12 days and counting!

We’re counting down…only 12 DAYS until the inaugural exhibition of Literacy Through Photography at Moore opens to the public!

We are busy printing, cutting, framing and proofing all of the final works by students for the exhibition and publication. 180 frames….that’s A LOT of framing to do over the next week!

I have to admit, it has been difficult not to share some of the final works that will be on view during our exhibition. I have decided to share ONE example from each of our participating schools. It is not only exciting, but refreshing and interesting to see how each team of teachers approached working, for the first time, with the Literacy Through Photography teaching tools in their classrooms.

Katherine Pena, Nueva Esperanza Academy Charter High School

Kara, Dimner Beeber Middle School

Ashley Altiery, William Cramp Elementary School

Joshua Gonzalez, Grover Washington Jr. Middle School

Jordan Dunn, CCA Baldi Middle School


Poetry and Writing Samples

I have received some wonderful writing from all the participating schools, but today I am going to highlight work from students at Neuva Esperanza and CCA Baldi.

As before, some of the writing samples you will read here are final writings and poetry for the exhibition, while others were written along the way. I can’t tell you which is which or include photos (we don’t want to ruin the fun of unveiling everything in a few weeks!) but I couldn’t help but include them on our blog. They are all very well written and show how much these students have learned about poetry and visual thinking.

Poetry from Esperanza:

My life is like skateboarding

It goes by fast

It grinds and flips

Makes twists and turns

And there are accidents

By Alan Bojorques-Garabaldi


Colors and shapes

Difficulties come to my mind

Circles and lines intertwining

Inner thoughts

The way life is

Time goes by like your nails growing


Abstract confusion becomes a daily habit

By Karina Rodriguez

Writing from CCA Baldi:

If sad was a color, it would be dark black

If sad was a taste, it would be wet bread

If sad was a smell, it would be lemons

If sad was a feeling, it would be hurtful

If sad was a sound, it would be babies crying

By Dibin Ipe

If anxious was a color, it would be red and green

If anxious was a taste, it would be sour but then sweet

If anxious was a smell, it would be adventurous

If anxious was a feeling, it would be excitement

If anxious was a sound, it would be laughter and enjoyment

By Pedro Palmer

Ellie Hutchinson at Baldi

This morning, after grabbing a much needed Starbucks cappuccino, I met Carla Bednar of ArtsRising to visit CCA Baldi Middle School. Teaching Artist Ellie Hutchinson, of Al Bustan Seeds of Culture, would be in the classroom today doing a writing lesson with her students, so we though this would be the perfect time to visit and see how things were going in Pat’s classroom.

As Shannah has written from past visits, students at Baldi have been busy working on Self-Portrait Projects and learning about different poetry techniques to describe who they are. Today, Ellie decided to change things up a bit and get the kids to visualize a story, talking about how details of a story that stand out to each student are very telling about what they value and how they see, both similarly and differently. “I’m going to read you a tale,” Ellie told the class, “and I want you to listen carefully. When I am finished you will have 10 minutes to draw a picture of what you remember most about the story, or what details stuck out the most in your head.”

The story Ellie chose to share was a spin on The Three Little Pigs, where in the end the third little pig out smarts the big bad wolf and serves him up for supper instead! The students sat silent, intently listening to the tale, only erupting in laughter at the very end when they realized how clever that third little pig really was!

After their 10 minutes, Ellie collected the drawings and the class had a discussion about the different scenes that each student chose to depict. Many drew the brick house with the wolf outside and of course the pig. However, some chose  very specific moments in the story, or used scale to create focal points or express the role each character played. In some, the wolf was very tall and dominant, overshadowing the clever pig. In others the wolf’s expression and movements captured his fright and anger at being out witted time after time. A few chose to focus on how smart the pig was, drawing a moment where the pig climbed a huge apple tree and threw an apple to distract the wolf while quickly scurrying home.

In the end, the students began to understand why they chose certain moments to draw or certain feelings and expressions of the characters. “How you visualize words, situations, stories and moments can tell a lot about who you are and how you see,” Ellie told the class. “Think about this as you work on your self-portrait projects when you have to think about that fact that how you think and see makes you who you are and determines how you express yourself.”

March 22 @ CCA Baldi

This week at Baldi, Ms. Elder showed me some of the first printed photographs from her class. The photos were from a self-portrait assignment where students were allowed to take the cameras home.

Class began with a quick re-cap. Students had completed a poem using the letters in their first and last name and had a discussion about the colors and textures within their photo collections.

Ms. Collier, Moore’s art education student teacher at Baldi, passed out a sheet with the students new assignment: a portfolio poem entitled “If I were in charge of the world.” She explained that the poem will help them find words that describe themselves that they can reference when working on their next self-portrait photography assignment. She reminded them, “think about things you are passionate about and things you like to do and don’t like to do, or things you worry about.

After completing the poems students shared what they wrote and talked about why they chose the words they did and how it describes who they are and how they see themselves.

Arthur Greenwood writes about having ice cream as a vegetable and having no more curfews, boredom, or bedtimes.

Ashlee Cheacley writes that she would like facebook in school and no more bullies.

Sierra Desantis would like to cancel mushrooms and make chocolate a vegetable.

This poem is part of planning exercises that Ms. Collier has developed to really help students have a clear idea of what they would like to photograph. She will continue this type of exercise with the class for the rest of the week. The exercise will then lead into a project focusing on portraits and their facial expressions.

March 1, 2011 at Baldi

This week’s class began with a writing assignment. Ms. Elder asked students to write a detailed description of what they will photograph for their self portrait. She also asked the following questions:

What do you need to set up for your photograph? How are you going to express yourself? She stressed the importance of details and asking “Why?”

“The elements of a self portrait are not always just your face,” reminds Ms. Elder.

Harmanjeet describes to me that in his photograph he will be sitting on his bed and  reading a fantasy book. He will have snacks next to him as well as a stuffed pet monkey that he got for christmas. He will also have his lamp on which might make shadows on his right side.

Michael Simankin will take his picture in front of the television. He tells me that he likes to play video games and that his dog, Max, will be next to him. Michael will also be wearing sweatpants in his self portrait because he is laidback.

“I want to be in an open place with natural scenery,” says Brielle Edelman. She tells me that she will have a calm smile in her self portrait and that she may also pose in front of a wall.

As the students continued to write, Ms. Elder asks them to be very honest in what they write about themselves and in their self portrait descriptions. She asked HOW they will explain their photographs as well as mentions “symbolism” and how that will be used in their photographs. I can’t wait for my next visit and hope to see some self portraits soon!


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!

My first visit to C.C.A Baldi Middle School

Tuesday was my first visit to the classroom of Pat Elder at C.C.A Baldi Middle School in North Philadelphia. Here are a few shots of some of the student work hung around the classroom and various supplies available to the students.

This week Ms. Elder began class with a writing exercise, asking students to spend ten minutes writing anything about themselves. She had a few prompt questions listed on the board to get students started. “Just begin writing the first thing that comes to mind,” Ms. Elder instructed the class and then listed a few quick examples. As students begin to write, she continued to help the students along, offering other suggestions of aspects of their personality they might write about about.

Nathaniel Carroll wrote that he is caring, kind, smart, funny and loves the Beatles.

Sonia Chaudhary wants to be doctor. She wrote about how active she is and some of her favorite foods; she is a BIG fan of stir fry, apples and vegetables.

“Music is my life,” writes Nicholas Dolo. He also wrote that he is independent and very social.

Pedro Palmer shares that he is shy, “ha, just playing!” He’s talkative, has alot of friends and that he smells good.

Then Ms. Elder asked the class, “What is a self-portrait?” Students quickly answer that a self portrait can be a drawing or a painting, or that a self-portrait captures your personality and is a description of different things about you.  They continued to discuss self-portraits, talking about facial expressions, palette, body language, and clothing. Students were then asked to look at a few different self-portrait photographs and write a character sketch about them asking the students, “what do you see in the photograph?” At the end of class a few students shared their character sketches with the rest of the students.

Dibin Ipe told me that he saw someone’s grandmother. When asked why he thought the woman was a grandmother, he replied, “the woman looks older and she is wearing a dress that woman wear when they are sitting around the house and watching television.”

This was a great first week at Baldi and I can’t wait for my next visit to see what the students are working on!