Monday, March 28, 2016

"Cheeeese!" Ways to Use Student Photos in Your Classroom

During the first days of school I am almost like paparazzi to my students. I’m sure they wonder why their new teacher is taking pictures of them when they don’t even know my name, but I still click away!

Strange happy lady... snapping head shots... saying.... “Smile! Look happy... mommy will be here soon!” This is something super easy that you can even implement at any time during the year, but will make a big difference in student learning and organization. 

Some of our first lessons are learning our names in print and reading others names in our class. We build our word wall throughout the year, so what a great first addition to the wall. This is a large white magnetic board in the back of my room. This year I have 2 large white boards but even when I only had one, I use it for a word wall! It is important to me to have an interactive word wall that students can read and touch at any time of the day. I allow the students to organize the names so they are learning how the word wall works. Each sentence strip is laminated and I add magnetic tape to the back as well. We use them a lot to take to our tables when we are writing or even sorting activities. 

  I also use the photos to organize my reading groups. These are just wallet sized photos, they come printed on one sheet with 4 photos. I use a push pin so the groups are flexible and easy for me to change. On this board I used a staple because the pins were falling off into the carpet... not a fun find when I am walking around cleaning up without shoes on!! (#truestory) 
   The students can do a quick glance to see what group they will be working in. We started calling our math centers whisper work too because the students loved the name so much. I wanted them to understand it is a talking time, because talking is learning, but it is also time for them to be working without disrupting others learning. It's a happy level of discussion that they have developed with practicing and routines during these work times. These are my most favorite parts of the day because I am able to have my small groups. *There are also times when students develop groups with their pictures!

I use partnerships all throughout the day. These are also wallet sized photos with just a small magnetic tape attached to the back. I again can change the partnerships based on the task for the students. I love that the partnerships are visible throughout the room and I can quickly glance to see who should be working together. Some great times for partnerships include: independent reading, games, writing conferences, turn and talks... endless possibilities! 

This year I used Walmart for printing the wallet sized photos. I do love how the photo has an extra white tag so I am able to label each picture with the student's name. With other wallet sized photos you have to attach the picture to an index card for that extra room.

The photos have provided my students with ownership within the decisions made in our classroom. They also make the room OURS! When we have a new student, they light up when they get to add their name to the word wall. 

Do you use student photos in your room? I would love to know how you incorporate these in your room as well. Post a comment below. 


  1. FUN! …and super useful. LOVE the ideas - thanks a bunch!

  2. These are great ideas, Cristina! We used photos in my classroom for our job chart... kids could quickly identify whose job was whose. We also used them on our birthday display.

    1. Great idea! love the idea of using them for the job charts. Thank you for sharing!