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Preparation and Process

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Simon worked with Helen, the local Art adviser, to develop a unit of work that would challenge and inspire the students to achieve skills and understandings in visual arts and in the application of ICT to the contexts involved in the digital stories the students were to create. This expert support helped Simon focus on learning intentions and success criteria specifically related to visual arts learning.

The unit was to be an evolving piece of work. As students engaged with the learning their enthusiasm grew immensely and Simon sought new approaches and activities to keep them challenged and extend them further. He learned with his students and shared in the learning journey by working with community artists and their resources, searching extensively on the net, and trialling software to create quality products. It was the unit development process that was to be of most value to Simon especially through focus group discussions and meetings where other teachers involved in the professional development ICT and Arts programme came together to share ideas about their developing projects.

A �Bus Stop' activity, based on viewing and discussing photos taken in the publication "My Place" allowed students to communicate and interpret ideas about photos in preparation for a similar activity planned for their own work. The activity focused students on a selection of photos and asked questions that considered deeper meaning and metaphor associated with photography. The task sheet follows:

"My Place" - Bus stop Question Sheet

PHOTO 1: p25 Danielle Crawford. Danielle's room is very personal. What do you see in her room? What does her room or the things in it represent for her?

PHOTO 2: p16 Why would anyone sit in a bath OUTSIDE? Where abouts is the bath outside? What could the significance of this be? Why do think the photographer has taken this photo of her?

PHOTO 3: p72 Holly Laughton The dress that Holly is holding can be viewed as a symbol. What might this symbol represent?

PHOTO 4: p 76 What is this photograph of? What can you see? This composition of this photograph is thoughtful and deliberate. What ideas does it suggest?

PHOTO 5: p. 80 Neville has lived in this house for 80 years! There are many memories in this house. Write down some of the symbols of these memories.

PHOTO 6: p. 84 Where is this man? What clues are there to what is important to him? Geoff Aitken looks at the camera eye to eye. What might this tell us about his personality?

PHOTO 7: p. 32 This is Ciara and her mother. What angle has been used in the photograph? What does this suggest about their relationship? What is Ciara getting ready for? What does this tell us about her interests?

PHOTO 8: p. 54 This is Pauline. Where is she? What could she be holding? What does this photo suggest is important to her?

PHOTO 9: p. 68 This is Rychalo What is he doing? How has the camera been used to show movement?

During the teaching and learning programme the students were highly motivated and spent considerable time outside of school (including as their homework) taking photos of things important in their own lives - things with special, personal meaning, thinking about the composition of the photo but taking many to consider the artistic and aesthetic aspects of their photos once they had downloaded them and discussed them with their peers.

Here are some examples of photos taken by students for their portfolios:

The next stage of the unit was to bring in a guest photographer, Zoe Thompson Moore, to talk with the class. - a real live artist living in their community. They interviewed the photographer after her presentation and were excited by her ideas. The session did a lot to influence their ideas and decision-making about how to take photos and how to analyse them own and others'.

Students then selected 7 - 10 photos from their many photos and this proved to be an emotional and rewarding time as they discussed and shared the technical aspects and personal significance of each photo.

They collated their photos into portfolios and made digital files of their selections to which they added text describing the personal meaning for them behind each photo presented.

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