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The Autobiography of a Middle School


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Keywords: English, self-esteem, school culture, photo journalism, technology, art
Subject(s): Social Studies, Photography, Information Skills, English/Language Arts, Technology, Social Skills, Art, Science, Journalism, Math
Grades 6 through 8
Original Author: Susan Mitchell, Independence
Our middle school is actually two middle schools that were forced to combine three years ago due to mold in one of the buildings. Since the shuffle, our schools have suffered a loss of identity and self-esteem. The purpose of this project is to integrate technology, creativity and the Virginia Standards of Learning to create a slide show production that will help to rebuild the middle school students' sense of identity, pride, and culture.

Students would use the Digital Cameras to photograph and document their school experiences as well as the various personalities of their peers, classes, buildings, teachers, and administrators. They would then use the Tool Factory Painter to manipulate their photos to show the perspective they want viewers to see. They would also use the Tool Factory Word Processor to write poetry, essays or biographies to go along with their shots. They would utilize the Tool Factory Database to create an organized database to categorize their pictures by topic or theme until they are ready to put them together for their production or school web page.

Much of the year long project will be student directed. The Student Council, Eighth Grade Honors English Class and Class Officers, under the direction of their advisor , will work together to decide what they want to produce and then throughout the year students will be assigned various subjects to document and photograph. Every eighth grade student will be invited to contribute something to the production. The final goal of this project will be an autobiographical photo-essay slide show that the students will present to their peers, parents, faculty, and school board at the eighth grade graduation. They may also produce some smaller shows throughout the school year and possibly create a more up-to date school web page.

During the school year the Olympus Digital Cameras will also be used by students in their core academic classes, as teachers will be checking them out for students to use in their classrooms to enhance their daily lessons in all subject areas. The Tool Factory Software will also be utilized daily by students because it will be installed in the computer labs where everyone will have access to it.

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Some of the different topics teachers and students will use the material to cover are:
Math: geometry, measurement, scale, dilations, transformations, fractions, algebraic functions, graphing
English: writing, parts of speech, poetry, characterization, vocabulary, point of view, publishing, letter writing
Science: classification, observation, scientific method, data collection, ecosystems
Art: multimedia
Follow-Up
After the final production, during the summer, the rising eighth grade class officers will be invited to produce a "back to school" slide production. Also if the production goes well and students or families want a copy of the production, we might sell copies for the cost of burning a disc plus enough money to keep the program self sustaining from year to year.
Materials: Word Processor, Flash/USB Drives, Camera Bags, Sports, Digital SLR, Yearbook, Point and Shoot, Spreadsheet, Database
Other Items: 3 memory cards, $40 each, total of $120.00
1 photo printer, $200 each, total of $200.00
1 ink/photo paper, $50 each, total of $50.00
1 package batteries for camera, $30 each, total of $30.00
2 512 MB USB flash drives, $50 each, total of $100.00