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Picture It! Inspired Picture Writing with PicLits.Com

Inspire Your Students with PicLits Creative Writing Site

As a School Media Specialist and educational technology enthusiast, I am always searching for new ways to integrate technology into our school curriculum.  PicLits is a gem of a website that I discovered in 2010 that works very well with creative writing.  I used this site with middle school students during Teen Technology Week.  

I was amazed at the quality of writing I received from students during our PicLits Poetry Contest.  Students were able to select an image from PicLits photo gallery and compose poems that were so insightful, clearly relating to the image they had chosen, and very creative in their word choice and the use of poetic devices. 

Some students even utilized word placement in correlation to further create mood and emphasize the theme of their poems.  Some student examples of creative word placement using images from PicLits photo gallery include:

                               Spiral Staircase

                                                                Swan and Symmetry


There was such a variety of submissions from students that selecting winners proved to be very difficult!

So what exactly is a PicLits?                                     

PicLits.Com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you.  The object is to put the right words in the right place and right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture. from the PicLits website

It can be a caption, a story, a poem, or even song lyrics.  The goal is capture the essence of the image with the written word. Anyone with an email address can create a free account by signing up.  If a teacher has students without email accounts, he/she can create gmail addresses for each class and sign up using separate class accounts*You will probably want students to identify their poems by either including a byline and their name on the poem (if using the freestyle method) or identifying on a sign up sheet the poems they have written since the login for classes will be generic and not include each individual student's name.  Students also may work simultaneously under the same account login.

Once students have an account and a login, they can begin searching the photo gallery for a picture they find interesting as the subject of their poems. There are two methods of composing using PicLits:  Drag and Drop and Freestyle.  Using the Drag and Drop method, students will choose from a list of pre-selected words and drag/drop them onto the image in order to create a story or poem.   

Using the freestyle method, students type in a text box their own words which are then superimposed onto the image they have selected from the PicLits Gallery.  In order to change word placement, students can use their space bar and return key  to move their words around.  

This site enhances student visual literacy and provides a motivating subject to help inspire their own lines of poetry.  The only instruction students seem to need before writing is for them to just tell the story of the image!

Most impressive of all is the involvement and enthusiasm of the site creator, Terry Friedlander!  He took the time to comment on several of our student PicLits that were submitted during Teen Technology Week.  His comments were always positive, specific to the poem, and encouraged the student to keep writing - as you can see in his comment on the poem below:

There are so many great free lesson plans available on the site for teachers to use that allow for differentiation with students who are beginners, intermediate writers, or more advanced.  These ideas for using PicLits with students are available under the Learn It tab.

I also have five original sample activities, handouts, and grading rubrics available using PicLits in your classroom for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

I recommend educators give PicLits a try!  This is a perfect digital resource for teachers to find stimulating writing prompts to use with their classes and to motivate students to find an image and tell their own stories!


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