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6th Grade Photography Project - Virtual Edition!

photo by Osvaldo

WSE's annual project with Downer Elementary School 6th graders in San Pablo, CA was different this year - of course! For all the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought, one positive was it pushed us to design and implement a virtual curriculum (something we have been trying to do for a few years now, but without the pressing need). The immediate need of kids learning from home pushed us to pivot quickly and provide our two California schools with virtual curriculum.

The 6th Grade Photography Project centers on students learning how to use WSE cameras and exploring their surroundings with artistic prompts. So our first challenge was cameras; luckily the school had some funding to purchase their own. We recommended specific waterproof/shockproof cameras with extra batteries, multi-chargers, SD cards and bags. The school bought the equipment and sent it all to us to put together as a kit and set the camera settings for documentary photography. We then sent the camera kits back all packed up in their bags ready to rock.

photo by Belinda

With the technology in place, we trained two school employees, Martha and Bob, to handle the camera sign-outs, and the uploading and cataloguing of images. This was particularly important, and complicated, with 72 students and 14 cameras, lots of moving pieces with parents and students coming to school (closed for COVID) to pick up/return cameras.

Another piece of the virtual teaching puzzle was our home studio set-up. Scott's experience in studio photography and documentary filmmaking came in handy when choosing the microphones, lights, cameras, grips and background systems necessary for a professional home studio.

photo by Carlos

Designing the curriculum took some extra time figuring out and testing the interface between Google Classroom, EdPuzzle, Zoom and the proprietary lessons we use and modify regularly for different schools. Once this was all built we did a test run, modified it a bit, and felt ready to roll out the curriculum for over 70 students divided into groups of around 10.

Please visit the website to view student photography and writing, and student photo stories, from this year's 6th Grade Photography Project - virtual edition. We have selected two students to highlight their work:

Sam's poem, inspired by a goose he met in the park.

Angela's photo story, inspired by her experience of finding and photographing an owl.


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