Stanley, Let's Take a Selfie

by Jeremy Latimer


As mobile devices begin to play an ever-increasing role in our students’ lives, I continuously look for ways to incorporate the use of this resource throughout classroom activities. The essential part of this spotlight on strategy has students connect their experiences outside of school to concepts that they are studying in class. Ultimately, “when developed with emphasis on their connections and applications, powerful ideas provide the basis for authentic activities that allow students to apply what they are learning to their lives outside of school” (Marzano, 2010). Clif Mims also states that “Authentic learning offers the opportunity for teachers to bring the outside world into the classroom. In doing so, students can begin creating those connections. This will empower them to transfer their knowledge and skill learned at school into their everyday lives outside of school, thus making the value of learning much more important to them” (Mims, 2003). In addition to connecting our students learning to authentic situations, our students’ level of engagement is motivated through assignments that give them opportunities to express themselves. By incorporating the use of selfies in connection with class content, along with “the more encouragement a learner has to become invested in material on a personal level, the easier it will be to assimilate the unfamiliar” (Lombardi, 2007).


Stanley, Let’s Take a Selfie, is a strategy that simply has students take a selfie with a cartoon cutout character in front of a science concept. Prior to taking a selfie, the students are given their character to design. Interestingly, the students commonly construct their character based on their individual interests and/or in ways that represent their own personality. Using their cartoon character, the students are then instructed to utilize the aid by taking a selfie with it in front of a particular classroom concept in an authentic situation. For example, I had my students take part in this activity with a cloud. Each student had to post their picture on their own, uniquely constructed slide in Google Classroom with an explanation of the current weather variables as well as an indication on the type of cloud in their picture. In doing so, the students were able to begin making connections between the weather they are experiencing and the type of clouds associated with the weather at hand. In essence, rather than having the students learn types of clouds and their weather patterns in the classroom, they are able to fully understand just how relevant cloud formation is to our everyday weather conditions. Ultimately, the students are able to experience the cloud formations discussed in class, instead of simply memorizing types of cloud they could potentially encounter, giving new meaning to the importance of clouds and our weather.

Google Slide Example


Witnessing the value of technology integration with classroom concepts and authentic situations, the use of taking a selfie with flat Stanley can be implemented into anyone’s classroom, not just a science learning environment. Therefore, I challenge one to have their students create their own cartoon character, and then, instruct the young learners to identify ways, in which topics discussed in class are present in the real world. When finding a real-life example, the students can then take a picture of it including Stanley and themselves. Once doing so, the pictures can be sent to the teacher and/or printed off to be hung around the classroom. By collecting student examples throughout the year, the students will be able to compile a multitude of ways, in which the classroom content plays a viable role in their lives. In doing so, the students will begin to develop a new appreciation for the learning that is occurring because they are personally experiencing the connection between the classroom and their own life. In essence, the students will no longer have to ask the inevitable questions of when they will ever need to use what they are learning in their life outside of school and/or why it is important to have to learn the concepts at hand.

With this understanding, how can a student use a selfie to show the presence of science in the real world? How can a student use a selfie to show math, science, social studies, and/or art in the real world? Pick one of these questions, find its presence in the world around you, take a picture with Stanley, and contact me with your image. Oh, and don't forget to smile!

Now that you had the opportunity to take your own selfie, what other concepts have your students learned that can be connected to real-world situations through the use of selfies?

Additional Resources:

Citations and Credits:

Websites and Books

Giordano, C. (2014, May). What Selfies Can Teach us About Education [Blog post]. Retrieved


Lombardi, M. M. (2007, May). Authentic learning for the 21st century: An overview. Retrieved from

Marzano, R. (2010). On excellence in teaching. (p. 306). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Mims, C. (2003). Authentic learning: A practical introduction and guide for implementation.

Meridian, 6(1), Retrieved from

Rozz. (2015, January 18). 10 ways to use selfies in the classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from


[Image]. (2009, September 11). Retrieved from

[iPhone capturing the sunset]. (2015, February 28). Retrieved from

Flat Stanley braving the weather in Miami Beach [Photograph]. (2011, April 16). Retrieved from

[Man observing clouds]. (2015, March 19). Retrieved from