Photographers like to say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but primary grade students in Livingston use cameras to help spur them to write better.
Students at the kindergarten through fourth grade Campus Park School have been taking instant photographs of subjects of their choice, then writing stories to go with the pictures. Each student is required to come up with three story-photo ideas.
The school obtained a $200 grant from a “Cameras in the Curriculum” program offered by the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education. The grants are aimed at helping teachers develop and share instructional materials using still photography.
The school project, titled “Photojournalism in the Primary Grades,” was among 150 proposals picked from 1,000 applications nationwide.
“Anything concrete lends to learning,” said Penny Weaver, the teacher who pushed for the project. “There is high student involvement in this. Photography is proving to be a great motivator.”
She said photography fits the tendency of today’s youngsters to relate easily to what they see.
“In this visual age, students experience the three-dimensional illusion in movies, big screen viewing and entertaining video games,” Weaver said. “This conditions them to expect visual stimulus. Still photography will be a vital asset in creating the visual stimulus that will motivate students to write.”
But before the kids could take pictures, they had to learn basic techniques of using a camera, Weaver noted.
“We keep things simple,” she said. “I tell them not just to click, but to see what the photo is before it’s taken.”
Instant Photo Results
Instant cameras are used for fear the children would lose interest if there was a delay of several days while the film was being processed.
“First-graders need something immediate,” Weaver said.
Teachers and administrators are featured in some pictures, like the one 7-year-old Laura Galvan took of her teacher sitting on the tire swing in the school sandbox.
Another student persuaded his teacher and Principal Henry Escobar to let him take pictures of them racing tricycles.
The students are preparing a publication called “The Campus Park Eagle’s Eye” to display some of the stories and pictures.”
The best photos are to be displayed on the cafeteria bulletin board with the best of them winning awards.
The prizes? Instant cameras.