Lesson Plan: Setting the Scene – Descriptive Writing with Photography
“Teaching with Photography,” UMMA Workshop for Educators, November 6, 2013
Lesson developed by Sherri Masson, educator and UMMA docent
Students will observe different landscapes and photographic processes (such as daguerreotype, calotype, cyanotype, albumen, silver gelatin) and brainstorm lists of adjectives about the images. Students will then write a story about an imaginary place using descriptive adjectives.
National Core Standards
- Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
One class period
- Pencils and paper
- Black/white board
- 4-7 landscape photographs with interesting shapes and textures. Black and white photographs will allow students to focus on shapes and textures and not be distracted by color. Examples may include Brett Weston and James Valentine, from UMMA collection
- Introduce vocabulary words such as nature, photography, line, shape, balance, adjective, and discuss for understanding.
- Display one photograph (either the Weston or Valentine) and ask the students the following warm-up questions.
· What do you see?
· Can you identify objects in the photograph?
· What kind of shapes do you see?
· What kind of lines do you see?
· Describe the textures in this photograph.
· What would you have called this work of art if you had made it yourself?
- Invite students to brainstorm a list of adjectives to describe what they see in the photograph. Record the students' adjectives on the board.
- Divide students into groups of 4 or 5. Give each group one of the landscape photographs, a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask them to make a list of adjectives as they did as a class. Give them about 5 minutes to make this list.
- Ask one person from each group to take the adjectives from their group to the next table (ex: everyone moves in a clockwise direction). Have the students use the new adjectives without knowing what photograph was used to generate this list, and write a short story. Try to incorporate all the adjectives on the list to describe what they imagine in their story. A template could be used for this such as
Yesterday I was standing _____________
I looked around and saw _____________
- Share stories with small groups or with the larger class.