How to Implement a Crop It Activity Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom


In a “crop it” activity, learners utilize cropping tools to frame a portion of an image and then discuss their choice with classmates. This method requires learners to notice, identify, and respond to specific parts of an image before interpreting the image’s overall meaning and impact. It’s an effective way to help learners look closely at and analyze images.


  1. Prepare Materials: For this activity, find an image that you would like learners to analyze and then make a copy of the image for each learner. You will also need to develop cropping tools for learners to use or have learners create them. Each cropping tool consists of two L-shaped strips of paper (cut from the border of a blank sheet of 8 ½ x 11-inch paper). During the activity, learners will use the two L-shaped strips to create a rectangle shape, pushing the corners together or pulling them apart to change its size. Each learner must have two cropping tools to work with.
  2. Learners Analyze Image: To conduct the activity, ask learners to look at each picture closely. Call out a series of prompts, starting with the suggestions below, and allow learners enough time to use their cropping tools to highlight a section of the image and then discuss their choice with a classmate or group. Next, follow these ideas with prompts specific to the topic of the lesson or unit:
    • Identify the section of the picture that first caught your eye.
    • Identify a section of the picture that illustrates what this image is about.
    • Identify a section of the picture that illustrates tension, problem, or dilemma.

Once you reach the end of the prompts for each picture, ask learners to write and discuss a caption for the image.

  1. Learners Reflect: Finish the activity by having learners reflect in their journals about the process. You can utilize this prompt or a similar one: How did looking closely at small portions of the image help to deepen your comprehension of its meaning and impact?
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