Our homeschool co-op is going through a transition.  The wonderful woman who originally organized it and has directed it for three years since its inception is “retiring.”  We are very blessed that one of our moms, a very bright and organized woman who’s been homeschooling for about 10 years now has agreed to “take it on.”  I’m very greatful grateful, because the program is very important to Jami for a couple of reasons:  (1) an opportunity to see her friends and (2) an opportunity to take classes that either I don’t have the confidence to teach or would just be better taught by someone more experienced.

Our new director sent out the schedule today so that those who are teaching classes can go ahead and put their kids on the roster for the classes they would like to take.  Since AJ and I are teaching a class in the afternoon (more on that in a bit), Jami is part of the lucky group who gets “first dibs” on the classes offered.  Here is her Thursday co-op schedule for 2008-2009:

  • Composition with the Great Scientists (Each week the students will be writing multi-paragraph compositions on famous scientists in history — she took a similar class this year focusing on great composers.)
  • Health & Babysitting (At the end of the course, students who complete the studies satisfactorily will become “certified babysitters” … pretty cool, huh?)
  • Health & Fitness (I know this seems like a bit of overlap with the above, but we are not the healthiest family in the world, and I think the emphasis will be very helpful for all of us.)
  • Lunch
  • Latina Christiana 1 (I purchased a Latin curriculum a couple of years ago, but it was Greek to me.  Ahem …. anyway, we did not use it and so I am excited that one of our teachers is offering this.)
  • Abeka 7th Grade Math (Self-explanatory …)

Now regarding the class I am teaching … I found a Photography Unit Study on-line.  It was very reasonably priced and so I purchased the download and printed it out.  I think it is perfect for our group of kids.  I think I will enjoy teaching it, because it combines two of my favorite things to do.  Here’s my course description.  Tell me what you think:

Visual Poetry: Photography and the Language of Pictures
Fall & Spring, 2008-2009

Taught by Laura and AJ
Thursdays, 2:35 – 4:00 p.m.
Class Fee:  $10.00/week
Class Size limited to 10 Students, ages 12 and up


Someone once asked, “What is photography?”  The classroom responded with various technical comments regarding light and shadow.  For me, photography has always been a sort of visual poetry.  Not necessarily a group of words that rhyme, but an image that inspires thought, emotion, imagination.  If you think about it, most of the great works of literature, whether prose or poem were inspired by an event or image that was seen by the author.

In “Visual Poetry: Photography and the Language of Pictures,” we will be studying the science and art of photography.  As we cover topics such as shadows, lighting, focal points, foreground and background — putting what we learn to work by getting out there and making photos — we will use those photos as the catalyst for our writing.  The old saying “a picture paints a thousand words…” will be adapted to our objective as “a picture inspires a thousand words…”

The objective of our course is to help students learn to make photographs that tell a story, and use those photos as inspiration for their writing.  While the direction of this year-long exercise may seem to be mainly “photojournalistic” in nature, we do not want to stifle creativity by assigning only “just the facts” news stories.  In addition to writing assignments that are an integral part of the unit study, students will be encouraged to write human interest pieces, short stories, and poetry inspired by their photographs.  This is not to say that the photo must support the writing or vice versa – each should be able to stand on their own, independently.  The sole connection between the two is the inspiration that joins them.

At the end of this two-semester course, students will have created a notebook containing a portfolio of their photographs, critiques, lists, and written assignments.

Since there will be a wide variety of cameras in our class, it will take up too much of our instruction time for me to teach each individual student about his or her own camera.  Students will be expected to familiarize themselves with their cameras before the course begins in August.  I can help clarify any questions briefly (as long as the student brings the camera’s reference manual), but the majority of our class time is to be spent on learning about the art and science of photography, how to take good pictures and writing.  We will have two field trips, one in the fall and one in the spring – these will be for the purposes of getting out there and making photos.  We are going to be on the lookout for any gallery opportunities to view professional photographers’ work and if something suitable appears on the calendar, we may add that as well.


Materials List:

“Learn & Do: Photography Unit Study,” by Kym Wright. 
Each student will be responsible for ordering this text through http://learn-and-do.com/photography.htm.  The book (78 pages) can be ordered as a printed book for $15.95 (postage included) or as an eBook for $13.95 (you will be given a download link after payment has been made).

3-ring notebook
Dividers (“Photographs and Critiques”, “Lists”, “Experiments”, “Written Assignments”)
8 1/2 x 11 acid free paper (we will mount photos selected for your portfolio on this paper – you can find it in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart)
Photo mounting tape (also available in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart)
Lined paper for lists, critiques, and written assignments
Colored pens for captions and descriptions of the photographs
16 x 20 Foam Core Board (used to prepare a County Fair entry using a photo selected by each student from their own work)

Film or digital camera
Traditional film or memory stick, depending on camera
Flash ability (either built in, or a flash attachment for 35mm type cameras)
Access to either in-store or in-home photo printer
Items for a homemade pin-hole camera (I will provide you with a list of items you can easily find around the house for this the week prior.)

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams


So anyway, that’s that.  Well, I stayed up too late watching stupid movies (the first two Matrix flicks … maybe I’m dense, but they just seem like typical sci fi … I’m not seeing this huge religious allegory in them.  Well, kind of, but it’s a real stretch in my opinion.)  I need to get to sleep.  Maybe tomorrow I will watch the third one and see what I think of it.  Maybe all the pieces will fall together. 

P.S. — Forgot to mention that Jami is not taking the Photography class because (a) she needs the math class more and (b) I can do the photography at home with her.  She actually came to this very mature decision on her own. 

P.P.S. — Just so there’s no confusion, the unit study is not called “Visual Poetry”.  My course title and description are my own.  The unit study includes some writing assignments, but the photography/writing concept described above is my own development.  As a bit of a writer, I like to get credit for the things that are my own, as does anyone else who writes.  LOL  The new director forwarded the course descriptions along to the previous director to get her input and the previous director said, “Laura’s description makes ME want to take the course.”  After a rough week, I really needed that pat on the back. 

2 thoughts on “Planning for Next Year

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