The Photo Essay Project

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This semester, I assigned my undergraduates to create a photo essay defining the places that have had the most impact on who they are and who they might become.  Their photo essays are due next week, so this week I am sharing some of the photo essay websites and software tools they are using.  Today, they explored the affordances of each. I provided a list of questions (you will find them below) to guide their choices.

Dear Literacy Beat readers, if you have a site or tool to share, please add it in the comments.

Photos

iPhone Photos

Platforms

  1. Tumblr
  2. Instagram
  3. WordPress
  4. Spark from Adobe
  5. Exposure
  6. Ghost
  7. PowerPoint Online and Slideshare, Youtube or Vimeo (convert slide decks to video), Authorstream
  8. Prezi

Pro-Tip: What’s your statement about the photos you choose? Can you write one (or maybe two) sentences that capture the main idea of your photo essay? Is it unique enough that others will want to view your essay?

 

Photo Editing Tools

  1. Canva
  2. Ribbet
  3. GIMP
  4. Photo Resizer
  5. net
  6. Photoshop Express
  7. PIXLR

A note about intellectual property: Any work you use that you did not write or create must be attributed.  This includes music (and be aware that using copyrighted music could result in your project being taken down by the platform or host).

Pro Tip: Create a rough draft of your essay in order to check out the features of the platform and tools you use.  Try different ways of arranging your photos, text (including captions), and titles.  Later, you can hide or delete the rough draft.

Questions / Affordances

Check out the sites and tools (software) on the first page and review a couple of examples. What affordances does each offer your project?

  • What does it cost?
  • Do you need an account?
  • Can you make the site available to anyone?
  • Does the site privilege images, text, or both?
  • What features does the site or tool have that others may not have?
  • Is the site or tool mobile friendly? Laptop friendly?
  • Does it have sharing tools (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)?
  • Are there advertisements? How intrusive are they?
  • Is the platform easy to navigate and provide tools that make it easy for you to create a photo essay?

Two notes about color:

  1. Don’t overdo it!
  2. Make sure the colors you choose for frames, text, and so on are easy to read against the backgrounds you choose
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Happy Holidays

The Literacy Beat team sends warm greetings and a wish for your celebrations to be merry.

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Happy Holidays

We wish each of our readers a warm holiday season with friends and family and a prosperous new year!

Happy Holidays

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/trees-winter-holiday-card-snow-958552/

Predictive Search

Have you ever been at the end of your rope and didn’t know what to write? Have your students ever felt like that? Read my post on the new International Literacy Association’s Literacy Daily blog to find out how to use this powerful tool to inspire writing might work.

Hypertext Literary Analysis

This posts describes how students can explore complex texts through a hypertext literary analysis. By using PowerPoint—a common program that is readily accessible on most computers—students are able examine the multiple layers of meaning in a passage through hyperlinking words and phrases to written explanations and related media. Multiple modes are employed—including text, music, images, animation, and videos—to help students dig deep into the textual features, intertextual connections, and personal responses that produce meaning in fiction and poetry.

Creating a Hypertext Literary Analysis in PowerPoint

This strategy uses PowerPoint to create a multimodal hypertext with interconnected slides. The composing process begins by inserting the text to be analyzed on a blank PowerPoint slide, which functions as the anchor of the hypertext. Next, students can create a deck of blank slides that can easily be linked from the analyzed text. Words or sections of the text can now be hyperlinked to other slides by using the ‘Insert’ menu and designating the desired destination for the link. The majority of links will lead to other slides within the document, but hyperlinks can also be used to connect to other documents or to websites (video tutorial on hyperlinking in PowerPoint).

Once a clear and fluid structure has been established in PowerPoint, it’s time to begin incorporating multiple modes for analysis. Analysis slides will, of course, include written explanations of the textual features being explicated, but this strategy also asks students to use media to deepen and support the analysis. PowerPoint allows users to embed images, audio, and video and offers tools for editing and layering these media. Students can manipulate their chosen media to reflect themes in the text or to illustrate their personal response (see Smith & Renner, in press for more information about integrating a hypertext literary analysis in your classroom).

For example, in a hypertext literary analysis of Lucille Clifton’s poem “Homage to my Hips,” the composer hyperlinks from a PowerPoint slide that contains the original poem to other slides that include Clifton’s biographical information, intertextual and pop culture connections, a YouTube video of Clifton reciting the poem, analysis of literary devices, and personal response. Images, color, videos, and music are also used purposefully to organize, supplement, and extend the written analysis.

HLA

Example hypertext literary analysis for the poem “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton

There are a variety of ways a hypertext literary analysis can be adapted. Melanie Hundley at Vanderbilt University asks pre-service English teachers to explicate poems through hyperlinks and multiple modes (Hundley & Holbrook, 2013). Nicole Renner and I used this assignment in a 12th grade AP Literature and Composition class for students to analyze important passages from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Through hyperlinks, students examined literary elements, such as metaphors, irony, and theme. They also hyperlinked to intertextual connections, including other literary works, films, and popular culture references, as well as key words and phrases, questions, and personal reactions (Smith, 2013; Smith & Renner, in press).

This type of nonlinear and multimodal analysis supports students to develop important literacy skills, including reading and comprehending a complex literary text, interpreting words and phrases with connotative and figurative meanings, and examining themes, structures, and points of view.

References

Hundley, M. & Holbrook, T. (2013). Set in stone or set in motion?: Multimodal and digital writing with preservice English teachers. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 56(6), 500-509.

Smith, B. E. (2013). Composing across modes: Urban adolescents’ processes responding to and analyzing literature. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Smith, B. E. & Renner, N. B. (in press). Linking through literature: Exploring complex texts through hypertext literary analysis. In   T. Rasinski, K. E. Pytash, & R. E. Ferdig (Eds.). Using technology to enhance reading: Innovative approaches to literacy instruction. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

Vocabulary Video Word Webs

Recently, some folks asked for a copy of the Vocabulary Video word webs I use to guide students in researching the meaning of their word and developing ideas for their Vocabulary Video skit.  I’ve posted two word web maps below, one that can be used with any word and one that is customized for working on character attributes. I’ve also provided an Assessment Rubric and a Guide Sheet that you can adapt to fit your context. To learn more about Vocabulary Videos and view some examples, see my Literacy Beat post on VocabVid Stories.  Have fun exploring word meanings through student-created videos!

Vocabulary Video Rubric

Vocabulary Video Guide Sheet

graphic organizer of vocabulary video character attribute graphic organizer of a vocabulary video word web

Gone Fishin’

The Literacy Beat Team is taking some time off during the winter break and holidays, but we will be back in January!

Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

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