Who We Are
Contact Us


Future Focus : Literacy through Photography

from the Chattanooga Times Free Press
Monday, September 1, 2021

Veteran Hamilton County teachers Beth Sebastian and Samantha Walter are always looking for ways to link learning in the classroom to real world examples.

And if the project is fun for their pupils, that’s even better, say the Ooltewah Elementary fifth-grade teachers.

"We took a workshop called ‘Literacy through Photography’ this summer, and we decided we could implement that in our classrooms," Ms. Sebastian said.

The teachers bought film cameras with grant money from Arts in Education of Allied Arts of Chattanooga. They created an assignment for students to take photographs that would illustrate a written self-portrait.

Though digital technology is fast, making the film camera a dinosaur, the inner workings of the camera and a darkroom brought magic to their classrooms, the teachers said.

"The students did everythig from putting the batteries in the camera to loading the film, developing and printing it," Ms. Sebastian said. "We used canisters to develop the film, and it was like magic to the students. They were amazed they could put the paper in, and an image would come out."

In addition to a writing assignment, the exercise stressed the lessons of cooperation, teamwork, meeting deadlines and responsibility, the teachers said. Pupils paired up to share a camera and a roll of 24-exposure film.

"Each student took 12 pictures. The first one had to be timely sot they could get it to the second child in enough time to take 12 pictures," Ms. Sebastian said. "The second child had to be responsible for protecting the first child’s pictures."

The fifth-graders took pictures of their families, friends, pets and items that reflected their likes and dislikes, the teachers said. Friends and family members took pictures of the pupils.

"One student has a picture of herself sitting on a trampoline, another is playing the guitar and some are reading," Ms. Sebastian said.

The pupils used black and white film they printed using the darkroom at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where Mrs. Walter is a graduate.

"I have worked with Dr. Volker Henning (the head of Southern Adventist’s communication and journalism department) on several projects," Mrs. Walter said. "He was very eager to partner with us."

After the fifth-graders complete the photography assignment, they will use computers to write their self-portraits and scan the photos in so they can create and publish an illustrated document.

When the projects are completed, they will be displayed in the school’s newly opened gallery, Ms. Sebastian said.
The teachers have three more assignments using cameras during the rest of the school year. In the second quarter they will focus on family, and community will be the topic for the third assignment. Both projects will use color film, which they will send out for processing, the teachers said.

"The fourth time we will do black and white again, and it will be on dreams," Mrs. Walter said. "It can be aspirations, but most children tend to write about the dreams they have when they sleep."

--by Beverly A. Carroll
Chattanooga Times Free Press





Arts & Education Council | PO Box 4203, Chattanooga, TN 37405
Email | Phone: (423) 267-1218 | Fax: 423-267-1018


Allied Arts Funded Agency     Tennessee Arts Commission