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A Cameras in the Classroom Close-up!

Part 2 of a 6-part series giving you a closer look at our classroom photography program.

For the past four years our Founder Diana Nazareth has participated as a resident artist for TDSBCreates, a Toronto District School Board initiative that pairs professional artists with students in grade 1-12 classrooms across the Greater Toronto Area. Working with children during this city-wide visual arts festival allows Diana to offer a wider range of activities designed to inspire students to explore the many benefits of practicing photography.

Each year, Diana is able to take the students outside of the classroom and into their surrounding outdoor environments. Cameras in hand, students walk in search of the elements of design such as lines, colours, shapes, textures and patterns that can make our photos more visually interesting. Mid-way through the program students learn all about lighting and how to use light to create compelling portraits of each other. During the last session, students write poems about who they are and what's most important to them today. Their portraits are poems are showcased in a photo exhibit at their school.

This year, Diana worked with two Grade 5/6 classrooms (appx. 50 students) and their teachers at North Kipling Junior and Senior Public School. The school is located in Rexdale, home to many newcomer and immigrant families and about 22 kms from the downtown core. TDSBCreates artists are often pared with schools and students who may benefit most from an experiential visual arts program.

Working with large classrooms has its fair share of challenges. But, once the rules of engagement regarding the proper use of camera equipment and accessories are established, it is possible to manage the chaos that results from their enthusiasm! A highlight is working with classroom teachers who are equally invested in the objectives of our program. This year's teachers, Ms. Comeau and Ms. Rai, take the prize. They matched Diana's belief in setting high expectations for their students ability to express their creative as well as demonstrating their new technical (camera) skills.

For this residency, Diana is grateful to Outside the Lens, for providing her with their Where I'm From Poem template and lesson plan. This is a two-step lesson that encourages students to share memories and childhood stories about themselves, their families and communities which they then incorporate into their final Where I'm From poems.

Showing and sharing our photographs is key to stimulating the reflexive and critical thinking skills we can transfer to so many other parts of our lives. Presenting students love to share the reasons why they took the photo they did, and listening students are usually excited to identify the fundamentals they've learned thus far such as vantage points, elements of design, and the types of lighting and the moods they create.

We love many of the portraits the students created for each other! Here are a few...

And here's a behind-the-scenes look at our portrait workshop session...

Please note that permission was obtained for use of student images and work.

If you would like to learn more about our Cameras in the Classroom program please have a look at our Info Kit or get started on your own with our free lesson plans you can download here. We're passionate about integrating photography into the classroom, so please let us know if you have any questions!

Read Part 1 of our series here.


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