Worth a thousand words
The Press, educators use photos on Internet to prompt students to write

By DIANE D’AMICO Education Writer

January 27, 2003

The Press of Atlantic City

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Journalists know the importance of writing clearly.

Photographers know a picture can be worth a thousand words.

Teachers know that the best way to improve writing skills is by writing.

Put them all together, and you get a new Web site developed by The Press of Atlantic City and the South Jersey Regional Educational Technology Training Center at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

The site features photos and stories by Press staffers that can be used as writing exercises in the classroom or at home.

The site's debut includes 14 photos by Press photographers that range from Lucy the Elephant getting spruced up, to kites on the beach in Wildwood, a local high school football game, children on a school bus, and a cat rescued from a fire.

"I really think teachers will like having local photos that students will be able to identify with," said Anu Vedantham, director of the ETTC.

Teachers can print out the photo alone to use as a writing prompt, or they can choose from 16 lesson plans provided by Brigantine teachers Ruthann Meyer, Ann Black, Kathy Revelle and Brian Pruitt. Black and Revelle teach fourth grade, and Pruitt teaches eighth grade language arts.

Meyer, an art teacher with a master's degree in instructional technology from Stockton, designed the site to complement the state's fourth- and eighth-grade language arts tests. Both tests include a writing question based on a picture.

Press Photo Editor Gary Shivers helped choose the photos from The Press' "Best of the Week" collection.

"We had a lot of ideas," Meyer said. "But we didn't want the site to be too overwhelming at first. We plan to add more photos and lessons, and hope to get feedback from teachers as we progress."

The lessons can easily be printed from the site.

"We've found teachers really love having a local angle to the photos, and they like lessons they can print and use right away because it saves time," Meyer said.

She said she hopes the site might also get students interested in journalism and photography.

Writers and photographers from The Press are available to speak to students about their jobs. Tours of The Press are also available through Newspaper in Education coordinator Steve Gondelman.

Vedantham said the idea for the site came from an ETTC workshop at which Essex County ETTC director Diane Paszkowski suggested finding ways to work with local newspapers.

Meyer said since beginning work on the site, she reads The Press in a new way.

"Now I'm always looking at the photos first to see what we can use for the site," she said.

The Web site can be accessed at

ettc.net/writing