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Creating and Reflecting Through Photography

Monday, October 25, 2021

If you climb up the staircase of St. Joseph’s Hall, you’ll see some unusual pictures framed on the walls. They’re photos of last year’s fourth grade students lying in fields, sitting in trees, playing sports, and much more. All of the pictures are accompanied with text: sometimes about things the students remember from before or during the pandemic, sometimes adjectives or phrases which describe them, and sometimes reflections on what they’ve discovered about themselves and the world around them. One student recalled marching with the activist group Radical Monarchs, another identified himself as a “dog lover, magical mechanic, contraption creator,” and a third said that “the nature in this photo reminds me that we need to take care of it to make the world a better place.”

Every year, Digital Innovation Specialist Daven Gee works with our fourth graders on a self-portrait photography project designed to teach the students how technology intersects with art. The pictures along the staircase are the result of this year’s project, which mixed words with images and teamwork with introspection. The students took photos of each other, and then they each used apps such as Book Creator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Draw, and Canva to add new elements to the pictures of themselves. Daven encouraged them to add the types of writing which they’d been studying in class—in this case, “I Remember” statements and “Kennings” (unconventional combinations of two words).

“Beyond these few collective creative decisions each student was emboldened to stage their portrait as they wished,” Daven told us. “They worked quickly and joyously, and within a few short weeks everyone had crafted something wholly original and specific.” At CDS we believe that what you learn and who you become are equally important, and in the course of this project the fourth graders learned a lot about who they were becoming in a new and different period of their life.