SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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All photographs taken by preschool students at Ochoa Community Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona. Throughout the project, most students preferred to use the tripod, especially if they hoped to capture a particularly interesting image (for example, some- one playing on the playground). Whenever we noticed students wanting to do more with the cameras, we carefully scaffolded our instruc- tion to support them. This might include, for example, using the digital zoom, a tripod, or a flash. Throughout the project, we kept careful note of each student's experiences, interests, questions, and breakthroughs. A Project-Based Approach The classrooms at Ochoa Community Magnet School are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early child- hood education, which is child-cen- tered and advocates for a project-based curriculum. Because of this, we did not provide students with suggestions for subject matter. Rather, we waited to see what they might want to pho- tograph, then planned for experiences that would extend their interests. Throughout the project, students were most interested in photographing one another, their friendships, their com- munity garden, their indoor and out- door play spaces, and their neighbors and neighborhood. The Advantages of a Blog At the end of each session with the cameras, we would download the images to iPhoto, allowing students the opportunity to view the images and to make comments about them. Their comments about the experience, along with mine, were then uploaded to a project blog. In this way, we were able to share the images with students' families throughout the course of the project. The school principal and dis - trict administrators were also invited to the blog, and were able to talk with us about students' work. The blog served as both documentation and assessment for the project. Potential of Digital Media in Preschool It was quite clear throughout the proj- ect that students valued the artistic and social experience of making art with digital media. They explored with digital media as they might with any new media—gradually gaining confidence and choosing subjects of personal importance to photograph, record, and talk about with us, with their families, and with one another. It was also evident that students were not only able to use digital media technically, but also conceptually. Their work was visually striking, playful, and meaningful. Through their exploration of digital media, they strengthened relationships with their educators and one another. Marissa McClure is a visiting assistant professor of art education at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylva- nia. mam1068 @ psu.edu N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Students explore and understand pro- spective content for works of art. schoolartsonline.com 35 B_pages_4_14.indd 35 2/20/14 3:06 PM

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