I came away from the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute brimming with ideas about photography and why we need to enhance learning by giving children a camera.
Cathy Hunt, of the iPad Art Room, shared the idea that “it all starts with the camera, because from this launching point we can support students to develop their ability to communicate”. In her classroom she sees how cameras help children ‘see their world differently’ and that their ‘connected cameras are always collecting’.
Dave Caleb, a digital literacy coach in South East Asia, explains “images are an incredible medium. They transcend language barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can read a photograph”. He reflects that ‘your camera roll is your story’ and now that students have access to devices, they have a powerful story telling device at their finger tips. He concluded that ‘We need to teach our students to capture powerful images. It is a literacy we need to teach. It is tied to what it means to be human’.
Both of these presentations at the ADE Institute support the reasons why I start and end with photography each year my Foundation Stage classes. At the end of last year I published the ‘One Best Photo’ resources with The Forestry Commission but each September I wonder how I will progress my new class of 4 year olds to this level of creativity on their iPads. And each September, the 4 year olds amaze me!
As with everything, at the start of the year in Foundation, it’s about mastering the basics. I start with photography because it introduces a few key skills to using an iPad which later on helps my young learners to author more personalised work.
- iPads are mobile devices. Photography gets us moving around with the device. Moving around with the device means we have to hold it securely. So we learn how to do that.
- Taking photographs is a large part of the work we do over the year with our iPads. The apps I use with my class depend on them taking good photographs to use in their digital work.
- Finding the photos that they love, and deleting the ones they don’t. Later in the year we talk about e-Safety and photo etiquette so how do we take a good photograph and what do we do with a photograph that doesn’t meet the mark?
For our first photography challenge of the year we linked it to our book study of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. This week we have learned the story and now we are starting to adapt it ready to write ‘Children, Children, what do you see?’. This photography challenge was a game which introduced this question that will become a repeated refrain in our writing. It also links to them to their new classroom and environment. In the activity they listen to our clues, then have to head out to snap a photo of the place they think is the answer.
“Children, Children, what do you see?
I see a place to..
I see a place where I could…
That helps me to….”
We are teaching children to carry their iPads safely, navigate the camera app, use the shutter button and find their photo in the camera roll. At the same time, they are showing their listening and attention skills. They demonstrate early problem solving skills through verbal reasoning, justifying why they photographed that place. Their photos show how they have made sense of their classroom and learning environment.
We also teach the children to delete their photographs after printing them for their writing. This takes some time, especially when the shutter button has been held down and 297 photographs are taking in 3 seconds!
Right now this seems long way off to taking the powerful images that Dave Caleb talked about, but this is foundations of digital photography. It’s the very beginnings of story telling by collecting photographs. These images are used in our story writing, linking digital documenting to physical recording. Later in the year we will use Pic Collage to document our learning, Puppet Pals to plan stories and Stop Motion to animate shape pictures. All of these activities depend on good use of the camera, so these early experiences are key to success later on in the year. With many more photography activities planned over the coming weeks, I know we will get to ‘One Best Photo‘ in June!