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Literacy through Self-Ethnography

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Keywords: Photography, writing
Subject(s): Art, Technology, Writing, Photography, Social Studies, English/Language Arts, Journalism
Grades 6 through 8
School: Sacajawea Middle School, Bozeman, MT
Planned By: Becca Stevens
Original Author: Becca Stevens, Bozeman
Literacy through Self-Ethnography

Purpose: Students discover their writer’s voice by using a medium they are accustomed to expressing themselves with as a guidepost to literacy.

Relevance: Photography is an unrestricted art form. It does not discriminate based on age or ability. Even children and adults unfamiliar with photography can make photographs of what they see and imagine. When students write from a photograph, especially ones they’ve taken, they are able to write more. They write about their own experiences. Photographs motivate and inspire writing. They spur thoughts and inspire ideas. We all feel a need to articulate and communicate something relevant about who we really are.

Project Goals: 1.) To improve students’ writing by incorporating photography into descriptive, and narrative exercises designed to inspire more varied and creative perspectives.
2.) To enhance visual as well as verbal literacy.
3.) For students to see themselves as writers.

Description: Literacy through Self-Ethnography encourages children to discover who they are as they photograph scenes from their own lives and then reflect upon their images as inspiration for verbal and written expression. By generating an intentional environment, student engagement reaches its maximum potential. Linking photography to writing encourages students to lead and invest in a writing life. Students will compose digital images and use them as a catalyst for writing. This project is a comprehensive look at an adolescent writer over the course of a year. The project will make authentic use of the 6+1 Traits of Writing, aligns to the Bozeman School District’s standards of writing and reading and supports Bozeman School District’s Long Range Strategic Plan for proficiency in reading and writing. It is an on-going compilation of images and compositions beginning with a self portrait and ending with a self-portrait. Each assignment will include a photography lesson and a writing piece based on the six themes below, taken from the Smithsonian Photography Initiative:
• who we are
• what we do
• what we see
• where we go
• what we want
• what we remember
Each student will keep a portfolio of work (photographs and writing) throughout the year and will be required to reflect on their progress once per trimester. A student exhibition will culminate the project in the spring.
Materials: Digital Cameras, Point and Shoot, Printers, Camera/Video Accessories, Camera Bags, Batteries, Memory Cards