Tutorial for Educators
Transforming Students into Global Photo-Detectives
Start by having students write about the image. Without giving any background information, just tell them to write what they think the image is about. No prompts. No questions. No guided analysis. Just brainstorm.This is a good way to measure outcomes. At the end of the tutorial, compare this ‘essay’ with the final one.
The Five Essential Questions
(See more examples in the slideshow.) This is where students become photo-detectives. This is where they start to hunt for clues. Ask them to describe the clothing, background, objects, action (gesture), expression. Use description i.e. adverbs and adjectives. Discuss the information conveyed in these elements (having some background information is always helpful).
Although the Five Essential Questions are the most effective for finding cross-cultural clues, there are about 20 visual elements all told, i.e. 20 questions. Depending on the image, direct your students’ attention to elements such as the light, the colours, the composition. What/who is the subject? Take note of the camera angle (if relevant) – and the information it conveys. A low angle often denote weakness, helplessness; a high angle does the opposite. Stress the language: ‘looking up to (someone), looking down (on someone). The light can denote time of day – or the mood (or both). Which leads to the next series of questions.
Emotions and Feelings
Ask about the mood. How does the subject feel? Why? Now we’re really getting into the nitty-gritty of the ‘story’: not just the facts, but the story behind the story. This leads into the next question – how does the image makes your students feel. And why. Happy/upbeat? Melancholic (this is a good way to introduce new vocabulary) Or both? I really like the way this can tap into a kind of collective cultural memory. which ties into….
Ask your students if they have shared the same experiences as the child in the image. Have they ever done the same thing? In the same way – or differently? Have they felt the same way? Been in the same situation? Tapping into shared experiences is a phenomenal way of personalising something/someone/someplace that might appear different and foreign. It creates empathy.
Connections – Similarities and Differences
Encourage students to explore the links between their own life,experience and situation, and those of the children featured in each photograph. These questions will encourage students to mine the content for cultural/geographical similarities and differences.