How to apply Graphic programs in the Literacy curriculum today

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Images can provide ways for students to engage with both visual and printed text. When it comes to digital images, they offer the benefit of being immediate, accessible and compelling! Digital images provide editable text, allowing students to revise image content or combine multiple images into one picture using image editing software.

Visual literacy plays a significant role in helping students understand text. With the advent and increased use of ICTs in schools and workplaces there has been a renewed interest in visual literacy. Images are playing a greater role in conveying information within educational technology text.

The use of images in the English Learning Area can:

  • Help readers envision text;
  • Offer a unique bridge to writing;
  • Allow students to communicate meaning visually.

Today, there so many graphic/drawing programs and image editing software for you as a teacher to choose from. Here are just a few:

  • Shapes tools in MS Word;
  • Paint 3D;
  • MS Paint;
  • Gimp;
  • Adobe Photoshop and;
  • Picasa.

Most of the above software programs contain certain features in common. For example, they all allow you to rotate and resize an image, to draw or write on the image and some allow you to improve the image quality.

One very important editing tool which students should be made aware of is the Undo and Save As features. Students need to feel free to experiment when modifying images and knowing that they can Undo a line or save a version of a file under a different name will allow them to manipulate an image without worrying about ruining the original picture.

In this close-up look at our new literacy-ICT integration online course, I will show where to apply the use of images in English Learning Area with student creativity.

Research shows (Kennewell et al.2000) that the extent to how effectively ICT is integrated in the literacy classroom depends on a large extent on the teacher’s own capabilities in ICT. Those who have advanced ICT skills are able to explore opportunities with ICT in the spirit of structured literacy learning.

So here is an example of how we help you build your own ICT capability first to exploit available technology in the literacy classroom today. 

We encourage active participation of students in our literacy-ICT integration online course by using student evidence as progress in the course. You will be asked to submit a copy of your image as part of this evidence to ensure that we are assisting you in your professional learning. 

In this example, students develop their higher order skills by planning and evaluating their drawings by hand first before moving onto digitally designing their images. 


Responding to Literature – Relating events to illustrations

In this instance, students were expected to create a drawing depicting the positive and negative events of a story. Coloured for positive and black and white for grey.

The Achievement Standard for this would be as such:

  • Use language features to show how ideas can be extended;
  • Develop and explain a point of view about an image from a range of sources.


Step 1. Students plan their design by hand.

Planning is what will help develop their higher order skills. This is a vital component which separates ICT skills from ICT Capability!

teaching strategies


Step 2. Build on teacher ICT capability – we do this, by providing video tutorials for you to watch and practice afterwards.

This will allow you to be able to effectively demonstrate the ICT techniques you have learnt after becoming familiar with the software.


Step 3. Introduce software and new techniques

One of the teaching strategies we advise is how to introduce new software and ICT techniques. There are many more to help you ensure progression in the ICT Capability Learning Continuum throughout the English Learning Area.


Step 4. Learn to Effectively demonstrate to students

There is an effective way in which you can demonstrate to students and still help them develop their higher order skills and ICT capability in literacy learning.

This activity may take several lessons, but in the meantime you help them understand visual literacy alongside of developing ICT capability.




As this what is expected of teachers in the national curriculum – see for yourself:

“Teachers are expected to teach and assess general capabilities to the extent that they are incorporated within learning area content.” (ACARA- General Capabilities, 2018).


Other examples in the English Learning Area where the application of graphics software may be applied include:


Character preference - Year 2 example in sample portfolios where they had to draw their favourite character after reading ‘Olga the Brolga’.

Character reflection – Year 1 example in sample portfolio where they had to draw their favourite character and write what they might be thinking or feeling.

These are just a few examples which I have found on the Australian Curriculum website. Become familiar and intimate with one program and learn how to exploit it in the classroom.


In our Literacy-ICT integration online course, we support you by giving you the tools, knowledge and expertise to develop 21st century skills in the classroom today.

literacy education online course for teachers

Completing the course will contribute to 5 hours of TQI PD addressing 2.5.2, 2.6.2 and 3.4.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

If you have any questions about enrolment, please visit our website to contact us or start your professional learning now!

literacy education training for teachers TQI

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