This week as part of the Coetail course we were asked to read several articles about visual literacy in the classroom. Renee Hobbes in her article gives examples from kindergarten through middle school and high school of media literacy. No students are too young and we do a disservice with older students if we don’t teach them the critical thinking and evaluating skills they need for all types of media. “Media literacy is not a new subject area and it is not just about television: it is literacy for the information age.”
The second part of our assignment was to find a photo to use to support our curriculum using Creative Commons. I was glad to learn there are advance searches that can be used. This search allows you to find photos and other media that do not have “all rights reserved.” My problem was to choose a curriculum area that could be enhanced by using a photo. We are presently in the midst of practicing and preparing for several readers theater plays by Jan Brett. Most of the students are also in the middle of the writing process to create their own “Goldilocks” story. We have just begun practicing for World Maths Day and World Spelling Day. In Bible class we are beginning a unit on the parables of Jesus. I began looking at some of the objects in the parables but couldn’t find anything that I thought second graders would relate to.
My problem: How do I find an appropriate photograph when I don’t know what I want to use it for? Finally I had an inspiration. This month we have decided to emphasize “empathy” in our elementary classes. I began looking for photos that were tagged “empathy.” I looked through several pages and then I saw one that touched my heart and I thought second graders could respond to.
By Ulrica http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulricaproduction/4937239031/
I want my second graders to discuss the photo and create a word bank/idea bank on chart paper. Some of the questions I will ask them to discuss are: How do you think the teddy bear got there? What words might describe the teddy bear? What words might describe the child who lost the teddy bear? After a class discussion I would ask the students to individually journal about: What connections can you make with the child who lost a favorite toy? What could you do if your friend lost his/her favorite toy? I also hope that by creating a word bank the students may find some new words and ideas to use in their writing.
On another day I would like to continue the discussion about the elements of the photo. Why do they think only the teddy bear is in color? What if it was all black and white? All color? Would it create the same feelings?
We are taking a lot of photos this year for our classroom blog. Each of the students is getting a chance to be the class photographer. Every photo tells a story. Are you telling a story with the photos you take? Maybe at this point show some of the photos the students have taken and have them evaluate their own work.
I know as a teacher, I’m seeing personalities in the photos that some of the students have taken. Last week I gave cameras to two of the students as they went to Art and Music. The one student took 6 photos in music class, mostly of the same person/people and all from the same angle although 2 were close ups. The other student took 23 photos from various angles that showed the teacher, the students and even the final product.
Earlier in the year when we were mixing gingerbread cookies one of my photographers did a great album of the process. Each ingredient that was added had a photo. Only one photo showed a few of the students who were working.
As I learn more about visual literacy I know there will be many more lessons to share with my students. These lessons will hopefully be reflected in my own photos as well.