Over 140 image prompts to inspire student writing

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Updated: May 31, 2019

Think The New York Times is for high school readers? Think again.

In addition to written articles, The Times also offers a rich collection of visuals – photos, illustrations, graphics, GIFs and short videos – accessible to learners of all skill levels. Since 2016, we’ve featured these images in our daily image prompts: short, image-driven articles that invite a variety of student writing types.

Teachers tell us that they use these prompts in all kinds of ways. Some use them to encourage students to develop a daily writing habit. Others like exercise for practice inferences, generate discussion or support reading. This year, an elementary school music teacher shared with us how her class took inspiration from visuals to write short stories accompanied by music.

For more ideas we have a Lesson Plan on how to teach with picture prompts and other Times pictures, as well as a free on-demand webinar which explores how to use our thousands of writing prompts for low-stake daily writing practice across the program.

Below, we’ve ranked the 140+ prompts we posted in the 2018-19 school year based on the type of writing they primarily ask students to do – be it write short stories and poems, share experiences from their own lives, tell us their opinions, or interpret the message of a picture. All are still open for comments.

You can find even more images in our Picture Prompt roundups for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

If you are using this feature with your students, or have any other ideas on how to use photos, illustrations, and graphics to encourage writing, let us know in the comments section.

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