Photography is a form of art--a fact that is often forgotten or overlooked. In a photograph we can observe the emotion, environment, clothing that is worn, and more. Photographs fix you in a moment. They capture people and places as they were at a given time.
My unit titled,
A Day in the Life: September 11 in Photographs,
will focus on images of the September 11th tragedy. The unit will integrate literacy, social studies, and art. The unit will be taught in a fourth or fifth grade classroom, but may be used in any classroom. Teachers may need to select different photographs that are appropriate for their students.
Many of us can vividly remember what we were doing on September 11th when tragedy struck the United States. We watched what happened to the Twin Towers over and over again. Because this event was so tragic, it marks an important time in history that will never be forgotten. Just as we can replay the events of that day in our heads, our students are also familiar with this tragedy. Some students may even know someone that lives in New York or was involved in the tragedy.
Teachers should be careful about the photographs that they choose for this topic. There are many wonderful photographs but some may be too vivid for children. The topic itself may be too much for young children, so I leave it up to the discretion of the teacher. As a teacher with experience in different grade levels, I realize that second grade students and fourth grade students are not on the same level. I believe that fourth grade students or upper elementary students can handle this topic and the viewing of these photographs.
This topic is a difficult, yet vital one to teach. There is no easy way to discuss September 11th. By using photographs it will make it more "real" for the students. Students will be able to relate and connect to the photographs. Students will examine the photographs, focusing on point of view, composition, and more.
We will be analyzing thirteen photographs, comparing different ones. For example, students will compare one photograph to another, very different photograph. Students will be writing about what they see and how they feel. Students will also be given the opportunity to create their own story from the picture.
As a teacher of different elementary grade levels, I believe it is very important that we teach students how to make observations and write about these observations. Whether they are making observations about a book they are reading or a math problem they are solving, it is important that children know how to be observant in all that they do. This unit will focus on making observations using photography. Students will be asked to not only making observations about the photographs but they will also be asked to write about what they see.
Writing has become a "buzz word" to teachers of all grade levels. In New Haven, teachers at the elementary level have focused on CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test) questions. Students read a book or a passage and then practice answering different types of questions, questions that they may see when they take the CMT. Therefore, most of the writing activities in this unit will coincide with the CMT focus questions. Students will look at a photograph and then be asked to answer a question or set of questions about the photograph.
Observing photographs will be a nice change for students. Students normally look at drawings, paintings or illustrations. They are not given the opportunity to look at any types of photographs. Therefore, I hope to get students interested in both photography and history. I want students to realize that there are millions of different types of photographs in the world that relate to different time periods in history.