We are photographers Unit 2.3: A case study

Laura Mason from Hylands Primary School, explains how her school ran the Year 4 Switched on Computing unit, We are Photographers.

Preparing the unit
I explored lots of the different websites cited where pupils could explore photographs and downloaded lots of different photo editing apps on my iPad as the children were going to take their photographs on iPads.

Running the unit
Hylands Primary 1Children explored 3 different websites to analyse different photographs, they took their photographs using the iPad and they used the aviary photo editor app to edit their photographs. Some used a separate colour splash app as the colour splash options within the photo editor app do not allow you to zoom in enough. Blurbs were written and printed by the children for each photograph explaining why they decided to use that particular background, model, camera angle, editing effect etc. The children used a template created by me on Microsoft publisher to do this.

We ran this unit over 5 or 6 sessions, including a presentation by a parent who is a professional photographer and an exhibition at the end of the unit where parents were invited in to view the photographs. The photos were then judged by a photographer, our Head Teacher and Deputy Head.

Linking to the rest of the curriculum
We decided to take photographs of people because we were studying portraits in Art at the same time. Children explored taking full body, half body and head shots and also explored different angles and action shots. If completed later in the school year, we would have linked the unit to some of our science work where we would have the opportunity to take more photographs of nature, plants, flowers, trees etc.

Extending the project
Hylands primary 2We provided the links to the photography websites (e.g. flikr) through the pupils’ activelearn portal (www.activelearnprimary.co.uk) It was part of their homework to explore portrait photography. By giving the pupils the links to the websites through activelearn, they gain rewards when they visit the websites and complete our tasks.

Pupil response
They loved it! They liked that they got to choose who they took their photograph of, they loved the photography session and also really enjoyed sharing their photographs at the end of the unit. Many commented that they wanted more time in order to practise taking other photographs; for example, we focussed on taking photographs outside as we had a few consecutive frosty days which provided great backgrounds whereas other children wanted to take more action shots in the hall in a PE session where they could get children jumping off apparatus etc.

Hylaands Primary 3Everyone was able to plan, take focussed photographs and edit them in different ways. We had interesting results in that some of our higher ability children (generally in maths and literacy) added too many effects to their photographs or didn’t think about where they would take their photographs etc. Some of our less able children actually produced the most effective photographs as they found it easier to be creative.


Assessing work
Pupils self assess at the end of each unit in their folders. The blurb they wrote to accompany each photograph also worked well as an assessment because it got them to think about why they made those particular choices and what they would do differently next time. It then became easy to assess the children who couldn’t give answers to these questions – i.e. the photographs were a bit of a fluke! As teachers we assess each child against the all, most, some criteria. The children also peer assessed and the photographs were entered into an anonymous competition where 3 winners were chosen and 5 runners up.

We also used enlarged versions of the badges on the CD-ROM to display in the classrooms and small versions at the top of each self-assessment sheet for each unit.

Recommended software or apps
I would recommend using the Photo Editor app by Aviary

Final comments
We were really pleased with the outcomes of the unit and the children enjoyed sharing their work in an exhibition and then presented in a class assembly. Some of the best were shared on our school website. When we have time in the curriculum, we will revisit this unit to explore other types of photography apart from portrait photography.


Switched On Computing

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