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Liese Ricketts


"The prospect of using the podcast format appealed to me because so many students use their iPods for more than simply listening to music," says high school photography teacher Liese Ricketts. "At the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, we love incorporating new, relevant technologies into the classroom."

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The students in Ricketts' 2006 advanced photography class created podcasts containing their images with sound in a series called "Show & Tell," which is available through iTunes. The activity gave the high schoolers a chance not only to publish their original photos, but to share the ideas and experiences behind those photos. Each podcast features a student photographer in a conversation with Ricketts as his or her photographs are displayed.

For the project, students in the advanced photography class generate portfolios of work on a subject of their own choosing. They write a proposal explaining what they want to pursue thematically, and how. They shoot approximately 20 rolls of film in either 35mm or medium format. Occasionally, a student will work with a 4X5 view camera as well.

"The intent is for the student to engage a vision or idea beyond a single image or roll, investigating the concept more intensively," Ricketts told Education World. "He or she then has a body of work that illuminates his or her style and vision more clearly. Each student then writes a statement to accompany the work."

In his podcast, Mike Olander reflected on isolation exerienced during middle and high school.

For Ricketts, podcasting has been relatively easy to master. She uses GarageBand software to record and publish the work. Interestingly, one of the class's greatest challenges was decidedly "low-tech" -- finding a quiet space in which to record. A conference room in the library was the solution.

"I was surprised at the power of the sound that accompanied the images," shared Ricketts. "To hear each student speak about the work in his or her own words made the images so much more meaningful for me. It moved me a lot."

The work of Ricketts' students will be part of Art Chicago at the David Weinberg Collection in Chicago this month. She often looks for venues, like podcasting, through which students can show their work beyond the classroom or school.

"We have exhibited in galleries or had our work published in journals of photography," added Ricketts. "Its important for me that my high school students, despite their ages, see themselves as emerging artists/photographers with a voice."

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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