Image challenge - Mobiles in hands!!!

Image Challenge - Week One

You can read more about my challenge at the top of my blog. It's time to start the first week full of ideas connected with the use of image in the classroom.

Mobiles in hands!!!

"Put it away!", "Stop looking at it all the time!", "What are you doing there under the desk?", "I'll give it back to your mum!", "Have you been using it while writing your essay?, "Switch it off!"

It is like Middle Ages in the classroom!

Mobile phones in the class - a constant battle between students and teachers. But it doesn't have to be like that. I use my mobile phone regularly and so do my students. Even parents are informed about it and although a bit surprised at the beginning, they understand  that it's all about learning. 

Most of us don't associate students' mobile phones with pictures that can be used during the class. We either try to find them in the colourful magazines or print them out from the computer. How many times has it happened to you that you asked your students to bring the photos and half of the group just forgot about it? Why not not use your students' mobile phones instead! Have you ever wondered how many photos there are in their mobiles. I have. On avarage they have 100-300. Sursprised? What does it mean for us teachers? Simply a vast source of material ready to use in the classroom. How? Let me show you.

The course beginning

If you have a new group, instead of asking your students to introduce themselves, they can take out their mobile phones and introduce themselves through the pictures they have. Students get in pairs and show each other the photos of their children, pets, cars or a hobby. Neuroscientists believe that we learn the most when talk about our personal things and what can be more personal than the photos that you have taken yourself.


It refers to holidays as the time of relax in summer but also holidays like Christmas etc. how many times you asked your students to write an essay about their last holiday or just asked them to tell something about the way they spent their Christmas or New Year's Eve. Sounds a bit boring, doesn't it? Well, with my students I do it differently. I ask them to get in pairs and show each other photos they have taken during this time, Students have to be "curious" and ask extra questions. they talk in turns enjoying uninterrupted conversation. Yes, I don't interfere at this stage, I don't correct and often use it as a kind of warm up. Sometimes, I don't even look at the photos myself (I could see too much:), but students do love it!

Character and appearance 

Each of your students has at least one photo of a person in his photo gallery. So how to use it when you have a chapter devoted to personality or appearance. You simply ask your students to take out a mobile phone and choose a person they want to describe. Then you ask them to think what they could say about this person's appearance as well as character. Some people can say that is very personal. Yes it is, but our students want to show off quite often, especially if they are teens. On the other hand, if they are adults they always have photos of their beloved children or grandchildren and they could talk about them non stop - that is a perfect source material for the lesson. Some sentences with Present Continuous can be used as well. 

Here is an example:
This is a picture of my son. He is twelve years old and is quite tall for his age. He has blue eyes and dark blond hair. Although he is very skinny he is fit. He practices ball room dancing 6 times a week. As a person he is very sociable, ourgoing and talkative. In this photo he is wearing a striped T-shirt and a green shorts. He likes casual clothes.....etc

Present Perfect

Ask your students to find in google images a picture of a person crying:

You can ask - What has happened that the girl is crying?

Answers: She has lost her mum or somebody has taken her favourite teddy bear.

You asked the - When did it happen?

Answers: Just a moment ago and then explantion of Present Perfect follow.

You can divide your class into groups and ask:
a) group one find a photo of sb crying
b) group two a photo of sb laughing
c) groups three a photo of sb being scared
 Each of them has to write at least 3 sentences about what has happened

Present Continuous

Ask your students to find an activity (people doing sth) in their photo gallery if they don't have, they can search in google images again. Examples:

People are playing tennis

A family is having a barbecue in the garden.

Then students stand up and tell each other what they have found out. Only positive sentences (singular and plural). I used this activitiy with my 10 year olds and there was a lot of fun and they also learned a lot of new words at the same time. In the following lessons it can be used to ask questions: What is he doing? What are they doing? etc

Past Simple and Past Continuous

Ask your students to find some pictures of people, objects or activities. Then students put their mobiles phones down on the desk and tell the stories like in story cubes. Their task is to use, of course, proper grammar and tenses.

So one day while I was going along the path I saw.......etc

As you can see, photos from the magazines have turned into images from your students' mobile phones. Practical, easy to apply and not involving a lot of preparation. Most of these activities are short and can be used as a warm up, filler or closer. It's also perfect for the beginning of a conversation. If you haven't used their phones before, just come to your next class and say:

"Please take out your mobile phones, please." Your students will shocked and surprised but for sure they will enjoy it. 

And you? How do you use the pictures from your students' mobile phones? What are your ideas? Just share with us as the challenge has just begun!


  1. Great idea, Magdalena! I'll try some of these ideas in class and share mine with you along the year.

  2. Thank you and wating for any of your ideas as well. Find us on faceboook: visual teaching and learning:)


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