This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?


For my first try at tackling an assignment from the DS106 assignment bank I chose to a visual task that asked the creator to combine their favourite lyric with an image to make the meaning even stronger. The assignment can be found here if you’re interested in seeing more about it.

I chose the lyric “This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?” from the song “There, There, Katie” by Jack’s Mannequin. This lyric has stuck with me for a few years now. I think it means that even though our world might feel overrun with dark and ugly times, the beautiful parts of our world are always out there if we just look for them. The picture I chose to pair it with is one that I took a couple years ago, and I think it shows off a small beautiful moment in the clouds that could easily be missed if you’re not taking the time to look for it.

I found this activity to be very accessible. Though I used Photoshop to create the image, it could easily be done on any online picture editing website. It’s the kind of assignment that has a million different possibilities for placement, image choice, and lyric choice which opens it up to a wide variety of students, and can therefore be engaging for students of all kinds.

During my internship I did some work with quotes with my grade 8 students. They loved being able to share their personal favourites and many of them chose song lyrics to share with the members of our class. I think adding this photographic element to that would result in even more deeper thinking about how to visually represent the words, as well as a great cross-curricular connection between Visual Arts and Language Arts!


  1. You are so great at Photoshop! How much work have you done with students and Photoshop in your teaching experiences? I am not familiar with Photoshop so I think I would get frustrated quite quickly (if I didn’t educate myself with it). I also have a fear that my students would get frustrated with it if they weren’t successful right away as students tend to want to see results very quickly. So what have your experiences been like with Photoshop in the classroom? If I remember correctly you did some work with your students in Fort Qu’Appelle? I will never forget the picture of Kylie coming out of the Mario green tube thing and kicking Spongebob.
    Thanks for this post!

    1. I’ve done a lesson or two in each of our pre-internships and my internship. It’s definitely something that you’d want to have a good grasp of before trying it with students because troubleshooting for the students is a big part of the lesson. They’re bound to make some mistakes (which is expected when trying out something new) so it’s nice to be able to easily see where they went wrong and how to help them make it better.

      There was definitely some frustration in the classroom when we worked with Photoshop. Most of the students hadn’t experienced it before which led to a lot of uncertainty. However, I found that these frustrations led to a great sense of achievement when they finally figured out what to do. It’s just a matter of showing examples frequently and in small amounts of information, then circulating and encouraging the students as they try things out. I also found that there’s always a handful of students who finish their work quickly and they become awesome helpers for their classmates. Also, encouraging the students to just play around with pictures to see what all of the different tools do is a great way to have them become familiar with the program and helps things go a lot smoother later on.

      I definitely encourage you to try Photoshop (or a similar free program like gimp) out and bring it into your classroom! Graphic design is a field that’s becoming increasingly popular and can be lots of fun for students. As always, if you’re ever stuck I’d love to help.


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