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Re: Teach Thru Technology


Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 04:58:00 PST

Do I have curriculum for my photo students?

I only see them one period a week for a trimester, then get new kids.
Not a lot of time. It's an activity.

We are teaching them basics of photoshop and digital cameras. Day 1 we
look at a table full of 8x10 black and white photos that I printed out
from Masters of Adams, Cindy Sherman, Jerry
Uelsman, Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Gary WInograd, etc., etc., etc.
I probably have 60 or 70 photos laid out on the tables just to give them
a glance at who's who in the history of photography. The first thing I
do is ask them to each pick out a photo or two that they think is an
EXCELLENT photo and tell us why. They automatically zero in on
contrast, light, compositional issues. Then I give them a sheet of
paper that has a list of things to think about for good photographs:
rule of thirds (placement of focal point), Mergers (watch edges of
photos so you don't cut off important things), framing, backgrounds
(keep them simple), Camera angle (is horizontal or vertical best? What
about above or below the subject?), focal distance (is subject large
enough in your camera?), lighting (watch out for bright backlighting
(when to use flash), shadow issues, and probably something else, but
it's too early to remember. I have them look for examples of good use
of those points on the table of photos.

Next day we look at the cameras and learn what they do, talk about white
balance, the menus, how to use the cameras. That takes about half the
period, then they go outside and start taking portrait photos of each

Third day: shoot some more. They have a suggestion list with them that
includes ideas to look for when shooting photos. We usually go to the
playground and shoot photos of Kindergarteners, Or we go to various
other, model making, singers, art, etc. I have a
helper, so we stay together in groups. Most of what we focus on that
day is camera angle, what is at the edge of your photos in your
viewfinder, should photos be horizontal or vertical, do you need to zoom
for a better photo, etc.

Fourth Day: We load what they have shot so far into the laptops. We
teach the basics of photoshop including renaming, much of what is in the
Image File, and we let them start exploring filters. We fully
explain Adjust: Image, Curves and Brightness/contrast, adjust
saturation, replace color, etc.

Fifth Day: We teach selection techniques for copy and paste. Kids
play around with their photos and always have ideas for this.

Sixth Day: We go across the street from school and take more photos at
a flower shop/sculpture yard.

Seventh Day: Back in the lab. Mostly kids are doing copy/paste work,
filters fun, and coming up with their own ideas. The other teacher and
I closely watch them and make suggestions, answer their questions. I
forgot to mention there are only SIX kids in this class!!!!!!!! It can
be the kind of class where kids who get excited about an idea can pursue

All days forward: Perhaps kids go out to shoot body shots or macros of
flowers, or whatever...usually for more copy/paste ideas. We have a
clipart file for interesting backgrounds that kids can use since we are
so limited at school. We also have exotic animals, flowers, insects,
etc. in clip art photographs that kids can use for their copy/paste if
they need a rhinocerous in the school's quadrangle, for instance. I
have a bunch of black and white old timey historical shots that are
sometimes early photography, someties engravings. Kids can explore
adding themselves or their friends into those. It's fun because they
see them as stage sets to pose for so that they can copy/paste
themselves or other friends into what they think of as really funky old
photos and drawings. I got those off of a clip art CD and we have
really had some fun with them. So, with 4th and 5th graders and our
limited time, that's about all we can do. I have dreams of using the
photo mandala idea, but there never seems to be enough time.