I am delighted with the success of my “Photo a Week” project. It began by having the students get access to a photo a week, pasting it into their writing journals, and writing between 50 and 100 words about that photo. The writing can be descriptive, a poem, a list of instructions, an observation, a list of questions etc, as long as they were writing about the photo.
For those students who have limited access to digital photography, printers, cameras etc. it has now progressed to alternatively using any sort of graphic – something they have drawn, or a picture from a magazine, newspaper etc.
This project is their weekly homework and the motivation to complete it is intrinsic. Everybody likes to talk about their own lives and things which are important to them. I have coupled this project, with 2 regular, weekly blog posts, which the students are required to complete each week.
1. Your week or weekend in a sentence (which was a direct steal from a project Anne Mirtschin was involved in with her regular blogging activities). I have found that as well as hearing things about the students which are really interesting and which they are motivated to share, that it is a very legitimate way to focus on the structure of a sentence. How much more effective is the teaching when it is broken into small steps.
2. Grammar – eg Homonyms, antonyms etc. I select a homonym and have the students use them correctly in a sentence. eg. new and knew.
The use of technology in all these tasks have made the homework far more meaningful and enjoyable. As you might have gathered, I am a huge supporter of the blog as an authentic teaching tool.