Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Student Teacher and the Paper Crane

Being a student teacher is overwhelming, I remember. I had a student teacher the first half of last year who showed great courage, innovation and was open to all I had to share.  He had a lot of enthusiasm, energy, a positive attitude, and, well...youth.  He has an MFA in painting, but of course, he had to come up with digital lessons for me.  With very little experience with photography, he came up with a lesson that was very successful.  [Note: Our dedicated classroom server crashed last year and the images are now lost in the great ether of memory. Some students were actually listening to me and backing up their work, but until I track them down or do this again, there is no example at this time.]

One of the challenges of teaching is how to add enough surprises and variety to keep the students motivated and excited, while at the same time not creating anxiety with too much to think about, and my student teacher pondered all those.

He came up with the idea of taking the students away from the computers for a little bit to make large white origami paper cranes out of the large 80# drawing paper. Origami paper cranes, the little exercise that seems to have a meaningful connection to humans, the subjects of great children's books and legends, still a subject of contemporary art.  The students got to practice their listening skills, because if you don't pay attention, the crane doesn't turn out right. And they laughed and got to know each other a lot more than just sitting at their computers.  

These paper cranes were now the subjects of their next black and white photo assignment that was simple and elegant: The paper crane must be in one of the rule of thirds power points or grid lines. You must have conscious and interesting lighting effects and shadows, with one being strong sunlight, one being soft, diffused sunlight,  and one being artificial lighting .  (Large white paper cranes make good subjects for demonstrating lighting.) And you must use interesting angles of view. 

I think giving them all a predetermined subject that was portable and cooperative created great innovation and enthusiasm and every student was successful.  This lesson idea is a keeper. 

3 comments:

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