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Examining Visual Storytelling
Author (s): Garland McKee
Grade (s): 9-12
Subject (s): Journalism, Language Arts
Overview of Lesson Plan: In this lesson, students will respond to a writing prompt in their journals, participate in a Jeopardy Photography session, and examine photographs from the New York Times and Washington Post. Students will also create photo collages depicting a recent or past issue in the news that will be posted in the classroom for “exhibition” purposes.
Suggested Time Allowance: 50-60 minutes
1. Respond to a writing prompt focusing on photographs in their journals
2. Recall elements of photojournalism
3. Participate in a Jeopardy Photojournalism session (implementing comprehension skills of effective photography components)
4. Examine photographs and interpret, in detail, what they imagine the composition of the story to say. Students must also interpret and explain how the photograph reinforces the proposed story composition (or “visually storytells” through the photograph).
5. Create a collage representing a current or past event or issue
6. Display and discuss collage “exhibits” as a class
Resources / Materials:
Activities / Procedures:
1. WARM UP / DO NOW: The teacher will write a writing prompt on the board before students enter the classroom. In their journals, students will respond to the following prompt written on the dry-erase board: Describe a photograph that made a strong impression on you. Why do you think this photograph is so memorable? The teacher will allow the students ample time to ponder and answer the question. The teacher will ask students to share their answers with the class.
2. JEOPARDY PHOTOJOURNALISM SESSION / “RECAPPING PHOTOJOURNALISM”: The teacher will project the computer screen that contains the Jeopardy Photojournalism session (that the teacher has composed prior to class period). The game will contain numerous categories related to photojournalism. Questions such as “the way to tell a story through pictures”, “the focus of the picture in photojournalism”, or “the surroundings of a photograph” might be possible selections. Students will respond to the selections with answers that will, after a specific number of points, earn students extra credit. Answers such as “photojournalism,” “composition,” “point of interest,” “simplicity,” “contrast,” “balance,” “framing,” and “viewpoint” will be covered. Students will review key ideas from the photojournalism lecture and further comprehend concepts to prepare for the next classroom activity.
3. EXAMINATION OF ARTICLES / “IMPLEMENTING VISUAL STORYTELLING”: Students will place their assigned article on the large table in the front of the classroom. (Students were to pick a journalism photograph of interest to them from the New York Times or Washington Post websites.) Students will choose an article from the table (different from their own) to examine. Students will respond to the picture by answering the following questions:
Students will answer the list of questions based on the photographs. Students will apply knowledge base of photojournalism, which had been reviewed. Each student will conduct a short presentation on their photograph, discuss several answers from the list, and provide rationale of “visual storytelling” proposal.
4. WRAP-UP / “COMPOSING PHOTO COLLAGES”: Students will create photo collages depicting a recent or past event in the news (some suggestions include the Terrorist Attack, conflicts in Israel, or the Bush transition). Students will be allowed one week to explore the news event and compose a collage. Students will then display their personal collage around the classroom. The class will “tour” each “exhibit” and then discuss which images are most striking and why, and what the images convey about the event. The elements of “visual storytelling” or photojournalism will be reinforced.
5. ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR LATER DISCUSSIONS:
§ Why would a photographer want to take candid pictures of people he or she does not know?
§ What is the role of photographs in preserving the history of a family or an event?
§ Do you think that photographers have a responsibility to the people they photograph? To what extent? Why?
6. EVALUATION: Students will be evaluated based on written journal entry, participation in Jeopardy Photojournalism session, completion of the “examining your photograph” exercise, and completion of photo collage.
7. RESOURCES: www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/ contains sample journalism lesson plans that provide teacher insight. The New York Times and Washington Post websites offer professional news articles and photographs that students can use within the classroom.
8. SUMMARY: The lesson will allow students to respond to a photograph writing prompt, recall photojournalism key concepts, examine professional photographs from Internet websites, and compose photo collages to display comprehension. The students will recall key concepts in an exciting manner by conducting the Jeopardy session. Students will receive an opportunity to choose an interesting newspaper photograph and examine the pictures as well. Students will gain an appreciation for photojournalism or “visual storytelling” through examination, participation, and composition.