They say a picture paints a thousand words, and modern life certainly backs this theory. Visual representations are everywhere, and we are constantly interpreting them. Whether its reading a train station map, finding the correct bathroom, navigating a website or adding expression to a text message with a smiley face, images are used to share information or tell a story.
For many students, especially those who own their own smart phone, expressing themselves through pictures, gifs or emojis will be second nature. But how adept are they at writing about visual images?
The key to writing about visual images is to determine the image's purpose and its properties. Luke and Freebody's Four Resources Model while developed for written text, can also be used by students to interpret an image. This model has the student act in four different roles when they examine a written text or visual images.
The four roles are:
As a code breaker we crack the code of the image by recognising any images, icons and symbols used in an image.
As a text participant we as the question, what does this image mean to me? We rely on our prior knowledge and experiences to make a meaning.
As a text user we ask, what do I do with this image? This can help students understand the purpose of the image.
As a text analyst we understand that images are not neutral and can be influenced by the creator's worldview.
In our book, How to write what you want to say… about visual images students are provided with a series of prompt questions to help them interpret both informative and narrative images. These questions are an excellent starting point for a student to write about an image.