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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Composition for Place

This is a short post to recap on a very useful day that some of our S2 students spent with Colliers Green Focus. Some time ago, after discussions with an English colleague, Angus Willson, and members of my department, I applied to the organization for their 'compact' input, which would get us a half day with a geographer (Gyles) and photographer (Richard) in the local area exploring a sense of place. The remainder of the day would involve each student selecting their 5 favourite photographs from the day for entry into a national competition. Potentially, our students work could be displayed in a London gallery with some individual rewards possible.
The elements of the day that I really enjoyed most were as follows:
1) There was almost complete freedom in terms of the focus. We had talked to students beforehand about considering contrasts; physical landscapes v human - the coastal location made this ideal - old v new etc. These themes, to a greater or lesser degree, allowed students some hook for the composition of their photographs. Our rough departmental ideas for routes are shown on the image in the post.
2) It was an excellent cross curricular project. The aspect of composition was explained to students before the field exercise and permeated everything they did - even to the point where some students had to be gently moved away from staged shots. The whole time, the idea of 'place' was at the centre of what we did. We have already firmed up plans with the art department on the back of the day for a sustainable project in the lower school, possibly using students own devices.
3) It was paper free! This is one of the first fieldwork exercises I've been involved in where the method of recording results was one which enthused and motivated pupils. 30 camera for 2 and a half hours and no lulls.
4) It developed confidence. Some students found praise for a talent they did not know they had, beyond photographs on Facebook for their friends. It was interesting being an accidental eavesdropper into discussions about framing a scene, as well as the growing interest in the competition as the day progressed. It is partly for this reason that we want to develop this as a department in terms of our fieldwork commitment. The 'mobile' package allows schools to run this themselves and still enter the competition. Hopefully, we have something concrete from this year to make this 'real' in future students eyes as it became in Thursday's group.
5) It's free! An absolute gift in the time of CfE, wider achievement and the problem of shrinking school budgets. I would encourage more of my Scottish (or any other UK schools) to get involved with the project. It's a win win.