Spotlight: Durham Teacher Celebrates Culture

Celebrando Cultura! Celebrating Culture!
A project with 4th grade students at Forest View Elementary School

In 2007, while teaching at Forest View Elementary School, teacher Paula Januzzi-Godfrey and her students completed a project called Celebrando Cultura! Celebrating Culture! using writing and photography to create photo journals.

Click here to view the project:

Celebrando Cultura! Celebrating Culture!

Project Description
By Paula Januzzi-Godfrey

Celebrando Cultura! Celebrating Culture! began with an introduction to the concept of photo/visual journals followed by brainstorming and choosing topics (family stories, culture, or traditions) for the journals. Students learned to write journal entries daily and sketched ideas for journal design and layout options in their journals along with ideas they had for their photo journals.

Next each student made a plan as to who or what they would photograph, who they would like to interview and what questions they would ask for the interviews. They role played the interviews in class before the actual interviews with family members.

Each student created a draft layout of journal pages for interview questions and photos or other artwork to accompany them. Once the plans and drafts were completed I introduced how to use the cameras. Finally, the cameras were sent home with each student to take their first roll of film. Many students were allowed to take the camera home for several days if needed. Some students needed to take photos at different times during the project. Cameras were used through a check out system and shared as needed.

After film was developed and interviews were completed, students began putting together their final projects. The innovative part of this project came from the students as they developed their photo journals. Each journal had its own personality and style, reflecting the uniqueness of each student.

Our project ended with the presentation of the photo journals at Barnes and Noble Bookstore. It was more that I had hoped for. Twenty-two of the twenty-five students in my class attended this event, along with family members. A Durham Public Schools translator was present to provide simultaneous translation for Spanish speaking families. A “favorite” photo from each journal was chosen by each student, which I enlarged to 5 x 7 and matted. The photos were on display at Barnes and Noble and given to each student to keep along with their journals.

Paula Januzzi-Godfrey is a 4th grade teacher in Durham currently teaching at Southwest Elementary School. Since attending a Literacy Through Photography workshop in 2006 she has experimented with LTP and carried out successful projects in her classroom.

Click here to see Paula’s journal about the process of doing this project:

Paula’s Journal

3 thoughts on “Spotlight: Durham Teacher Celebrates Culture

  1. Dear Mrs. Januzzi-Godfrey,

    How exciting it is for me to have stumbled upon your beautifully presented project! As it turns out, I am launching something very similar in my fifth grade classroom not too long from now.

    Admittedly, much of this project of mine will be done on the fly. I’ve never attempted to teach anything like it before. However, my kids are bursting at the seams with excitement over photographing their cultures (which, just like your class, is mostly Hispanic).

    I wonder if you could send me some words of advice for teaching photography and photographing culture. I’m required to have my kids become “experts” in photography (lighting, zoom/focus, composition, etc) and the avenue through which I do it is culture.

    Any ideas you might be able to send me are greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    Matthew Ray
    Queens, NY

  2. Hi Paula,
    Happy New Year! I’m so glad I stumbled back onto this site and found you.

    You sent me some very helpful items last year that I used to inform the process of teaching photography to elementary students. I’m happy to tell you it was an overwhelming success. We have a permanent display of a dozen photos in the school.

    I wanted to send you a link to see some of the students’ work and also see if you were still doing any projects like Celebrando Cultura. Maybe we’d benefit from bouncing some ideas off one another.

    Here is a link to a selection of my students’ work. Enjoy!

    Matt Ray

  3. Pingback: Back to Business « The World As I See It

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