How do you engage students? Provide them with real opportunities to work with professionals, to be empowered, to compete, to practice, to simulate, and employ concepts taught in the classroom. Walk the walk so to speak. This is how I teach, and my most recent challenge was to have my Web Design class collaborate with a photographer in New York City via Skype and to design a winning website for her to take ownership of as her professional photography website.
How did we start? I began by asking the amazing photographer, Megan E. Weber, if she would be interested in collaborating with high school students. She took the risk and said yes. And so we launched with a Skype session with Megan to discuss her needs/wants and vision for a website containing her beautiful photos. They key word here is “risk”- not everyone is willing to put themselves on the line in front of a classroom of high school students. Any professional who does provide help to us as educators is by nature innovative. We launched the project with a Skype meeting to talk about Megan’s goals
In this video, Megan meets with students with the NYC skyline behind her as as backdrop to describe her goals and mission:
Students were instructed to break into teams (partnerships) or to work individually (sole proprietors) and to give themselves a name. Some names were photo oriented such as “The Shot” or “The Flash” and others were simply student names.
What do students get out of this project? The opportunity to work for a real business professional and be published. Students also have the ability to write this as a unique accomplishment in high school on college and career applications. Priceless.
Here are some of the sites developed:
In the end…TWO prevailed. It was a very difficult decision for Megan to make but she decided on taking ownership of two of the student designed sites as they were so professional and well designed. She selected “The Flash” and “Team Arianna.” I am beyond proud as a teacher as these students now have credentials to start marketing themselves with in college and career interviews. The video of our final meeting is below…it felt like America’s Next Top Model meets Web Design. One of my favorite comments from Megan was that each and every student in this class was ready in her view to go out out and work in this competitive market. Amazing coming from someone in a place as fast paced as the big apple.
We had a great time with this project and I cannot thank Megan enough for taking the time out of her busy day to meet with us. I hope that her work is featured with National Geographic and other goals are met as she is one talented photographer.
My overarching goal is to get my students hired, promoted, and accepted into the college and career of their dreams…this helps me make it a reality.