Telling Stories With Photo Essays: A Guide for PreK-5 Teachers

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When children create photo essays, they are encouraged to share their thoughts in an authentic and personal way. This creative new resource offers teachers ready-to-use tools and strategies for involving children in creating photo essays as a way to communicate ideas, experiences, and emotions.

Teachers will discover how to inspire children to capture the aesthetics of their environment, document historical events and personal stories, keep a record of what they learn, and become advocates for causes as they explore responsible citizenship. The book offers ideas and examples that illustrate how photo essays can be used:

  • As part of portfolios to record what children have learned
  • To help boost the confidence of struggling writers, including English language learners and children with special needs
  • As an alternate assessment format to engage challenged students
  • To meet state and national standards

Photo essay activities are ideal for any teacher looking for new ways to nurture student expression, excitement, and creativity in the classroom.

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Editorial Reviews

Karen Thomes
"A beneficial reference to working with photo essays with young children.”
David W. Romtvedt
“This book demonstrates the power of the photo essay to help children grow intellectually and emotionally. It includes ideas for a wide array of projects along with plenty of examples of projects students have done in different schools and community settings. The fantastic thing about the book is the commitment to teaching that serves every child—a commitment that arises from a vision of democratic learning.”
Michael Opitz
"Thompson shows as much as tells what photo essays are and how to use them to enhance and extend children’s understanding of their world. Educators will want this book because of the curricular integration, differentiation, and instruction centered on helping children use all components of literacy, including visual representation.”
Rebecca S. Compton
“I really like this book, and I’m eager to use it as a supplement for various methods courses in elementary education and early childhood. I would also use it in a special workshop or seminar class.”
Suzanne Strempek Shea
"Countless students will be forever changed by this fascinating text and its message that the immense power of images enables anyone to say, 'This is where I am, this is what I see. Look at my world through my eyes.'"
Carol Copple
"The authors offer a wealth of ways to engage children in expressing meaning and documenting experiences through photographs. They provide all the practical help teachers need to use this exciting medium to expand children’s ways of perceiving, representing, and thinking about their world."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412964593
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Conklin Thompson is a professor at the University of Northern Colorado, where she coordinates the early childhood program and teaches early childhood and elementary education courses. Thompson has authored numerous articles, two multicultural books for children, and eight books for teachers, including Children as Illustrators: Making Meaning through Art and Language (National Association for the Education of Young Children). She has been the recipient of several university awards for teaching excellence and outstanding research and scholarship and in 2001 was awarded the Early Childhood Professional of the Year Award by the Wyoming Early Childhood Association.

Kayenta Williams holds an MFA in creative writing and has worked extensively with English language learners as an elementary ELL teacher. She has authored both fiction and nonfiction work, including an article in Social Studies and the Young Learner entitled “Photo Essays: Using Photography to Tell a Story”, which she co-authored with Susan Conklin Thompson.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

About the Authors vii

Introduction 1

1 Photo Essays and Children 5

Photography and Expression 6

Children as Photographers 7

2 Developing a Photo Essay 11

Photo Essays 11

Captions and Photographs Working Together for Voice 14

Thinking In-Depth About Captions 15

Timelines 15

Teachers and Photo Essays 15

Presentation Formats for Photo Essays 18

Children Presenting Photo Essays 19

3 Photographs Tell a Story in History 21

Creating a Historical Photo Essay: The Freedom Trail 23

Ideas for Historical Photo Essays 28

4 Personal History Photo Essays 29

Sample Personal History Photo Essays 30

Ideas for Personal History Photo Essays 38

5 Nature Experience Photo Essays 39

Sample Nature Photo Essay 39

Ideas for Nature Photo Essays 46

6 Field Trip Photo Essays 47

Sample Field Trip Photo Essay 48

Ideas for Field Trip Photo Essays 55

7 Overcoming Traumatic Events 57

Sample Photo Essay of a Tornado 63

Ideas for Photo Essays Helping Children Deal With Traumatic Events 68

8 Career Photo Essays 71

Sample Career Photo Essay 73

Ideas for Career Photo Essays 78

9 Integrating Curriculum Photo Essays 79

Sample Photo Essay of an Integrated Math Activity 80

Ideas for Integrated Photo Essays 85

10 Advocacy Photo Essays 87

Sample Advocacy Photo Essay on Endangered Animals 92

Ideas for Advocacy Photo Essays 102

11 Using Photographs to Interpret the Past Dr. Gary Fertig 103

Using Photographs to Evaluate the Historical Significance of Change 105

Using Photographs to Identify Causes and Effects 106

Using Photographs to Evoke Empathy 108

Using Photographs to Initiate Historical Inquiry 110

Summary and Conclusions112

12 Assessment and Rubrics 113

Resource: Standards Alignment 123

Bibliography of Suggested Children's Photo Essay Books 133

References 135

Index 137

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