With rain in the forecast (again!), I was thankful to be able to get my morning group of students out into the garden with their iPads. (No such luck with my PM group–but that is another blog post.)
In the fall, we had spent time in the garden clearing out overgrown beds, pulling weeds and enormous carrots that hadn’t been harvested because of our pandemic shutdown. We groomed the soil, sowed some seeds, made sure the irrigation was working–and then my attention turned to other instructional priorities, neglecting the garden.
This is the time of the year when I like to use photography as a tool to teach my students about perspective, about “seeing” the world in different ways, and about the role photos have played as advocacy. We’ve learned a bit about Dorothea Lange and her photographs during the depression and World War II and also about Ansel Adams and his photos of National Parks and Japanese internment camps.
So we headed into the garden to try on a few photography techniques: a bug’s eye view, leading lines, natural frames, and the rule of thirds. A lot had changed since our last visit to the garden before the winter holidays! We were greeted by 4 foot tall dandelions, beets bigger than a your head, and plenty of other surprises.
My students happily explored with their iPads in search of photographs. They laid on the ground seeking that bug’s eye view, looking up and under the masses of plants. They sought frames and lines, hopefully holding their devices still enough to prevent the inevitable blur that so many experience. They used those helpful grid lines to define the focus of their subject and carefully place it for their rule of thirds photos.
And they pointed out all the wonders they found. There was the little girl who worked diligently to photograph the roly poly that was trying to make a quick get away and the one who dug around in the garden bed and discovered that giant beet (above). They photographed flowers and beans, pinecones and weeds…and who knows what all else.
I found myself captivated by the purple beans. Lots and lots of purple beans and the mass of curlicues reaching up and around.
Tomorrow we will examine our photos, evaluating how well the photography techniques work in helping us look carefully. We’ll also do some writing, using the photos as inspiration and subject matter. And maybe we’ll also get back to some gardening. Weed those beds again, harvest our overgrown bounty, and start again with seeds. Seeds that will also help us grow–as photographers, writers, and advocates too!
Your students sound so lucky to be in your class! What amazing work you’re doing with them! I love the vividness of your imagery in writing about the garden.
I want to be in your class! That sounds absolutely fascinating! Next time I am feeling trapped inside (probably tomorrow!) I need to grab my iPad and get outside!
PS — when I saw your tweet, I thought it said Purple Rain, and I wondered if you were going to be listening to Prince for this post …
This post makes me want to get out in the garden with the jeweler’s loops again. It’s great to get kids involved in outside, gardening and photography.
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Oh, my Gosh, I LOVE those purple beans! This is such a great post from start to finish. I used your experience with photographing the garden in my lesson on perspective today, changing up my plans last minute. We didn’t get out into a garden (hint–ground was still covered with snow)–but even imaging it was great fun and a wonderful way to start thinking about perspective. Thanks!