Using image decks to metaphorically express understanding


According to Howard Gardner, the synthesizing mind, "the ability to knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole" (Gardner, p.46), is one of the 5 Minds of the Future. Gardner goes on to identify "powerful, metaphors, images and themes" as a kind of synthesis. By using metaphor, for synthesis creation and presentation, our students are developing both a vital thinking skill and an effective means for communication.



Teacher collects and downloads images in various categories, for example: animals. household items, apparel, school supplies etc. (Photos for Class provides Flickr Creative Commons images with embedded citation information at the the bottom of the downloaded image). Next, she uploads images into Google Slides, creating a separate slide deck (presentation) for each category, and shares the created decks with students via Google Classroom.


in small groups, students choose a shared meta deck and brainstorm characteristics and connections associated with each image (or subject of the image) in their deck. Next, they connect concepts learned in their unit of study which share one or more of their image associations, construct connections, add text to slides, organize slides as a group and edit text as needed to create a narrative.


This strategy requires little prep work; students are engaged throughout the process; students are required to make deep and high level thinking connections; visual literacy learning can be transferred to students choice of images in their future products and the process provides students with a tangible and effective medium for sharing their learning.


  • Students create their own decks, determining a category and finding and uploading images.
  • Split class into four groups and create a competition. Teacher projects first slide of created deck and first group has three minutes to construct and verbally present their meta association. Teacher projects next slide, next group goes and so on.
  • Students upload images to video editing site, add audio and make meta-videos.


Gardner, H. (2008) 5 Minds for the future.. Boston: Harvard Business Press.


Clay, J, (2006). Zebra.

EmmyMik, (2012). dogs023.

Hale, M, (2010). American black bear.

Rainerstropek@yahoo, (2014). Cat.

Spencer77, (2009). Cheetah, (Acinonyx Jubatus), Hamerton Zoo.


Google Classroom. (n/a)

Google Slides. (n/a)

Photos for Class, (2016).