Radio Interview Air-time announced!

Elizabeth Gilly’s radio interview with Loraine Ballard Morrill of Clear Channel Radio about Literacy Through Photography: The Philadelphia Project will air this Sunday, March 6 on WDAS FM (105.3) between 6-7 am and Power 99 FM from 7-7:30 am. Make sure to tune in!



This morning in Ms. General and Ms. Andrews’ classroom at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School students had a class discussion about how to identify positive and negative aspects of the photographs that they take. After learning how to properly handle and use the digital cameras the previous week, the students chose a partner and photographed one another. They experimented with angles, zoom, background, pose and when to use or not use the flash.

Today, each student examined the photographs that their partner took and made a list of what they LIKED about the images and what or how they would IMPROVE the images. This critical thinking exercise required the students to carefully examine the photographs to identify and explain the positive and negative responses to how the photograph was taken.

Some students noticed that their faces were too bright or that a glare was on their clothes or face. They determined that the flash was not necessary because of the amount of natural light already in the room.

Others realized that you need to pay attend to details, such as making sure “your hair in fixed;” “your necklace is straight;” “your glasses are on or off.”

A few students mentioned that they should have paid attention to where they were standing in room and that having the right setting or background is very important.

Next week their final project begins! Students in this particular classroom are concentrating on DREAMS. Who they want to be, what they want to accomplish in their lives and how to capture their DREAMS in a photograph using symbolism. The students will be writing about every photograph they take and in the end, composing poems or raps to accompany their photographs.

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William Cramp Elementary School

William Cramp Elementary School in North Philadelphia is participating in LTP in both 5th and 6th grade classrooms under the collaborative team of art teacher Kimberly Gavin, and 5th and 6th grade teachers Jaime Rowlyk and Dan Fitzsimmons. Moore art education student Melanie Pawlowski is completing her student teaching in Kim Gavin’s classroom this semester and stopped by yesterday to share a few recent photographs taken by students.

Her students were given two assignments: think about who you are and how or what you identify yourself with, and share what you love or appreciate about your school. The students’ took their ideas and writing and translated them into the photographs you see below:

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Snow Day!

Winter isn’t quite over yet, so instead of visiting  C.C.A Baldi and Grover Washington Jr Middle Schools today with ArtsRising, the kids are off enjoying another snow day!

While I do not have photos to share today, I have heard some wonderful stories from our participating teachers about how things are going in their classrooms.

This Thursday I will be visiting Dimner Beeber Middle School in West Philadelphia where teachers John Pickersgill and Liz Van Allen have been working with their classes on an LTP project that merges the curriculum with “The Art of Growing Up” program at the Arts & Spirituality Center. Julia Katz-Terry is the educator, visual artist, and creator/director of “The Art of Growing Up” program who has been working in the classroom. The kids are incorporating mask-making with their writing and photography project to talk about issues and experiences that are at the same time personal and universal to kids as they “grow up.”

Dan Fitzsimmons, 6th grade teacher at William Cramp Elementary School, recently told me that, “the writing I have been getting from my students in the past few weeks has been nothing short of amazing.” I will be visiting their classroom to see for myself how the students are responding to the project and snap some photos to share, and Dan will be uploading writing samples from his students this week as well.

I will also be back at Grover Washington this Friday to see what Sandra Andino is working on next and stop by Celeste Rodriguez’s classroom to meet her students.

Snow day or not this week is all about LTP here at The Galleries; stay tuned for images, writing and video from my visits!

LTP radio interview on Clear Channel

I spent this morning at Clear Channel Radio with Loraine Ballard Morrill, their award-winning News and Community Affairs Director talking about LTP: The Philadelphia Project. Loraine was as excited as I was to discuss the importance of arts access, education and literacy programs here in Philadelphia that have an impact both in the classroom and the community.

Sorry no picture! We had to be quiet…no clicking of the camera allowed, but it was a great experience to talk with Loraine and share our exciting initiative with the community. Our air-time is still to be determined and will be announced shortly but I do know we will air during her Saturday morning program at 7:00am on Radio 104.5, Power 99 FM, Mix 106.1, Q102 and WDAS so stayed tuned!

Reading images and writing with Sandra Andino

This morning in Mrs. General and Ms. Andrews’ class at Grover, Sandra walked the students through an exercise in reading photographs and writing a story. Last week the class was given a homework assignment to bring in one photograph from home. “Choose any photograph you want,” Sandra instructed them, “it can be of yourself, your family, friends or your home. Anything that is important to you and you are interested in.” Some of the students forgot images but Sandra had a few snapshots on hand of her own that she shared with the class. Students who did remember, brought in images of themselves or their siblings and friends taken at special moments such as Christmas and 6th grade graduation.

Below is the photograph that Nadir Carter looked at and wrote about. Nadir wrote: “I think this is a picture of a father giving his son lucky charms and he is telling him what each one stands for. They are in a big field and the Dad said to himself, it’s time you have these son, they have been passed down from generation to generation.”

Here is another example by of the photo Ashley Regalado brought to share with the class and the short story she wrote about it:

Once they finished writing, Sandra instructed them to pass their photograph to the student sitting to their RIGHT. With the new image in front of them, students were asked to write another story or description of what they saw happening in the photograph. Below is the response given to Ashley’s photograph of her and her older sister.

Next week we are going to talk about the similarities and differences in how we see and interpret photographs or situations depicted in images. Then, the best part of the day for the students…CAMERAS! Students will work in groups to learn about the different parts of their new digital cameras and take a few test shots so they can get used to using and properly handling the cameras.

First Visit to Grover Washington’s 8th Grade Reading/Language Arts Class

We are working with two classrooms at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School and Tuesday afternoon I was in the classroom of 8th grade teacher Celeste Rodriguez. Ms. Rodriguez asked me to work with a small group of students on a few different exercises. I began by reading the poem “I Have Dreamed of You so Much” by Robert Desnos. Students were asked to listen to the words of the poem and try to pick out words and emotions. After reading the poems a few times to make sure they heard everything, I asked the students to share what stood out to them. After a brief discussion I then read  the poem a final time, asking the students to pick out specific images they saw as they listened to the words.

We discussed the specific images that were evoked by the words  of the poem and talked about how the students might take that image and recreate it in a photograph. One phrase of the poem read “over the sundial of your life.” Taking this phrase, we talked about “what is a sundial,” and “how is it used in the poem?” Students also pointed out the use of the word “phantom” and we talked  about how a someone might show a phantom in a photograph, leading to another discussion of “what is a phantom” and “how has pop culture used phantoms as characters?”

Students then looked at few photographs handed out during the previous class and discussed the photographers point of view and how they might look if the photographer were to take the photograph from a different position.

The class ended with a brief writing assignment. Students were asked to write a paragraph about one of their dreams, share their dream with the class and think about how they might take a photograph of this dream.

I took a group shot of some of the students in Ms. Rodriguez’s class. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the students at my next visit!