Importance of captions – Lesson Plan

A photograph is worth a thousand words. Which means the viewer could potentially see a thousand different messages. This is problematic because the viewer might get the wrong message.

It is important to write strong photo captions. Effective captions help the viewer see the intended message.


Lesson Plan: Caption Writing

Students will learn about what makes a great caption and will learn about the 5W’s and H of journalism writing. Suggested time allowance is 40 minutes.

Students will:

  • Examine a picture for details.
  • Write questions they need answered about the picture.
  • Create captions appropriate for a picture.
  • Know what information they need in order to create a caption.
  • Write more captions appropriate for other pictures.

Activity 1

  • Hold up various front pages of local newspapers and ask students what they look at first. Most will say the pictures or artwork on the page. 
  • Next, show them a picture on the overhead without a caption. Have them guess what the caption would tell them. What else would they like to know from looking at the picture?

Activity 2

  • Students will find five photographs and identify and label the parts (5Ws and H) of the caption.

Activity 3

  • Students will be handed three photographs without a caption. Now they are to create captions for the images. They will identify people and explain the photo without telling the obvious. They will also include other background info.

Create a caption for a photograph, using the “5Ws and H” to identify people and explain the photo without telling the obvious. Students will be graded based on creativity, structure and content.


  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Newspapers and magazines with examples of pictures and captions

Why Media Literacy Matters – Thanksgiving holiday

Pilgrims, Indians and turkey.

That is what most Americans think of when asked about the origin of Thanksgiving.

Mark Brumley, an educator and the moderator of the HP Teacher Experience Exchange, suggested that students research various websites to learn about the true account of Thanksgiving.

A Google search reveals the feast at Plymouth as the most popular result.

The media only perpetuates this holiday myth.

The pilgrims did not celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday that we observe today.

Google reveals several different origins for the holiday.

Some people believe that the tradition was not even recognized until the mid 1800s when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving.

Others believe that it was President George Washington who first proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789 to be a holiday.

As Brumley stressed, “this is the perfect time for a media literacy lesson”.

It is important that people recognize how media messages have influenced their view of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry sauce. Turkey.

Farmers in the United States produced around 681 million pounds of cranberries in 2011. $465 million worth of fruit.

Turkey genocide.

46 million turkeys will end up as dinner.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2009 around 250 million turkeys were raised for slaughter. That is $4.5 billion in revenue.

Advertising only encourages people to partake in this activity.

There is another rumor that is perpetuated by the media.

Turkeys are not responsible for drowsiness.

Media literacy will help people understand how media messages are used to promote (and profit from) Thanksgiving. It will also help people analyze the conflicting views about the origin of the holiday.