Bulb Archived: Waters SCALE 2017-2018: Ramos & Rodrigue

School Name: Waters Elementary 

Teacher Name: Mrs. Ramos 

Teaching Artist Name: Jessica Rodrigue 

Big Idea: Photography and Emotions Inquiry: Using Digital technology/ Photography to explore students emotions 

1. Planning: What interests and curiosities were brought to the planning by each of you? 

Teacher response: I was curious to find out if it students would feel more comfortable expressing their feelings through photography instead of verbalizing their emotions. 

Teaching Artist response: In past years we have had students that have shown difficulties in expressing their emotions and this led to my interest in exploring social-emotional skills with photography. My teaching partner expressed interest in digital learning as something that she wanted to learn more about. In the first planning session of the year, we decided that we could attempt to combine these two ideas using digital technology (photography) to explore students emotions. As the class has gone on students have pushed back some on wanting to work on anything regarding emotions and feelings so it has been difficult to move aspects of this forward unless students are somewhat unaware that we are exploring emotions in the artmaking. 

Teaching Artist response: Since January we spent time exploring more of the landscape and spend a good amount of the course outside. Due to the weather, there were many times where did have to adjust our plans the day of and figure out how we could continue to explore the landscape from the inside out. Both my teaching partner and I were interested in how we could use photographs of the landscape to show emotions. 

1Landscape photo by student show light, shadow, and emotions. 

2. The Project: Tell the story of your project. What happened in the classroom? 

2Landscape photography in the Waters Garden

The first half of the year is really focused on getting the students comfortable with technology as well as the different genres of photography (landscape, portraits, stop-motion, and still-life). Students have spent a good amount of time exploring all the different functions of the camera through numerous mini projects, such as portraits of Day of the Dead masks, landscape photography on the riverwalk, still-life photographs with props, and stop-motion animations influenced by Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Students really embraced the stop-motion work that they created and have continued to push to work in that area. 

Day of Dead
Riverwalk field trip 

Teaching Artist Response: Since January we focused a lot on the landscape and more advanced technical aspects of the camera. A good portion of the class was spent outside when the weather cooperated so that students could explore emotions through documenting the landscape, the Waters Garden. Students learned what fast and slow shutter speeds are used for so that they are more equipped to better express themselves with a camera. Students also learned another process for photography, called cyanotypes.

Glowsticks used for light painting as a way to represent slow shutter speed.
Student working cyanotype

3. How did you check in throughout the project to plan and adjust plans as the project unfolded? 

After each class, we always check in on how the class went, where we are at after the class and what we think we will be able to accomplish the next class. We have a big picture idea that we are always checking in with, but each week we check in with where we think we are at with that and how the students are doing. If we feel we need to cover something again we will revisit that lesson. If we are ready to move on we will move on to the next area. 

4. What are the conflicts, contradictions or challenges of your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: We each have ideas which are supported by each other and we try to come up ideas on how to implement our ideas. My artist’s strong photography knowledge is something I do not have, therefore I respect her ideas on how to distribute that information to the students. I have strong classroom management skills and use my ability to keep students engaged and on task. 

Teaching Artist response: Together we share our thoughts and ideas with each other and stay open-minded about what the other is interested in exploring. We give feedback to each other on what we think will work and how we can best accomplish what the other wants achieve. We also try best to combine our interests so that both our interests are being met as best as possible. My teaching partner is stronger at managing time in the classroom so I tend lean towards her knowledge and expertise in implementing the flow and structure to a lot of our days. 

5. What are you learning as a result of collaborating with one another in terms of teaching and art making? 

Teacher response: I am learning that everyone has different needs and abilities. All students will not be on the same page and all students need to be provided support to become successful. I am learning how to fully use a digital camera and all of its capabilities. I believe the artist and teacher need to be on the same page and support each other’s ideas in order to have a productive classroom. 

Teaching Artist response: My teaching partner is much stronger in classroom management, dealing with students with learning disabilities and managing the student workflow. I have learned a great deal in collaborating with my teaching partner in regards to these areas that as a teaching artist I am weak in and could use more support. I have learned a great deal about how to collaborate with my teacher to better convey artmaking to the students in a structured and managed approach. 

6. How has the community-focused component of the project contributed to or challenged your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: The community we have reached out to so far have been the parents of our current students and other CAPE programs. I feel inviting the whole school and our community families to our Showcase in the Spring will enable all families to experience the great work of the students. 

Teaching Artist response: We have struggled with finding more aspects of combining a community-focused component to our project. We have invited parents to join us on a field trip for students to photograph the riverwalk. We also had parents attend a sharing event where students had a mini-exhibition of their riverwalk photographs. Students also shared some text that they had written with the guests that attended the exhibition about feelings that were conveyed through their landscape photographs. 

Final student exhibition