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Explore the Genre of Photo-Essays


What makes a great photo-essay?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics of this genre to be able to explain your understanding to others and explain the importance of photojournalism generally in the world today. 

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7

I Can Statements 

  • I will know my exploration of photo essays is of high quality when:
    • I can identify the elements that define a photo essay, such as main idea or message and impactful, memorable imagery.

Assessing Student Readiness to Move to the Next Formative Task:

  • Confer with students to check their understanding of the elements of photo essays.
  • Provide students an exemplar photo essay and ask them to code or otherwise identify the elements, commenting on the impact of the images chosen and their link to the main idea or message.
Possible Activities 
  1. Conduct a mini-lesson on the characteristics of a great photo-essay and the benefits of photojournalism as a medium. 

  2. Have students view a photo-essay and an article. Ask them to reflect on how reviewing the photo-essay changes the impact of the information they receive.  Ask questions like,  “Which was more engaging and why?  Which was more memorable and why? Why would someone decide to write an article?  Why would someone decide to use a photo-essay?  What are the pros and cons of each?”

  3. Provide several exemplars and ask students to select 2-3 to examine and create a list of similarities in structure, craft, and form. 

  4. Use a jigsaw format, where students work in groups, and each group reads an article about photojournalism or photo-essays and examines a different exemplar. Then reorganize the groups so that the new groups each have one representative from the former group, and each representative shares their learning with the others in this new group, to create a collective understanding of the genre.                                      

  5. Have students explore the Internet, searching for and identifying multi-photographs and photo-essays on issues they find most interesting. Share their findings using a projector. Save them on a class wiki so students can refer back to these ideas when they are "stuck" working on their own essays.



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