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Showcasing Michelle Gay and "Photo Journals"


"I wanted to design a writing program that would motivate my students," Michelle Gay told Education World. "I believed that if the kids took pictures of things they liked, they would enjoy writing about their pictures."

Gay's students use a special journal for their photos and descriptive writings.

So Gay, a fourth-grade teacher at Foley Intermediate School in Foley, Alabama, wrote to the Fuji film company, and received a grant -- in the form of 100 one-time-use 35mm cameras. Every quarter, each student receives a camera capable of taking 15 prints.

According to Gay, "My students took pictures of things in the classroom and outside. At open house, they took pictures of parents. They took pictures of guest speakers in our classroom.

"After the pictures were developed, they sorted them into three groups of five photos. One group they used as prompts for writing descriptive paragraphs; one group they mounted and displayed in the classroom; one group they took home."

Each page of a student's photo journal has a box for a photo and lines for the student's writing.

Gay reports that the students enjoy photographing personal projects in the classroom. In fact, they were so excited when their first photos were developed that the event reminded her of Christmas morning!

"What has surprised me the most is how the students respect the rules of taking pictures," Gay observed. "I had a professional photographer come and speak to the class, and she gave them tips on using the camera."

To implement this activity in your classroom, Gay recommends allowing extra time for students to take their photos. She also suggests labeling the cameras with the students' names and storing them yourself, so you can choose when the students may use them. Above all, Gay says let students explore and enjoy the art of photography.

Photos courtesy of Michelle Gay.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2003 Education World

 

01/12/2004