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Every Picture Tells a Story

School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): 1

Format(s): Photography

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

1st grade students at the Genesee Community Charter School, in Rochester, New York, created this book about the infrastructure of Rochester. As part of a three-month learning expedition, students researched and explored aspects of the physical operation of the city such as bridges, electricity, and water. The content depth of this learning expedition is far deeper than is typical for first grade students.

Students gathered information from multiple sources including city officials in charge of different aspects of infrastructure and city history, analyzing historical photographs and engaging in fieldwork with city experts at important infrastructure sites.

Students worked extensively with a local photographer to learn about the elements taking quality pictures.

Each entry was produced by a different student and includes original black and white photography accompanied by text. Student’s writing describes both the photograph of infrastructure and the reasons why he or she believes their picture demonstrates quality photography. The inclusion of a metacognitive aspect to the product – students reflecting on their process as part of the work itself – distinguishes the project in explicitly demonstrating student thinking.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • An example of a highly engaging project for young students – feeding off of curiosity at this age for how things work
  • An example of young students engaged in field work and gathering information from outside experts
  • Demonstrates a high quality of photographs. See the angle and perspective captured on page 19; see the contrast and composition on page 29
  • A fine example of making student thinking visible to the reader: the reflections of students regarding their choice of photo add a great deal to the book
  • Tells the story of a learning expedition through the sum of individual contributions
  • Writing is clear and succinct

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can include an ending to my informational text.
  • With support from adults, I can answer questions about things I’ve done or learned about.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader.
  • I can accurately use 3rd grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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