For teachers in the northern hemisphere starting or getting ready to start school for the fall 2007 term (or others already in school) a digital photography contest could be a great challenge to share with students as they return to classes.
The Adobe Digital Kids Club along with Technology and Learning are sponsoring the 2007 “Portraits of Learning” digital photography contest. According to the website:
The competition, open to all K-12 students, challenges you to captureâ€”and shareâ€”your unique vision of the world in a “Digital Diaryâ€”Through My Lens.” If you have an artistic side, you also have the option to digitally enhance your photos with your favorite imaging software. The best digitally enhanced photo wins a special prize from Adobe. Other prizes include a digital camera, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and more!
According to Lynn Burmark of the Thornburg Center, the human brain processes a visual image over 60,000 times faster than text. That was a key statistic I remember from Lynn’s excellent presentation about visual literacy at TCEA a few years ago (I think in 2006).
If you are NOT using visual images in your lessons with students and encouraging them to use appropriate visual imagery, you are missing out on BIG opportunities for learning and idea retention. In many cases, images have a powerful capacity to burn themselves into our consciousness, along with emotions, sounds, feelings, and ideas which are associated with the image at the time. Some of this takes place at an unconscious level, but by using visual images consistently and appropriately as we learn and share our learning we can intentionally encourage this powerful process of transfer and retention. Flickr Creative Commons remains my favorite place to find images (by searching for keyword “tags”) to use in presentations, but YotoPhoto is also good. The Enid Public Schools’ technology department has created a good website on “Audio, Photo, Image Editors and Video Resources,” and that is where I originally learned about YotoPhoto.
Consider sponsoring a local digital photography contest for students in your school in the next several months. Create your own categories, and find out what local businesses will donate for prizes. Prizes don’t have to be expensive and flashy (although big items like digital cameras and iPods are always nice.) Kids can be excited to win something as small as a free treat at the local Sonic drive-in!
By inviting students to contribute their ideas, perspectives, and visions of the world in a digital photography or digital storytelling contest, we can invite them to develop a host of digital literacy skills which may or many not be frequently encouraged by their regular classroom teacher(s). In addition, and just as important, we can provide a venue to celebrate student work and student creativity. If your school principal and other district administrators are looking for ways to help students meet the new ISTE NETS-S standards for creativity and innovation (and they SHOULD BE) then a contest about digital photography could be a welcome idea.
Encourage students to use their cell phone digital cameras to take and contribute photos! The CellFlix Film Festival is an example of an educational digital storytelling contest using cell phones for short videos, but cell phones can certainly be also used for still photography. Because of the generally lower resolution and lower quality of many cell phone images, consider having separate categories in your school or district’s digital photography contest for images taken with cell phone cameras.
If students enter one or more images in your local digital photography contest, encourage them to enter their images in national and international contests as well, like “Portraits of Learning.” The world is increasingly flat (when people have access to the web) and no matter where you live, there’s no reason a student from your local area can’t win an award along with the international recognition which accompanies it in a contest like this.
Find tangible ways to encourage creativity and edify students for their appropriate and creative self-expression this school year. A digital photography contest is one way to advance this important goal. If you and your students are looking for great tips related to digital photography and videography, check out Marco Torres’ FLICKSCHOOL.
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