Photo Essay Lesson Plan Elementary Flag

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 6–12

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Text Types and Purposes
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Visual-Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6

Artistic Perception
1.2–Discuss works of art as to theme, genre, style, idea, and differences in media.
Creative Expression
2.5–Select specific media and processes to express moods, feelings, themes, or ideas.
Aesthetic Valuing
4.1–Construct and describe plausible interpretations of what they perceive in works of art.

Grade 7
Creative Expression
2.6–Create original artwork using film, photography, computer graphics, or video.
2.7–Create a series of artworks that expresses a personal statement demonstrating skill in applying the elements of art and the principles of design.

Grade 8
Artistic Perception
1.2–Analyze and justify how their artistic choices contribute to the expressive quality of their artwork.
Creative Expression
2.3–Create original artwork, using film, photography, computer graphics, or video.
Historical and Cultural Context
3.1–Examine and describe or report on the role of artwork created to make a social comment or protest social conditions.

Grades 9-12
Artistic Perception
1.5–Analyze the materials used by a given artist and describe how their use influences the meaning of the work.
Creative Expression
2.6–Create a two- or three-dimensional artwork that addresses a social issue.
Historical and Cultural Context
3.3–Identify and describe trends in the visual arts and discuss how the diverse issues of time, place, and cultural influence are reflected in selected artworks.
Aesthetic Valuing
4.5–Employ the conventions of art criticism in writing and speaking about artworks.

National Standards for Visual Arts

Grades 5-8

1. Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.
3. Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Students use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

Grades 9-12
1. Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks.
4. Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making.
5. Reflecting upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts.

Really enjoyed posting a couple of still photos of classrooms recently here and here. People seem to find them really useful.  So I’m going to run with the idea and make this post into a mini photo essay of classrooms on the theme of The Usefulness of Walls.  First a quick primer from the pages of TLaC 2.0:

The first rule of thumb for walls in the best classrooms is that they should help, not harm. This means that they should avoid clutter and over-stimulating too-much-ness. A few critical things should be up, and they should not distract students’ attention from the primary instructional space by being too close to it. Posted items are best when they focus on useful tools: reminders of key steps in adding fractions; examples of common themes; seven types of conflict in a story; pictures representing recent vocabulary words; rules for bathroom use; phrase starters for agreeing or disagreeing with a peer during discussion.



Here’s a use of walls that I love-  These are the vocabulary words for first graders at Troy Prep–this is Linda McGriff and Brittany Rella’s room but they use the same word and develop the pictures together with the other first grade teachers, Courtney Little and Megann Rice. (Aside: think of how cool it is to have shared vocabulary words  across a grade level; anyone interacting with first graders–music teacher, gym teacher, tutor, etc–can plan to use and refer to a consistent set of vocabulary words for all their interactions.)

When Troy Prep ‘prepsters’ are introduced to a word, their teacher shows them a picture of it with the word and definition underneath. They discuss why and how the picture demonstrates the word, ideally in various ways that go deeper, even, than the definition in exploring some of the complexity or nuance of the word.  Then, with the word cards posted, kids can glance at a reminder that gives them a rich and evocative image that activates their own recollection of the word. And ideally it’s a multi-dimensional recollection. Pow! All students have to do is glance at the wall and it becomes easy to start using the words they’re learning.  Or Linda can direct her students to look at the wall and choose a vocabulary word that works.  That to me is functional wall space- and wall space allocated to its highest possible use, building word knowledge.

As an aside just beneath the vocab words is each student’s name and three last three examples of their monthly write–reduced by half or more in the copying but still legible so they and their teacher can see how their writing has grown over time.

As a double aside note the calming geometric consistency to the posting.  Simple, visually predictable, and therefore easy to scan for what you want are all beneficial attributes of wall postings.


I also really like this photo of 6th grade writing teacher Flosha Tejada’s room at Kings Collegiate.

On the wall, in much the same simple, visually predictable, and therefore easy to scan style of the previous photo, Flosha has two posters up: “Common Rules for Discussion” and “Structure of the Essay.”  They’re incredibly useful to the two most important tasks of Flosha’s class (writing and discussing writing) and are simple, home made (and therefore tailored to her specific expectations) and visually appealing.

She described them as follows:

The essay poster is a simple breakdown of the basic parts of an essay. It is my anchor poster from my lesson on “The Organization of the 6th Grade Essay” and has been living on our white board ever since (October). This poster is so clear and simple it makes essays look easy!

 I am super proud of the Rules for Discussion poster, since I created that one from scratch this summer after learning about the huge *Common Core push for collaborative work and discussions in the classroom. I wanted the poster to motivate students to engage in “normal” / “common” human dialogue, to… feel empowered to share their ideas while elaborating on others’. *Common Core standards referenced in my train of thought are here:

Some of the highlights of Flosha’s Common Rules for Discussion Poster are are reminders to stay on topic, track the speaker and to avoid developing angry feelings for people you disagree with.

The actual posters appear below but I couldn’t close the discussion without noting my very favorite part of Flosha’s classroom: The “Keep Calm and Write Your Essay” poster.  Now THAT deserves to be on a t-shirt.




Classroom Photos, Classroom Walls

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