Using a 365 Photo Challenge in Education
Many teachers in my professional learning community are participating in what is called a 365 Challenge. A 365 Challenge is a commitment of a blogger to post daily on his or her blog. The most common approach involves taking a picture everyday for an entire year and uploading it to a blog, Flickr, or similar photo sharing website. Weekly photography challenges are also popular ways to meet one’s goals. The Daily Shoot offers daily assignments and the blog Written, Inc. offers weekly themes.
Seeing how cool and awesome other people’s 365 challenges turned out, I decided to start one. As I have been doing this, I have been thinking about how a 365 challenge, modified in some way, could work in the classroom.
I know what you are saying. Digital cameras are expensive. Not necessarily. A decent digital camera can be found for $100. However, there is no need to purchase new equipment. Many students have cameras built-in to their cell phones and could use them. My GPS Camera Phone is an example of a photography blog in which the author publishes pictures he has captured with his [wikipop search=”Global Positioning System”]GPS[/wikipop] camera cell phone.
There are several connections to a host of learning objectives. Obviously, there is the art aspect. Photography is an art after all. Students can practice all those art terms like perspective and composition. Uploading the pictures to the internet incorporates technology, as well. Students can learn how to edit their photos and format web pages. What other subjects can benefit from a photography challenge?
Two recent assignments at The Daily Shoot involved converging lines and intersecting lines, both topics covered in geometry. Students could be sent out to take pictures of various geometrical shapes, such as octagons and rectangular prisms. Upper level students could be sent out to find pictures of [wikipop]conic sections[/wikipop] which could then be used to help students practice writing equations. Younger students could take pictures of numbers or x number of things in an image.
Students could use the pictures they take as a starting point to creative or expository writing. They could also take pictures that illustrate a scene from literature. Alternatively, photographs could be used as a writing prompt. Especially for teachers that may not yet be ready to manage the technology of a [wikipop]photoblog[/wikipop], using pictures found on existing blogs could be a creative way to get students thinking and writing. Students can practice prose, poetry, persuasive and humorous speeches. Writing competitions often present students with interesting photographs to interpret.
Students could take pictures of local landmarks, historical and geographical markers. For history, students could take pictures of things that represent local history and write about it, connecting it to global or national history. They could also look at how the region has changed throughout the years. Incorporate a scavenger hunt and now students can work in teams to learn more about local people, places and history in a fun and dynamic way.
Students could take pictures of wildlife and nature. For example, they could spend the weekend taking pictures of trees, leaves, seeds and flowers or finding signs of wildlife such as bird nests, feathers, or dens. This can then be followed up with classroom lessons about environmental science, ecology, zoology or biology. Students could do a series of photos on how a certain feature, such as a river bank, changes throughout the year. This could make a perfect independent study project for ambitious students.
There are a variety of ways to use digital cameras in education and a variety of ways to challenge the students to take pictures. Plus, let us not forget the community aspects. There are several blog communities that cover these topics and more. With proper adult supervision, students can connect to experts and find a mentor. The key is to find a challenge that is meaningful to students that also helps them construct knowledge and still meet a variety of learning objectives.
- Snup’s Photos: Tina Fanetti’s 365 Photo Challenge Blog
- Nature Blog Network: List of nature photography blogs
- Vanishing STL: Chronicles the loss of architecture and changing urban landscape in St. Louis
- Online Writing Challenges
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