Full Curriculum, Unit I: Through a Jewish Lens - Lesson 1: Image and Text

Time: 50 minutes
Materials: Laptop and projector or monitor
The Photograph Summer Camp by Zion Ozeri
Worksheet C: Image and Text / Text and Image
Cameras (one for every pair of students) – camera phones are acceptable
Preparation: Set up projector or monitor to display the photograph Summer Camp. If that’s not possible, make high-resolution photocopies of the photograph to distribute to students. Also make enough copies of Worksheet C for the class, and be sure there are enough cameras for each pair of students.
Overview: In this lesson, students see how text can illustrate a photograph and how photographs can illustrate a text. First, they observe a photograph and select a traditional text that resonates with the image. Then they take their own photographs that reflect the meaning of the text
Big Idea: Photographs and written texts can complement each other in communicating concepts and ideas.

Introduction (5 minutes):

  1.  Review the terms objective and subjective from Lesson 1.
  2. As a group, have students view the photograph Summer Camp by Zion Ozeri and make some objective and subjective observations. 

 You can actually use any of the photographs in the curriculum to explore the relationship between image and text. Many of Ozeri’s photographs in our online gallery are followed by several related texts. Feel free to copy those texts for students, present them along with the photograph, and discuss how the photograph and texts relate to each other. You can also supplement the activity with additional texts provided here: “Curriculum sample texts 2009”.

Image and Text (15 minutes):

  1. Divide the class into pairs.
  2. Distribute Worksheet C to each pair.
  3. Have each pair of students read the texts on Worksheet C together and choose one text that they believe connects or resonates best with the photograph.
  4. Ask a few of the pairs to share the texts they chose and explain their choices.

Text and Image (20 minutes):

  1. Distribute cameras or have students use their own—one for each pair of students.
  2. Have each pair go out into the school or synagogue and (without disturbing any classes) take photographs that illustrate one of the texts on Worksheet C—either the one they originally selected or a different text that “speaks” to them. The photographs can be literal or metaphorical, posed or candid, narrative or poetic.

Have each group take up to 10 photos. Let the students decide how they want to get the task done as a pair. For example, they could take turns snapping pictures, or the two could work together to set up their shots.

Remind students to plan their shots carefully. Before shooting, they should stop and think about what they want to express and how they will convey it. Photography is another language through which to express ideas. 

Encourage students to think about the frame—what are the parameters of the photo? What will be in the picture and what will be outside it? Also encourage students to be wary of such potential problems as unintended shadows, extraneous details in the shot, accidentally blocking the lens with their fingers, and “camera shake.”

Students also must think carefully about light when they are using their cameras. Point out to them that a camera doesn’t work exactly the same as the human eye. The eye can see details in light and shadow simultaneously, but cameras cannot. Therefore, it is easier if the subjects of a photo are evenly lit (i.e., all in shade or all in light). And when taking a photo, the light should come from behind the camera; students should avoid backlighting unless it is intended. 

Share Photographs (10 minutes):

  1. Ask each pair to choose one of their photographs to share.
  2. Have students email, text, or upload their selected photos, and then project some of the photographs for the class to view.
  3. Ask students to share a little bit about each photograph and the text it illustrates.
  4. Discuss:
    Were some of the texts harder to illustrate than others? Why?

If you don’t have a projector or monitor to show the students’ photographs,, you may need to split this lesson over two sessions. You will need to collect their images after class, and print them out to share in the following session.

For Homework:

You might want to give students some time to reflect on the picture-taking experience. These questions could form the basis of a journal-writing activity:

  • What was it like to view your school through a camera lens?
  • Was this different from past picture-taking experiences? How?
  • Did your shots come out the way you intended? Why or why not?
  • How did your group work together (or not)?
 Cave, Haidan A-Sham, Yemen, 1992

Cave, Haidan A-Sham, Yemen, 1992