This semester, the 6th graders engaged in an integrated study of Florence and the Renaissance in English, Social Studies, Science, Art, and other subjects. This is the second or third year that I have teamed up with Yoshiko Maruiwa to team-teach a Photoshop unit where the kids locate a Renaissance painting and layer themselves into it as either the main character or an additional character. We find our paintings on http://Artstor.org, an amazing online gallery of digital images. As The School is part of Columbia University, we can access the site from school without needing to create a login.
I used to do something similar with my 7th graders at Convent of the Sacred Heart, though they were allowed to layer themselves on any image (from Smurfette to Mia Hamm to The Pope…) In the course of teaching students how easy it is in can be to manipulate photos using a few basic tools and settings in Photoshop, I implore them to appreciate that every image they see in magazines, online, on billboards, on posters, etc. has been altered in some way, shape, or form. In the course of our discussion this year, one student exclaimed, “Even Taylor Swift doesn’t look like Taylor Swift!”