Incorporating My Own Photography into My Teaching

Some of you may be aware that I actually have a "side gig" as a professional photographer.  I got really serious about photography about twelve years ago.  I share with my students on the first day of school that I am passionate about photography.  It's something about me that shows them I'm human and have interests outside of teaching.  A couple of years ago, I had a student who was also very interested in photography, and we were able to connect over this shared interest.  Now, what does photography have to do with teaching French?  Well, the two of them can sometimes be fused, because I love to share photos from my travels through the French-speaking world with my students.  Sure, you can go on Google and find a photo of just about anything from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to a baobab tree in Senegal, but there's something about showing your students your own personal photo (and telling them that you took it) that makes it more real and authentic for the students.  It also reminds the students that you've had these experiences personally and draws them in further to what you're teaching.  And hey, you don't have to be a professional photographer to incorporate your own photos into your teaching.  Here are some of the ways I have incorporated my photos into my teaching:


On Display
I have posters of some of my photos from my travels through the francophone world hanging in my classroom.  I've also made bulletin boards outside my classroom door.  Some of the photos were taken on class trips that they themselves will get the opportunity to go on in middle and high school, so that adds an extra carrot for them to keep with their studies.

Photos from my travels through the French-speaking world on display outside my classroom


A photo I have on display in my classroom.


My "Pourquoi le Français" Video
Click here to read about my beginning of the year activities for getting students excited about French.  I have a video that I update every few years with video clips in French to hook students into learning the language.  In the past several versions, I have begun the video with my own photos from my travels.  Email subscribers will need to view this post on the blog to see the video, as always.

You will note the use of copyrighted material in this video. Both United States and French copyright law allow for the use of small portions of copyrighted work for educational purposes with credit given to the creator. Any copyrighted works used in the above video are believed in good faith to be acceptable uses and are credited at the end of the video.


Enrichment Video for Students
I made the below videos at the end of the year last year, when students were learning about different countries that speak French.  The videos take students on a tour of the places I've been in the French-speaking world through my photos.  I have now added the video to my Independent Exploration collection (click here to read more about that) for students to watch in their own time.


Speaking & Writing Prompts
Sometimes I use my own photos as speaking and writing prompts in daily lessons.  It's neat to be able to share that I took the photo they are writing or speaking about.


A photo I have used for a speaking prompt.


Assignments
I recently incorporated my own photographs into an assignment where students took an imaginary trip to Québec and wrote down details about where they went.  Click here to read my post about collaborative PowerPoints that incorporated that assignment.


A photo taken in Gatineau, Quebec that I shared with students for an assignment.


A student's assignment incorporating my photos. Click here to view more!


Cultural Lessons
I have shared my photos of Monet's home and gardens in Giverny, France during a lesson on French Impressionism, and I have shared my photos of New Orleans during lessons on Mardi Gras and Black history in New Orleans.


A photo of the Japanese bridge in Monet's garden that I have shown during an Impressionism lesson. Click here to read more about how I teach Impressionism.


A photo of a trumpeter in New Orleans that I have used in a lesson about Mardi Gras and Black history. Click here to read more about these lessons.


Now, does all this mean that my photos are the only photos I share with my students?  Absolutely not!  But don't forget that your own photos, regardless of your skill level as a photographer or even when you took them, will be more meaningful to students than ones that you found on the internet, so consider incorporating more of them into your teaching if you don't already.  By the way, click here to read more posts I've written about photography over the years.

How do YOU use your own photographs in your teaching?


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