread the groups as far apart from one another as possible so they cannot overhear each other.
3. View the photo: There are two options here: either you can project the image onto a screen so each group can see it and make up a story on paper or on the computer, or you can give the photo to each group individually, either on paper or on the computer.
4. Make up the story: Participants have free reign to interpret the image and invent/write a relatively short story based on their own inspiration or the emotion they have been assigned. The writing can take the form of an article or a narrative story.
5. Class discussion: At this point in the activity, the groups take turns presenting their stories to the other participants. This way, participants can see and react to the diversity of the results.
6. Check the source: Once the groups have finished, it is time to reveal the true story behind the photo and tell them the real context in which it was taken. This could also lead to a fact-checking session (see SHEET 8 – Fighting fake news and SHEET 7 – Thinking critically about information).
7. You can wrap up the activity with a class debate about using images as evidence and their potential for manipulation and interpretation.
DOING THIS ACTIVITY ONLINE
- Teachers plan the activity in advance. They find the photos and send them to students.
- The teacher creates a Zoom link (or a link to another platform) and sends it to students.
- Once all students have joined the videoconference with the teacher, they can look at the photo again.
- The teacher divides the students into groups. Each group meets in a ‘breakout room’, which is a function offered by most remote conferencing platforms (such as Zoom). Participants have free reign to interpret the image and invent/write a relatively short story based on their own inspiration or the emotion they have been assigned. The writing can take the form of an article or a narrative story. They work together in the same document using a platform such as Google Drive or Framapad.
- Once they have finished writing, students return to the ‘main meeting room’, where the groups take turns presenting their stories to the class. This way, participants can see and react to the diversity of the results.
- Once the groups have finished, it is time to reveal the true story behind the photo and tell them the real context in which it was taken.
- You can wrap up the activity with a class debate about using images as evidence and their potential for manipulation and interpretation.