Choosing Photos for Field Guides

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.

Sarah leading selection

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:

  • Each student wrote his/her name and group number on an index card.
  • Each student chose his/her top three photographs. Each student noted the photograph’s file number and a brief description.
  • Then, each student shared with the group the descriptions of his/her top three photos. When there was overlap in photo subjects, I asked each student to pull up his/her image. Then, we talked about which image we preferred and why and took an informal vote. Generally, reaching consensus was pretty easy.
  • It helped to remind the students that we wanted each page in the guide to have unique content, and it helped to remind them of the topic of their particular field guide. (In one instance, a student really liked her photo of a worm, but the group decided that her photo of a fly better fit the topic, which was insects.)
  • As final selections were made, the student circled the image file number and short description on the index card.
  • We printed each image on regular copy paper (by sending a print job to the school’s main copy machine in the office) for reference.
  • At home in the afternoon, I uploaded the selected images to a local photo store, and ordered 4 x 6 inch prints.

discussing an imageI made a sample field guide this week using some photographs of mine. It helped today to have the model with me so students could visualize what their field guides will look like.

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.

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