I spent two days this week at Davis, guiding fourth graders as they chose photographs for their field guides. It is always fun to spend time looking through photographs, and these students took some interesting ones. You can see some of their images in previous posts here and here.
We had a few challenges as we worked through this process. First of all, we had a hard time making the 1,490 images accessible to students at school. There is a computer lab at school and there are a few laptops. We did not have/nor could we get permission (central office IT department permission) to save the images to the computer network. There was only enough hard drive space available in the computer lab to save one teacher’s groups’ photos to the hard drive of one computer. What ended up working was saving all the images to four separate jump drives, attaching each one to a computer in the lab, and accessing the images via the usb port.
I worked with each group for about 30 minutes. For the first three sessions each day, I had the help of the classroom teacher. Thank you, Mr. Gunther, Ms. Cross, Ms. West, and the other helpers who taught the rest of the students in the classroom.
Selection worked like this:
At this point, my involvement with this project will shift gears. I have completed my contact sessions with students. Next week, students will make watercolors with Carol Cox Peaster and Elizabeth Williams of the Mississippi Museum of Art. They will also continue their research, and begin to write the text that will accompany each photograph.
My friend, Hester Bass, alerted me to the fact that Growing Patterns appeared last night on the pilot of a new Fox TV show called Touch. Fibonacci Numbers figure into the plot of the show, and, at one point, the character played by Danny Glover uses our book as he explains the sequence to the Kiefer Sutherland character.
In this trailer on YouTube, a few pages of Growing Patterns appear at about 1:20.
I’m glad Hester caught the reference and I’m now planning to tune in on March 19th.
This is my 500th blog post, a milestone I could hardly have imagined back in August 2007 when I launched this blog. Given my twin passions for teaching and photography, it is fitting that today’s post should showcase photographs by fourth graders I’ve been teaching. These images were all taken at the Mississippi Museum of Art in the Art Garden, using Kodak Easy Share cameras. If you want to see a photo displayed larger, just click on it.
If you want to read more about this project, check out this blog post by Elizabeth Williams, curator of education at the museum. Her post features photographs of students.
I spent the last two mornings at the Mississippi Museum of Art with Davis Magnet School fourth graders. On the first day, it was overcast and threatened (then, delivered) rain. Today it was cold, but very sunny. Two very different photography challenges. Each group, ranging from three students to six students, went out with an adult leader to captures images for a field guide. The categories ranged from flowers to sculpture to textures to non-plant living things. Students took as few as six photographs and as many as 68. We were working with 12 cameras owned by the museum and two of mine.
I had a fairly elaborate backup system set up to transfer images from the cameras’ memory cards to my Epson photo viewer and my laptop. During the times when students did not have cameras, they worked on sketching. Each had a clipboard with some blank journal pages and a pencil. We also had plenty of field guides and other reference books available for onsite research.
Here are some of the shots that jumped out at me on first glance. I don’t know which ones the students will select next week because it will depend on what makes sense for their field guides. I thought you would like a preview.
With all the photographs we’ve taken of Murrah High School’s boys soccer team, we didn’t have any good ones of the keeper in action. We set out to remedy that during the Pearl Invitational Tournament last weekend. Our intrepid keeper, Stephen S., saved many a goal during our three losses. Here are a few examples. (Click on the photo to see a larger view.)
I went out on a nature journaling expedition with Davis Magnet School fourth graders yesterday. Several kids in each class noticed this. One sketched it. Another called me over. We wondered what on earth it was.
We were in the Mississippi Museum of Art‘s Art Garden, gathering information for our series of Davis Field Guides to the Art Garden. The students had clipboards, “instant book” journals (see my post), and pencils.
Next week, the fourth graders will be back in the garden with clipboards, journals, pencils, cameras, and a set of published field guides for reference (we’re using Kaufman field guides to birds, insects, butterflies, and an Alabama and Mississippi Gardener’s Guide co-authored by Felder Rushing).
After Wednesday’s session, I went over to Eudora Welty Library and checked out two visual field guides to mushrooms, which I sent to Davis this morning with one of my neighbors who teaches there. So, I know what is in the two photographs above, but I am counting on the fourth graders to find out for themselves.
In addition to journaling with me in the garden, the fourth graders had a guided tour of the Mississippi Story with Elizabeth Williams, curator of education, and a drawing lesson with Carol Cox Peaster, the art garden coordinator. Specifically, Williams talked with students about Bill Dunlap’s Flat Out Dog Trot and Carol Cole’s Jackson, MS as examples of landscapes and cityscapes.
Here are some of Williams’s comments: “It was interesting to see how the students who had been outside and had already used their journal, got out their sketchbooks and began writing everything they saw in the works of art. They were very perceptive and each group noticed very different things about each of the painting. Lastly, we took a look at the four Walter Anderson’s on the walls and tried to develop a pool of words that could be used to describe Anderson’s style. Some students interpreted his word as “bright” “energetic” and “creative”, while others noticed some of the cooler colors he used that might be interpreted as sad or gloomy. All of the students noted that the work was not very realistic.”
Here is Peaster teaching the drawing class.
Thank you, Beth West, Davis’ IB Coordinator, and Kacy Hellings, Davis’ Librarian, and Julian Rankin, the museum’s public relations coordinator for taking photographs. You can see Rankin’s Facebook album of images here.
Thank you, fourth grade teachers, Jalesha Cross and Jordan Gunther, for guiding students; and two parents who came along as chaperones. We are grateful for the help.
My second school-based project this month involves teaching third graders to use digital photography to illustrate math stories. I began by reading Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature in each class, and then I talked about my process — from idea to publication. I showed them early (and awful) drafts, described my breakthrough on layout, my complete re-write, and the photography.
As noted in my previous post, I am working with Beth West, IB Coordinator at Davis Magnet School, to develop a lesson plan for a presentation we are giving at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Philadelphia in April. Two books that have helped us a lot was we’ve developed our unit are Math is Language Too: Talking and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom and New Visions for Linking Literature and Mathematics by David J. Whitin and Phyllis Whitin.
The Davis third graders will work in groups to make photo-illustrated books about patterns or measurement. Our primary model texts are: Growing Patterns and For Good Measure by Ken Robbins.
We will ask our students to write regularly in their math journals about the project. Beth and I are very interested in seeing how the students make sense of the pattern and measurement concepts and the book-making process. I will write regular updates here to let you know how the process is going.
I mentioned last week that I’m working with the Mississippi Museum of Art and Davis Magnet School to develop a lesson plan that will get students engaged in science, writing, photography, and art. I’ve been working with Elizabeth Williams, curator of education at the museum; Jalisha Cross and Jordan Gunther, the two fourth grader teachers at Davis; and Beth West, the IB Coordinator at Davis.Photographs of planning meetings are never very exciting, but we did good work that day. We made books, practiced nature journaling, set up dates for further contact sessions with students. These include times when I will guide the students in photographing the museum’s garden and when Ginger Williams Cook, the museum’s master teaching artist, will guide two sessions on creating watercolors from sketches in their nature journals.
During the final week before the break, I visited both fourth grade classes to introduce the lesson and to talk about my book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.