Friday, September 22, 2006

Picture This!
Digital Photography in the Classroom and Beyond

Say cheese!

As part of our drive to improve access to digital resources at WMS, we've begun to consolidate our school digital cameras into one loaner pool -- now available through the labs. Today we discuss using these cameras to enrich your teaching units and team activities.

Taking and using digital images in the classroom is a snap! Whether your goal is to help students liven up their own brochures or posters, or just capture memories of the year for the bulletin board, here's some tips on using digital cameras in your teaching and learning:

1. Take 'em! Digital cameras are generally point-and-shoot -- that is, they have at least one camera setting that allows you to use them with little to no training. (Usually, this camera setting is depicted as a tiny green camera icon on the little wheel next to the power button.)

That said, for the best pictures, remember these tips:
  • The default photo settings on most digital cameras work best from between 3 and 15 feet away from your subject.

  • To focus an image, push the shutter down halfway, and then release, before taking your shot.

  • In default mode, digital cameras will automatically detect when the flash is necessary. Nevertheless, picture quality is still best in well-lit conditions. And, to avoid photo glare, don't put your subject in front of a reflective surface!

  • Use the motion capture setting (depicted as a tiny running stick figure) for clear photos of fast-moving experiments, activities, and kids!

2. Take more of 'em!Worried about getting the most out of your photo shoot session? Film is infinitely reuable, and our cameras hold over 100 pictures each -- so take more pictures, not less, and you'll have the best "shot" at finding the perfect picture in the next step of the process!

3. Save 'em! Windows XP recognizes your camera as just another storage drive, so getting your digital pictures from camera to computer requires no specialized software. All you have to do is plug it in, turn it on, and you're ready to go!

From here, to save your images for easy viewing and use, open "My Computer", find your camera, select all, and drag the whole set of pictures into the appropriate folder. Viewing the pictures while they're still on the camera runs out the batteries pretty quick, so we recommend you do this first, before looking at your pictures!

To make storing, finding, and sharing school images even easier, we've created a folder for all school images on the network (it's the one called "Camera" in the TeacherShare folder under My Computer). Saving pictures there allows easier access for all throughout the school year -- and you can share pictures with everyone in the building within minutes of taking them!
Hint: Your friendly technology specialist is also the yearbook advisor, so he's especially happy to unload your pictures into the network folder for you -- just ask!

4. See 'em! With Windows XP in our classrooms, browsing through a folder full of digital images is a snap!

To view all pictures in a folder as thumbnails, browse to that folder, then go to the "view" menu and select "Thumbnails".

From here, clicking on any picture will automatically open the Microsoft Picture Viewer software. The arrows at the bottom of this screen will allow you to browse through your pictures one by one.

Other options available from Microsoft Picture Viewer include printing (a tiny icon of a printer will open up a "Wizard", which walks you through the print process), and editing (clicking on another tiny icon below will open up the photo for editing, where you can crop, fix red-eye, and edit to your heart's content).

Want to show your startime or team all the pictures of their recent field trip? Microsoft Picture Viwer even has a function which allows you to show all the pictures in a folder as a slideshow! Just open one image, and then click on the tiny icon of a projection screen that appears below it, to run through all your images automatically while you stand back and watch. For easy group viewing, just borrow a data projector beforehand!

5. Use 'em! The new color printer adds real value to our use of digital imagery in projects and other school activities. Printing out pictures is as easy as sending them along to the color printer in Lab 2; from there, you can have students add them to posters reflecting an in-class lab or activity, or just hang them up on the board to decorate your space. (But help us conserve ink -- please be selective about what you print!)

Of course, keeping your pictures digital for a while has its uses, too. Moving selected pictures to the student network folder for your class allows students to incorporate images from their lab activities into the project to follow. Imagine, for example, eggs-periment lab photos featured on the covers of the student publisher brochures that follow, or high-quality images of students in victorian garb decorating their powerpoints and posters after Dickens Day, and you get the idea.

Interested in reserving a digital camera or two for an upcoming project, field trip, or special class day? How about a short tutorial on how to use 'em? A brainstorming session on how to integrate digital photography into your class or curriculum? Email Joshua, or stop by the lab, to make arrangements!


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