CyberMuse Teachers - Lesson Plans
Lesson Plan Activity:
Being a Photojournalist: Grade 4-6
The students will develop a photo story for their school on a subject determined ahead of time. Through this activity, they will discover that it is possible to transmit a message in photographs by thinking about and using elements and principles of composition.
The student will demonstrate his understanding of the elements and principles of composition in documentary photography and how they are used to convey a feeling or an idea.
The student will use the elements and principles of composition in creating photographs on a chosen theme or topic. He will experiment with composition, points of view and framing.
The student will use a vocabulary appropriate to photography to explain how a photograph reflects a social, political or cultural context.
The student will explain how he and his classmates have used elements and principles of composition to achieve a specific effect in their photographs.
Cross Curriculum Links:
This lesson also explores concepts in the following subject areas: social studies, English.
Three 40-minute sessions
Look & Discuss
Photography is humanity?s visual memory, a storehouse of information and a witness to the events of the past. Photographs can reflect the world or reveal the photographer. They are examples of moments that are chosen, crystallized and presented for our contemplation. In a photograph, the ambivalent relations between diverse realities?the reality of the physical world, objective and subjective reality, fact and fiction?stimulate and intrigue us and make us face up to the meaning of our world.
Initially, the works of Lewis W. Hine, Sid Grossman and Dorothea Lange from this lesson will serve as a point of departure for a discussion of photojournalism, including how certain visions and realities are captured by the photographer. The students are encouraged to comment on the subjects of the photographs, the various framings, viewpoints, compositions, effects of light and shadow and all the other elements and principles of composition used by the photographer to convey a message.
Next, the students are asked to define the word ?evidence?, to cite an example of evidence that they may have experienced in their life. Together, they will define the different forms that evidence can take.
Then the students will consult, in class, different magazines that contain photo stories: Natural History, Time, People, National Geographic, Macleans, Life, Sports Illustrated, etc.
The documentary significance of images is explained to them, as well as the role the image plays as evidence in our society.
Finally, the students are asked to get together and choose a subject on which they would like to create a work of photojournalism to be displayed in the school. Suggested topics or themes: the city in motion (car traffic, people, etc.), art in the city, advertisements in the city, a little corner of Paradise (places the students think of as their own Paradise), the neighbourhood around the school, etc.
- Disposable, 35 mm or digital cameras
- Film or memory cards
- 40?x60? panel on which to display photos (cardboard, bulletin board, etc.)
- Glue, photo corners or adhesive tape
- Felt pens
- Printer and photographic paper if digital cameras are used
- Cost of developing photos if film is used
- Prepare the equipment you will need for the photo session (cameras, memory card or film)
- Depending on your budget, you can give each student a camera or divide the students into small groups for the purpose of sharing a camera. You can decide on the number of photos to be taken by each student on the basis of your budget and the size of the groups.
Preparation for the photo session Together in class, the students will have defined the word ?evidence?, then looked at examples of photojournalism in magazines. They will have discussed possible subjects among themselves and chosen one on which they will do their photo story.
Outdoor photography session Using the camera, they will create their photo story. To allow for a greater variety of shots, the students are divided in groups of four. N.B.: there should be a monitor for each group. The students are encouraged to try a variety of framing and different points of view. What will be included in the photographic frame? What will be left out? Which elements will be
Selection of the photos and discussion After you have returned to class and had the photos developed or printed, the students will make a selection among the photos. The difficulty at this stage will be choosing photos according to the criteria they decided on together: the message they hope to convey, the visual quality, etc.
The students will discuss the final selection. Can some photos be juxtaposed with others to emphasize the subject or message? How will they be displayed on the panels or cardboard?
Exhibition They will divide their photos among several panels. They will write a title on each panel and a legend under each photo.
Exhibition in one of the classrooms in the school.
Take it Further
Ask the students to examine some of the photographs that were not chosen for display. What stories do these images tell? Each student should write a short legend for one of the photographs and compare it with the other legends for that photograph. Are the legends similar or different? Why? Were different legends written for the same place?
The student recognizes few elements and principles of composition in his own and his classmates? work and does not relate them to a message.
The student recognizes several elements and principles of composition in his and his classmates? work. He identifies how they have been used to express a message.
The student recognizes all the elements and principles of composition in his and his classmates? work and he comments on how they are used to express a message.
The student takes photos without consideration of elements and principles of composition.
The student uses various elements and principles of composition (composition, points of view, framing, shadows and light) in his photographs in order to express an idea.
The student is innovative in his use of elements and principles of composition (composition, points of view, framing, shadows and light) to express a complex message.
The student provides simple comments about the photographs and does not relate them to the subject chosen by the class.
The student explains how the elements and principles of composition have been used to emphasize a subject and/or a particular situation decided on in class.
The student explains in a detailed, critical way how the elements and principles of composition have been used to emphasize a subject and/or a particular situation decided on in class.