Using Pictures in the Classroom with Unshuttered

Ten ways to use students' pictures in the classroom. Engage and bring an authentic audience to your classroom!

When the Getty Museum reached out and asked me to review their new app Unshuttered, I jumped at the chance. Not only do I teach at a 1:1 school, but I also love teaching with visuals, video, pictures and technology.

Unshuttered is a no charge, ad free app targeted to teens that is focused on imagery.  The app seems to be building a community of budding teen photographers, while offering tips, tutorials, and challenges to engage users. My favorite part is the vivid imagery shared by the young adults leveraging the application.  Having learned more about Unshuttered and being a teacher of Getty’s target audience for this product, I figured that I could maybe come up with two or three ways to use this app in my classroom.

I sat down with my phone, ready to make that short list.  To my surprise, I found this app capable in supplementing classroom lessons and activities in more ways than I had first imagined.  I’m pleased to share ten ways that I plan to use Unshuttered with my students.

Ten ways to use students' pictures in the classroom. Engage and bring an authentic audience to your classroom!

You can grab the free download here, and then begin incorporating digital learning with this app. Get started with these ideas:

  1. Complete a challenge. Every week, Unshuttered releases a “challenge” with a video introduction. Challenges include portraits, movement, and candid photos. My first inclination with these is to have students learn their weekly tip and challenge on Monday and share them with their classmates on Friday. Then, every other week or so, students could complete a writing activity from either their challenges or a peer’s challenge.
  2. Research a location. Students across the world use this app, which means that my students have an authentic audience. As I played with the app, I saw landmarks from across the world. For inspiration, students could find one these and complete a brief research product.
  3. Describe vocabulary. When we study vocabulary, my students and I bring out images and cartoons. We make goofy captions and quotes to practice the words in context. The assortment of pictures from Unshuttered will inspire vocabulary practice.
  4. Create an ad. I’m always considering media literacy with my students! Students could choose any product and then find an image that will advertise that product. Ask them to write copy or make a video that incorporates the image and product.
  5. Selfie project. What light and mood would a student take their selfie? A selfie would be an interesting introduction to a personal narrative.
  6. Analyze a character. Accessing a reservoir of pictures will stir student imaginations as they create characters. I’m interested to see if students combine multiple pictures to create a timeline of a character.
  7. Play with grammar. (Oh yes! I found a way to include grammar.) As I scrolled through the “movement” photos, I immediately imagined students acting out verbs. Then, I knew that students could exaggerate their facial expressions for interjections. The story told in a photo can lead to a lesson on adjectives.
  8. Point of view. Understanding point of view in literature or life is a challenge. Students can practice by looking at the portraits on Unshuttered.
  9. Daily writing prompts. Do you start your class with daily writing prompts? If so, switch a writing prompt out with an image. See what students unravel and move your lessons that way.
  10. Brainstorm essays. The challenges have pictures divided into categories, and as I scrolled through them, I saw the inspiration for essays. For example, the “perspectives” challenge inspired perspectives of nature, humans, decay, books, and more. Students can be inspired by other teens who understand them.

Unshuttered from Getty Museum provides tips and challenges for students each week. The app is free, which means that incorporating pictures into lessons is free. These ten ways to use pictures in the classroom hopefully will get you started, but Unshuttered is full of possibilities.

You can grab the free download here, and then begin incorporating digital learning with this app.

This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers and Getty Unshuttered. You may read my full disclosure statement here.