A Picture is Worth a (1000) Word(s)

Can – Pictures – Be – Worth – 1000 – Words – ?


I started a messing around on the internet after reading about how pictures coupled with words is an extremely powerful tool. I reflected on how I use images in my classroom, and what I thought of were my visual aids, anchor charts and posters I create with my students in my class. Coupled with words, I often draw a small picture or a symbol to help students quickly remember what the poster or point is about.

In that sense, I’m trying to go against “A picture is worth 1000 words” to “a picture is worth 1 word/phrase.” For example, while I was talking to the students about how they can be better presenters, we came up with ideas of qualities of a good speaker/speech. This is the poster we made:

Public Speaking Poster

To each characteristic/idea, I drew a small, simple picture (slightly embarrassing) that went along with it. I do this so that while students are presenting, the quick image can jog their memory about what they should be doing rather than read the entire line. I also try to have a clear color correlation so that the poster can be easy to read. In this way, I’m trying to make a picture worth one word/phrase.

But wait…

Can – Pictures – Be – Worth – 1000 – Words – ?


I continued to wonder about how I use images in my classroom, and I definitely use images as a way to inspire students to write or practice a reading strategy.  In that case, maybe not 1000, but a picture is worth more than one word/phrase.

In reading, making inferences is a difficult concept for students to grapple with. It’s an abstract idea to start with, and students have a difficult time distinguishing their own thinking or inferences from what they are reading in the text. Zoe Paraskevopoulos (@zoepgrade3) shared this with me last year to make inferences more concrete.

  1. Show the students an image like this one.

    Some rights reserved by russelljsmith
  2. Ask the students what they see. They’ll probably respond with stuff like, “the person spilled the milk on his computer while he was working so he is wiping it up.”
  3. Point out to the students that the “text” (the picture) is only showing a picture of a person wiping a computer mouse and there is spilled milk around it. Anything beyond that is an inference.

After doing a series of those, the students begin to see the connection between texts in their books and inferences. When people see images, we can’t help but make some sort of meaning or story to go with it. As teachers of writing, we use this as a prompt for writing at times.

We show images like this:

Some rights reserved by J. McPherskesen

and ask students to write words to describe the image, emotions that they feel from looking at this, write a story or poetry from what they see. In this instance, I definitely count on the idea that a picture is worth 1000 words.


Can – Pictures – Be – Worth – 1000 – Words – ?

it Depends.

Yes, I use images so that they can mean one specific thing, but complex images I use so that they are worth 1000 words. I think it goes back to purpose and the way in which an image is presented to the students.

Some rights reserved by HikingArtist.com
Some rights reserved by HikingArtist.com

If you want it to.


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