How can students gain a greater capacity for self-expression through visual thinking and creativity via photography and interpretive writing as part of an intensive short term residency conducted by a locally based teaching artist and administered by a partnership of several supporting organizations?
Project or Program Summary
Please provide a summary of the project/program as demonstrated in the case study:
The Young Audiences/Jones Soda/Y Arts Detroit Photography Residency was a ten session program based at Hamtramck High School in Hamtramck, Michigan. Teaching Artist Rebecca Berdy worked closely with classroom teacher Deb Molnar to instruct a class of 17 10th and 11th grade students in building visual and critical thinking skills. iPads provided in kind from Y Arts were used in the program for both photography and data management. The class that hosted the program had a focus that centered on performance art with parts of a unit called “arts in the community.” The program curriculum was geared toward helping students understand basic elements of photography including: subject, composition, light, mood, background/foreground, and rule of thirds. In addition, students learned responsible use of equipment, data management practices, and the importance of respecting the privacy of your subject (use of release forms). Weekly writing prompts reinforced the focus of each class, and Ms. Molnar reinforced these writing prompts with related writing assignments between each weekly session. As with all YMCA programs, our core values (caring, honesty, respect and responsibility) were reinforced whenever possible.
Portfolio Purpose and Rational
Portfolio Purpose and Rationale: Why has this case study been submitted?:
This case study has been submitted to document the Jones Soda Photography Residency at Hamtramck High School in Hamtramck, Michigan offered in partnership with Young Audiences and Y Arts Detroit (YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit).
What are your overall conclusions regarding the documentation gathered for this case study?:
Overall this is a great opportunity to provide students with a different perspective of a current technology and art form that they are already using in their everyday lives. Thanks to the combined efforts/resources of Jones Soda and Young Audiences, Y Arts was able to offer another high quality program at a school with an extremely diverse population of students who have limited creative resources/outlets. In fact, Hamtramck is a town known for many years for its diversity. The rust belt town has long been a melting pot city, home to many immigrant populations. Up until the mid-1990’s the predominant cultures in Hamtramck were Polish and Eastern European immigrants. Now the city is a diverse mix of Middle Eastern, Bangladeshi, European, and African American residents. This diversity added to the impact of the residency. The students at the school are very open to new experiences/cultures, so teaching them to look at the world through a new lens was enhance by the innate openness of their environment. The addition of writing prompts was a new approach since our 2015 residency at Western International High School in Detroit. The opportunity for students to synthesize their experience after each session was a hugely impactful addition to the program. Reinforcement of the skills/experience gained in these sessions by the classroom teacher during the week between sessions added greatly to the effectiveness of the program by keeping the program fresh in the students’ minds. As the residency was carried out in spring, many sessions took place walking through the neighborhood immediately surrounding the school. This approach set the school’s community center stage as the main focus and inspiration for student photos. It was a great way for student’s to view their home town in an entirely new way. In fact, the winning photo selected by Jones Soda was of a tree in front of the school.
What conclusions have you drawn from the responses to the assessment tools you have developed?:
Thanks to the residency our participants have definitely gained a greater understanding of the basic elements of photography, as well as the creative inspiration beyond technical lessons. One of the students journaled about what they’d learned by saying “I’ve learned so many things about photography that I’ve never known before. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to photograph. You just have to see the meaning in a moment and capture it in a picture.” The added writing component for our 2016 residency added immeasurable value to the program. Writing prompts varied from basic questions reviewing technical photography lessons, to broader prompts like: -How does this photo make you feel? -If you could take a picture anywhere in the universe, where would it be? Paint the picture with words. -What happened the moment before or after this picture was taken? These open ended prompts went above and beyond the basic skills learned and the students wrote some deep and creative responses, proving that the residency opened doors to new thoughts/creative approaches that will have a lifelong impact on the participants. (Journals are soon to be scanned/sent to YA.)
Answering the Inquiry Question
Back to the initial inquiry question, can it be answered?:
It can be answered. Students of the 2016 Jones Soda/YA/Y Arts photo residency tapped into a great deal of untapped creativity through this program. This was a result of a few program elements at play. The valuable experience from the 2015 residency was incorporated into planning/facilitation this year. The program support from YA was, as always, extremely helpful in planning program goals, timeline, and facilitating photo sharing as the program progressed. The funding and program support from Jones Soda was hugely helpful in connecting with these youth. Without the funding, there would be no program, and the connection students felt with a brand like Jones Soda, as well as the excitement for the possibility of having their photo featured on a bottle, added to student investment overall. The final partners that helped the students unlock personal potential for creativity were both teachers involved. Hamtramck High School’s Deb Molnar is a dedicated teacher who invests a great deal of herself and her free time to connect with and inspire her students. Similarly, Y Arts instructor Rebecca Berdy has over five years of youth mentorship experience as well as teaching experience in a variety of mediums beyond media arts. Because of this, she was able to add and facilitate the additional writing component that aided in accomplishing program goals greatly.
Conclusions: What Was Learned
Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future
What can be done differently in the future?:
According to teaching artist Rebecca Berdy, the only changes she would make to the program would be to make it longer, and possibly go even further into creative writing in the journaling portion of the curriculum. The students at Hamtramck really embraced the writing prompts and given the opportunity could have created full stories, poems, or plays from the prompts after photo sessions. This could be a great opportunity to incorporate an even deeper literacy component to an already impactful program.
Conclusions: How Will This Inform The Work Moving Forward
Core Content Standards
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Key Ideas and Details
Craft and Structure
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Range of Writing
Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Science / Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts That Have Common Applications Across Fields:
Scale, proportion, and quantity
21st Century Learning Skills
Learning and Innovation / Creativity and Innovation:
Work Creatively with Others
Learning and Innovation / Communication and Collaboration:
Collaborate with Others
Information, Media and Technology / Media Literacy:
Information, Media and Technology / ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy:
Apply Technology Effectively
Life and Career / Flexibility and Adaptability:
Adapt to Change
Life and Career / Initiative and Self-Direction:
Manage Goals and Time
Life and Career / Leadership and Responsiblity:
National Core Arts Standards
National Core Arts Standards: