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Stories and insights on excellent education.

Success Academy Middle Schoolers Focus on Making Meaning in Photography Club


Photography is now a particularly accessible art form for anyone with a smartphone. I’ve loved introducing my scholars at Success Academy Ditmas Park to a more formal approach to photography with a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking — in true SA style. My scholars are learning to use their cameras with greater purpose and intention.

Photography involves creating meaning with visual details, so scholars think carefully about these details when composing or analyzing photos, just as they would when interpreting literature or poems. We examine a range of images and I ask scholars to discuss what they think the photographers are saying. I ask for evidence: Why do you believe this is the main idea of the image?

My scholars regularly use symbolism and metaphors in their writing, so the challenge of applying these concepts to a new form of expression is a natural extension. During one of my favorite lessons, we explored how we could create visual metaphors from what we saw around the block. One scholar photographed a broken pistachio shell to convey what it feels like to be lonely or heartbroken. Another saw a group of young people walking together and knew she could capture the feeling of friendship.

The following slideshow offers a glimpse of scholar talent from across the SA network. I’m inspired by scholars’ thoughtfulness and creativity, and have enjoyed seeing our schools from a new perspective — through our scholar’s lenses!

Written by Joyce Keener February 6, 2018


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