For a culminating project, I would like students to practice the process of documentation. Although we have studied documentary photography in this lesson, students should be able to apply our findings to their preferred field of expression. Because I teach at an arts magnet school, it may be more feasible for students to make these connections on their own and with the support of their arts teachers than it would be in other environments. If that is the case, then you may have students stick to photography.
The project may be presented in any number of ways, using any selection of material. I will demonstrate the project in the context of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. There are two wonderful children's books that will provide another facet of documentary style for students. They are
by Toni Trent Parker and
This is the Dream
by Diane Shore.
documents major events in the Civil Rights Movement through the "scrapbook" of a young girl whose family decides to visit important black historical sites on the car ride from home in Connecticut to a family reunion in North Carolina. It incorporates diary entries, photographs, doodles, ticket stubs, and a strong, realistic voice.
This is the Dream
is a poem combined with paintings that illustrate the Civil Rights Movement. These two books will help to give students different ideas for how to go about their projects, and I hope it will open up doors of possibility for them. Students can brainstorm qualities they see in each book, and they can determine how each could be considered documentary and/or fiction. Students can write examples of how each story could be written as traditional fiction, experimenting with different writing styles to explore meaning and to establish qualities of fiction and non-fiction writing.
Students should be asked to respond to journal questions throughout the course of this unit, either in class, for homework, or a combination of the two. The questions should lead students to consider what is important to them, what they think is noteworthy about or characteristic of our world today, and of their individual or collective young adult worlds in particular. They should broach the subject of target audience, reasons for targeting a particular audience, and ways to reach that audience (or things that might alienate a particular audience).
With the final documentary piece, students will include a paragraph summary and a persuasive letter to a notable member of the target audience on why this work is important and what it portrays.