In the Grade 5 community I teach in, we are now about 5 weeks into the PYP Exhibition. Students have been working independently or collaboratively on an in depth inquiry into something that they are passionate about, that they can act on with purpose. To share their journey with their parents and the larger community, students are documenting their process on their own Google site. The creation of these sites has reinforced for me that the issue of copyright, particularly photo usage, is an area that we haven’t looked into enough as a grade. It is also something I recognize that I just don’t know enough about.
While this is an issue that comes up frequently throughout the year, it is during the Exhibition each year, that this lack of awareness becomes especially evident. As a Grade 5 team, we do not spend enough time educating students (or ourselves for that matter) in this area. The two infographics that were shared in this week’s readings (by Langwitches and Visual Communications Guy) were especially helpful and encouraged me to dig deeper.
As the students work through the Exhibition, they are often looking for and sharing photos that support their inquiry. For the last few years, we have encouraged students to use CC Search to find images, but I still really didn’t understand how attributions work. In my own work, I usually use a free stock photo site like Pexels or Pixabay.
After looking at the photo licensing terms of these two sites again, I have realized that they allow you to use their images for free, without attribution required. However, this is not the case when you use CC Search. Though some of the results direct you to these free stock photo sites, many don’t and the attributions vary picture to picture. I have realized that I lot more work needs to go into educating students. Using CC Search alone is not enough.
For many things related to digital citizenship and tech use, Common Sense Media has always been a great source for lesson plans. So, I decided to look to them for resources for approaching this topic with students. An article on their site by Jane Park titled, What is Creative Commons and Why Does It Matter? does a great job of exploring and explaining this issue. The following video (included in this article) is a great starting point for discussing this with students:
In my investigation, I also came across an online course: Creative Commons for K-12 Educators. Although it has been archived, the course and resources are still accessible for teachers to work through at their own pace. Another resource I found was this digital handbook with some classroom activities on these topics. Just what I need to move forward!
What are my next steps as an educator? It is clear that in terms of copyright, the most relevant issue for my team of teachers to address is the appropriate use of photos. We don’t spend enough time discussing this with students, so it is not fair of us to expect them to know how to do this.
Within the workshop model in my Grade 5 community, we need to be building in these lessons slowly throughout the year. Therefore, by the time PYP Exhibition rolls around, students looking for photos and other resources, have places to go and know how to source them.
How have you addressed this topic with students? What do you do to ensure that students are using photos appropriately?