Self-expression is the goal, and technology is the key in teacher Judith Craemer’s technical literature class, where students are so immersed in their computer screens, she said sometimes they don’t realize they’re learning.

The class, for freshmen at Clark Magnet High School, aims to give students tools for expression in today’s digital age, Craemer said.

“In the good old days, typing up a paper and turning it in was enough,” she said, explaining how her class assignments push students to develop multifaceted works to convey their ideas. “Today we live in a very visual world.”

The class combines images and text to create dynamic projects that are expressive in more ways than one, Craemer said.

Students worked with Adobe Photoshop on a recent Tuesday, dragging fingers across the track pads of white Apple laptops to warp and alter images.

They were layering text over photographs taken of their school for an assignment that would illustrate what makes Clark a special place.

“I’m thinking of making it like the ‘Star Wars’ look,” 15-year-old Melissa Gonzalez said of her image of an outdoor lunch area at the school, upon which she was hoping to place text describing the school’s benefits in a pattern resembling that found at the start of the popular motion picture.

She placed some of the writing in her image so it appeared to be running along columns, walls and pavement.

When the projects are finished, the text will take the shape of objects within the images so that if the underlying photographs are removed, a viewer would still be able to make out the components in the original picture by reading the writing and noticing its positions and shapes, 15-year-old Jadeh Gharib said.

The Photoshop maneuvers with text and photographs were useful tools for students to learn, he said.

“It’s like good learning because you might use it later on,” he said.

Some students were slanting paragraphs along walls in their photographs, creating the perception of depth within their images.

Others tried to flatten text along walkways, snaking collections of words into the images and creating the impression that the descriptions were flowing into doorways and across lawns.

The writing — about Clark’s strong science, technology and mathematics offerings, or about the freedoms of lunch time — had meaning that made the images more than just photographs of a school, students said.

For Craemer, the important lessons were the ones students didn’t realize they were picking up, including writing techniques and multidimensional forms of communication, she said.

“It opens up new areas of exploration,” she said, explaining that many students who previously had little experience with graphic art had become fascinated with the field through their experiences in her class.

The expressive skills students pick up in Craemer’s class also help them to think about information in multiple ways, she said.

“I’m hoping that I’m really able to develop more analytical minds,” she said.


The Glendale News-Press visited a technical literature class at Clark Magnet High School where students were learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and asked them, “What do you enjoy about working with Adobe Photoshop in a class focusing on literature?”

“I liked using the Macs. That was fun because we could take pictures, then editing them was really easy.”



“Just learning about Photoshop, because it’s something that I never really tried out, and it’s something that I wanted to do.”



“I’ll be able to make my own things [in Photoshop] without having to ask somebody else.”



“I like how we can change different colors when we’re using Photoshop.”



“I liked how we can get a normal picture and create something exciting with it — change it completely.”



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