Process Skills: Observation, perception, communication, creativity
Time required: 30 minutes
Supplies needed: We call them “visual windows”. They are essentially cut-out mattes for framing (obtained from local art stores, for free or a discount). You can also make them in class using cardboard/bristol board rectangles and cutting out rectangles to produce a window, asking the students to personalize theirs as part of an art project.
i) To enhance students’ observational skills ii) To build their concentration and perception as they practice looking for the “elements of design” in nature. iii) To strengthen communication skills, especially students’ capacity to use visual language to describe their observations.
Before the cameras are brought out, and after a workshop in the creative elements of photography, we send students out into the school yard with their “visual windows” and watch them begin to develop an understanding of composition, focus, and framing and a new awareness of the amazing things they can find in their own schoolyards. No cameras, no buttons, just a window on the world!
Details: Following a workshop with a professional photographer focused on the creative elements of design, students are each handed a “visual window” (a cut-out matte) and given their assignment.
They are then asked to go outside for 20 minutes to explore and observe their schoolyard (or a nearby park) with visual windows in hand. They are encouraged to look through them when they feel so inspired, holding them in different ways to see how it changes their perspective, e.g. keeping the mattes close to their eyes, moving them out, looking up and looking down. While they’re doing this they’re asked to think about what they’ve learned in the workshop, especially the elements of design, and composition, and consider ways they could communicate visually what they are seeing through their windows.
After approximately 20 minutes students are invited to come back inside, or to sit in a large circle outside, and talk about how (if at all) the “visual window” changed the way they looked at their school yard, and at the living things that they might not normally pay attention to. Where did they place their window on the world? What was that like for them? How did they see things differently? Did anything surprise them?