One of the benefits of having an Interactive Whiteboard in the classroom (or even just a data projector) is the opportunity to display full colour high quality images instead of grainy acetates or posters. With a powerful image you can really add some “punch” to your lesson. Put images up while students are coming into the room – use them as part of a lesson starter – stimulate questions.

What is going on here? Why is the astronaut wearing that suit? Why is it white? What would happen if he/she wasn’t on that robotic arm? What do you think it would be like to be up there? What do you think he is thinking? Should we be sending people into space? What is keeping him up there? What do we mean by Orbit? etc etc.

The Big Picture

One of my favourite sites for these kind of inspirational images is The Big Picture from the Boston Times. Every few days they post another set of images which never fail to make me go “wow”.

Here is just a selection of the great images that you could use in different curriculum areas:

For Science; Mercury Images, Robots, Hubble Images, International Space Station, Earth and Environment, Animals, Zoos, Swine Flu.

For Citizenship powerful images of the protests in Iran, and here. Also Life in Iraq,

For Geography – images of Cyclones, Earth Observed, Hurricanes from Above, Hurricane Ike

For RE – Carnival, Easter, Holy Week, Hindu festival of colours, The Haaj, Christmas,

For Art – La Princesse, Festival of Lights,

For Literacy – any and all of them could have a role in stimulating story writing, or class discussion on different topics.

And there are many more, plus its growing every week.

In a similar vein, The BBC website also has an “In Pictures” section which covers events in the news. As does The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian. All worth bookmarking and checking from time to time.

Remember to attribute the source of these images when you use them in your lessons. These are still the copyright of the photographer so you need to be careful how you use and distribute these images.


For those of you who are into photography – Flickr is the YouTube of photographs. Several thousand photos get uploaded to Flickr every minute. The quality can be patchy, but there are thousands of excellent photographers sharing their works on Flickr. (and a few dodgy photographers, like me!)

What makes Flickr useful is the ability to add a Creative Commons licence to your images which says how they can be used. Many people allow their photos to be used anywhere, as long as you attribute them as the source of the image. Many will also let their images be used commercially in this way as well. In my presentations I now use a lot of images from Flickr and always link the image back to its original Flickr page by way of acknowledging the photographer.

Flickr also has an area for Public Photo Collections which you can search here.
To help find creative commons images, there are several tools now which will let you search Flickr for CC images. My Favourite is FlickrCC– enter a tag to search for and it will return 36 thumbnails. Click on a thumbnail to see more information and to visit the original page on Flickr.Other tools include; Compfight, Flickr Storm, and Simple Flickr CC Search.The Creative Commons website now also provides a CC search engine for images and other resources as well as listings of tonnes of CC Image sites.If you want to know more about Creative Commons, I have written a short guide which you can read on Scribd.

E2BN Gallery

Another useful gallery is the E2BN Educational Gallery of images. It’s not anywhere near as comprehensive as Flickr, but some schools may block access to Flickr since there are adult images on there.

Google Image Search

It would be wrong to talk about image searching without mentioning the Google Image search, which I use quite a lot. The drawback of the images it produces is that on the whole they are usually copyrighted images, or that the copyright of the image is unclear. This makes them tricky to use in educational resources that you want to redistribute.

A new addition to the Google Search is the ability to select the colour you are looking for. So instead of just looking for Flowers, you can look for only red flowers… It’s a neat addition.

In summary, there is a wealth of image sources on the Internet that you can use to provide punch to your lessons.

Remember to not to choose images that are too small, or that look blocky when stretched to full screen. Test them out before the lesson to make sure they look OK. Show them as big as you can for maximum impact. Think about how you want to use them – what questions could you ask to stimulate your students thinking processes?

For example, as a leaving thought – How could you use this image? What does this say to you?

Update – Found this great blog post with a few more images sources: 7 Awesome Newspaper Photoblogs.