One lesson that after trying one year, has remained and been adapted and warped ever since was a photography editing project I did with my students one year during summer school. Most students love to take or be in photos so using a camera was a high interest lesson to them. Photography is also a concept that can be applied to a variety of subject areas.
The first time I had students do a photography editing project, our school's theme was community service. My students selected a community issue and took and edited photos to create a display to showcase that issue around the school. Students became invested because they could select their own issue and they enjoyed taking and editing the photos. Since then I have used this project in different ways but the high interest and excitement of my students remains.
This unit could easily be adapted to almost any subject area. For history, students could photograph and create a document of current history to show future students or capture the past of an area. For math students could identify and photograph mathematical concepts such as symmetry, angles, etc... that occur naturally and document their findings. For language arts, students could reenact scenes from their latest novel and create a photo-graphical storyboard of their current book.
This project doesn't take a lot of equipment and is fairly easy to do:
- Digital camera - I brought in my own camera from home or your school may have one you can use. I tied a large piece of yarn around it and instructed students that they must always have the yarn around their neck when handling the camera to prevent falls. I also asked them to hold it with two hands when passing it to others. Since they knew they were using my own personal camera they were extra careful with it.
- Access to a computer lab - I used Phixr as a free, no registration necessary, site for students to edit their photos.
- Ability to print photos - Since we do not have a color printer at school I saved all the photos to my USB driv and printed them at Walgreen's. Checking online I found a 40% off code so each photo was only 12 cents. You may be able to find even a better deal!
- Before starting the project, I discussed photography with my students and showed them some examples of effective photos. We talked about ways to take good photos such as angling the camera and looking at things in a new way (looking down or up at a subject, for example), and using shadows to your advantage.
- Students selected their issue they wanted to display in their photos and they brainstormed ways they could display that issue in a photo. Some students brought props in to use in their photos and some used things they found around the classroom or outdoors.
- We took some photos of still life objects we set up in the classroom and took photos outdoors as well. I encouraged students to take multiple photos each, so they had many to select from.
- After taking the photos students went to the computer lab and edited photos. It is a good idea to try the editing device ahead of time since students will have a lot of questions!
- After photos were edited, I printed them out and students created frames and poster displays for their work.
Have you used digital photography in your classroom? Please share your tips or lesson ideas!