Class exposes students to photography, career paths
A swarm of shutterbugs have been crawling all over the Lansing Intermediate School campus for the past month, and they will be around for another few weeks.
Students in the gifted program at LIS are focused on photography. This is the first time she's taught the unit, facilitator Kathy Ray said.
So far, it's a popular one.
"The kids loved having a camera and have been very excited about this unit, but they have enjoyed all of the units this year," Ray said.
"The kids are always excited about 'hands-on' learning, and since it was a new topic to them, it's of great interest as well."
The students started at the beginning, learning the parts of a camera. They studied pictures in magazines to determine what makes a good photo and they had a guest speaker, David Kern, a photographer from Minnesota whose work has appeared in Spin magazine and the Boston Globe. Ray said Kern was a friend of a student's parent and stopped by when he was in town for a funeral.
With a little bit of background, Ray sent the students out with disposable cameras to take three pictures. When the pictures were developed, the class talked more about composition, light exposure, flash, keeping fingers out of the way of the lens and not giving the subject a "lobotomy" - cutting part of their head out of the photo.
With those photos, the students had a contest, judged by the gifted classes and a few teachers, Ray said. Winners were fifth-grader Joey Niederlander and fourth-grader Ryan Fry.
Joey's winning shot was of the banks of the Missouri River in Leavenworth.
"I like how it looks like a painting and the reflection off the sky," he said.
Joey said he had some previous experience with photography when he lived in Colorado. He said he borrowed his mother's camera to take pictures of the mountains.
"I was really excited when (Ray) told us we were doing photography," he said. "I like taking pictures."
Ryan took a picture of his father's Snap-On tool truck. He said he took the photo because he thought it would be interesting.
"People have to look for a bit to see what it is," he said.
Ryan also said he's had fun with photography and likes to take pictures of insects.
The photography unit is fun for the students, but Ray said it serves a learning purpose as well. The students are using critical thinking skills by applying the knowledge they've gained, analyzing what it takes to make a photo and synthesizing the information - using it to create. The unit helps students with visual planning, Ray said. The students also are studying careers that use photography.
Since starting the photography unit, fifth-grader Alanda Kohl has taken a step down a possible career path. She saved her money, and, with some financial assistance from her mother, Alanda bought a digital camera.
"And I bring it to school with me in my coat pocket everyday," she said.
Alanda said she loves to take photos of "really anything." The reason her mom was willing to help her buy the camera, she said, is because it's a hobby she hopes will lead to a job.
"I actually want to be a freelance photographer when I'm old enough," she said.
The students have about one more month to work with photography, Ray said. They are currently working on digital photo editing, and they also will make pinhole cameras this week.