Spotlight: Turning the Page

Mister Crabs

By Tyonna Brown, Ms. Chu’s 1st grade class

“My photograph is of me at the market. I went to the market with my grandma. My grandma is wonderful! She took me to the market so we could take photographs together. We took lots of pictures. When we got home from the market, we ate Mister Crabs. They were delicious! I loved this photograph because we had a fun day.”

Turning the Page (TTP) builds partnerships between Northeast and Southeast D.C. public schools, parents and community stakeholders, with the belief that every child has the potential to achieve, if given the resource-rich learning environment that families, schools and community members can provide.

Turning the Page first connected with Literacy Through Photography when Wendy Ewald’s exhibition Secret Games: Collaborative Work with Children was shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2002. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Durham LTP team held a workshop in DC, and three people from the Turning the Page  program attended.  TTP then invited the Literacy Through Photography staff back to DC in summer 2003 to teach a five-day training for 14 DC public school teachers. Since then TTP has continued to build our program.

Turning the Page has successfully engaged Washington D.C. public school teachers and students in community based-learning with more than 60 DCPS teachers and 2,200 students participating in their Literacy Through Photography program since 2003.

Through this innovative partnership between Turning the Page and D.C. public schools, students develop writing and photography skills as a means of self expression. Students base their photography and writing projects around three community-based themes: self & dreams, family, and neighborhood.


The Turning the Page LTP Process

Turning the Page staff now facilitate LTP trainings that equip teachers with ideas for using art as an educational tool. Classroom teachers are trained in 6+1 Traits, a powerful writing curriculum that allows teachers and students to agree upon a set of writing characteristics that guide them through the drafting and editing process.  Teachers then make LTP part of their classroom curriculum.
Students in grades Pre-K-6 begin by visiting a Washington, D.C. museum to see the work of professional photographers. In the past three years, TTP has facilitated, scheduled, and funded field trips to the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art, National Geographic’s Explorers Hall, the Wilderness Society, and the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.
A student making an album of the photos she took.

A student making an album of the photos she took.

A field trip to the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

A field trip to the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

Following the field trip, students learn the basics of how to use a camera and begin brainstorming ideas for photographs and creative writing samples. Teachers encourage students to make conscious choices about angle, lighting, framing and whether a photo will be candid or posed. After students take their cameras home for one week TTP staff develops the black and white film and returns the photographs to the teachers. Students critique their own work and then choose their most successful photograph for TTP to enlarge. Students use the enlarged piece as inspiration for their final writing piece.

Two students peer-editing their LTP essays.

Two students peer-editing their LTP essays.

A student showing off his hard work.

A student showing off his hard work.

Turning the Page LTP engages parents and the community in student learning. During the program many parents accompany their children around D.C. to take photographs. LTP culminates with an Exhibit Opening at each school, which teachers carefully plan so that the theme and program highlight the students’ accomplishments. Exhibit Openings bring families and the school community together, allowing parents and teachers to interact while celebrating the students’ work.
An LTP exhibition opening

An LTP exhibition opening

An LTP traveling exhibit, featuring 50 student photographs and writing, travels around the city each year, and is displayed prominently in building lobbies throughout Washington D.C. Members from the D.C. community, as well as DCPS students, families and teachers, have the opportunity to view the student work in a professional exhibit setting.

Turning the Page

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