The following inquiry project is based on one created by teacher Susan Brisson for her Cycle 3 students. The students explored how images can be “read” and the ways that photos are created to convey meanings.
Students were asked to think about the age-old question, "Is a picture worth a thousand words?" while working on this project. Learning was centred around class and small group discussions, close readings of visual images and the production of photographs to convey a particular idea or feeling. Final photographs, along with written reflections and responses, were compiled into a class anthology.
Since students will be creating photographs that depict a particular concept or feeling they should first have the opportunity to look closely at a variety of photographs, e.g. from family albums, magazines or photography books, online, etc., and think about what they see, and about how photographs can communicate an idea. (Note: Stay away from advertisements or fashion photographs.)
See Classroom Ideas for many other activities to help students understand that photographs, like all texts, are deliberately constructed to convey meaning.
During this part of the process the students begin to think about the way they will create their own photographs.
students shoot a number of shotsin order to have a choice of which one best conveys their message.
Ms. Brisson's Final Thoughts
There are two important factors that helped to make the students' projects successful: teacher modelling and the gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to the students.
The fact that I worked on my own project in order to model the decisions a writer and photographer make, gave the students insight into the constructed nature of texts and provided strategies for coping with some of the challenges we all face in producing our work.
Homework and classwork deadlines were assigned at different times throughout the project. This helped break up the steps so that students did not fall too far behind, and work did not pile up.
I did my project on the theme of serenity. I had difficulty trying to capture this in a photograph. I was quite pleased with the results.
Click here to download a pdf of some of the homework assignments, evaluation rubric and project checklists that were used.