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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

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Keywords: writing
Subject(s): Writing, Technology, English/Language Arts
Grade 4
Original Author: Thorina Sievenpiper, Mebane
I teach fourth grade with a state emphasis on writing. My goal is to improve test scores and motivate all students in writing by using photography as a way to focus their ideas for stories and illustrate completed works.

In the instruction of writing imaginative narratives, students will take three different photographs representing the beginning, middle and end of their story. Using the Tool Factory program Fresco, students will be able to add in elements to enhance their creativity and make their writing come alive. Once students have their thoughts down in photographs, they can then continue with the writing process, referring back to the photographs to keep their writing focused.

In the instruction of personal narratives, students will be able to check out the digital cameras so they can gather ideas from their homes and lives outside of the school setting. This would provide low socio-economic and immigrant students who may not have access to a camera the same opportunities to gather their thoughts in photographs.
Using the photographs as a focus, students are able to look back and remember clearly the events they are writing about.

Some writing ideas include
• writing a conversation between people in the photograph
• describing a photo to someone who can’t see it
• writing what a passer-by might think is happening in the photograph
• turning the photograph description into various types of poetry
• writing a letter to a person in the photograph telling what they mean to you or asking them questions

Integrating technology into their stories, students will use Tool Factory software to publish their finished product- a book. These books will be shared with reading buddies and other students in our school through media center circulation.

At the end of each semester, students will choose their favorite story and create a movie of their book, adding motion and sound effects. Students will also voice record their stories to serve as another literacy reinforcement for our English as a Second Language population. These movies will be burned onto DVDs as well as being published on my school website. DVDs will also be available for checkout for students in our media center. In this production, students will have the chance to become engaged in the story by seeing it both in photographs and words as well as hearing it read aloud by the author. Students have a purpose and audience for their writing and will feel a great sense of pride in the work they do!
This is a wonderful year long project, with many opportunities for differentiated instruction!
Materials: Batteries, Camera Bags, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 black printer ink, $36 each, total of $36.00
1 pack of spiral bindings, $60 each, total of $60.00
1 Photo paper, $30 each, total of $30.00
1 cardstock, $30 each, total of $30.00
1 DVD pack (50 disks, for burning stories), $30 each, total of $30.00
5 Memory cards, $30 each, total of $150.00
1 color printer ink, $60 each, total of $60.00
3 camera case, $15 each, total of $45.00
1 batteries and charger, $52 each, total of $52.00