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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Click! Writing Through Digital Photography

How it Works:
Involving students in writing is a challenging job for educators. This unit demonstrates the process of engaging students in spontaneous writing through the use of digital photography. Students take photographs or digital images, then scan and manipulate them by using graphic programs such as Adobe Photoshop. They write about their images using MS Word, PowerPoint, and Web design tools available on the computer. They also use the Internet to gather information for classroom activities, and for searching and capturing images for their assignment. The use of a digital camera and scanner will also be introduced. One 50-minute class period is allotted for each lesson, and four periods are needed to complete the unit. Students are assessed by their class work, assignments, and projects. A rubric will also be used to evaluate student work.

Standards Addressed:
Students read and write for information using different media; apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products; develop skills with a variety of art materials, and competence in at least one medium (electronic); and use the computer and other electronic media as designing tools and to communicate visual ideas. Students should be able to write in different formats, such as biography, poetry, descriptive, narrative, and persuasive writings for various purposes, and should develop their critical thinking skills through the writing, finding the connections between photos and concepts and relating the concepts to the theme.

Materials Used:
Required materials include computers with Internet access, a digital camera and scanner, and Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word software. A blog can also be used for this unit so students may share their work and discuss the process.

The Students:
Click! Writing Through Digital Photography is designed for middle and high school students, but with some modification, it can also be used with elementary students. The students featured in the video introduction to the unit are New York City public school students who immigrated from China.

Overall Value:
By integrating digital imaging into Native Language Arts classroom instruction, the teacher involves students in digital technology and writing activities. Students develop their photography skills, which in turn makes their writing projects more attractive and exciting. Through the process of taking, manipulating, and utilizing images/photos, students have a chance to create a meaningful connection between images and writing. They experience excitement as they produce their own writing projects in different formats and styles. This integrated curriculum helps students acquire basic academic and artistic skills, combined with "real world" applications of their learning.

Selecting a few student photos to demonstrate is crucial. This will get the excitement from students. Include all necessary steps in your instruction. Have the students who pick it up quickly teach others. If you are combining this unit with another curricular topic, create your own examples to use as demonstration pieces. Free writing at the beginning should be very helpful. This can lead to any writing with topics later on. Creativity from students is essential. This project can be adapted for use in the ESL classroom by having the students complete their writing activities in English.


About the teacher:
Henry Ruan teaches at Lower East Side Preparatory High School. He has been involved in web design projects with his students since 1997 and has won several citywide web design competitions, including ThinkQuest NYC. He has also conducted web design workshops at national and state level educational conferences. His passion is making his teaching more meaningful for students.



Subject Areas:                            
Native Language Arts

Grade Levels: 



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