Lynn Ann Wiscount, Erin Halovanic, Vince Mariner
Arts and Humanities, Art History, English Language Arts, History
Material Type:
Lesson, Lesson Plan, Primary Source
Middle School, High School
Fine Arts, Images, POWER Library, Powerlibrary, Primary Source, Social Studies, fine-arts, social-studies
Creative Commons Attribution
Media Formats:

Education Standards (14)

Analyzing Images

Analyzing Images


Images can be a useful component in any subject.  This lesson will guide students through an analysis of an image.  Students will use critical thinksing skills to interpret an image. Students will then generate a hypothesis about the source and construct questions for further investigation.


    Lesson Objectives

    Students will be able to:

    • Use critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret images.
    • Generate a hypothesis about the image source.
    • Construct questions that lead to further investigation.

    Warm Up / Introduction

    Instructor Notes:

    Students should only do a preliminary observation on the images at this point.  You are looking for their initial impression and thoughts.  Students will have an opportunity to analyze the image in further detail as they continue the lesson.

    Large image repositories can be found in the following POWER Library databases:

    Additional images will be found in any of the POWER Library databases attached to the full text articles.

    If you are not a Pennsylvania resident, Primary source images can also be located at:

    Activity Directions:

    Examine a image / photograph for 20 seconds. Based on the image, answer the following questions:

    • Describe the photograph / Image?
    • What did you first notice?
    • What is the subject matter?
    • What is happening in the image / photograph?
    • What emotions did the image / photograph trigger?
    • What concept is the image conveying?
    • What other details can you see?

    Research / Explore Activity

    Instructor Notes:

    Students should be allowed additional time to analyze the image in further detail.  They will now generate hypotheses and show evidence to support their theories about the image.

    Activity Directions:

    Generate and test hypotheses based on the following questions.

    • Why do you think the image was made?  Do you think the creator has a purpose? What evidence supports your theory?
    • What do you think has been left out of the frame?
    • Who do you think is the audience? What evidence supports your theory?
    • Does the image show bias? What evidence supports your theory?
    • If there are people and objects, how do you think they relate to each other? State the evidence.
    • Can you tell what time of day the image was taken? State the evidence.

    Reinforcement / Creation Activity

    Instructor Notes:

    Students will generate questions based on what they wonder and what they want to know more about.

    Students should be given some time to research answers to the questions they generated as part of this activity.

    Activity Directions:

    Now that you had time to examine the image, create questions to further your research about the subject. Base you questions on the following:

    • What did you not learn that you want to know more about?
    • What additional questions did the image / photograph raise?
    • What do you wonder about (who, what, when, where, why, how)?
    • What sources might you use from the POWER Library to further your research?

    Write a caption to explain what is happening in the image.

    If your instructor allows, spend some time researching answers to the questions you generated.



    Instructor Reflection:

    Reflect on the lesson plan and document what worked for you, what did not work for you, and what you would change for the next time you utilize this lesson.


    Reflect on this activity by answering the following questions:

    • What did you learn from examining this image?
    • Upon further research, did any of the new information contradict or support your initial knowledge of the topic? Why?