Image Editing

Tech Requirements

Personally? I prefer Chrome (especially for some of the extensions and apps). Some of the websites will still work in Firefox or Explorer.

For mobile devices I will say I am much more familiar with iOS devices. If I know an app has a Droid equivalent I will mention it. Sometimes I may not know. ;)

What does CC licensed mean?

So ... YOUR OWN PHOTOS you can use almost however you want. If the pics have students in them and you are going to repost the finished product make sure parents have given permission (or digitally "stamp" over identifying faces with one of the tools we'll talk about).

To use other's work ...

Flickr--Click on the word Search to get to Advanced Search. Then choose Creative Commons.

Other Places to Find Photos if You Don't Take Your Own

Morguefile is a great place to go to get some images. These do not even have to have to cited ... if the photo is uploaded to the site permission to use has been granted.

Pics4Learning (the citation is just below the picture)

Free Foto. Just follow the guidelines and always give attribution. You do that anyway, right?

Ookaboo. They have a nice page here about attribution and different CC licenses.

Fotopedia. Not all of them are Creative Commons licensed ... but a lot of them are. As it's not super intuitive ... look for the magnifying glass on the bottom right. Search for what you want (mostly animals although there are other possibilities) and then look down in the lower right hand corner for license. Look for three circles. That will mean you can use and build upon the photo with credit. Four circles will usually mean that you can use but not change the photo in any way. :]

List of Websites by Joyce Valenza

For those of you teacher bloggers ... check out Photopin.

Be sure to pay attention to whether or not you can just repost with attribution or whether or you can use all of the effects tools. And take care when having students search. Most searches will be totally fine and innocent. Much of it depends on the keywords used so have the kids plan before searching. Maybe have them write out the keywords they will use to search. Looking for things like animals, landforms, numbers, letters, or places should be fine. It's some searches for images with people that will get into ... areas you probably don't want to go.

You may find disagreements over the proper way to credit or cite a photo. I am not a copyright lawyer, but for what it's worth here is what I think.

  • If the photo or artwork will only ever be used INSIDE your classroom for specific educational purposes Fair Use will most often cover your students and quite often you. Always make sure to credit your source and to require your students to do the same. If you are doing something like downloading and printing from an webpage to avoid paying for the poster of the picture ... that is not Fair Use.
  • If the project will ever be posted online you need to be careful about choosing photos that have been shared with Creative Commons licenses (or, like MorgueFile, with permission already granted).
  • How I cite photos sort of depends on the project. You can "stamp" the website where you got the photo (adding text to the picture image), copy and paste the source right below or at the bottom of the photo, or list the website sources at the end of the project (like using photos in a Photostory or MovieMaker). I tend to choose the one where the citation will be the easiest to read. In a static project like a poster the clearly stamped image would show the citation best. In something like a video project the stamped citation would be so small audiences would not really be able to see the link, anyway, and so I list them in order of use at the end.

NOW ... it's time to PLAY.

A simple tool to start with? Spell with Flickr.

Quick way to spiffy up a web page. The size defaults may take a bit of fiddling in order to fit properly on your screen. Luckily? Does the work of looking for CC licensed photos for you!

M An \ One rubber stamp letter O

Big Huge Labs
  • Big Huge Labs and Education -- Seriously, I kid you not, I had my educational account in less than 20 minutes. But that might have been luck. I sent them a screen shot of my teacherweb page for my "proof" of educator status. You can then create student accounts from a tab on your profile and print login cards. You would only need to have students log in if you wanted them to be able to save their works in progress. Big Huge Labs does not save images indefinitely even when logged in ... but will save them for at least a couple of weeks.
  • Using Big Huge Labs--helpful YouTube tutorial on making the motivational poster (and the steps work pretty much the same way for all of the tools).

Use the trading cards
  • as a beginning of the year "get to know" you activity,
  • for different characters in books the students are reading,
  • after researching important people from history,
  • habitats or animal traits. Students can then present and/or share their work.
  • labels for desks ... students can add their "learning styles."
In this example I uploaded an avatar as the picture but you could use a properly cited photo, an avatar, or even something the students drew in a graphics program.
These "Hello" badges could be used for many of the same purposes as the trading cards.
The magazine cover? So many possible uses!
  • As a PR tool for the library or classroom.
  • As a cover for a research paper or non-fiction book report.
  • As a cover for a class book.

Right now to be honest the only educational idea I've got on this one is as a different kind of writing prompt. Will update here if I come up with another one. ;]
Mosaics could be used for many different things.
  • Add pictures from different aspects of a book and have students try to guess what the book is.
  • Covers of different books from the same genre and use as a discussion point.
  • Display pictures from different aspects of a research project (countries, habitats, animal groups, etc.).
Check out some examples of mosaics on the blog Literate Lives. Look at his book themed ones! (A new possibility ... try the collage maker on PicMonkey. Might be easier. :])

The motivational posters are some of the easiest.
  • As shown in these two examples ... as library or classroom PR.
  • Students exemplifying the Seven Habits.
  • Themes or major quotes from a book.
  • Shapes found around the school.
  • Pictures representing number sentences.

Movie posters.

  • This one is a simple example from a a recent natural disasters research unit.
  • Of course this could also be used with a book report.
  • Maybe even a post-science lab recap. WHAT HAPPENED?


These are a little more random in terms of educational use but I think possibilities are still there. It does say that users need to be at least 13. So ... this is not one that elementary kids can use on their own. :[ Would have to be teacher led activities. Wouldn't it be fun to scan or take photos of student artwork and put them into this Museum Gallery template? Nice parent night display. :]




Is now actually defunct. Google closed it down (though some tools have moved to the Google+ creative suite). I leave it here only because it's a relatively recent "death" and there are still LOADS of tutorials out there on things that you could do with simple photo editing in the classroom--right now there are more tutorials out there for Picnik than the other tools. Same general ideas will work with PicMonkey, iPiccy, and Ribbit ... so check out the tutorials and then go to the tools that work!

Here's an example of something we did for our staff to help with end of the year tech turn in--labeled pictures of pieces with text. Took longer to take the photos and move them from the camera to the computer than it took to add the text.

Got some pictures that didn't turn out exactly right? You can improve them (some). This is not my best photographic work so no judging. ;]

  • Make labeling pages for younger kids (on any number of topics!). Print and slide into a page protector or laminate. Let them practice with a VisaVis, dry erase marker, or (my new favorite) dry erase crayon.
  • Create and annotate maps of the classroom (where things belong) and the school.
  • Older kids can find photos and label things like parts of the water cycle, examples of landforms, measurements of a room, etc.

All of the speech bubble editing in this video was done in the freebie version of Picnik.

The next two examples were done by the fantabulous Book Butcher. WELL DONE, are they not?

PicMonkey -- COLLAGE just went live! How cool. Yes, some of it that is available for free now will end up on the subscription option. The same went for Picnik. I can live with that if they keep the price reasonable and don't start requiring a login for the free tools. Super easy to use and the parts the kids might use will still stay free.

Use the photo stamps to cover up kiddos faces if you don't have permission to post their photos.

Do you know what book this collage is from?!/items/flickr-2289122022!/items/flickr-3060565651!/items/flickr-6045297846!/items/flickr-3614722178!/items/flickr-6128232102 (circus image) (crayon) (dog) (mop) (mall) (girl drawing)

iPiccy--has actually had collage for a while ... with some very nice layouts. Also simple to use and does not require a login. So ... personal choice. FYI cause it's a little hard to find ... the "stickers" for covering up kiddos faces or adding text are under the layers tab. It looks like a stack of papers. If you just want a plain background to make some sort of printable you do that under the paintings tab first.

Pixlr--not quite as friendly to the younger students (interface is a tad more involved) but still certainly accessible to the beginner older student or adult. A great possibility with some different tools available.


Pixlr-o-matic--several interesting effects similar to some you'll find as apps on cameraphones.

Here are two example pics. The original file on the top came from Wikipedia and is used under a Creative Commons Share a-like license. The Pixlr-o-matic file was finished in under 60 seconds. Cool, right? Still thinking on what a truly educational use might be. There has to be one somewhere ... perhaps something to do with historical fiction or aging a current photo to fit into a research project?

A discussion topic when using any of these photo sites is the fact that it is so very easy TO manipulate images. Students need to be aware that many of the pictures they see in advertisements or in magazines do not represent reality. Media literacy, right there.


That's what you call the little icons that identify you on websites. It's a great way to "brand" your teacher web, blog, Twitter, or other social media site. Can be just because you like the avatar or it can be because it's more private than putting up an actual photo. Students can also make these for themselves, book characters, or biography research activities.

Character Creator
Somewhat similar to a popular video game platform ... these avatars can be used in place of photos on class blogs or webpages. They can also be used to represent characters in projects like book reports or biographies.

The thing to remember is at the end when you are trying to save it (see what looks like a floppy disk on the bottom left)? Click on that but then remember you actually want to EXPORT it. JPG if you don't mind the peachy square background. PNG (REMOVE the background and shadow and choose save as avatarname.png) if you ever might want to layer the avatar over another picture. Like, say, make the avatar look like it was in Paris or something--which you could totally do in Aviary Phoenix or using the Layers option (and enabling local storage which just means the pictures are in fact still on your computer and not available to edit from different machines) in iPiccy.

They have several nice tutorials on how to layer two different photos. In a nutshell for this particular project ...
1) Upload your first image file ... the background photo.
2) Then go to File-->Import and upload your second pic ... the Avatar (exported in the .png format).
3) Enable the "move" tool--it's the arrow one at the very top of the toolbar--and move your avatar where you want it to go!
4) Then if you did not log in to Aviary choose EXPORT JPG or PNG and Generate image ... and you will be able to save your creation to your desktop.

The original photo of the Arc de Triomphe was used with a CC license from Flickr user AnirudhKoul.

If you ever wanted to get fancy and have kids put THEMSELVES into new locations you can do that, too. Just takes ... a couple more steps. One you need a good clear picture of the kiddo, preferably in front of a white wall. Then use the Magic Wand in Aviary Phoenix to "cut" the kid out and resave as a sort of "paper doll." It's not going to be perfect but you can get pretty close! Then you can follow those same steps, substituting the "doll" for the .png avatar file.
(Or you can print the "doll" image and have the kids draw around it. We did that once ... I digitally cut out (yes, it took a while to do several classes!) their heads and the kids drew Mo Willems' Pigeon bodies onto them and wrote stories. THEY LOVED IT!

It looks like a little Lego minifigure ... but since it's not specifically a Lego approved site they can't call it that! This one would be another great alternative to use with students. Easiest to use if you can download the Firefox Talon screen capture tool I talked about at the beginning of the presentation (and it will work ... which it does ... about 70% of the time :/). Otherwise just follow the directions on the page to "print screen" and edit in ... gasp. Paint. You can then convert it to a .jpg if you need to here. Can't you just hear how excited they are to write a story about their avatar?

Clay Yourself

I've tweaked different rubrics to fit projects in different situations. One great place to look is Kathy Schrock's Guide on the Discovery Ed website.