Thank You (from WCMS Art)!

7th and 8th Grade students at Webster City Middle School have a reason to celebrate this year, thanks to the Webster City School Foundation!

The art department received a grant from the  foundation that allowed the funding for a small digital photography program to begin.

Lisa Jorgensen, the middle school art teacher, wrote the grant last September in hopes of receiving funding for multi-function digital cameras with extra batteries and some tripods.

“I had never written a grant before,” Jorgensen said. “But when the chance to give your students a new experience opens up, you’ve got to take it.”

For the first two years that Jorgensen taught at Webster City Middle School, 7th and 8th Grade students participated in graphic design units on the computer. Using images, 7th Grader students created clever advertisements and 8th Grader students immersed themselves in Photo Shop, but the issues surrounding copyright weighed heavily in the program.

“Using Google, students can access a wide variety of material,” Jorgensen said. “And they struggle not only finding and crediting the original source but filtering out what is and isn’t already Photo Shopped.”

Having their own digital cameras to work with has allowed students to have full creative rights to their projects. Not only can students spend time discussing the importance of original work but also how copyright can play a role in the work that is created today and in the future.

7th Grade students start off with a group critique of advertisements we see every day, ranging from magazine ads to Super Bowl commercials. From there, they find something they can snap a picture of and try to sell it in a creative way. Students’ creativity can run away with them as Jorgensen has seen anything from students selling tutoring lessons to security alarm companies and even a few zombies!

7th Grade student Katie G made an advertisement about the Middle School specialist’s book stamps:

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“With computers, it seems the possibilities are endless,” computer applications teacher Gary Scholtens said. “I love seeing how technology is being integrated into our art program.”

8th grade students are given the ‘know-how’ on basic photography skills—like the Rule of Thirds—and then discuss some project options. Jorgensen tries to open the field up, exposing them to common themes in photography like portraiture and alphabet photography, but students have the option to develop and propose their own ideas.  From there, students use Photo Shop to manipulate and add unique details to their project.

8th Grade student Kailey E poses for her “senior pictures” below:

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8th Grade student James V used Mr. Stone’s face and combined it with a student’s body, which is called a “mash up.”

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Everything is done in a Project-Based Learning environment. Jorgensen facilitates the resources and help students need but she leaves the creative control and project pace up to her students. Students use Edmodo to communicate in class and participate in daily question with instant feedback. Students also submit their projects digitally, creating a paperless environment.

Technology doesn’t come without Plan B’s, however.   When labs are full, cameras are charging or computers are down, Jorgensen has classroom critiques and discussions surrounding copyright.  Many competitions and scholarships disqualify students who fail to use their own work or gain permission to use others’ and Jorgensen wants to be proactive now.

“It was really neat being able to come up with my own project,” 8th Grade student Tatiana T said.  Tatiana created images in which people look like they are levitating, like in the photo below.  She had to take multiple pictures of areas to get the full effect she wanted.

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“I’m glad we get to learn more about photography,” 8th Grade student Brandon P said. “I’ve seen what my other classmates have done and am excited to create my own project.”

With the help of Webster City School Foundation, the Middle School art department now has the use of fifteen digital cameras, multiple tripods and extra batteries for the cameras. Jorgensen received the cameras in October, which has allowed for every trimester to experience the technology. All students will go through art so all students get a chance to use the cameras.

“I am so thankful that opportunities for extra funding exist,” Jorgensen said. “Our students deserve the best that we can give them.  I can’t thank Webster City School Foundation enough for what the students are able to do with the technology and how it impacts their learning.”

Discussions and learning surrounding copyright, photography, Photo Shop, and advertising will be consuming the art students’ schedule the last two weeks of this year.

It has been a successful program, as seen during the Art Showcase, and it will be great to see the continued creativity students have!

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