Get moody with your students using camera apps

(article shamelessly regurgitated from my previous blog: ClassApps)

This article is for language arts and literature teachers who need to get their students to reflect with greater fluency on the mood of a piece of writing.
One of the great challenges in pushing for an A grade in literature, especially in a bilingual context, is to respond authentically to a piece of creative writing.  All too often students reach for Sparknotes or Shmoop as their off-the-peg interpretation. This approach may indeed reap rewards at IGCSE,  but at tertiary level many students come unstuck, especially if there is an oral component to their assessment, as in the IB language and literature diploma course.
So here’s a quick and easy 20 minute task your students can carry out to learn and reinforce the use of mood vocabulary.

Resources: tablets or smartphones equipped with camera and photo manipulation software (I recommend Camera ZOOM FX).

Users can add filters and effects to dramatically alter and enhance photos.

Users can add filters and effects to dramatically alter and enhance photos.

Outcome: Students produce a photograph and a short rationale.

Set the task:
1) Show the students a range of photos and elicit adjectives that describe mood. To this list add words that show greater sophistication.
2) Explain the task.  You will give them a mood word and they must take a picture that evokes that mood.  They must also use the photo manipulation software to enhance the mood. Finally,  they should write a short (say 100 word) rationale to reflect on the choices they made in composing and editing their image.
3) As a plenary the students could present their images and ask the audience to guess the mood word.

The final products could be displayed in class and over time build up as a visual reminder of the range of mood vocabulary available to your students.

UPDATE: since writing this post back in 2013, Google have acquired a photo editing app called Snapseed and integrated it into their Google+ service. What this means is that if you use Google+ (and I’m one of the few people that do) you can take a photo from a smartphone, it will upload automatically to your Google+ account (when you are in range of a wi-fi network), and you will be able to edit the image using Snapseed, which I have found to be quite a simple and powerful editing package.

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