At the beginning of spring semester, First Flight High School English teacher Hunter Will approached digital photography/digital media teacher Ken Binkley about teaming up on an idea for students in their 2nd/3rd period block classes. For students to work in groups with each other in their classes, it's productive for them to establish a rapport - making the collaborative learning environment "safe" to brainstorm and think out loud. Getting to know classmates is as important as establishing relationship with colleagues in the workplace. Sure, it can be fun, but these exercises do serve an important purpose, and Will's inspired idea was not only well received, it was a valuable learning experience for both English and digital photography students.
Will devised interview questions inspired by a Vanity Fair magazine piece. "Students were asked a series of intriguing questions about themselves, such as: What is your idea of perfect happiness? What do you consider your greatest achievement? “What is your motto?”
Students wrote their reflections to these and other questions using the district's online teacher-student-parent communication tool, Haiku. Then, students visited Binkley’s basic photography class to have their portraits made. To prepare, Binkley and his students had examined the photography of celebrity photographer Annie Lebowitz; they set up a spotlight in order to capture the students' images in Lebowitz' signature style.
Will says that this exercise was productive and fun for everyone involved. The photography students were able to practice and apply their new perspective on Lebowitz' technique; the results are striking and impressive. Binkley was so intrigued with the project that he had each of his classes do it as well. Media Specialist Susan McFarlane supported their efforts by setting up a display of the students' work in the media center.
Photos: Ken Binkley
For another FFHS "get to know you" project, in Allie June's English 9 class, click here.