Monthly Archives: October 2014

Once Upon a Time…Photos That Tell Stories: November’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Stories are a way of understanding the world, making sense of our experience, and connecting with the experiences of others.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion

And even when we experience an event in common, our story of it varies.  (I notice that my sister and I have very different stories of our childhood, even though we grew up in the same house, in the same neighborhood, with the same parents!)

“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”  – Native American saying

We often think of stories as made of words…but images tell stories too.  There are the fairy stories of life among the mushrooms and delicate petals of flowers.

mushroom macro

Stories are elaborated by the teller, based on their own experiences and background knowledge.  A single image can result in innumerable stories…this image could be an innocent flower bud, a ravenous man-eating plant, or even a robot designed to grab intruders as they enter the grounds.bud fist

In some photos we recognize the heroine and anticipate the plot twists.  At other times the story shifts and the unexpected happens.

in the mirror

Does this image depict the narrative of professional development, teachers working together to solve problems and provide support to students?

grade 2

Sometimes a setting alone can create mood and tone for the story about to unfold like this sunshine through the fall foliage.

fall tree

Action can be shown in subtle ways…in hands to the face, tools strewn around, even the position of the feet.

boys

And light and reflection can also add to the action, foreshadowing events yet to come…

kayaking

Sometimes the image suggests the music you can hear in the background, in this case a happy, upbeat song of youthful energy.

photo

Others bring tension, that sense that something is coming.  Will the doctor diagnose a terminal illness or is this a skeleton that will reach out and grab someone?

skeleton

What photos have you taken that tell stories?  Here’s a list of prompts to help you think about stories and consider as you take photos this month.

1. Character

2. Plot

3. Setting

4. Foreshadowing

5. Suspense

6. Words

7. Narrative

8. Point of view

9. Fantasy

10. Fairy tale 

11. Mystery

12. Science Fiction

13. Music

14. Symbolism

15. Narrator

16. Action

17. Humor

18. Hyperbole

19. Happy Ending

20. Heroine or Hero

21. Fable

22. Drama

23. Mood

24. Memoir

25. Fiction

26. Nonfiction

27. Journalism

28. Moral

29. Tension

30. Villain

So go out and take photos that tell a story and then post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, write the story that the photo tells, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, or make a video or slideshow. You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Be on the lookout for stories this month…in a single photo or in a series.  (You might even try a 5-image story.)  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can play this game by posting your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it.  You get to make your own rules!  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!  So go out and use you lens as a story telling tool.  I can’t wait for you to share the stories you find through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curiosity

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

When I am out with my camera, I notice things in the world that I somehow overlook as I go about my daily business…and I find myself asking questions and wondering about so many things.  I think my neighbors must think I am crazy when they see me out in the middle of my lawn as I head out to work, crouched low with my phone in hand, trying to photograph the strange little gray mushroom that somehow cropped up overnight.  Where did it come from? Why is it gone before I get home in the afternoon?

mushroom in the grass

The macro lens constantly piques my curiosity.  It’s amazing when you are able to bring what’s ordinarily too small to notice to full scale.  I love the layers of stacked petals on this mum.  I can see why Georgia O’Keeffe painted so many big pictures of flowers!

mum

I didn’t have my macro handy for this shot…and I doubt the butterfly would have stood still enough for me to get close anyway.  I was curious when I saw this monarch in Raleigh…just like I do at home in San Diego.  What is the ideal habitat for monarchs?  Is it about temperature? Available food sources?  Are they native to both places?

butterfly in Raleight

I’m also curious about learning and how to best support it.  We like to have our students sketch, especially when looking closely at something real.  This is a sketch of an aspen leaf (not commonly found in our area).  I like the way this student paid careful attention to detail, both in the contour shape and in the placement of the veins that run through it.

leaf sketch

And what is it about bubbles that draw our attention and make us smile?  We use bubbles in the classroom as a way to celebrate birthdays…the birthday child gets to pop bubbles we blow as the kids sing.  It always brings a sense of joy and a big smile–to the birthday child and to the rest of us too!  Is it the translucent hint of color or the temporary nature of these fragile balls that delight us?

bubbly birthday

What has piqued your curiosity lately?  Has something stopped you in your tracks, to crouch low, drop your guard, and focus that lens?  What are you still thinking about long after the photo has been snapped?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #curiosity for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So now I am curious about what makes your curious!  What are you noticing?  What has gone from ordinary to extraordinary as you paid more attention?  I can’t wait to see curiosity through your lens!

 

Surfing Madonna 5K

When I first saw the Daily Post photo prompt for this week–cover art–I felt a bit out of my element.  I love taking photos and using them to prompt my thinking and writing, but haven’t really thought about images as covers up to this point.  But with cover art in my head, I continued to take photos this weekend.

Saturday was the Surfing Madonna 5K, a local run/walk that would take place on the beach where we walk regularly.  With a nice low tide, the 5K would take place right on the sand along the shoreline in the late afternoon.  Geoff had signed up to participate in this event some time ago…and although I had to work in the morning, I headed to the beach afterward to connect with Geoff and walk with him.

And of course, I couldn’t just walk.  With my phone in hand, I snapped photos as we walked. And when I looked through my images later, this one struck me as a cover photo.  I love the way the runner is silhouetted against the surf in full stride, the clouds reflected on the sand, and the light illuminating the waves in the background.  This was one of the more serious runners, heading for the finish as we still headed toward the turn-around point.

cover art-runnerAnd we sure weren’t alone on the beach (although this runner looks to be running mostly alone).  Here’s a glimpse of the crowd near the start…there are lots of people you can see ahead and even more yet to start behind.

and they're off!

And I’m not sure if the costumes were a nod to Halloween coming up…or just a feature of quirky beach culture.  I did snap a photo of these bananas on the beach…

bananas

There were also lots of women (and a few men) in tutus…

tutus

And many, many more costumes including all forms of super heroes, mermaids, King Tut (in full gold painted face), sharks, squids, crabs…all out running and walking on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  It was a fun way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in October and the proceeds benefit ocean-related education programs in our area.  Definitely a win-win!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

As I headed out my front door this morning a dew covered dandelion puff caught my eye.  I was filled with wonder as I noticed the heaviness of the strands of fluff and I couldn’t wait to put my work things in my car so I could head back over to take a photo. Seeing the dew all over my car and windows, I decided to start my car, squeegee the windows and then set up my macro lens to capture that image.  At that moment, as I sat in the driver’s seat and pushed the button to start my ignition, my car let out a short groan and then nothing. I tried to pull the key out to try again…but it wouldn’t release and when I tried the ignition button again…nothing.

Lucky for me, my husband was working from home this morning so I was able to head back in to see if he could help.  And while he was checking out my car, I got the opportunity to attach my macro lens and snap a few shots.  I love the way you can see the dandelion fluff encased in a dew drop in this shot.

dandelion in dew drop

(As I write this, my car is in the shop.  My husband was able to take me to work and hopefully we’ll be picking my car up later today.)

Yesterday, I reveled in the wonder of my students as they took a close look at some fall leaves my teaching partner brought back from her trip to Colorado.  My students had the opportunity to observe, sketch and photograph the leaves…and these will also serve as information and inspiration for some poetry and art.  I found myself taking photos of students taking photos of leaves (and you can see some sketches in progress in the background).

photo of leaf photoOn Monday, we celebrated the National Day on Writing (for details you can see this post) by writing collaborative poetry with the older multiage class at our other school.  My students continually amaze and delight me as they embrace the wonder of words…and of collaboration. It was such fun to watch kids, from six to eleven years old, figure out how to bring their ideas together in a collaborative poem.

poetry collaboration

I spent the weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Association for Science and Technology Centers conference.  Unlike a usual educational conference, this conference is mostly attended by museum professionals.  My colleague from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and I presented as part of our participation in a partnership between writing projects and science centers.  Since we have been exploring ways to transform field trip experiences for students, we included a mini field trip “exhibit” as part of our presentation.  It was such fun to catch the wonder and delight on the face of adults as they explored with a science “toy.”

mini field trip joy

I also had the opportunity to explore the North Caroline Museum of Natural Sciences (I wrote more about it here).  This museum is quite unusual and includes many unique features.  I got to watch these veterinarians work with this snake, including using a “trach” tube.  We got to listen to the snake’s respirations and ask the vets questions about the procedure.  You’ll notice that they are also projected onto the screen on the right hand side of the photo.  I can only imagine the wonder children will experience as they watch these animal doctors at work!

vets with a snakeAnd in the more traditional part of the museum I happened to look up with a bit of surprise and wonder as I noticed these pterodactyls above my head.  You can also see the lights of the city through this windowed dome where the pterodactyls flew.

pteradactyls

And sometimes it is the simple things that fill me with wonder.  Raleigh is known for its oak trees.  While they were not experiencing full blown colorful fall leaves, there were leaves and acorns falling here and there.  I love the simplicity of this leaf on the brick walkway.

oak leaf

What fills you with wonder?  Is it the simplicity and beauty of nature or watching students at work?  Did you catch a scientific wonder (like today’s partial solar eclipse) or revel in the intricacies of man-made structures?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #wonder for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Open your eyes and heart and pay attention to what fills you with wonder.  Breathe in and take that photo, not so much to make art, but to capture the moment for further reflection.  I can’t wait to see those wonder-full moments through your lens!

 

 

 

Write My Community

We are writers…and today we celebrated writing.

I teach in a pretty unique situation, in a multiage class of first, second, and third graders.  I co-teach this class with another amazing teacher and we keep our students for three years.  We are not merely teachers and students, we are a learning community.  We support each other, challenge each other, learning together over an extended period of time.

And this is the third year where we have celebrated the National Day on Writing by joining up with our district’s other multiage class–this one of fourth and fifth graders–many who were our students.  This time, the older kids joined us at our school starting with some shared play time on the playground…and lots of hugs as kids reconnected, siblings sought out their brothers and sisters, and older kids reminisced about their days as “little kids.”

And then the fun began…

As 80+ students headed into the auditorium, they each had a part of an animal picture to match to find their cross-age partner(s).  After spending a few minutes getting to know one another, partners were ready to begin a collaborative writing activity.

Believing that writers write best from abundance, last week students in both our classes drafted some poetry.  Our students had studied some poetry mentor texts from some of our favorite poets including Kristine O’Connell George and Valerie Worth and then, considering things they care about and know about, set off to write some poetry.  Once drafted, they separated their poems into individual lines and then cut the lines apart to store in a baggie. The other class used a similar process and came to our event today with lines of poetry in a baggie as well.

ndow protocol

After getting to know each other, students pulled three lines from their poem from the baggie to share with their partner and after reading and listening to the six lines of poetry, decided how to build on those ideas to create a collaborative poem representing the partnership.  A hush fell over the room as poets set to work negotiating and collaborating, crafting poetry together.

collaborating

And even though the room was full, it was if each partnership worked in a bubble of creativity and focus of their own.

poets at work

And it wasn’t long before drafts were prepared…and the writers were ready to go public with their poems.

poem draft

We headed out…beyond the school gate…to the sidewalk outside of our school, out into the community.  And with sidewalk chalk and their drafts in hand, our writers chalked their poems onto the sidewalk for the public to see and read: a chalk-a-bration!

making it public

It was fun to watch cars slow down to see what we were doing and people with their dogs stop to admire our handiwork.  Chalking their poem onto the sidewalk was not as easy as students first thought.  There was the dilemma of figuring out which direction to write and how much space it would take.  And then applying the right pressure to make the words readable…and even finding a comfortable position to do the writing came into play.

chalking the sidewalk

Students began to suggest that we post the written poems on the fence near the sidewalk, realizing that reading pencil on paper might be easier than chalk on sidewalk.  We’re looking into the feasibility of the possibility.

sidewalk poem

Our celebration ended with an open mic back in the auditorium.  I’m always amazed with how eager our students are to share their writing.  We could have stayed for another hour listening to the poems, but had to limit ourselves to a few random poem selections…for now!

For us, the National Day on Writing is an opportunity to publicly celebrate what we do every day…write.  And this year’s theme: write my community, was perfect for us.  We are a community of writers that extends beyond the classroom and across age and grade levels.  We write to learn, to remember, to explain, to share our knowledge, to explore, to convince, to analyze, to reflect, and to express ideas and feelings.  We write for ourselves, for each other, and for the public.

We are writers.

Happy National Day on Writing!

ndow setting