I’m always looking for new ways to bring perspective-taking activities into my classroom, especially those that integrate new tech. Cue, Getty Unshuttered. I got the idea to incorporate photography into my creative writing class when I was reminiscing with my class about my favorite high school elective, photography. Incorporating visuals is something that is common in ELA and creative arts classes. In my class, we use images for creative writing prompts, storytelling, project-based learning, and much more. So why not add a new level of creative thinking by putting students in the driver seat?
Getty Unshutter is a free app from the Getty Museum that we downloaded on our classroom set of iPads. You can find the free download here. What’s great about this app for classroom use is that it combines instructional videos with weekly photography challenges that can be used in so many ways in your classroom. Here are three challenges that I’m using the app in my ELA and creative writing classes that you can use too!
I use multiple perspectives in my classroom to engage students in critical reading and writing activities and build empathy and understanding. As a way to introduce perspective-taking in writing, my students took the perspective challenge. The challenge encouraged them to think about point of view in photography. They used the challenge tips to take pictures from unique perspectives. Then, they “told” the story of their pictures in writing. Check out the perspective challenge here.
Pairing light photography with textual analysis is a great way to improve understanding with project-based learning. Using the four tips related to drama, soft versus hard light, cool versus warm light, and depth, students can take the challenge to represent a symbol, character, situation, or mood from a story with their creative photography. These photographs encourage students to engage in meaningful discussions and presentations based on their original photography. Students can find the light challenge here.
I love using colors to teach tone. In the past, I gave students paint chips to pick tone words and then create their own color-tone inspired stories. Now, students can take this activity to the next level by creating their own color pallets from their original photography. Once they take the color challenge, they can find their own colors to inspire their tone writing. This added level of creativity not only helps understand tone, but it also gives them a visual outlet to express their creativity. Check out the color challenge here.
This practical challenge not only will give students material for an engaging lesson on characterization, but they likely will find the improved selfie tips relevant to their daily photography habits. This challenge explains, “When you photograph someone, you can convey their strength, presence, and personality.” When paired with characterization, students can develop their own characters from their photography portfolios, or they can use their reading as an inspiration for their portraits. You can find the portrait challenge here.
Unshuttered Bonus Benefits
One of the best parts of the Getty Unshuttered app is that it is updated with photography challenges weekly, so the possibilities to use in your classroom will continue to grow week by week! This website was an easy sell for my students. For its practicality, ease of use, and built in community and portfolio, this app is a great addition to any ELA, creative writing, or visual arts class.
This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers and Getty Unshuttered.