The image database project is an attempt to compile free high quality images in the language classroom that will help students connect new vocabulary words with their meanings.
What inspired you to implement this project?
The use of visuals to bring the real world into the language classroom is a well-documented strategy. However, it is difficult to find quality images that are free to use for educational purposes, especially images that students can connect with. This is most important because the ability of students to make personal connections with new material greatly facilitates learning, particularly when it comes to acquiring new vocabulary. We needed a database of images that we can use freely and share with others. Since one didn’t exist, somebody had to create it.
What were the goals for this project?
To create a legal way for students to share original images to enhance their learning and store them in an easily searchable way for future use.
What tools and resources did you use for this project?
We built the database in Sharepoint for its ability to easily accessible for and safely restricted to the Rollins community.
What pedagogical techniques, strategties, and/or philosophies did you employ?
In order to acquire a new vocabulary word, students need to see the word in multiple contexts. A visual context is helpful to almost all students and is essential to some. Having students create images that represent new vocabulary helps them memorize the words they depict themselves and helps create visual contexts for their classmates and for future students. Because students learn best when they make a personal connection with an image, it is helpful that they themselves are the ones who create them, whether it’s a photograph or a drawing. Even a bad drawing is better than a good picture they just stole from the internet.
What were some of the lessons that you learned from implementing this project?
Not all students will create images that are worth sharing in the database. They were useful in helping that individual student, but won’t help a future student establish a visual context.
As we covered the particulars of legally acquiring and sharing images, I learned that students need to be taught about academic honesty and copyright.
Patience and flexibility are essential when asking students to use new technology for class assignments.
The importance of personalizing the instruction. There was a very noticeable benefit when students see that their work is valued. When I noticed how thrilled students were to have their images incorporated into the day’s lesson, I realized that the more I personalized each lesson for each new group of students, the more students wanted to engage with the material because it became more more relevant.
What would you change the second time you implemented this project in class?
I would have a portion of the class set aside for image creation, to have students drawing or taking pictures of each other, especially for the first assignment so they create those first images in class. I also think that would lessen the number of images drawn from the internet because the entire point was to get us to create images.
Lecturer of Spanish
A native of Pennsylvania, Rachael developed an affinity for the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures while studying at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology and a certificate in Latin American Studies, she quickly began teaching basic Spanish and then English as a Second Language. A windy road that included volunteering in Ecuador and completing an M.A. in Spanish at Florida State has lead her here to Rollins, where she has been happily teaching Elementary and Intermediate Spanish since 2010.