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Photographing touch

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Keywords: blind, nature
Subject(s): Social Skills, Life Science, Special Needs, Earth Science, Biology, Science
Grades 5 through 12
School: Gov Morehead Sch for the Blind, N C Centraliz, NC
Planned By: Lori Blake
Original Author: Lori Blake, N C Centraliz
Objective: Students with visual impairments will interact with nature on campus using a combination of touch and digital photography.

Materials needed: Point and shoot digital camera (with batteries and memory card) for each student. Quality laser printer (with ink and paper). PIAF (pictures in a flash machine-optional).

grade suitability: middle and high school


1) give students cameras and allow them to tactilely explore them. Assist students in finding power button and in finding front and back of camera. Allow students to take a few pictures to become familiar with the sound of the shutter.

2) Give students basic information about taking pictures with their camera. Inform them that they must keep the camera still until the shutter sound finishes. Also tell them that they must be at least an arms length away from their subject. Tell them to consider shape, texture, and contrast when choosing subjects.

3) Take students on a walk to a garden or natural area on campus. Orient them to any possible hazards, and use sighted guide if needed for timid students. Help students locate flowers, interesting leaves, bark, etc. for photos. Gradually fade prompts so that students are locating subjects on their own.

4) Load students' photos onto computer and review with students. Describe the photos to them, and let them know things like "I think you moved the camera" or "there was not enough light for this photo". Pick the best few photos from each student and print. These photos may be displayed in the school or sent home with sudents.

optional- photos with good contrast can be transferred to black and white and made tactile using PIAF (Pictures in a Flash), if available.

5) Ask students what they have learned through this activity. Discuss the variety of plants and animals encountered on campus. Have students tell about the subjects they chose, and why they chose to photograph those subjects. Discuss what shape and texture can tell you about an organism's adaptation to its environment.
I know it sounds strange to have blind students taking photos, but I have used this activity, and it really works!
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Students can use the photos to graph they types of organsims found on campus (math). Students can use their experience while exploring nature on campus to write essays or poetry, or to do art projects.
Students can brainstorm plans for a new garden, nature path, or natural area on campus, then find resources to make that dream a reality.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Printers, Batteries, Memory Cards