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Nature Inspired Digital Alphabet

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Keywords: Alphabets, Science, nature, digital cameras, Technology, and word processing
Subject(s): Science, Technology, Photography
Grades 2 through 5
School: Laurin Middle School, Vancouver, WA
Planned By: Tammy Smith
Original Author: Anne Myers, Shreveport
1. Students will collect digital images found in nature to represent the alphabet.
2. Students will apply computer skills to create their own digital nature inspired alphabet books.
3. Utilize appropriate vocabulary to communicate effectively in a technological society.

Approximate Duration of the Lesson:
10 40 minute class periods

Materials and Equipment:
Examples of letters created in nature, Alphabet Through Nature by Lynne Smith Diebel and Jann Faust Kalscheur

Technology Resources Needed:
Digital camera, desktop publishing software such as AppleWorks, MS Word or Publisher, Printer, LCD projector or other projection device

Students should have basic digital camera skills such as how to operate the camera, save, and download files.

1. Introduce the lesson by showing students Alphabet Through Nature by Lynne Smith Diebel and Jann Faust Kalscheur.
Show other examples of alphabet letters in nature. It is best to show several examples for each letter for students to get a better understanding of the assignment. Tell students that they will be using a digital camera to create their own alphabet in nature.

2. Review the basics of good composition with students. See attachment covering the basics of composition.

It is very easy to hold the camera to your eye and take a picture. Good photography requires us all to think about where we are taking the picture from as well as what we are taking.
I. Vantage Point
a. The best photographs are made when the photographer chooses a vantage point to suit the subject, and it is surprising how few subjects are suited by the height of a human standing at their full five to six feet.
b. This is compounded by the fact that when someone views the image they will see pretty much what they themselves would have taken because they haven't been told about bending your knees or climbing a ladder to shoot better pictures.

II. The Simpler the Better
a. The textbooks will all tell you that there are a number of rules for composing a photograph.
b. Simple compositions often work the best and there are several ways of keeping it simple.
c. One way is to work with a small depth of field. The human eye will always be drawn to the subject that is in sharp focus with a simple out of focus background. Usually this will mean that the background doesn't contribute to the image, but every so often an out of focus background forms a really important part of the image.

III. Space
a. Some subject matters are crying out for space.
b. A large area of foreground or background can lend an enormous amount of emphasis to an image.
c. Placing a small subject in a large space helps you to tell a story. If you place a person in one of the bottom corners you might suggest loneliness or vulnerability, whereas placing them at the top may well imply the opposite.

IV. Attention Getters
a. One of the simplest ways to hold attention into a picture is to incorporate a frame into the image.
b. All kinds of things can help with this task in compositional terms and because of the left to right, top to bottom bias with which we westerners read everything in the top and right are the most in need of our help.
c. Windows, doors, abstract shapes, blocks of color and shadows can all perform this optical trick but there is rarely an absolute need for the bottom of the photograph to have a retaining feature.

V. Basic Rules
a. There are some other basic rules that may well be worth remembering too (all rules in photography can be broken)
* Avoiding having people looking out of a frame or cutting through joints on human (or animal) limbs.
* It's best to avoid having pointless details on the edge of a photograph or having the brightest point in a corner.

3. Give students time to explore the school grounds for examples of the alphabet in nature. Give students several days (including the weekend) to complete taking the pictures.

4. Have students download their pictures to a file. Instruct students how to insert a picture in a blank document.

Students should open a new word processing document.
Then go to Insert on the menu bar.
Select picture - From File.

Locate the picture that needs to be inserted into the document.
After the picture is inserted, then insert a text box. Type the letter in the text box.

Demonstrate how to insert the photos of their letter onto their page before students begin.

Don't forget to include a frame around the photo to help emphasize the image.

5. Assist students in completing each letter and printing them out.

6. Have students mount their photos on cardstock and then bind into an alphabet book in alphabetical order. The completed book is the final product.

7. Students will share these books with the ECE and Kindergarden classes as well as being placed in the elementary library.
Assessment Strategies:
The attached rubric will be used to assess this lesson. Students will review each book and vote for the "best" (most original and interesting) photo for each letter.
Homework Assignment - Have each student spell his name with the digital alphabet. To give the assignment a "twist," all the photos must have a common element such as water, leaves, texture, etc.
Links: RubiStar*free tool*teachers create quality rubrics.
Materials: Wildlife, Digital SLR, Mobile Labs, Word Processor, Clipart, Science, Camera Bags, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries
Other Items: 6 cases of white cardstock, $109.00 each, total of $654.00
6 Rolls of laminating film, $110.00 each, total of $660.00
4 HP Laserjet black ink cartridge, $75.00 each, total of $300.00
4 HP Laserjet yellow ink cartridge, $83.00 each, total of $332.00
4 HP Laserjet cyan ink cartridge, $83.00 each, total of $332.00
4 HP Laserjet magenta ink cartridge, $83.00 each, total of $332.00