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Middle School Studio Lesson T he self-portrait holds such an important place in art history that many art teachers feel compelled to bring it into the classroom as an integral project at all levels. I have found through the years that the reaction from teenagers over the prospect of doing a self-portrait runs the gamut from genuine excite- ment, to pure dread. In middle- and high-school students, the dread largely comes from a lack of confidence in their abilities and discomfort with their own physical appearances. Going Digital In my ninth-grade media arts class, we create digital self-portraits—an activity we have named the "Selfie Project." This project largely alle- viates the common concerns that arise over doing self-portraits. The absence of traditional media elimi- nates a lot of anxiety right from the beginning, and the ubiquitous self- controlled "selfie" posted on social media has made kids comfortable with their own image. This digital self-portrait is a digital composite that starts with a student portrait and includes layers of images that describe and express students as individuals. It is largely successful, enjoyable, and truly challenging to my students. (It is important to note that students have already been introduced to the editing process using Adobe Photoshop Elements before attempting this challenging project.) The Selfie Shoot The selfie shoot consists of two parts. First, a self-portrait shooting assign - ment is given. Students must take and/ or gather a minimum of twenty-five images of objects, places, and people that are important to them. Camera- phone images can also be included, as can images taken with a digital camera. These images are brought into class on a flash drive and transferred and stored in students' personal folders on their computers. The second part is a selfie photo shoot day. All students must bring The Selfie Michael Sacco PROJECT 36 April 2014 SchoolArts B_pages_4_14.indd 36 2/20/14 3:07 PM