More than a few hands went up when I asked if any of them liked to write. What a great group!
I joined Roderick Red and Jessica Simien on Friday for a presentation at Murrah High School for Mrs. Lynne Schneider’s newspaper/video production class. Rod, owner of Red Squared Productions, and I talked about our recent work together on the Friends of Hope Video project, and Jessica Simien and Rod talked about their collaborations for JessicaSimien.com, an entertainment and lifestyle blog.
All three of us have ties to Murrah High School. Rod and Jessica graduated five and six years ago. My three sons are students at Murrah. Rod was head of the photography department for the Murrah Hoofbeat, and was one of Mrs. Schneider’s students.
I know many of these students because I help with the Murrah Debate and Quiz Bowl teams, and they’ve been classmates of my boys for years. Here I was explaining how photographers use the “Rule of Thirds” to compose stronger images.
We divided the class into two groups and did two hands-on sessions: Rod facilitated the video session and I the still photography.
It always helps me as an artist when I teach. The students always ask great questions, which help me drill down into why I am doing what I am doing and make me consider how I could be more effective.
Everyone was very friendly and helped me work through a few technical glitches. Thank you, Maggie Dickson, fourth grade project director; Faye Bruce, librarian; Gena Yarbrough, district art specialist; Belinda McKinion, assistant principal; and Coke Magee, principal.
The students asked great questions, and were wonderful guides through the school as I made my way from classroom to classroom to sign books.
Once again, I brought along a wolfsnail and some prey snails. I also debuted the wolfsnail app in its trial format. The kids loved seeing the snail video.
Several teachers took the pictures I am posting here. Thank you.
I had a lovely time on Friday at Madison Avenue Upper Elementary School, visiting with third and fourth graders. The star of the show was the wolfsnail I brought along. A few dozen students would have taken it home in a heartbeat.
I’ve been so busy with students I haven’t had much time to blog. We are in the final stage of our bookmaking, and the books look great. The third graders did a terrific job!
Students created stories in the broad categories of patterns and measurement. We had six groups of students. Four groups had four students each, and two groups had three students each. The groups worked together to brainstorm, write, storyboard, and take photographs.
After an initial visit, during which I talked about my Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature (read about it here), Beth West worked with the students to talk about what all math stories need. Together, she and the students developed a checklist. The group writing was a challenging part of this project. In order to facilitate the process, Beth and I worked with each group for about an hour — to help integrate disparate drafts and press for coherence in the math methods being deployed.
We spent the next full school day, working individually with groups to storyboard the photographs and then take them.
After the photographs were taken, we asked the groups to self-select for four tasks: chartist (to create any chart needed for an illustration on good paper), folder (to make the instant book out of the good paper), assembler (to order, trim, and glue photographs into the book), and scribe (to write the final text into the book). So, on our final two work days, we worked with groups according to their tasks. All six folders made their books at the same time. All the chartists made charts at the same time, etc.
This final picture is of the classroom teacher, Mrs. Lieb. She has been very patient with Beth and me as we invaded her classroom. Here she is enjoying reading one of the books for the first time. Thank you, Mrs. Lieb.
Patty Crosby took all but two of the photographs in this post. She also had the task of capturing the whole project on video. Thank you, Mom!
Thank you, also, Beth.
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 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.
The Fibonacci Folding Book Project app is now available in Google’s Android Market. The app in Apple’s App Store has been downloaded by people in a handful of countries. It is very exciting to have our content available for tablets. I’d love to hear from app users about the experience.
Richard has put buttons on the homepage of my website that link directly to the appropriate page in the two App outlets. Click here to see.
Our iPad app version of the Fibonacci Folding Book tutorial is now available on iTunes. The best way to find it is to search for “Fibonacci Folding Book”. This is Richard’s first app and I think he did a tremendous job. If you have an iPad, please download it and tell us what you think. The app is free.
Created for teachers of all kinds, including homeschoolers, the app provides step-by-step instructions on creating Fibonacci Folding Books with your students.This multidisciplinary unit includes photography, bookmaking, writing poetry, number patterns, illustration, and measurement.
My friend, Julie Owen, and I have taught this unit with third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. We also taught a professional development workshop for teachers this summer. Read more about the project at St. Therese Catholic School here and the Whole Schools Summer Institute here.
I will be visiting a creative writing class this week to talk about my work. At least one of the questions I expect to get is how can a young person get their work published? I know very little about the market for such work. I did a little research and came up with a few places on the web that seem to be rich with resources, including master classes by young writers for young writers, contests, and online and print magazines.
Please pass these along any young writers or visual artists in your life who are interested in getting their work published.
Write It on Scholastic’s website.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers offers an annual contest with a rich, distinguished history.