Saturday, August 31, 2013

Teaching Digital Photography

Art Options Day



Over the last 4 years I have organised an Art Options Day each year for our Year 4 team during our Inquiry - How We Express Ourselves.

The Central Idea: People use many different forms of expression to convey their uniqueness as human beings.   
Lines Of Inquiry (with focus key concepts)
The diverse ways in which artists express themselves (form).
How people become artists (change).
How we can express our uniqueness through the Arts (perspective).

This has always been one of my favourite Transdisciplinary Themes for IB, and this unit in particular. It has lead to the development of many of my art units available at TPT and TNB.


The organisation for Art Options Day always starts weeks earlier. I would implore the parent body to offer up their time and skills, for a day, to run 4 mini workshop of an hour each, for up to 8 students at a time. The 3 teachers in my planning team would also run workshops.

Usually we would end up with up to 12 options on offer, ranging from pebble painting to digital animation, flax weaving to carpentry. We have had some great workshops over the years. The kids get to rank their wish-list from 1-12 (1 being their first choice). Once all the wish-lists are in, I spend 2-3 days putting them into options and trying to ensure that they all got most of what they asked for. I also had to consider any unfavourable student combinations, brief parents, organise art resources and materials, book out work spaces around the school, oversee set up and pack up, and run my own workshops on the day. Phew!

This is a big job but a massive highlight for the students. One student told me last year that with each theme we worked through,  he would think "that was my favourite inquiry", but each time, the next one would trump it! Yay :) Job done!
This resource cover was created by my very talented daughter when she was 12. She is now 18 and an artist in her own right. I just love this self-portrait! Her art can be Googled under JessLouiseArt.

In my first year I ran a workshop for - Build your own digital avatar - being the Digital Classroom teacher for the year group. Most of the material for that came from the inspirational Jacqui Sharp.
Then for 2 years I ran Van Gogh's Sunflowers (Which I am yet to write up into a lesson plan (watch this space), and for one year I ran a Digital Photography Workshop.


The Digital Photography was an interesting one because during the Art Day of the previous year, I had a parent (photographer) offer to run this workshop and he did - but with mixed results. The students had fun playing with manual settings but didn't come back with any usable photographs at the end of their hour. Mostly blurred or random shots.


So, after much research, I wrote up an Art Unit to ensure that the kiddies got the best aspect of this workshop. It was so successful that I have also since run it as a self exploratory unit for small groups within my own class on a weekly basis, for an eight week stint.


Each week they take an aspect of the unit and explore this in pairs. We used to pool the digital cameras from our team for this so that a group of 6 would be out on a photographic walk at a time.


Now a days, we can also use the iPads for most of it.

This 46 page resource covers 7 aspects of digital photography. Each aspect has two teacher lesson slides, then a student challenge, followed by student exemplars.  Once you run this a couple of times, you can collect your own bank of student exemplars. The photos in this resource were mainly taken by students aged 8-9 but the unit can be leveled up or down.

You can get yourself a copy now from my TPT and TNB stores (links below).



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