Getting Down With The Alphabet

Project URL: www.teachersnetwork.org/teachnetusa/smcmahon/project.htm 

How it works:
Last year, I began a photo club with students in my yearbook class. We met three to four times a week and took digital pictures of school events. Each week students would focus on something they would like to improve in their work. During one particular meeting, they decided that they wanted to design their own book. The students came up with a project where they would take pictures of everyday objects in their school environment. The one condition was that they had to see a letter of the alphabet in each photo. The final product would be an Alphabet Book.

The students were all extremely involved in this project and looked for their "letters" all over the school campus. We spent a lot of time learning Adobe Photoshop and printing the letters on various mediums. The students literally took hundreds of pictures. We would look at the photos, vote, work on them in Adobe Photoshop, and vote again.

Getting Down With The Alphabet engages students in an activity that requires higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. The students become more aware of their surroundings and are excited to be at school. They learn how to use digital cameras, scanners, printers, Abobe Photoshop, Apple iMovie, and AppleWorks. This program empowers students to gain creative knowledge of themselves and the world around them.

Standards addressed:  
Students develop complex presentations, use software programs designed to foster creativity, devise innovative ways of using information technology resources,  and demonstrate the ability to combine and synthesize information drawn from two or more technology-based resources to acquire new knowledge and understanding of multi-media projects.

Materials used:
Required items include at least one computer with Internet connection, one or more digital cameras, Adobe Photoshop, floppy disks, photo paper, iMovie, a projector, a television, and photography books/magazines.

The students:
The students involved in the project were highly motivated 8th graders who loved photography. This is important because the students need to take a tremendous amount of pictures.

Overall value:
Using a camera, students create instant art. This program aids students in thinking, pursuing, and exploring the use of technology and photography more deeply and creatively. It motivates students to become familiar with the school community. It becomes an intense scavenger hunt to find the best letter in the best light or with the best composition. Oh, the joy of teaching!
This program needs to start off with a bang. The students must get excited about photography. Invite a local newspaper photographer in to discuss his/her profession. Show lots of pictures that match the interests of your students. Have Web sites, books, and magazines available for them. Value their opinions;  they are masters because they are bombarded with media.


About the teacher:
Susan McMahon-Dyogi has been teaching for sixteen years. For ten of those years she worked with students with emotional / behavioral difficulties.  While working on her masters in special education,  she fell in love with technology. Her thesis focused on technology and writing. She now teaches computers, AVID, Yearbook and Web Page Design to 7th and 8th grade students. Through the use of photography, Susan has seen the world with different eyes. This program is a direct result of this hobby. She wanted to pass this perspective on to students so that they could be more observant of the world around them.


Subject Areas:    

Grade Levels: