Photo Curriculum

Digital Storytelling: Semester 1 

Course Syllabus

This is a two-semester long photography course that will focus on hands-on learning both inside and outside the classroom/lab. This class provides an introduction to the art of storytelling through digital photography.  We will touch upon the process of creating and manipulating images through the use of Adobe software as a means to engage students, develop communities of learners, communicate global ideas, share art and personal perspectives.

New York State Standards

NYC DOE BluePrint for The Arts

Career Development and Occupational Studies

Standard 1: Career Development 

  • Students will be knowledgeable about the world of work, explore career options, and relate personal skills, aptitudes, and abilities to future career decisions.

Standard 2: Integrated Learning 

  • Students will demonstrate how academic knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace and other settings. 

Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills 

  • Students will demonstrate mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace. 

Standard 3b: Career Majors 

  • Students who choose a career major will acquire the career-specific technical knowledge/skills necessary to progress toward gainful employment, career advancement, and success in postsecondary programs.

New York State Art Standards

Standard 1. Creating, Performing, and Participating in The Arts 

  • Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) and participate in various roles in the arts.

Standard 2. Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources

  • Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in arts in various roles.

Standard 3. Responding to and Analyzing Works of Art

  • Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavor and thought.

Standard 4. Understanding the Cultural Contribution of the Arts

  • Students will develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication and how the arts, in turn, shape the diverse cultures of past and present society.

Instructional Philosophy:

We live in a media-saturated society where photography is one of the most democratic and vibrant forms of art and communication in the world. Digital media skills are quickly becoming the cornerstone of our creativity and knowledge-based economy. When students understand the context of media they are better prepared both socially and creatively to digest pop culture and social media while developing into strong, confident young adults. Digital art projects promote personal growth, foster creativity, literacy, and innovation by incorporating hands-on independent and collaborative learning experiences mixed with self-reflection. It is of the utmost importance for students to learn how to read and decode the media symbols that surround us and in doing so they develop the skills necessary to become the creators of new media, not just consumers. 

All students are expected to come to class regularly, on-time, participate in all class activities, as well as keep a working journal with notes that serve as their reference materials. The student journal will include all classwork, project notes, research and other instructional materials students may use to review. Journals will be checked regularly to monitor student progress. Students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge by applying their skills in personal individual and group projects. Students will be assessed through various exams, written assignments and projects. All projects are explained and presented with a rubric that creates a path for evaluating work.

Classes consist of lectures, demonstrations, and work-based activities. Expectations and consequences are emphasized at the beginning of the semester, shared on the website, displayed in class, and articulated throughout the term. Students with different learning needs will receive modified and/or enhanced instruction with appropriate materials and partnerships with peers. Peer-to-peer learning is an important and natural part of the arts education experience.  Students benefit as they learn how to be critical and develop connections within formal and informal activities. Extended time will be provided for those who require it to complete projects and demonstrate applied skills.  Field trips and guest artist speakers supplement the curriculum and help students make real global connections. 

Film and photography media classes promote 21st-century art and communication skills found within the New York State Arts, CTE, and ISTE standards. These digital media skills are utilized daily, in and out of the classroom to share experiences. When students discuss images they inspire each other and their ideas can act as a springboard for reflective and argumentative writing. These real-life art forms reflect the social, economic, political, and multicultural landscape of our city.  According to the Blueprint for the Arts (BFTA), “As experiences become increasingly conflicting and diverse, so art-making becomes a safe arena for experimenting in the construction of new relationships between inner and outer realities.” (BFTA, 9) It is imperative that students understand basic safety, legal, and digital citizenship issues associated with using digital and social media in order to protect themselves and produce high-quality work.  

Learning to read images enables students to not only observe and interpret details which lead students to use their knowledge but also to self-reflect on their lives and place in the world more clearly. Creating and analyzing images enables students to develop their communication skills in a safe environment where they can actively question, reflect and define their personal goals related to a project. I use contemporary examples of photography to engage students to discuss, analyze and critique works of art using compositional theory with a historical perspective. This type of dialog and constructive criticism helps students develop language skills, builds confidence, and creates a link between photography and the world we live in. 

By the end of Digital Storytelling & Social Media: Semester 1, students will present their work in a gallery style walk through along with an artist statement. All students will participate in the critique process. The student journal will be reviewed and will include observations and ideas, along with general classwork and reflections. 


We will/may use excerpts from the following books, magazines, or article links listed on the website:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a book
  • O’Reilly Photoshop CS6 photo effects cookbook,
  • O’Reilly: Photoshop fine art effects cookbook
  • Popular Photography
  • New York Times Photoblog
  • Etc.

Homework: At least one writing assignment per week TBA 

Assessment/Grading Policy: See the Rubric for additional details. Incomplete work will receive no higher than a 55%

  • Project/Portfolio/Meeting Deadlines/Technical Quality/Craftsmanship/Presentation = 40% of final grade
  • Lab/Exams/Assessments = 20% of final grade
  • Class Participation/Professionalism/Behavior = 20% of final grade
  • Homework/Journal = 20%    

Supplies Needed: (Highly recommended)

  • 16/32GB flash drive
  • 4-8 GB Memory Card for Camera, SanDisk SD card is preferred, B&H Photo has good prices and is nearby
  • Digital Notebook to keep class notes, ideas, and sketches: Use Google Drive and Share when requested
  • Digital Camera (a class set will be provided)

Behavior Policy:

  • School-wide policies will be upheld in this class. This includes, but is not limited to; electronic devices that must be out of sight and turned off unless required for a specific lesson, a dress code policy, tardy policy (in this class a tardy is defined as not in the room and ready when the bell rings).

Digital Photography Class Privileges:

  • In photography, at times we get the privilege to go outside and photograph.
  • It is very important that you understand this is a privilege and it can be revoked at any time if it is abused.
  • At all times you must respect the fact that other classes are in session.
    • Avoid the classrooms
    • Do not disturb classes (through a window, a door, or other means)
    • Do not communicate with people in classes (that includes talking and waving)
    • Whisper in the halls, your talking voice can be very loud in a quiet classroom
    • Stay within the outlined boundaries – TBA
    • You may not hang out in the halls (only use the halls to quietly go to open space)
    • You may not use your cell phone while on a photography assignment (it is still class time)
    • You may not leave campus without explicit written permission

Essential Questions: Big ideas that will be explored in class

  • What are current media (photography/film) career options?
  • What are the safety concerns?
  • How does a camera work?
  • How does social media work?
  • What are the components of a photo studio? 
  • How do you use studio lighting and grip properly?
  • Who are some of the important persons who impacted photography history?
  • Who are some of the important persons impacting photography and media today? 
  • How can you incorporate the principles and elements of art into your images?
  • How do you analyze and/or critique an image?
  • How do you write an artist statement?
  • How can you use Adobe programs to enhance your images?
  • How do you create, edit and share visual stories using print? 
  • How do you create, edit and share visual stories using social media? 

Course Objectives: Students Will Be Able To… 

  • Develop an understanding of composition through the language of media (photography/film/art) using the elements of art and principles of design
  • Develop a general understanding of the history of photography/media
  • Actively engage with peers to produce, evaluate, and critique art and social media using the language of photography/media and storytelling techniques
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop (PS), photo-editing software, and ability to apply learned skills to media (photography/film/art) expression, including printing and scanning of images to have creative control of their photographs
  • Demonstrate technical skills using a DSLR camera and ability to apply learned skills properly to have creative control of their photographs
  • Demonstrate technical skills using general photo studio grip & lighting equipment properly to have creative control of their photographs
  • Produce and maintain an online journal that consists of class and lab notes, as well as ideas for future projects
  • Compose and produce well-crafted digital portfolio (artifacts) that yield individual creativity, a personal interpretation that tells a unique and personal story
  • Students will actively participate, communicate, and share their work safely via online portfolios, class blog  and other class approved social media platforms in a professional, legal and ethical manner which helps lead to cultural understanding and shared global experiences
  • Develop an understanding of various careers that exist in the industry with an eye to the future

Course Activities:

  • Lectures and demonstration
  • Software Lessons/Lab
  • Camera Instruction and Assignments
  • Project Assignments
  • Critique
  • Class Participation Course Topics

The Course Will Cover The Following Topics:

  • Historic Overview of Photography and Social Media
  • Basic DSLR Camera Modes and uses, including but not limited to; ISO settings, White Balance, Drive Modes, Lens Focal Length, Focusing Options, etc.
  • Diverse Photography Careers & Applicable Uses As A Mixed Media
  • Basic Photo Compositional Terms (Including Rule of 3rds, Leading Lines, Depth Of Field, Framing Subjects, etc.)
  • Basic Photo Editing (Using PS) understanding of the language and creative ideas associated with digital imagery 
  • Basic Studio Lighting & Grip including but not limited to using a Light Meter and Gray Card with a focus on safety 
  • Using Photography to Share Ideas on Social Media
  • Legal, Ethical, and Social Expectations and Consequences of posting images on Social Media
  • Using a Critical Eye to Evaluate and Critique Images on Social Media and Portfolio Based Sites

Course Projects: (TBA, may include but not limited to…)

  • Personal Reflections 
  • Fashion & Lifestyle
  • Product & Macro Photography
  • Photojournalism & Editorial Stories
  • Portraiture 
  • Fine Art
  • End of Semester Online Digital Portfolio
  • Product & Still-Life

End of Semester Portfolio: 

Students will develop an end of semester online portfolio that expresses their understanding of digital storytelling with a focus on cultural and social reflection.

  • A 12-15 image digital portfolio created online using a social media site TBA
  • A hard-copy artifact representing their work printed on 8X10 paper
  • An artist statement and reflection of  500 – 750 words
  • A research paper of 1500 – 2500 words

Grade Scale:

Students will be assessed on the following; elements of art & principles of design, creativity/originality, effort/perseverance, craftsmanship/skill/consistency, and group work/class participation/attitude.

Grade Performance Standards
90-100 EXEMPLARY: Students worked in a professional manner independently and in a group setting. Students completed required assignments early or on time. Project composition/design were well thought out, sketched out ideas creatively in a journal, showing how he/she connected prior knowledge to projects. Students showed an understanding of the use of the elements and principles of design & media. Students demonstrated problem-solving skills, applied academic skills well, and made necessary corrections when needed. Students consistently maintained a high work standard and high test scores. Students participated in all class activities and maintained an excellent journal. Students had three or fewer absences. 
85-89 ABOVE LEVEL: Students worked hard and were able to complete all or most of the class assignments on time with limited assistance. Students applied the principles and elements of design & media to the project. Students make connections to prior knowledge. Students made necessary corrections when noted, enthusiastic classroom participation, and demonstrated social skills and etiquette. With a little more effort the finishing touches would have been outstanding. The student maintained his/her journal and achieved above level exam scores. 
75-79 AT LEVEL: Students exhibited limited skills. Required some supervision. Completed many assignments late, maintained an average work standard. Students infrequently proofed work and were not enthusiastic about making changes to projects. Students applied some elements and principles of art to assignments. Students participated infrequently in class and group assignments, kept an average journal, and had average to low test scores. 
65-69 BELOW LEVEL: Assignments completed but showed little evidence of any understanding of the elements and principles of design & media. There was little to no evidence of original ideas. There was little to no evidence of planning the composition in a journal. The journal was not maintained and test scores were low. Required close supervision. Little to no classroom participation. The project could have been improved (after the critique process) with more effort. There was an adequate interpretation of the assignment, but it lacked attention to detail and finish. The student allowed others in the group/class to do most of the work. The student participated minimally in set-up and cleanup. 
55-64 UNSATISFACTORY: Lack of preparation and lack of completed work. Poor or no journal. Poor class participation and craftsmanship. Lack of evidence of original ideas. Did not take or failed exams. 

Differentiated strategies for supporting students may include;

Supporting Students with Disabilities; 

  • Use of visual and multi-sensory formats 
  • Use of assisted technology 
  • Use of prompts 
  • Modification of content and student products 
  • Testing accommodations 

Assessments for Gifted Students may include;

  • Adjusting the pace of lessons
  • Curriculum compacting 
  • Inquiry-based instruction 
  • Independent study 
  • Interest-based content 
  • Student-driven  
  • Real-world problems and scenarios

English Language Learners;

  • Presenting work in multiple languages
  • Use of graphic organizers 
  • Teacher modeling 
  • Think-Pair-Share 
  • Scaffolding 
  • Word walls 
  • Teacher & student read-aloud

Curriculum Map: 

Curriculum Map 2018