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Imagining Alberta through Photography

Established Goals TRANSFER GOAL

Students will: Students will appreciate that photographs are a powerful medium to tell stories, and
they will tell historical stories of their own through photographs and written narratives.
- Analyze historical
photographs MEANING

- Discover basic information Enduring Understandings: Essential Questions:

about Albertas past, based
Students will understand that Students will keep considering
on evidence present in
photographs U1 Art is an important way of representing Q 1 How can history be represented
history through art?
- Interpret information about
social context and history U2 Albertas history can be told through Q2 What type of art is best at
based on oral tradition and photographs, drawings, narratives, and oral representing history? Are photographs
narratives traditions always a more accurate representation?
Are paintings?
- Discover basic elements of U3 Photographs can be both informational
photography that create a and artistic at the same time. Q3 What are the best ways to
compelling image communicate historical information?
U3 A picture says a thousand words.
- Record everyday life Q3 What qualities make a photograph
through photography informational? What qualities make it
- Recognize multiple
perspectives on the past Q3 What stories in Albertas history
and present. are important to remember? What
stories would you like to remember
- Determine the relationship
from the present day, and what is the
between history and
best way of telling them?
Q3 What qualities of photographs are
- Tell a story visually and
most important for communication?
through writing
- Edit images to create a

strong focus and center of Students will know Students will be skilled at
- That multiple and diverse stories Taking photographs
contribute to Albertas history
Creating a strong center of interest in an
- That history is constantly fluctuating image

- That storytelling is an important Focusing a photograph upon the center

aspect of history, and that stories of interest
can be told both visually and in
writing. Cropping and editing a photograph
- That photographs can be both
read for information and reading and analyzing photographs for
appreciated for artistic value meaning

Choosing relevant subject matter for


Asking guided questions in order to gain

relevant information about a subject

Writing a non-fiction narrative, as

described by the subject of an interview

STAGE 2 Evidence

Evaluative Criteria Assessment Evidence

The photographs will be evaluated Transfer Task:

on: Content, Form, Process, and
Mood Students will need to show their learning by: visiting an assisted living residence,
interviewing a resident to find out an important story that they wish to have
The written narratives will be remembered, recording the story, and taking a compelling photograph of the resident
evaluated on: Content, Content that can be used to help communicate their story.
Management, Collaboration, and

Both the photographs and the

narratives will be subject to peer
review and critique

Unit Summary
This unit is designed for a fourth grade class. It integrates the social studies and art curriculums.

In social studies one of the grade four curricular objectives requires students to think critically about

stories and storytelling as a part of historical thinking, and I was struck by how closely this ties into the

Art objectives, which ask students to tell a story visually. At that age, students are extremely visually

expressive, and are often mesmerised by photographs. They are also a very willing audience for personal

stories. One of the biggest strengths of this unit is it allows students to listen to history, not from

traditional methods such as textbooks, but from individuals who actually have experienced different

pieces of it. At the end of the unit, no two stories will be the same. Instead, there will be a class set of

vibrant stories, told to students by a diverse group of people. Students will learn that history is fluid and

made up of thousands of individual stories, and that it can be told from many different perspectives.

This unit addresses the three educational domains in many ways. Firstly, it widens students

definition of art, and possibly even of photography, by allowing them to look at historical photographs as

works of art, and works of art for historical information. It allows students to get their hands on cameras

and computers, in order to create artwork of their own. Students create a written narrative that they share

with the class, and after sharing stories with one another they are critiqued through peer review and class

discussion. Students are then given the opportunity to reflect on their own learning. They also learn

formal aesthetics through learning the elements of photography that make an interesting, compelling, and

visually appealing photograph. Each lesson will possibly take several periods. This unit will take

approximately three weeks.


This unit is appropriate for a grade four classroom because at that age, students love working

with, looking at, and interpreting images, especially new and interesting images that they have not seen

before. They are also very interested in learning personal information about people, and listening to

stories. Although I do not know the social context in which this unit can be taught, it can be easily

adapted for by allowing students to take photographs on their cellphones if they have access, or by

supplying school cameras to those who do not. Having students interview residents of an assisted living

center means that students who might not have transportation to other areas of the community can come

on the field trip. Because students work in groups to complete this unit, it means that students with special

needs can have support from their peers and teachers. This unit is not gender specific in any way, and

images of both men and women will be evaluated. Images of First Nations are also included, and given

the same historical importance as other images. In this unit, students learn via direct whole class

instruction, instruction in small groups, one-on-one conversations with the teacher, and peer conferences.

They work with images, both individually and as a whole class. They both write and create images. This

unit allows students to be mobile, meet members of their community, and have hands on experience with

photographic equipment.

Lesson Summaries

Lesson 1
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to historical photographs, in the context of art
appreciation. Students will examine photographs that they might normally not consider to be art. If
possible this lesson will take place in the art room in order to create a creative atmosphere instead of a
studious one. They will choose a compelling photograph from Albertas history, and from the information
present in the image, they will begin to decipher the story within the photograph what is happening in
it? Who are the people, and what are they doing? What is the historical context of the photograph?
Students will then tell each other stories of Albertas history, based on the photographs they have
examined. Students will learn that their job in the unit will be to take on the roll of photographer, in order
to tell an important story. This lesson may stretch over several periods.

Lesson 2
In this lesson, students will learn some basic photography skills, and they will discover some of
the elements that make a compelling photograph. Students will examine a range of photographs and
analyze them to discover which ones tell compelling stories, and which do not. They will learn that taking
a visually interesting photograph, that communicates clearly, is an important first step for drawing the
audience into the story behind the photo. They will take some of this knowledge and practice taking
photographs by going on a photo scavenger hunt around the school. This will help them see their
everyday landscape with a more critical eye, and help them get used to telling a story through the lens of a
camera. They will then have an opportunity to edit and review their work digitally, with the teacher
helping them analyze and evaluate their own work, in order to make their photography skills stronger.

Lesson 3
As a class, students will brainstorm members of the community that they might photograph and
interview. This list could include school staff, local government officials, business owners, and cultural or
religious representatives, public service people such as firefighters or policemen, or members of their own
family. They will learn that history isnt just written by the important people; everyday stories told by
everyday people. Students will be put into groups of 3 in order to complete the performance task. This
project is meant to help get students out into the community and meet a diverse range of people. Students
will learn that they will be going on a field trip to an assisted living center such as Wentworth Manor in
Calgary. They will brainstorm a list of questions to ask the residents there, in order to gather stories from

Lesson 4
In between lesson 3 and lesson 4 students will have gone into the community, and interviewed
and photographed a community member. In this lesson they will digitally review their work, and select
and edit the series of photographs that they believe are the most artistically compelling, and that best help
tell their intended story. Students will also write their narrative. Groups of 3 will be divided into photo
editor, writer, and editor. This lesson may stretch over several periods. By the end of the lesson, students
will have a series of photographs and a narrative to share with the class. As a whole class, they will have a
diverse set of histories that tell important stories about their communities, which will be accessible to
future generations. This is an important way of remembering the community.

Social Studies Objectives

4.2 Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the role of stories, history and
culture in strengthening communities and contributing to identity and a sense of belonging.
4.2.1 Appreciate how an understanding of Albertas history, peoples and stories
contributes to their own sense of belonging and identity.
o Recognize how stories of people and events provide multiple perspectives
on past and present events.
o Recognize oral traditions, narratives, and stories as valid sources of
knowledge about the land, culture and history.
o Demonstrate respect for places and objects of historical significance
4.S.2.1 Students will use photographs and interviews to make meaning of historical information.
4.S.5.4 Students will work collaboratively with others to complete a group task
4.S.8.3 Students will listen to others to understand their perspectives

Art Objectives
Expression Grades 3&4
Component 10 Purpose 1: Students will record or document activities, people and discoveries
A. Everyday activities can be documented visually
B. Special events such as field trips, visits and festive occasions can be recorded visually
C. Family groups and people relationships can be recorded visually
Purpose 2: Students will illustrate or tell a story.

A. A narrative can be retold or interpreted visually.
B. An original story can be created visually
C. Material from any subject discipline can be illustrated visually
Purpose 4: Students will express a feeling or a message.
A. Feelings and moods can be interpreted visually.
B. Specific messages, beliefs and interests can be interpreted visually, or symbolically.
Composition: Emphasis
A. The centre of interest can be made prominent by contrasting its size, shape, color, or texture
form the other parts of the composition.
B. Format can be adjusted and composition tightened by editing or cropping the unnecessary
areas from the edges of a work, after it is completed
C. Details, accents, and outlines will enhance the dominant area or thing.

Lesson 1

Students will:
Recognize that a photograph can tell a story
Recognize that history can be told through oral traditions, narratives, and even through
the lens of a camera
Appreciate that remembering stories strengthens communities
Recognize images that are historically significant

Images from Alberta: Celebrations and Challenges Images Collection and Alberta
Images Collection, from;;; printed and ready to distribute.

Student journals.


Introduction (visual display and demonstration):

Introduce the quote A picture says a thousand words. What does this mean?
For this unit, students are going to become photographers/reporters/historians. A
photographers job is to tell a story with an image. First, we need to learn how to
understand the stories that pictures are telling us.
Have historical images printed and ready to distribute.
Once students are sitting, hand an image to every student.
Have students make a guess about what story their image is telling.

Have students get into groups of three. Tell them they are going to be looking at their
pictures in a lot more detail.
Have students share their pictures with one another, and as a group, choose the one that
they think is most interesting/want to work with.
Body (Studio Activity):
Students are going to uncover the stories found in the visuals.
First, as a whole class, do an example in order to model for the students. Select an image of
Albertas history and display it on the Smartboard. As a whole class, go through the questions.
Write answers on the whiteboard to show what complete answers look like.
o Characters:
Who is in the picture?
Where is each person located? Are they standing or are they sitting?
What are their expressions?
What do you know about them? Their clothing? Their jobs? Their relationships
with others in the picture?
o Setting:
Where is this picture taken? Buildings? Landscape?
What is each person doing? Why?
What do you think happened just before this picture was taken? Just after?
o Create a non-fiction story based on the evidence you have gathered. What else would you
like to know? What information is missing?

Closure (critique with questions):

Have each group polish their story/rehearse it, and then explain it to the rest of the class.
An extension of this activity would be to have them research the events/people in the images. The
teacher would provide support by supplying books/websites.
Have students write a response, and then discuss it as a class: Why is it important to have these
pictures today? How do you think the people in the pictures would want to be remembered? What
elements of art do you see in these pictures?
In their groups of 3, have students brainstorm: What is one important event they know in Alberta
that they think should be remembered?
Introduce performance task: Students are going to document an important story about Alberta
with a photograph and a written narrative. They are going to interview a person they believe is
an important member of their community and ask them to tell a story that is important to them,
and that they want to be remembered. They must record their narrative and take a series of
photographs to go along with the story.
Instruct students to bring cameras/cellphones/some means of picture taking for Lesson 2.

Lesson 2

Students will:
document every day activities through photographs
tell a story through visual means
use photographs to create a message
Determine the elements of a compelling, visually interesting photo, by comparing a series
of photographs
create compelling, visually interesting photos with a clear and strong center of interest
Create stronger photographs by editing and cropping them digitally
Students will work together in groups to complete a task
Cameras/cellphones with cameras enough for students to share in partners or groups of 3
Scavenger hunt instructions
Examples of photographs from the Celebrating Alberta Images Collection
Scavenger hunt questions
Review of the quote a picture says a thousand words.
Ask students for suggestions: What do you think is a good photograph? What makes a bad
Review some images on the Smartboard from the Images Collections
Ask students specific questions about the Images:
o Describe
What is happening in the photograph?
When was the photograph taken?
What major events in history occurred at the same time?
List the objects in the photograph. What do you first notice when you look at it?
Describe the shapes and colors in the photograph
What is the overall mood of the photograph? Why?
o Analyze
How did the photographer use light in the photograph?
How has the overall mood of the work been achieved?
How did the artist set up the photograph? Why did they set it up the way they
o Interpret:
What was the artist trying to say in this photograph? What do you think it means?
What does it mean to you?
How could this relate to your life?
What feelings do you have when you look at this photograph? What symbols do
you see?
o Judgement

Why is this photograph important? Is it?
How could this photograph be better?
After you have gone through all the images as a class, ask students to vote on
their favourite one based on artistic elements, NOT subject matter. What do
they like about it, visually, and why? Which image told the best story?
- Review what you consider to be the most important points of http://digital-photography- and with your
class. (This will depend on the skill level and enthusiasm of your students). Remind them that
they are taking on the roll of professional photographers.
- Give them cameras and let them practice!
- Split students into groups of 2 or 3 based on class size. Give them a scavenger hunt of things
around the school to photograph (this will vary depending on your school).
- When they are done, have them edit and crop their images digitally.

- Review their work on an individual basis so that they can start to build an understanding of what
is a good photograph and what is not.
- Ticket out the door:
o What is an important element or skill in photography?

Lesson 3
- Students will determine important members of their community who have experienced history
- Students will create an appropriate list of questions to use during an interview
- Paper
- Pencils
- Alberta Canada Images collection
- View images from the collection. Ask students to quickly brainstorm: Who are the people in these
images? Why are they important?
- Remind students that they are taking on the role of reporter/photographer/historian.
- Tell them they will be interviewing a member of their community in order to hear and record an
important story
- As a class, brainstorm a list of important people in the community
o Doctors
o Nurses
o Business owners
o Government officials eg. Aldermen, mayor
o Teachers
o Principals
o Firefighters
o Policemen
o Parents, grandparents, other family members
- Tell students they will be interviewing a resident at an assisted living center
- As a class, brainstorm a list of relevant questions for students to ask during the interviews
- Divide them into groups of 3. Divide the groups into interviewer, photographer, and recorder
- Come together as a class. Ask the students to come to a consensus: which are the top three most
important questions, which you must make sure you ask during your interview?

Field Trip*

Lesson 4
Students will work together to write a nonfiction narrative of an important story, based on
information gathered in an interview
Students will work together to edit a series of images, so that they tell a story
Students will tell their stories to one another
Class discussion: What was the most interesting part of doing your interview? What was
something you learned?
Have students get together in groups in the computer lab
Together, they will crop and edit their images so that in the end they have a series of images that
tell a compelling story
Together, they will write their narrative, based on the interview
As a group, they will edit it
When they are done their good copies, they will get together with another group
They will present their stories to each other, using both the images and the written narrative to
assist the storytelling. When they are done, their audience will ask guided questions to find out
more and to provide critique.
Students who would like to will have the opportunity to share their images and stories with the
whole class
Finished copies photographs and narratives will be bound together into a class book. A copy
will be given to the assisted living center.