Analyzing Photographs and Developing the Cartoon: Connecting Concepts and "The Things They Carried"

Danny Hollweg

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This lesson is actually the next phase in scaffolding from my lesson on close reading and annotating the opening of Edgar Allan Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher". We ask students to read and annotate and respond to a prompt based on a specific reading all of the time. With this lesson, I'm after pushing the critical thinking and transference of these skills: Can students "read" a photograph, a non-print text? Can they annotate the photograph? Can they decipher a major concept or central theme / idea the photographer meant to capture? Can students take this same concept or theme and develop their own product (a cartoon or visual) without simply reproducing the photograph? Can they transfer an idea to a unique and personal product of their own?

So that's quite a heavy lift for students, but extremely useful and individually creative by lesson's end. The first task is to read a photograph, in this case a photograph from the Vietnam era that is the context for our novel, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. For this, we use the OPTIC method where a small group of students choose a photograph and complete the OPTIC handout. They finalize a theme(s) or concept(s) the photographer meant to communicate. They individually take that concept and craft their own cartoons to present to the class.

*Note: I find it helpful in the midst of this lesson to look at samples of cartoon panels as a class, looking at how professionals produce their visual stories. Using the SCAMS method here helps read cartoons, and guides students in creating their own. 

 

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October 2018
I like this lesson. I like the visual literacy aspect. The samples are also helpful.