It’s a Snap

In 1877, George Eastman started what was then the complicated hobby of photography. He decided to invent a camera—the Brownie—that would make it possible for everyone to take pictures and today, we can take pictures with our phones.

Monica Kulling, Tundra Books, ©2009, 978-0-99776-881-1

Taking a Good Photo

Students can learn some of the basics of good photography. They can practise improving photos by cropping magazine and newspaper photographs. When so many cameras are now available in schools, students can practise taking good photographs, as well. (The first two tips in italics are also mentioned at the back of the book.)

  1. Frame your shot—look at what is behind the person. Why take their picture in front of a garbage can, or where it will look like a post is growing out of their head?
  2. Almost always you can move closer and get a better shot.
  3. Avoid clutter in the picture—a clean single image is best.
  4. No more than 3 people in the picture—unless it’s a crowd shot where you don’t want to see individuals.
  5. Keep the sun behind you, so that it falls directly on the subject.
  6. Fluffy or dramatic clouds always look good in the background of a picture.

Kodachrome

In 1976, Kodak had 95% of the market for film. Kodachrome film was the standard of photography, although kodachrome discontinued production in 2010 after over 75 years because there are fewer pictures now that are developed.

Paul Simon’s song, Kodachrome (below), has a chorus that celebrates photography.

KODACHROME
You give us those nice bright colours
You give us the green of summer
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day
Oh yea!
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away

Students might be interested in writing their own 9-line poem celebrating or making fun of taking photos in their life, or being photographed. First, brainstorm words and phrases related to photography such as: snap, smile, say cheese, hold that pose, be natural, camera, capture, iphone, flash, pic, paparazzi, focus, selfie, lens, enlarge, digital, zoom, or edit.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click It’s a Snap to download.

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Souperchicken

souperchickenHenrietta loves to read and has hardly any time to lay eggs. The farmer says he is sending all the rest of the hens on a vacation as a reward for their hard work. As they leave, Henrietta reads the words on their truck which say, “ Souper Soup Company” and realizes her friends are headed for the soup. Along the road to rescue them she hitchhikes pigs and cows. At the factory she reads the signs in the hallways to find the chickens, reads the code to find the address, and, after the rescue, finally discovers in a magazine a vegetarian farm where they can live.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, © 2003, ISBN 0-8234-1704-20

Literacy Can Save You

Read the story aloud to the students first. Then, to develop listening and note-taking skills, read it again. During the second reading, have students make note of the ways in which being able to read is important in solving the problems that Henrietta faces:

  • She reads the sign about the soup company on the truck.
  • She finds the address for the factory on the label of a can.
  • She reads the sign on the pigs’ truck.
  • She reads the sign on the cows’ truck.
  • She reads the signs in the hallways to find where the chickens are.
  • She reads the code to get in the door.
  • She reads the magazine covers in the mailboxes to find a good place to live, with a vegetarian.

Literacy Tales

Ask students to make up their own story in which literacy helps to solve the problems of the character. Remind them that the structure of a typical story is to present a problem, make 2-3 attempts to solve it, and then have the last one work.

In Souperchicken, the structure is:

  • Present the character, Henrietta, as a reader.
  • Present a problem for the chickens (this is not a vacation).
  • Reading makes the problem clear.
  • Attempts: chasing the truck, hitch-hiking on trucks, finding them at the factory, breaking them loose, finding them a suitable home.

When student shave finished, you could present some other picture books in which literacy is essential to solving the literacy problems.

For 5 creative writing ideas, click Souperchicken to download.

The Plot Chickens

The Plot ChickensHenrietta, the chicken, loves to read and decides to write a book for herself.  Having trouble getting it published, she self-publishes, but is sad after a bad review in the “Corn Book”.  She is depressed until she discovers that children love her book.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, ©2009, ISBN 13:978-0-8234-2087-2

Eight Rules to a Great Story

The Plot Chickens provides 8 great rules for writing a great story, as Henrietta slowly writes her own book. Read the story to the students, and then ask them during the second reading, to take notes for themselves on what the 8 Rules for Great Writing are. In Classroom Instruction That Works, Robert Marzano says that note making is one of the top two strategies that can be directly linked to student achievement.

Vocabulary of Paper and Printing

In the full PDF version of the writing tips for The Plot Chickens, there is a black line master for an activity to teach students the names for 11 different types of paper. Create 8 sets of papers (each about 10 cm by 10 cm) and number them in a random order. Keep the key at the desk, as they try to identify the papers using the black line master. When they have them all, collect the black line master, and ask them to write down, in order, the names of the 11 sample papers you have given them.

Students can also learn the printing terms that have moved into regular word processing…these are words that just a few years ago, only trained printers knew, but now everyone is mastering. Sample words might be: clip art, collate, crop, font, italic, bold, 12 point (well, that point means size of the letter), typo, bullet, template, justified, ragged right (where it is justified on the left but uneven on the right), cyan (blue), magenta (dark red).

For 10 writing ideas, click The Plot Chickens to download.