Teaching Photography

PPS Professional Development-0445I spent the day Tuesday teaching teachers how to use photography to document their work integrating arts into the curriculum. At the invitation of the Ask for More Arts Collaborative, I led two groups of elementary school teachers through several hours of work on creating and capturing high quality images of arts integration. Parents for Public Schools is the convening partner in the AFMA collaborative. Last year, I was a partnering artist, working with second graders at Davis Magnet School on a project called Davis on the Map.

I divided the workshop into two sections: How do we create the image we want to communicate? and How do we capture that image? Roughly, these translated into the big picture and the practical considerations. We discussed how to create engaging lessons, inviting spaces, and trusting communities. I told them the biggest, hardest part of the job had to happen before they ever picked up a camera.

PPS Professional Development-0450I was warned that teachers don’t like to sit still for long lectures any more than kids¬† do so I created two hands-on activities. In the first, each group of teachers considered a batch of images from a single school project or event. They had to choose six images from the dozen or so they had to “tell the story” of the project or event. Next, they had to choose two images for a newsletter they would send to parents or a communication with funders. Finally, they had to choose one image for the newspaper and they had to write a cutline.

PPS Professional Development-0459During the second half of the workshop, the teachers made frames from single sheets of cardstock. Others at their tables photographed the frame-making exercise. Several volunteers handed me their cameras’ memory cards and we conducted a group critique of the images they’d captured. The biggest challenge, as it often is in indoor settings, was light. We were in the fabulous grand hall at the Mississippi Museum of Art, but we were in the side without windows. This was good for watching the slideshow and viewing images on screen, but not for capturing.

PPS Professional Development-0458We learned a lot and had a good time. I wished for more time to address the questions the teachers had about specific cameras and settings.I learned that some teachers are already using photography in collaborative art projects with their students: self-portraits and bookmaking and in communicating with parents through blogs and newsletters.

I told the teachers that it was near-about impossible to take good images and teach the class. (You can be the judge of these images.) Please send images if you took some during the session that you’d like to share with everyone. I know you have some good ones.

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