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Capturing History

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Keywords: Photography, Historic Preservation, Visual Arts
Subject(s): Art, Geography, Photography, Social Studies, Civics, History
Grades 6 through 8
School: Shenandoah Middle School, Miami, FL
Planned By: Terri Herrera
Original Author: Terri Herrera, Miami
An Eighth Grade Photography Unit
U.S. History/Local History/Civics
Terri Herrera, Instructor

Purpose of lesson:

Combining photography, research, and art proves to be highly motivating for students with all types of learning styles and results in students showing improved photography skills, visual art awareness, and a chance to make connections with written expression. This lesson is also quite effective in getting students to understand the importance and need for preserving historic sites - in their community, nation, and world.

Step One:

Brainstorm with students about the meaning of the word preservation. Document their answers on the board.

Then, ask students to identify local historic sites that they feel merit preservation and cite reasons why they merit the honor.

Step Two:

Discuss local sites and divide students into groups, assigning students to each of the places discussed in class. Have them research each location and present to the class why this site merits preservation.

Step Three:
Schedule a one-day field trip to the historic sites students researched. Assign students a digital camera and have them photograph each site. They should photograph architectural details, historic areas, and its environment.

Step Four:

Once students return to the classroom, have them select and print the photos they think best represents their site. Have them create a Capturing History display board using their photographs and research about the site.

The finishing touch is to have students create an art piece (as the centerpiece of their display) using either scratch art, pastels, watercolor, paint markers, acrylic, or mixed media using one of the images they took of their site.

Step Five:

Have students present their locations (photographs, art piece, and research) to the rest of the class using a rubric for evaluation.

Time: ABOUT FIVE CLASS PERIODS (Block): One to two class periods (if on block schedule) for steps one and two; one day for the field trip; one class period for selection of photographs and setting up of displays; once class period finishing touches; one class period for presentations.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This activity can be used in a civics class as well as in an art class.
This activity can become one of civic engagement: this can also be presented to community and local councils!
Materials: Point and Shoot, Digital SLR, Printers, Camera Bags, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries, Memory Cards, Cables, Social Studies, Word Processor, Art Tools, Keyboarding, Clip Art, Student Resources, Integrating Technology