It’s Alive – McLeod

Davis Neighborhood Photos and an Exhibit

Spring brings sunshine, flowers, recitals, and exhibits. On Friday, Richard and I will attend the Opening Reception for the JumpstART project. My participation in JumpstART this year was at McLeod Elementary School. I worked with 5th grade students to photograph and research living things in the Schoolyard. (Read previous posts here.) With generous support from the Beth Israel Congregation, an adopter of McLeod, we enlarged five photographs for display. The students compiled the rest of the photographs with titles and captions into the first McLeod Schoolyard Field Guide. See the photos in a gallery on my website.

In addition to the work with McLeod, I returned to Davis Magnet School for a second year of Davis on the Map. Instead of being paid through JumpstART, the Davis Magnet principal and second grade team found separate grant funding to pay for my time. (You can read about this project in these previous posts.) You can see some of the photographs I took below. I have the students’ photographs in galleries on my main website.


Amy Lancaster Answering the Door

Visit the JumpstART exhibit at the Mississippi Art Center from Saturday, April 17, through Friday, April 30.

Student Photographers On Field Shoot

Fifth Grader Photographers

At long last, the weather and school schedule were both good on the same day. I led groups of fifth graders at McLeod Elementary School on a field shoot. We were in search of living things in the schoolyard. Each student carried a digital camera. Each group chose a different section of the schoolyard to shoot in. I am sharing some of their photographs here. As we went about our work, the students and I generated lots of questions. “What is it? Why is it that color? Will I find these where I live? Will it bite?”

My work on this project is funded by the Ask for More Arts collaborative of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson. McLeod is an Ask for More Arts school and participates in the JumpstArt program, which brings artists of all kinds into elementary classrooms across the city for arts instruction integrated with traditional academic subjects.

White bug on surface of puddle


another worm


Dandelion and an insect

bud on shrub


Learning the Cameras

McLeod It's Alive hands on 1-8463Today at McLeod we pulled the Kodak Easyshare M380 cameras out of their boxes and the students started taking photographs. The fifth graders started by taking pictures of each other. We had the class divided into six groups of four students each. I led three groups at a time with hands-on camera work and my two teacher partners, Mrs. Courson and Mrs. McBride, took turns leading the other three groups on a walk around the school grounds.

They were looking for specific examples of plant and animal life. The next time we go out the groups will be taking photographs of some of the living things in the McLeod Schoolyard so we can make a Schoolyard Field Guide. This is a JumpstArt arts integration project sponsored by Ask For More Arts, a partnership spearheaded by Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson.

Taking Turns with Cameras

Taking Turns with Cameras

The students did a pre-assessment which asked them to list the producers, consumers, and decomposers in the schoolyard. We will ask them for this information in a different way once we have completed our field guide. We are confident that they’ll engage these concepts more deeply as they produce a schoolyard field guide. Some of the living things on their lists from today’s brief walk were: butterflies, oak trees, moles (when I asked about the mole, they said they had seen evidence of moles in disturbed dirt), blueberry bushes, mushrooms, and poison ivy. We are going to need some good field guides of trees, plants, insects, reptiles, and birds. If anyone has any books they’d like to let us borrow or have for our project, please get in touch with me.

A Gray Day is OK with Digital Cameras

A Gray Day is OK with Digital Cameras

Composing a Photograph

Composing a Photograph

Launching a New Project

mcleod-0583 scaled down My newest arts integration project begins in earnest today at McLeod Elementary School. I am partnering with a class of 5th graders to make a schoolyard field guide. We’re calling the project “It’s Alive!” and we’re using a book called No Student Left Indoors by Jane Kirkland. You may have noticed my recent spate of nature/science /art workshops. I am learning more every day about how to integrate the four things I love: nature, writing, photography, and teaching.

After my most recent workshop, I wrote about mistaking the stuffed hawk for a live one, but I didn’t show you any of the work I created in the class. Here’s the piece I like the best. I used a rubber dog’s paw. I inked it with black ink and pressed it down four times. Then, when it looked like a flower, I filled in some color with a red marker. This was part of a lesson called Tracks.

a print from a dog paw stamp embellished with a colored marker

a print from a dog paw stamp embellished with a colored marker