What good is a yearbook if names, faces, and events are not labeled and described? What good is a yearbook if stories are not told?
Writing captions is not easy! Many students have no problem identifying the people in the photo but have a hard time writing more than "posing for a picture."
This page will explain the purpose of captions, as well as organization, photo critiquing, and writing activities.
Note-taking Writing Prompts
Students love taking photos! Writing captions, not so much. Students may not have all the information or they simply need to practice their writing skills. Here are some prompts to gather details necessary to write quality captions:
- Name the people in the photo.
- Include first and last names, as well as the student's grade level or teacher's subject area.
- Describe what the people are doing.
- Do not write obvious statements like "posing for a picture" or "smiling at the camera."
- Where is the event?
- Did the event occur at our school?
- If it is at a different school, which one?
- When did this event happen?
- Name the date or at least the month.
- What important fact can you add?
- If this is a competition, who won? Was it a music, writing or sports competition?
- What was the score or prize?
- What position did the student-athlete play?
- Who did the actor portray in the theater production?
- How long has the teacher taught at your school?
- Is there a story to be told about either the individual(s) or event?
- Tell it!
The students will not necessarily use all of the notes; however, the details will serve as inspiration for the 1-3 sentence captions. Some students may be inspired to write more than a caption and write short or long copy.
To make caption writing easier, I highly recommend the following weekly activity:
- Friday - Student editors confirm that all photos have been uploaded. Reminder, choose one sharing method - Google Photos or Google Drive.
- Monday - Students complete Weekly photo critique. See the directions below for further details.
- TWTh - Students complete the Daily Caption Writing activity. See the directions below for further details.
- Friday - The process begins again. Student editors confirm that all photos have been uploaded.
Every Monday, the whole class completes this photo critique. Eventually, several student editors will take over the discussion in small groups.
- Discuss best photos of the week as a class and, later, small groups.
- Edit photos as necessary. This includes adding filters, basic adjustments, and cropping.
- Label faces in Google Photos. This will make future caption writing easier.
- Add Photos to Albums and delete poor quality photos.
- Add each Shareable link from the Photo Album to the Google Sheets Table of Contents as they are created.
If this could be a Google Sheets, it would be. Unfortunately, at this time inserting images in Sheets does not work well. The next best option is a Google Docs with a table that can be sorted using an add-on like Doc Tools. Just like the weekly photo activity, caption writing will begin as a whole class led by the teacher and eventually moved to small groups led by several student editors.
Click here to view an example.
Click here to USE TEMPLATE.
WHY DID I SKIP ROWS?
Adding new content to the top is much easier than scrolling down as the document will get after a few weeks.
WHY DO THIS ACTIVITY?
Whole class discussions about quality photos and captions will lead to better quality work. The same students are not stuck writing the captions because everyone practices the skill.
- Column 1 - Identify the yearbook section: clubs, music, sports, etc.
- Column 2 - Name the photo album where the photo can be found.
- Column 3 - Insert the photo and its link. The photo will be sized to the column width. Use the link to label faces in the photo. Facial recognition comes in handy.
- Column 4 - This is the column where students collaboratively write their notes. Individual students will use these group notes to tell the story, not just report, about the photo. This writing goes into a Google Classroom Question.
- Column 5 - After each student writes a 1-3 sentence caption in the Google Classroom, the best caption is copied/pasted into this column.
How Long Does the Caption Activity Take?
The activity should take only 10 minutes a day. In the beginning, however, the activity may take an entire class period. That is what happened our first week of caption writing. Not every student in the elective yearbook class chose to be there and this is a learning process.
As the advisor, I took the time to write feedback for each caption, celebrated the best captions, and held every student accountable. This dedication resulted in better captions, obvious student editor front-runners, and, eventually, less time to complete. In the following weeks, the responsibility was given to students who voted for the best caption using a Google Form.
Whole Class to Small Group Discussions
In the beginning, this activity is teacher-led and whole class. The top student photographers and writers will become evident. Keep an eye out for potential student editors during this time.
When you are confident that the students know how to choose quality photos and write quality captions, choose student editors to lead different sections of the yearbook. These student editors become co-teachers of the Google Classroom and in charge of one group. The student editors take over the discussion in small groups.
This job belongs to the student editors. Please be aware that not everyone makes a good student editor. A student editor takes initiative and learns quickly.
Every Friday, student editors will take will upload photos and select the best captions from the Google Classroom Question. The best caption and the student author's name will be added to the collaborative Google Doc and to the image itself.
Google Apps for Photos and Captioning
Below are some suggestions for using Google Classroom, Google Photos, and Google Drive for the captioning activity.
- In Classroom, click on CLASSWORK -> CREATE -> Question.
- Type a Question Title and Description.
- Add the Weekly Caption Collaborative Doc. Optional: Include the link to the photo.
- Select Ask.
- Each yearbook staff member types their caption in the Answer.
- Student clicks Turn in.
To learn more about how to use Google Classroom with your yearbook class, please click here.
Reuse Google Classroom Question
If you use this activity 1 to 3 times a week, it makes sense to Reuse post and simply change the title and link to photo.
- Select Create.
- Click on Reuse.
- Select the previous assignment.
- Change the Title.
- Update the photo link.
- Select Ask.
Change Doc Share Settings
A Google Classroom Question does not have the option for Anyone can edit an attached document. As such, you will need to manually change the Share settings.
- In the document, select Share.
- Click on Advanced.
- Find your Google Classroom and change View to Edit.
- Select Done.
In addition to storing the best captions in the collaborative Weekly Captions doc, you can also add the captions to the Google Photos info section.
- Select the i icon on the photo.
- Label faces as necessary. This will make captioning easier for future photos.
- Copy and paste the best caption in the Description section of the photo.
- Select x.
The words written in the Description are searchable. We will learn more about Google Photos in the next section of this website.
- A Simple Approach to Great Captions by Walsworth Yearbooks
- Caption Text: Photo Caption by Ezralia Rosaa
- The Trick to Engaging Instagram Captions by Jasmine Star
- Caption Starters by Yearbook Discoveries
- Writing Captions & Copy by Harbor Yearbook
- 10 Tips for Writing Copy by Herff Jones
- Tips for Photo Caption by Colombia Visual
- Keep it Clever: Yearbook Captions 101 by Picaboo Yearbooks
- How to Write Great Yearbook Captions For Every Photo by TreeRing
- How to Strategically Deliver Words that Get People to Take Action by CopyBlogger.com
- Yearbook Style Guide by US Yearbook 2014-2015