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From Photos to Poetry


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Keywords: Poetry, Poems, Langston Hughes, writing, creative, English, Language Arts, Photography, Photos, Theme,
Subject(s): Writing, Art, English/Language Arts
Grades 8 through 12
School: Dodd Middle School, Cheshire, CT
Planned By: Christa Bosco
Original Author: Christa Bosco, Cheshire
Day 1: Begin lesson with a review of poetry: Poems are written as a form of expression. The expression can pertain to an emotion, or as a way to share the author's view of human nature. Explain to the student that they will be creating a poem project based on these two concepts: emotions and human nature.

Think/Pair/Share: Prompt the students to develop a list of emotions along with short phrases about human nature beginning with "People often..." and/or "Life often..." (For example, "Life's often unfair." Or "People often judge others before they know them.") (Slight variations from “People/Life often… should be accepted.) While sharing, compile a list on the board.

Students choose one human nature phrase and one corresponding emotion to focus their project on. Students write a paragraph explaining why they chose that pair and how they coincide.


Day 2: To begin, students will share with the class their choice for emotion and human nature phrase. Student may receive feedback.

Students will be assigned a digital camera. They must complete the following task: Using people as subject, the environment, or objects, capture on camera a series of 5 final images that reflect the essence of their emotion/human nature phrase.

Students may brainstorm possibilities for their photographs with a peer support group. At the end of class, students should have a list of different ideas for ways to capture their "essence." Share as a class.


Day 3: Students return to class with their 5 digital images.

Students work in groups of 4 or 5 to review the images. Students in the group deliberate and decide which image best represents the essence the student was going for in the photo.

By the end of class, each student must have decided on a final image to move to the next step with.

Day 4: Begin class with a read-aloud of "Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes accompanied by a photograph of an old staircase. Explain the connection between the emotion (hope) and the author’s note about human nature (People must not give up through difficult times) and the poem itself. Students should discuss the connections within their group. Share as a class.

Explain that the next step will be to develop a poem which encompasses the essence of the emotion and the phrase on human nature.

Before they begin, students must brainstorm a list of words which reflect the essence of their emotion/human nature phrase that can be used in their poem. Once they have a list of 5 or so words, they can begin planning and writing their poems.

Students may work on poems for the remainder of class.

Day 5: Student should print their poems with the image for sharing, grading, and display in the classroom.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Art- Students can also apply the priciples of composition to their images as learned in art class.
Follow-Up
Students should be able to read poems with an attempt to identify the poet's emotion and theme.
Materials: Memory Cards, Batteries, Camera Bags, Point and Shoot, Cables