Sunday, September 9, 2007

Photo Journals and Student Recommendations


Some sites need to be revisited periodically (or, if possible, subscribed to with RSS) to determine what new information has been added or what might have been missed on previous visits. Edutopia ( is one of those sites.

At this web site you will find many good examples of best practices, information about research, interviews, and lots of links. The many videos cover topics such as assessment and technology integration. If you have not spent some time exploring this rich site, you might want to add it to your “must visit” list.

On a recent visit to Edutopia I found two ideas I would like to share. The first activity was developed by a social studies teacher, although suggestions for using it to help teach literature were also listed. Actually, I see no reason why it can’t be used for any subject.

Now… one caution, please. If you’re not into scrapbooking, please ignore the title of this first article. Instead, pretend it says photo journals.

Academic Scrapbooking: Snapshots of Learning


Social studies teacher Heidi Willard uses scrapbooking with special-needs students and traditional students. The first time she tried the idea she took her students on a field trip. Afterward, she asked her students to create a scrapbook about their experience. To help make her idea work, the students had been provided with disposable cameras on the field trip. The students enjoyed the activity… and learned from it.

Benefits of the scrapbooking--or photo journal--projects she has used with her students include an increase in student interest, independent learning, and enhancing individual learning styles and strengths. She also found that students take ownership of their projects.

Language arts teachers who use this idea might have their students include pages of “narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive” writing. They could have pages about the themes of books they have read. Their creations could end up including poems, art, and information about famous writers. Photos play a role in these projects, too.

These assignments are not “scrapbooking for scrapbooking’s sake.” Teachers grade these projects as they would any other project. And the goal is that students learn what’s listed in the curriculum standards as it would be for any other classroom activity.

This article provides details about successful implementations of this idea and suggestions for how to do it in your classroom.

The Sky's the Limit: Kids' Top Tools for the Classroom

Today's students have grown up in a world filled with technology. DVDs, cell phones, and game consoles are part of their world. But… how much of this technology do they see in their classrooms? In Spring 2007, some teachers asked their students, "What technology do you use outside of school that would be good for the classroom? Why? How would that work?"

Here are some of the students’ responses…

Laptop computer: "We all do all of our work on computers anyway, and isn't that how it will be in the workplace, too?... Why don't the book publishers put all this material online? That way, it is easier to come out with new editions of texts, too."

Bluetooth, digital cameras, and flash drives are some of the students’ other hardware suggestions.

Software recommendations include…

Comic Life: Use digital photos to create comics, albums, story books, and how to manuals. (See very simple one-panel comic to the right.)

Dance Dance Revolution: Add this fun alternative to the physical education schedule.

Glossopedia: Enjoy this free multimedia, interactive environmental science encyclopedia for students aged 7 to 12.

The complete hardware and software lists and their explanations from the students in this article are very interesting. We do need to seriously consider them.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Academic Scrapbooking: I think that academic scrapbooking is a great idea, especially for the teacher who loves to take pictures and keep memories! With the academic scrapbook, students get to put in their thoughts and their works, to emhance their indivdual learning! I think this would be a great things to use in an older classroom, where students can take their own pictures and make their own education scrapbooks! I love this idea!!