A parent once remarked, “You do so many great things at school. I wish I could be a fly on the wall and watch my child in action.”
One of the easiest ways to give parents a glimpse of school is to give students a camera, access to Picasaweb, and a blog.
Give students a camera.
Each week, one or two students are given the classroom job of photographer. The photographer gets to carry a camera throughout the school day, snapping shots he or she finds interesting.
Why not take pictures myself? I like to see life from a student’s point of view. Parents like to see that too. What do students find interesting? humorous? entertaining? Student personalities shine on the playground, in the cafeteria, and in the library – places I don’t often supervise.
Also, my school is located in a large urban area. Students don’t have much playground space. A camera allows them to spend their free time in artistic ways. Here is a video to help students begin to take thoughtful shots:
The one rule for student photographers: photography cannot interrupt teacher instruction or other students’ work time. It’s a good idea to let specialist teachers know the rule so that they can enforce it as necessary.
Pairs of students choose the final photos.
Have a pair of students look through the week’s shots and choose the 10-12 best. When pairs decide, they should discuss what makes one shot better than another. How is it framed? Is the camera focused on the subject? Authentic communication around shared experiences is great for second language learners.
Photos are uploaded into Picasaweb.
Picasaweb is free if you don’t use too much storage space. Low storage is the main reason I have students select their 10-12 best photos each week.
In the video below, I show how to upload and how to add captions. For privacy reasons, I don’t allow students to include names with a caption.
Change Picasa Viewing Permission
I once made the mistake of not changing viewing permissions. The slideshow looked beautiful from my computer. The next day, students told me the pictures weren’t visible. Oops. Click on the link to learn how to Change Picasa Viewing Permissions.
Choose slideshow mode and embed the code.
This part is the trickiest (at first). Students get the hang of it rather quickly.
The Final Slideshow…
An example can be found here.
The next week…
My student photographers teach two new student photographers. I’m a big fan of students teaching students. With a little explanation and access to the video tutorials above, students are able to upload slideshows to the class blog with limited teacher intervention.
Once students get into the routine of posting photo slideshows, you are left with posts that all students and parents want to view. Parents who travel or who live far away especially appreciate this glimpse into their child’s school life.
How else might you use Picasa slideshows in your blog?