Using PhotoVoice to Empower K-12 Teachers and Students


  • Susan R. Adams College of Education, Butler University
  • Katie Brooks Butler University, Indianopolis
  • Michelle C. S. Greene Indiana University



PhotoVoice, authentic writing, student activism, student engagement, english language learners, photography


PhotoVoice is a community and participatory action research method based in grassroots empowerment education, critical feminist theory, and documentary photography which enables people with little money, power, or status to communicate needed changes to policymakers. Prior to this in-school research project, studies of PhotoVoice in the United States focused on adolescents in out-of-school educational settings (Chio and Fandt, 2007; Strack, Magill, and McDonagh, 2004; Wilson et al., 2007; Zenkov and Harmon, 2009; The Viewfinder Project, 2010). In this study, teacher participants found that English language learners and resistant writers were motivated to identify the impact of personal and political realities in their lives in order to question existing structures and to imagine alternative futures. The use of PhotoVoice in K–12 classrooms offers an accessible, motivating, and technologically rich entry point and an authentic forum for emerging young writers to share their photos, their writing, and their stories with others to create powerful visual representations to transform existing conditions in their communities.

Author Biographies

Susan R. Adams, College of Education, Butler University

Assistant Professor, Middle/Secondary Education.

Katie Brooks, Butler University, Indianopolis

Katie Brooks holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University. She is currently an Associate Professor of Education at Butler University, Indianapolis, where she teaches courses in literacy and in teaching English as a Second Language educators. Dr. Brooks has= published on content literacy, transformational learning for educators, and second language literacy development. From 2007 to 2013, Dr. Brooks was the principal investigator for Project Alianza, a 1.28 million dollar U. S. Department of Education Title III National Professional Development grant in which middle and high school educators learned pedagogical approaches to improve teaching and learning for English language learners.

Michelle C. S. Greene, Indiana University

Michelle C. S. Greene is a teacher researcher and Ph.D. candidate in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her dissertation, “Curricular Agents: Adolescent Immigrants in a Third-Space-Imagined-Community,” is a practitioner research study of literacy practices in an inquiry-based, student-led ESL classroom. Currently, Greene teaches courses on language acquisition, immigration issues, cultural and racial identity development, and effective strategies for instruction and assessment for growing ESL populations to preservice and practicing educators. Greene has served as an urban middle-school ESL teacher and has been recognized for outstanding teaching and scholarship as an Armstrong Teacher Educator and a Fulbright Scholar.


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How to Cite

Adams, S. R., Brooks, K., & Greene, M. C. S. (2014). Using PhotoVoice to Empower K-12 Teachers and Students. Writing and Pedagogy, 6(3), 649–664.



Reflections on Practice