Tag Archives: documenting

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Tree

We have a quirky tree that grows along the side of our driveway.  At one time it was nearly choked to death with ivy growing up its trunk.  It has a strange spiky trunk and a few broken branches that jut out in odd directions.  But it is that very character that draws my attention to it almost every day.  And it makes a perfect frame for varying light and sky conditions.  I have tons of photos of this one tree.  I took this one earlier in the week when I noticed that it was blooming…and the sun was reflecting off the leaves.


A few days before that I was noticing the sun, bright and summer-like, a very different kind of glow.img_9716

We had a foggy morning recently…and I had to stop as I got ready to get in my car to head to work to pull out my phone and capture the mistiness in a photograph.  I love the way the morning sun creates an almost silhouette effect


Sometimes this one tree is the perfect frame for the sherbet colors of sunset, with soft and wispy clouds.img_9236

Or with the reds and pinks of a clearer sky.  (You may also be noticing that the tree wasn’t in bloom for these pictures.)


The moon sometimes peeks through its branches, partially hidden in the milky white clouds.


Gray clouds with just a splash of blue appeared on one of those rare stormy days.


And the white puffballs look so soft you can almost feel them against the brilliant blue of the sky on this day.


There is just something about the twists and turns of the branches of this one tree that creates interesting angles and draws my eye.  It reminds me to look up, to pay attention to the light, to the clouds, to the moon…and more.


So, this week be on the lookout for your one tree (or one building or one hillside or one street corner) and document how it changes in different light, in different weather, at different times of the day or night.

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 #onetree for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Fine your one tree (or one something else) this week and spend some time noticing and documenting.  I can’t wait to see what you learn when you pay close attention to your #onetree.

Documenting Growth

The garden metaphor is pretty common in education–you know, planting seeds and watching them germinate, grow, and eventually bloom.  And as a teacher who keeps her students for three years, I really do get to plant some of those seeds, watch them germinate, grow…and bloom–sometimes a year or two after they are planted.

One of the families in our class gave each of us a mason jar planted with a narcissus paperwhite bulb for Christmas with a note on the lid telling us to be sure to take the top off and water.  And since taking that top off three weeks ago, I’ve been watching that bulb.  It began by stretching roots down, filling the jar with stringy white texture.  And then green shoots began to emerge, quickly growing tall above the rim of the jar.

Earlier this week those tall shoots got taller than they had the strength to hold onto and bent over, startling me as I looked up and found the shoots looking down at me.  My handy husband found some old chopsticks and propped the shoots back upright.

Close examination over the last week revealed buds, and I checked daily to see if they were ready to open.  And today when I got home from my morning San Diego Area Writing Project Leadership Group meeting, I found that the blossom had opened.  And of course I had to get my camera out and take some photos to document the growth and capture the beauty.


I’m loving this still life, an unedited photo taken with my iPhone.  If you look closely you can see the blossom at the top and the one to the left that is getting ready to bloom.  (You can even see the chopstick props if you really look closely!)

Of course I also wanted to lean in and capture the detail with my macro lens.  The detail of the blossom is revealed by the magnification of the lens.  This is another unedited photo.


And sometimes it’s nice to get a different view.  In this shot I used the regular iPhone lens and then brought the image into Camera+ to crop and enhance. I like the effect and how it emphasizes how the shoot changes as it gets close to the blossom.


I’ve enjoyed documenting the growth of this bulb through my photography.  It also has me thinking about how we document our students’ growth…and how they keep track of their own growth.  We keep samples of students’ work and have them reflect on their own learning, encouraging them to notice, stretch, and build on what they have learned.

My photographs document my growth as a photographer.  I can see how my composition has improved and as I examine my photos I make plans to try new techniques.  I seek out mentors on other blogs and on other internet sites.

We plan to start our students blogging next week.  We began blogging last year…figuring out how this might work with young students as we worked through each step of the way.  We’ve let the blogs idle as we established our classroom community and let our first graders develop some fluency and confidence with writing.

As we get ready to restart our blogging, I want to think about student blogs as documentation of learning…as portfolios of growth over time. And I want to capture snapshots of their growth like I have with the paperwhites, documenting their progress and their process over time.  Maybe the blogs will be like my camera lens…