The photography class at RARE Learning is a 5 day course for 9-14 year olds. The course initially focused on students attending the classes and taking back with them what they learnt each day. Andrew Valentine is a photography and film camp instructor at RARE Learning (rarelearning.com) and he came up with an idea to make the photography classes more interesting for the students and engaging for parents.
Each day of the photography course focuses on various elements of photography. On the first day students learn about landscape photography and then move on to portraits and still lives on the second and third day. They are usually given homework of coming up with 5 photos on the topic of that day. Andrew said that he and David (also an instructor at RARE Learning) came up with an idea of developing a slideshow of the student’s work which would be presented to parents at the end of the course. They make a pick of the 5 best landscape, portrait and still life photographs that students have developed during the course.
The second engaging idea that Andrew has brought about to the photography class is getting the students to make a photo story out of 15 selected photographs. The class is broken into groups of 5 students per group. They then interact and share ideas to develop a story based on the pics. Students are given a day to bring in the props they may require for their story. Andrew gave an example whereby the students worked on photo stories with stuffed animals. They brought in stuffed animals and developed stories that were edited and later presented to parents. The classroom was also set up like a Pet Store.
At the end of the last day of the course parents are invited and shown the slideshow of their child’s work as well as a slideshow on the photo stories created by the students during the course.
The 3 benefits of the new engaging photography classes:
1. Enhancing teamwork & socialization:
Andrew feels that the new concept of developing a photo story based on photographs enhances teamwork and socialization among students. Students are able to mingle with other kids who share the same niche interest of photography. They learn to share ideas and work as a team hence also improving social skills.
2. Parental engagement:
Previously, the photography course would only involve students taking home with them what they learnt each day. However, with the change, parents are invited on the last day for a screening of their kids work just like the filmmaking course. Andrew says parental engagement is a positive outcome of the change and kids also get very excited that their parents will be coming in to see their work.
3. A bigger goal for students:
Andrew also says that the change in the course gives students something to work towards and a bigger goal to achieve by the end of the course. This definitely makes the classes more interesting and interactive.
Andrew says that he has received positive feedback from parents after bringing about this change to the course. After viewing the slideshow of their work one parent exclaimed “Wow! The kids have taught me something today”. He said parents have been very appreciative of the fact that they are now able to see a display of what their kids have learnt during the course and are happy and impressed with their children’s work.
By bringing about these adjustments to the photography program, the photography camp is now more closely aligned with the filmmaking camp which has always focused on storytelling and parental feedback.