Cameras in the Classroom

One common occurrence at just about every family photo session I do with a family, is the youngest member’s keen interest in my camera. They’re usually thrilled when I let them hold my camera, and even let them take a photo or two. Obviously, this is far from a classroom experience but nonetheless indicative of what happens when you give kids a camera. You witness imagination ignited. And you notice a sudden burst in confidence as they hold that camera to their eye, and make a picture. They acquire a sudden sense of ownership in their own vision, in how they see the world.

One of my favourite quotes about kids and photography is from photography educator Sally Rand, “Young children, as artists, have not yet been taught how not to see.”

This is why I believe cameras are such a perfect tool for many school, homeschool, and special needs-based environments. Several topics can be explored in fun, creative, and collaborative ways when coupled with photography. If you’re a teacher, homeschooler, or even an ESL tutor, I’ve listed here for you a few resources that can help you introduce photography-based projects to your students. Each of the sources below contain lesson plans that walk you through every phase of successfully creating photo-based projects that address the focus of your school’s curriculum.

“Students learning about scale and perspective through photography.”

Literacy Through Photography (LTP)

Pioneered by photographer and educator Wendy Ewald, LTP is a method designed to encourage self-expression, critical thinking, brainstorming, and collaboration in students of all ages. “I Wanna Take Me a Picture” written by Ewald and the follow-up classroom guide “Literacy and Justice Through Photography” written by Ewald, Katherine Hyde, and Lisa Lord, are widely regarded as the most important publications regarding the promotion of literacy through photography.

Kids, Cameras, and the Curriculum”

Written by first-grade teacher and author of several published books for children Pat Barrett Dragan, “Kids, Cameras, and the Curriculum” is another excellent resource mainly for the primary school teacher. Dragan’s book is full of accessible lesson plans, that require a bit less planning than the LTP program and it’s also full of anecdotes and samples of work by her own students.

With, students can create their own educational photobooks called “Realebooks” (“Really Books”). They can also print and share their books with family and friends. What I love most about RealeWriter is that it allows every kid collaborating on a photobook to contribute in rewarding ways regardless of his or her literacy level.

Last May, I attended a LTP workshop at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and was inspired to bring LTP to Canada. In September, I’ll be piloting the LTP program in two Toronto elementary schools. If you’re a teacher interested in bringing LTP to your classroom, please send me an email for more info. I’d love to help introduce photography to your classroom!


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