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Background Knowledge and Skills

Step by Step Guide

Teacher Tips




Lesson Plan/Materials

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There is so much more information to share about teaching digital photography. This module is just a place to start.

Teaching and creating using digital photography encompasses a wide variety of processes, methods, media, and products and emerging technology. If you strictly adhere to the term, then you and your students will produce only photographs. And while there is nothing wrong with that, digital photography need not be an end in itself; it can provide an exciting starting point for incredible, unexpected works of art.

This module will focus on the stuff that teachers must consider and deal with while teaching digital photography. The principal goal of this module is to help the beginning teacher understand, organize, set-up and teach in the digital “light room” and classroom.

Teaching art or digital photography is about allowing and encouraging students to explore, discover, create, and understand their own work and the works of others through a variety of processes and personal discoveries. This explore, discover, create, and understand approach empowers students to take risks in their art making.

It has been said, “Photoshop can intimidate a beginner, but taken step-by-step, it can be easy to learn.” While this statement may be true for many, it refers to teaching Photoshop as a tutorial. There are many very popular books and websites that can help teachers do just that. Many artistic right-hemisphere types don’t learn well that way. They require a more serendipitous approach. Perhaps you have taken a class where the instructor shows a slide on the screen, then reads the text, followed by the entire class following the directions exactly. Not only does this approach take the joy out of learning, it elicits a classroom full of identical or nearly identical images.

You must determine the type of learning you want to happen in your classes. If you want your students to produce nearly identical products give them tutorials every day, if not, consider these ideas.

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In this module you will learn how to:

  • Organize
  • Generate learning goals
  • Create art assignments for your students
  • Use a point and shoot digital camera effectively
  • Name, save, and organize files
  • Edit and experiment with Photoshop
  • Create an assessment rubric

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Background Knowledge and Skills

  1. Using your teaching background.
    Even if you are not all that familiar with Photoshop, you are a teacher. Think about the steps you usually take in planning and presenting any new assignment.

    • A lesson is researched and conceived that will teach specific concepts, invite critical and creative thinking, and encourage skill building and divergence in student work.
    • Small bits of historical and technical information are introduced. 
    • Students are encouraged to experiment and risk through hands-on practice.
    • The teacher and other students, on an individual basis, provide assistance.
    • Students and teacher assess the work. Please find more information about rubrics and assessments on page XX.  Insert page when final

    You can use these very same steps when you are teaching your students to use Photoshop.  I like to think of a computer as a "smart pencil;" it's less intimidating that way. You use it just as you would a pencil to freely create the images that are inside your mind. And just like creating with a pencil, creating with a computer takes practice and will both frustrate and amaze you.

    The beauty of teaching a subject area with a primary focus on digital photography is that this medium levels the playing field for many students. There are students with great vision and strong ideas, but less than stellar traditional art or drawing skills. Using a camera, a scanner, and a photo-editing program provides them with the tools needed to create and share the concepts, images, and feelings previously trapped inside their minds.

    There are many ways to achieve goals in digital photography for both you and your students. Don't try and limit the applications, processes or the final products. After all, Photoshop is just another medium for creating great works of art.    

  2. The History Behind Digital Photography.
    Why we still call it digital photography is a mystery.  Since the inception of digital photography in the mid twentieth century, it has dwarfed traditional photography in popularity with both artists and the general public. 

    Sir John Herschel invented the term photography in 1839. The word is derived from the Greek words for light (φωζphos) and writing or to write (γραφσζgraphos). As with many contemporary technical advances there are many people who contributed to the development of photography.    Camera ObscuraIn the seventeenth century Robert Boyle reported that silver chloride turned dark under exposure, but he appeared to believe that it was caused by exposure to the air, rather than to light.

    Thomas Wedgwood (1771 -1805) conducted experiments in which he successfully captured images, but his silhouettes could not survive, as there was no known method of making the image permanent.

    The first successful picture was produced in 1826-27 by Joseph Niépce, using material that hardened on exposure to light. View from the Window at Le Gras required an exposure of eight hours.     

Niépce later became partners with Louis Daguerre who subsequently discovered a way of developing photographic plates, Louis Daguerre process greatly reduced the exposure time from eight hours down to half an hour. He also discovered that an image could be made permanent by immersing it in salt.

After many advances in film photography, digital images emerged. In 1951, the first video tape recorder (VTR) captured live images from television cameras by converting the information into electrical impulses (digital) and saving the information onto magnetic tape.

In 1981, Sony released the Sony Mavica electronic still camera, the camera, which was the first commercial electronic camera. Images were recorded onto a mini disc and then put into a video reader that was connected to a television monitor or color printer.  This early Mavica is considered a video camera, which took still frames.

Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented several solid-state image sensors that "converted light to digital pictures" for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5 x 7 inch digital photo-quality print.

Digital cameras are available in point-and-shoot and digital single lens reflex (DSLR) models. Point-and-shoot cameras: These cameras are small, inexpensive, and easy to use because they contain fixed lenses and a built-in flash. DSLR cameras:  have optical viewfinders, removable lenses, external flashes, and the ability to focus and to adjust exposure manually when needed. DSLR cameras tend to be more complicated and expensive than point-and-shoot models.

3. Links for more information about the history of digital photography.

For information about:
digital cameras
and photo quality based upon features such as megapixels, sensors, and zoom:

the history of photography

notable photographers:

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Step by Step Guide

  1. Handling the Camera
    The first step in teaching digital photography is to teach correct handling of the camera. If you are providing the cameras for the class make sure that they are numbered before you begin. Then allow the students to shoot in the classroom where you can supervise them closely. That way you can break any bad practice before they become bad habits,

    At the beginning of the term provide an informational toolbar visual to each student for reference purposes. You can find examples here This visual is helpful in that it provides a safety net for students who are not technically savvy and may be hesitant to click around.
    Along with the toolbar visual include information about the function of each of the tools.

    Use a point and shoot digital camera effectively
    First of all familiarize yourself with your camera by reading the manual and then shooting for all day. Leave the camera on auto to start and shoot in daylight.

  2. The best times to shoot are early in the morning and just before dusk. This is known as the “golden” or the “magic” hour. The reason is the light. That’s what photography is all about.  The word photography comes from the Greek, and literally means drawing with light. Although you have classes all day long, and relatively few students will be shooting during the golden hours, all students need to be aware of the importance of light and shadow in their works. Encourage students to avoid using the flash as it tends to flatten the image by filling it with light and eliminating the shadows that are so important for creating dimension. If students are shooting indoors, creating directional light can be achieved by having subjects positioned near windows or other sources of light.

  3. Focus is usually a problem for beginning students. It is easily remedied by teaching them to do the “half press.”  Remind students that photos are made and not snapped and a good photo is a result of a good photographer and not expensive equipment. Students press the shutter button half way so that the camera focuses on the face or the most important part of the composition.  Once the camera reacts to the half press, the shutter button is gently squeezed the rest of the way.

    The second issue with focus occurs when students move or shake the camera when shooting. To remedy this situation encourage them to hold their arms against the sides of their body when shooting making themselves into a human tripod.

    Another way to ensure focus is by placing the camera on a solid object when shooting to eliminate shake. Sometimes however, focus is not necessary, encourage students to move or shake the camera while shooting for some unusual, experimental effects. Make sure that the students have mastered focus before allowing them to experiment.

  4. Just because you never know, require students to do what I call the “photo dance.”  It goes like this - shoot, step to the right, shoot; step to left, shoot; camera up high, shoot; camera down low, shoot. This gets them in the habit of looking for the best shot. As many photographers say, you have to make a great shot, just not take it!

    Encourage students to take a lot of photos using a variety of angles or points-of-view increases the odds of getting a good image.  Additionally, students should consciously rotate the camera so that their images are in both portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) formats.

    My friend, artist Brian Trainor says, “If everyone is shooting in one direction, turn and shoot the other way.”  Another “Brianism” as I like to call them is, “It’s the Indian not the arrow.” These ways of thinking help students realize that they have to consciously look for that amazing image. They have to develop their “eye.” Additionally, the best, most expensive equipment is not necessary to produce amazing, award-winning photographic images.

  5. Rule of Thirds
    The “rule of thirds” is a compositional tool that suggests that the photographer divide the composition into nine parts (as illustrated to the right) and then place important compositional elements at one or more of the intersections. The rule of thirds helps students look for and identify foreground, middle ground and background areas of a composition. It is not a bad idea to inform your students of this rule and then let them know they can break it.

    My beginning students are encouraged to fill the composition with more positive space than negative space and instructed not to place the point of emphasis in the middle of the composition.  Photos can always be cropped afterwards in a photo-editing program on the computer. However, it is good practice to consciously compose your compositions, eliminating the need to crop.

  6. After students have taken images with their cameras

    a. Download images from the camera to the pix file. Because students will not be saving their work on the C drive of the computer due to size constraints, instruct them to save all pictures to the pix file.

    b.Delete any unwanted images from the computer. Reviewing and deleting images on the camera wastes the battery.

    c. Name the images using a file naming convention and cut and paste them into the appropriate folders. Sometimes an image is cross-referenced by placing it into more than one folder.  These images are for reference ONLY.

    d. Students can select more than one image to move by holding down the shift key when clicking on images, right clicking on the mouse and moving it over sequential images, or using the control a > control x > control v keystrokes to select, cut, and paste the images in their new home.

    e. Copy the folder(s) onto the USB drive.

  7. Edit and Experiment In Photoshop
    The magic begins! The best thing about Photoshop is that it levels the playing field for students who are creative, visionary artists but are not necessarily proficient in their drawing capability. It allows them to risk and change their mind again and again bringing their vision into reality.

    After your students shoot one hundred images and save them in their pix folder. Let them work with a partner to determine which images they will save and name and which they will delete and then select the strongest image to photo-edit in adjustment layers. A simple introductory editing process uses adjustment layers to improve the quality of the image by correcting:

    • the levels
    • the color balance
    • the hue and saturation
    • the brightness and contrast

    These adjustments are found under “layers” on the tool bar.
    You can learn more about the layers palette here:

    Your photograph can be edited in image, but the big difference is that when you edit in layers you to make changes without altering the original image.

    a. Layer adjustments

    Layer adjustments also allows for making any layer adjustment temporarily invisible by simply closing the eye icon to the left of the layer. That way you and the student can see.

    Each time the student uses one of these adjustments they are added as a new layer in the layer palette.

    Look at this silent YouTube video to see layer adjustments in action

    The Burn and Dodge Tool
    Editing in Photoshop may also include using the burn and the dodge tools, which are located on the tools palette. They are named after traditional darkroom methods of brightening and darkening areas in an image.

    The dodge tool lightens and the burn tool, just like a fire, darkens it.
    Here is a fun video from YouTube;

    c. “Photoshopped:”  Photo editing
    Probably Photoshop’s most negative press comes from the results of tools used in commercial photography to make the “perfect” people seen in the popular culture today. The term “Photoshopped” refers to images in which reality has been significantly altered. Sometimes, Photoshopped images elicit delight in the viewer as in the works of Erik Johansson

    Other times images create outrage due to radically photo-edited into sometimes scary versions of celebrities.  An Example of this problem is evident in the Redbook magazinecover photograph of Faith Hill. It is the on this Newsweek website (fifth image from the left):

    This editing concept makes a compelling, thought provoking assignment for your students. More images are available the above site (but preview them before showing them).

    Anything goes when your students experiment in Photoshop. People change color, animals become biomorphic, and unsuccessful drawings are scanned and become unforgettable!

    Two big playground areas are layer adjustments and filters. I have been warned not to rely too heavily on filters and I don't but they sure can be fun!

    d.   Creating Source Materials
    Keep in mind that Photoshop need not be an end in itself, but can be used as an important part of traditional media assignments. For example images edited in Photoshop can create source materials that take students from the same old imagery in watercolor or printmaking onto new and exciting turf.
    Instruct students to:

    •  Search their files for large highly recognizable images
    • Look for images with large shapes and few details
    • Print image in black and white on 8.5 x 11 inch copy paper
    • Use a soft pencil to cover the back of the image to create an off-set transfer
    • Place image with the graphite side down on top of a piece of linoleum
    • Tape the paper to the plate
    • Trace over the image with a ball point pen
    • Use traditional reduction process or for more exciting relief prints use the hand painted process (use a stiff bristle brush and a little water to apply inks) on prepared papers.
    • Students can prepare papers by painting or making a collage with tissue paper

      Printing and deconstructing digital images on unusual papers or transparency film can add vigor to mixed media or assemblage assignments. The possibilities are endless! This process is super helpful for student who has difficulty creating strong compositions.

      This artwork by Natalie, an eighth grader, was later used by the Miami Art Museum as an invitation to the Scholastic Art Awards.  It was created from her digital image, brown kraft paper, and raffia.

  8. Create an Assessment Rubric
    It's only fair to inform students about the criteria for which their works will receive a grade. Allowing students to self-assess provides them with opportunities to take a critical look at their own works and then explore for ways to improve.
    This simple assessment allows you to determine criteria with your students at the beginning of the assignment.

    Some assessments are more involved than others. It’s a good idea to take a look at some of the examples provided below and find the best fit and then alter it so that it works for you and your students. is a website that, among other things, has many rubrics and provides you with the tools to edit an existing rubric or make your own rubric.

    An example of a rubric with a point system can be found at this site.

    Rubrics require a great deal of thought.   When using a point scale, they must clearly define the subtle differences between a 4 or 5 point rubric.  As Michael Corneau, a Brevard County principal, points out,

    “Words mean different things to different people.  My advice to any teacher would be after they have developed a rubric, would be to have it critiqued by someone not familiar with what they have developed.  Seeing it with “fresh eyes” can be an eye opener because of another’s interpretation.  The bottom line is that if we are to adequately appraise student work...[what we are measuring must be] clearly defined...whether it be as a formative assessment tool or as a summative one.”

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Teacher Tips

Because there is TMI (too much information) for you to remember it is a good idea to get an old fashioned notebook with dividers and a flash drive to save information as you go. First make a new folder on your computer and on the flash drive, and name it digital photography. Then make subfolders inside with the following names and whatever else you decide: Photoshop, Lesson Plans, Organization, Hardware, Orders, Vocabulary, NGSSS, Stuff, and Info. Then write the same names on your notebook dividers. The information you save on your computer should always be saved on flash drive.

  1. Save resource documents in Word
    Start looking around, when you find information that you think is important, just save it in a Word document in the appropriate folder and print out a copy for your notebook.  Copy and paste (ctrl C > crtl V) on the Word document. Save each website's URL on new Word doc along with a short description of the site.  After you hit the return/enter key the URL will be linked to the website and just a click away. You can use the website list found in this module to start the learning process. You can, of course, bookmark your favorite websites on your computer, but sometimes you may be using a different computer and it is convenient to have one central list.

    Another suggestion is to get a Gmail account and open a Google doc which is a document file you can access from anywhere and share with friends or colleagues with Gmail accounts.

  2. Supplies
    If you are fortunate enough to order supplies, make sure to add vendor's names and contact information, photocopy any purchase orders, model numbers, service contracts, and warranty information. Then place them in the notebook. You'll be glad you did!

  3. Generate Learning Goals
    After reviewing the NGSSS Visual Art at think about what you think your kids should learn and be able to do in your class. Here's my short list:

    1. look at and recognize art works and periods of art
    2. use imagery to convey ideas
    3. develop ideas
    4. critique the artwork of famous artists, their peers, and their own
    5. understand program tools and how to use them
    6. risk-taking
    7. save and organize files
    8. use artistic and technical vocabulary appropriately
    9. care for and safely use cameras, computers, scanners, and printers
    10. create strong compositions
    11. become aware of the creative and critical thinking process
    12. use technology to research information
    13. use technology to access other areas of the curriculum
    14. use technology to access the world of work
    15. work in groups
    16. think & express themselves visually, verbally and in writing
    17. understand process
    18. solve problems and create opportunities
    19. reflect select work for a portfolio
    20. access source material
    21. plork play, learn, and work

  4. A Table of Artists
    Now make a table of artists, cultures, and/or periods you may want to introduce at some time in your teaching life. Check the Internet for any shows that are coming to a museum near you. Here is a detail of one period of art. This is your go to list, a menu of sorts for those days when your brain has stopped working and your lesson plans are due!

    Period of Art

    Artists / Designers



    1924 - 1950's

    Salvador Dali
    Giorgio de Chirico
    Paul Klee
    Jean Arp
    Marcel Duchamp
    Marc Chagall
    Max Ernst
    Joan Miro
    Andre Masson
    Maurits Escher
    Rene Magritte
    Yves Tanguy
    Frida Kahlo
    Francis Bacon
    Dorothea Tanning
    Roberto Matta
    Man Ray

    United States
    United States


  5. The Big Picture List
    Then, create a table with at least 5 columns and unlimited rows to create a Big Picture list. Take your time in building your list. Work on it after you have seen an inspirational artwork or exhibit. Add to it whenever you get a new idea for a lesson. You can use this list to help organize both lessons and units of study. It will help you with long range planning. Looking at your Big Picture list will help you sequence your teaching for a year or a multi-year basis. If you have a Big Picture list, you'll find that in the long run your planning time will decrease significantly.


    Art history




    Understanding mood in self and in works of art.

    Cindy Sherman
    Van Gogh

    Portrait, self-portrait
    Mood    light source chiaroscuro
    full face
    3/4 view



    This is just one example of the many you could add to your own Big Picture List. This is the information used for Talia's self-portrait assignment.  See student portraits by Roman and Daniel that use transparency film, and one by Maite, that was a Scholastic Gold Key winner.  A lesson plan on self-portraits is included in this module.

  6. Design art assignments for your students
    Think about the way you design art assignments for your students and do just that keeping photography and Photoshop in mind. My favorite way to get ideas for assignments is by looking around!  For example when you go to an art exhibit, find the piece that jumps out at you and ask yourself a few questions:

    • Why is this work so engaging?
    • How can I make this into an assignment for my students?
    • What will students learn and be able to do from this assignment?
    • What features of Photoshop can students practice in this assignment?
    • What aspects of photography or traditional art information will students practice in this assignment?
    • Will the products allow for divergence or will they be mindless replications of a single image?

    If you already have favorite assignments think about how you can alter them using digital photography.
    What are the parts of the lesson?  They may look something like this:

    • Introducing the concepts with a PowerPoint Presentation, teacher or student demonstration, or brief video
    • Determining grading criteria for the assignment with the students
    • Beginning the process
    • Facilitating an In-process critique
    • Facilitating a final critique and self assessment

      One of my favorite critiques involves students reading their short fantasy story and showing the fantasy character within their imagined environment on the Smart Board while the rest of the class ate popcorn!

    When you are dealing with a lot of students in many classes it is imperative to set up folders for each of your classes on the shared drive. Even if you don't have a shared drive insuring that all of students use the same organizational system makes for a smoother process. Make room in the budget to invest in a backup drive and insist that students backup their work daily on their USB drive.

    This is what the filing system looks like when a student opens the shared drive:
    Inside each of these folders are subfolders. The “aa put it here” folder contains folders for assignments that have been assigned to all classes. For example, if there is a show coming up and a student wants to submit one of her pieces for it they would put their file in the folder. This is work that is not going to be graded. There is an “aa put it [here]” folder in each period folder for submitting assigned work.                 

    When a student opens a block folder he sees two folders labeled with the period name. For example, I teach 7th graders in the first block. The periods are period one or period two.

    This is what the file system looks like when a student opens a block folder:

    This is what the students see when they open the folder for their period after they have renamed the template folders:

    Before the school year begins create a template folder that includes all the nested or subfolders inside of it. Then paste one copy of the folder for each of the students into each class period. When the students come to class, teach them how to rename a folder with their name. Insist that they use their real names. It can get a little crazy for you later on if they start renaming their folder things like “mrsbeiber”!

    Point out to students that their names will appear in alphabetical order, making it easy to locate. Emphasize that they are not to go into another student's folder just as they would not go into their book bag without permission.

    For the sake of your personal sanity; keep a copy of the student nested folder template in the “aastuff folder”. Make your grading and critiquing life easier by placing folders in each class named “aa turn it in here” and “stuff”. These are just like in and out boxes. Students know that if they have to get information to go to the “stuff” folder. There they will find PowerPoint presentations, tutorials, brushes, and websites. When students are finished with their work or want to print it, they save it in the turn it in here folder. Using “aa” helps keep the folder at the top of the page so you don't have to look for it.

    Two subfolders entitled “image” and “text” exist within the student template folder. Students can always add folders if necessary.


    a.  The image folder contains the following subfolders:

    • Abstract
    • Design
    • Landscape
    • Pix
    • Portrait
    • Scan
    • Still life
    • Surrealism
    • Working images

    b.  The text folder has subfolders, which include:

    • Notes
    • PowerPoint
    • Stuff

    Once the student has renamed the template folder with their own name they should copy it in its entirety to the their flash drive.  In order to rename a file or folder the student:

    • Right clicks on the folder                 
    • Adds the new name

    c.  File Naming Conventions
    The file naming convention is a process by which images are saved in an orderly manner. Every photographer has his or her own preference. My students save the original photo with a file name like this 0630dog0. The first four digits indicate the date of the work, in this case - June 30th.   The next three indicate an abbreviation of the subject. In this case – a dog. Finally the zero indicates the edition number.  Zero indicates the original photograph, 1 an image that has been edited or “cleaned-up” with Photoshop, and 2 begins the party. Students know that they have to clean up before they are allowed to go to the party. The party is freedom for students and an opportunity to try new things in Photoshop.

    When students save a photograph in Photoshop, the .jpg extension changes to .psd. Although it is better to leave your files in .psd format, because the image quality is superior, sometimes it is necessary to change the file back to .jpg.  This is simply achieved by going to file> save as > and changing the .psd back to .jpg.

    Sometimes my students rename their jpg images without opening them. It is important to note that in doing so they must include the extension (.jpg or .psd) or they will be unable to open the file later.

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Adjustment layers - A Layer submenu command for accessing temporary tonal corrections that affect the appearance of underlying information yet do not contain image data or affect the background layer. To make an adjustment layer choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > and choose an option. These commands can also be accessed through the control buttons at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Ambient light -The natural light in a scene.

Aperture-The circular opening inside a camera’s lens that controls the amount of light reaching the sensor.

Artefact -An unwanted visual aberration within a digital image.

Burning-in - Adding exposure to an image area in order to add detail, enhance density, and balance tonal information.

Clone - 1. A command that creates a copy when moving a selection or layer with the Move tool.   Press Alt (Win) or when moving. The cursor will become a two-headed arrow with one black and the other white. 2. In reference to the Clone Stamp tool. A tool that takes a section of an image then applies it over part of the same image or a different image in the window

Color Balance - An image submenu command that adjusts the overall combination of colors in an image to correct over-saturated or under- saturated colors. Choose Image > Adjustments > Color Balance. It is preferable for students to make changes in color balance in the layers submenu since it does not affect the original image.

Curves - An image submenu command that allows precise adjustments to the entire tonal range of an image. Instead of only highlights, shadows and mid tone value adjustments any point along a 0-255 scale can be fine-tuned. Up to 15 other values can be continual during the process. Precise adjustments to individual color channels can also be applied. Students will delight in abusing this tool by pulling the curve up and down many times and from many points to achieve a wilder than life color image.

Depth of Field -The distance between the nearest and the farthest points that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photo.

Downloading - Moving computer data from one location to another. For example taking image off of the camera and saving it in a computer file.

DPI/PPI - DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch. It is a way of measuring the resolution of a digital photo/image or digital device, including digital cameras and printers; the higher the number, the greater the resolution.  For more information:

File Formats

GIF - "Graphics Interchange Format," GIF images use a compression formula that was developed originally by CompuServe and are based on indexed colors, which is a palette of at most 256 colors. GIF files are great for small icons and animated images, but they lack the color range to be used for high quality photos.

TIFF -"Tagged Image File Format." A graphics file format created in the 1980's to be the standard image format across multiple computer platforms. However, not much compression occurs with this format so file sizes tend to stay large. EPS -"Encapsulated PostScript." EPS is a PostScript image file format that is compatible with PostScript printers and is often used for transferring files between various graphics applications. EPS files will print identically on all PostScript-compatible printers and will appear the same in all applications that can read the PostScript format. PostScript is used for storing font and vector image information. This file type is commonly requested from commercial printers.

JPG -"Joint Photographic Experts Group," is the name of the committee that developed the format. Jpg is a file saving format that can compresses large colorful files by eliminating a small amount of information. However, if the image is compressed too much, the graphics become noticeably "blocky" and some of the detail is lost. Recently, JPEG has become the most popular universal format, because of its small file size and Internet compatibility.

PDF -“Portable Document Format” PDF is the file format for representing documents in a manner that is independent of the original application software, hardware, and operating system used to create those documents. A PDF file can describe documents containing any combination of text, graphics, and images in a device independent and resolution independent format. These documents can be one page or thousands of pages, very simple or extremely complex with a rich use of fonts, graphics, color, and image.

Flash card - The storage device inside your camera for recording digital images. Think of it as the film, only better.

Flash drive - also referred to as thumb, pin, travel, and USB. A portable storage device.

Grayscale - The range of neutralvalues, or shades of gray in an image.

Image Size - An image menu command dialog box for changing the exact values of width, height and resolution. Resample image changes the resolution and print size and will not affect the pixel total numbers when the checkbox is off. With the checkbox on the image will resample and increase or decrease file size when a number is changed accordingly in the width, height and resolution. The Constrain Proportions checkbox will alter the width and height in the same percentage without a distorted look when the box is checked on

Layers - Layers allow changes to be made to an image without altering original image data. Layers can be stacked on top of another layer and then combined into one image. The artist can turn off the eye icon on the layers pallet allowing him to see the effect of each layer edit.

Negative Space - the empty space around an object;

Pixel -the smallest element of an image that can be individually processed in a video display system - looks like a square of color. Stands for picture element.

Positive Space ­– the object itself

Quick Mask Mode - A feature that isolates and protects image areas and allow temporary graphic editing of an active selection.

RAW- Image format where the data is unprocessed.

Raster - a set of horizontal lines composed of individual pixels, used to form an image on a screen. Photoshop is raster based while Illustrator is a vector-based program. For more information about the differences between raster and vector images:

Resolution - the degree of sharpness of a computer generated image as measured by the number of dots per linear inch in a hard copy printout or the number of pixels across and down on a display screen.

Save As - A File menu command that accesses a dialog for storing an image to a different location or filename than the original image. For example saving a .PSD file as a .JPG allows others, who do not have Photoshop on their computers to view the image.

Selection tools - Instruments in the Toolbar for selecting pixels in an image - the Marquee, Lasso, Magnetic Lasso or Magic Wand tools.

Shutter Button - The button usually located at the top of a camera that is squeezed or depressed to shoot the image. Pressing the button half way finds and focuses in on the focal point of the image. The shutter button releases the shutter, allowing the shutter to open and close, thereby recording an image.

Shutter - the part of the camera that opens and closes allowing light to pass through for a specific amount of time.

Toolbar or toolbox- a palette or grid of icons located on the left side of the interface containing Selection, Crop & Slice Tools, Retouch & Paint Tools, Drawing & Type Tools, & Measurement Tools among others.

Value - the darkness or lightness of a color

Vector - scalable objects based on a series of mathematical numbers and best used for printing. Adobe Illustrator. For more information about the differences between rastor and vector images:

Photoshop Slang Words

Burnt-out or Blown-out - A term referring to a loss of detail in the highlight portions of an image area.

Filter Burn - A Photoshop expert term referring to the abuse of Photoshop filters.

Jaggies -Poor image quality in digital images, usually because of too-low resolution It appears as a stair step typed pattern effect in tonal areas  or diagonal edges of the image.

Marching Ants - Flashing dotted lines in an area of an image that single out pixels and define the selection area.

Photoshopper -A person who uses Photoshop.

Pixel Dust - A Photoshop expert fixing an image.

Techie - Someone considered an expert in computer technology.

WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get. (Pronounced “wizzy-wig”) The ability to view text and graphics on screen in the same way it will appear when it is printed.

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Art21:  Art in the Twenty-First Century - This site is a wonderful place to explore contemporary art and artists   
Artcyclopedia -  This site provides a visual encyclopedia of art and artists.
Artlex - This site provides definiations of art terminology
Surrealism is defined here.  
Art - This website was great for my middle school computer art technology students.

All Things Photography - This site is written more with the professional photographer in mind.
B & H The Professional’s Source and
Digital Photography Vocabulary - These two sites are good resources for vocabulary building.                       
Digital Photography Glossary - A wide variety of terms of referenced here. 
Digital Photography - This site answers a myriad of questions from technical aspects of taking pictures to equipment questions.
Digital Photography Vocabulary & Tricks – everything in tutorials!
Organizing Image Files

Rcampus -  This is an excellent resource for rubrics on digital photography and more.  
Digital Photography Rubric - This sample rubric has a numbered scale and defines the criteria for the task well.
Digital Photography Rubric - This rubric in an example of an opportunity for the student and the teacher to both make comments.

Scribd - Every Adobe Photoshop tool is explained. 
This website focuses on familiarizing yourself with the Photoshop Interface.  
Abduzeedo - This graphic design site is a good place for Inspiration; it is full of design tips from digital artists  
Naturescapes - Layers and Masking is explained well on this site. - This site has just about everything in Photoshop tutorials!  Some are free and some require a subscription.   
Photoshop for Artist - This site has interviews with artists who use Photoshop.   
Photoshop for Kids - This site has many tips and is kid friendly.    
Photoshop toolbox reference - This website goes into detail about how to use
Photoshop Tutorials and Training - This site provides tutorials in Photoshop.           
Tech Republic - This site has some tips for introducing Photoshop to students.   
Tech Republic - This has suggestions for a basic Photoshop lesson for beginners.            
Tutorialized - Tutorials in Photoshop and Flash are available here.
Ultimate Photoshop Toolbox - This site lists a collection of websites that have helpful references.


"99 Remarkable Photographer’s Portfolios."Digital Photography Tips: Digital Photography School. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Adobe Photoshop - Every Tool Explained."Scribd. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Aperture."Simple Photography Guide. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Art Museum Kids/Educational Websites."Art Cyclopedia: The Fine Art Search Engine. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Art21 . Home Page | PBS."PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 10 June 2011.

ArtLex Art Dictionary. Web. 10 June 2011.

"B&H Digital Photo Glossary."B&H Photo Video Digital Cameras, Photography, Camcorders. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Cameron Crouch | Digital Photo Rubric."Foothill Technology High School. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Cameron Crouch | Digital Photo Rubric."Foothill Technology High School. Web. 10 June 2011.

A Collaborative Learning Community.: Open Tools for Open Minds. Web. 10 June 2011.

A Collaborative Learning Community.: Open Tools for Open Minds. Web. 10 June 2011.

Contributor, Guest. "Teaching Photoshop: A Lesson in the Basics for a Beginner | TechRepublic."TechRepublic - A Resource for IT Professionals. Web. 10 June 2011.

Contributor, Guest. "Teaching Photoshop: Introductory Tips for Trainers | TechRepublic."TechRepublic - A Resource for IT Professionals. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Design Battle: Vector vs. Raster."Design Was Here. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Design Battle: Vector vs. Raster."Design Was Here. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Design by Firgs."Freebies by Firgs. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Design Inspiration: Tips and Secrets from 11 Famous Digital Artists."Abduzeedo | Graphic Design Inspiration and Photoshop Tutorials. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Digital Cameras: How to Choose."Crutchfield: Car Stereo, Speakers, Home Theater, LCD TV, Digital Cameras. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Digital Dictionary - A Glossary of Photographic Terms."All Things Photography Tips from Wedding or Child to Stock Photography. Web. 10 June 2011.

Digital Photography Advisor. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Digital Photography Glossary."Welcome To RadioShack. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Digital Photography Terms - A Glossary Of Common Photography Terminology."Digital Photography Tricks, Tips, Advice, Tutorials, Basics, Courses And Ideas. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Easy Ways to Organize Your Digital Photos."HP - United States | Laptop Computers, Desktops, Printers, Servers and More. Web. 10 June 2011.

Harry Ransom Center. Web. 10 June 2011.

"History of Photography, Photography Time Line, Photos - National Geographic."Photography and Photos of the Day - National Geographic. Web. 10 June 2011.

"History of Photography Timeline -"Photography Community, including Forums, Reviews, and Galleries from Web. 10 June 2011.

How-To Help and Videos - For Dummies. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Interactive - Airbrushing Scandals - Newsweek."Newsweek - National News, World News, Business, Health, Technology, Entertainment, and More - Newsweek. Web. 10 June 2011.

"List of Surrealist Artists? - Yahoo! Answers."Yahoo! Answers - Home. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Photographer Summaries."Masters of Photography. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Photoshop For Kids - Tips, Tricks, Tutorials & Books For Kids |"Photoshop Tutorials & Adobe Photoshop Plugins | Web. 10 June 2011.

"Photoshop Training & Tutorials."Software Training Online-tutorials for Adobe, Microsoft, Apple & More. Web. 10 June 2011.

Photoshop Tutorials - Where Anyone Can Learn Photoshop. Web. 10 June 2011.

Photoshop Tutorials and Flash Tutorials - Tutorialized. Web. 10 June 2011.

"Surrealism."Art Cyclopedia: The Fine Art Search Engine. Web. 10 June 2011.

"The Ultimate Photoshop Toolbox."Noupe Design Blog. Web. 10 June 2011.

"What Is the Difference between DPI and PPI? : DigPrintBind."DIGITAL PRINT AND BIND. Web. 10 June 2011.

"YouTube - PhotoShop CS5 for Beginners - #11. Layers Palette."YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 10 June 2011.

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Telling you specifically what to purchase for your program would be like ordering for you from the menu of a great restaurant without knowing your preferences. Make sure to speak to a lot of knowledgeable people who don’t want to sell you anything before you make any decisions.

There are many websites that will offer ratings and make comparisons for you regarding your hardware. If you would like information about the products used in my art room please feel free to contact me [email protected].

  1. Hardware:
    Point and Shoot Digital Cameras  - get inexpensive cameras with the largest megapixel you can afford. I have found that the Canon cameras are tough enough to withstand middle school students for many years.

    Computers w/monitors, keyboard, and mouse  - make sure that your computers can handle a shared drive, and large programs like Adobe CS 5 and can be networked.

    Printers - having at least two printers available is helpful;  one printer for the heavy lifting (fast 11 x 14 images) and one for larger formats and quality prints.

    11 x 17” Flatbed Scanner - This scanner is your biggest and best digital camera. Use it to import images from student sketchbooks, two- dimensional or low relief objects, or traditional artworks. 

    LCD projector & screen - This is the best thing that ever happened to show and tell. Students are good at looking at large screen. This one provides them with the opportunity to be the sage on the stage and allows you to be the guide on the side.

    Network drive or server - This invaluable piece of hardware connects all of the computers in your classroom allowing you to see your students’ folders and files. It prohibits students from using and abusing the printers and it make grading a snap.

    Backup drive - It’s going to happen, it is just a matter of when. Make sure that your backup drive is large enough to handle your class files and then some

  2.  Software:
    Disclaimer: items listed below have “ballpark” pricing to give ideas of costs as technology programs and costs are constantly changing

    1. Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 School Site License

    Cost: from $6,500 for up to 250 computers
    (Check educational licensing for school pricing
    Compare Suite Editions


    2. Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard

    Cost: $299 each educational discount at Adobe, but seen advertised elsewhere for $199


    3. Wacom Pen and Touch loaded with Photoshop Elements

    Cost: $99 each

  3. Other:
    Networking Cables - Ask your tech if you need to purchase these or if he will supply them for you when he sets up your lab. This site provides information for setting up a small network.

    Ink - The bank! You can’t print everything - the cost is unbelievable! Just to fill one printer with ink or toner in my classroom costs almost one thousand dollars. There is nothing worse than running out and having to pay for overnight shipping. Many large printers require inks that are not in stock at your local office store.

    Paper - make sure that you use the right paper for your printer and then position the printer setting accordingly. When you have a budget to spend, buy paper it lasts a long time unless there is a great deal of humidity. Most photographic papers come sealed in packages. I have used paper five years after purchase. If you have a large format printer order roll paper and store it. You can also use sheets of construction or bulletin board paper so that students can add a variety of media to the image.

    Transparency Film - Great for helping students understand layers in Photoshop and create strong compositions kinesthetically. Make sure to purchase the one that works with your ink jet or laser printer. You can also purchase “dual purpose” or multipurpose” film.

    Flash Cards - for cameras. Although each new camera comes with a little flash card you will have to purchase new ones. Purchase a few extra in case they grow legs and walk out of your room.

    Rechargeable Batteries and Battery Chargers - for cameras. Help to save the environment by purchasing batteries that can be recharged. Although it means extra work, the savings for your budget and the planet are worthwhile.

    USB Drives - for saving student work. Each student must save his or her work daily. They should leave the drives at school so that they don’t take them home and then bring a virus into your lab.

    Multiple Outlet Power Strips - It seems like we never have enough outlets. You can purchase multiple outlets that screw into the outlets in the wall or use power strips if you need the portability that they provide.

    Wireless Keyboard and Mouse - for you. There is already too much stuff on your desk. You will absolutely love the freedom of being able to stroll over to the smart board with your keyboard.

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Lesson Plan/Materials

Table of Contents
Lesson Plans

  1. Self Portraits ...........................Marilyn Traeger Polin, South Miami K-8 Center, Miami-Dade County
  2. Fantasy ....................................Marilyn Traeger Polin, South Miami K-8 Center, Miami-Dade County

Lesson Materials

We hope you'll join us in bringing the Arts and Technology to life in classrooms across the country!  Please click on x.  Submit Lesson Plans/Materials to find out how to share your classroom successes.

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Submit Lesson Plans

We hope you’ll join us in bringing the Arts and Technology to life in classrooms across the country!  Your lesson ideas will help teachers step into what is sometimes unknown, and even frightening, territory!  Your work will help others to realize the important links between the arts and technology.

To provide consistency in how information is presented online, we have developed a Lesson Plan Template.  This WORD document provides a guide to the information that we’d like you to share - and will expand to meet your needs!    Please use our Template to share your lesson ideas.

In addition, we’d really like to include examples of the support materials that make your lessons “work” in the classroom.  Things like worksheets, powerpoint presentations, worksheets, assignments, rubrics, assessment tools, photographs of students (and you!) in action, classroom video showing your process...and anything else that you use to bring your lessons to life for your students.  YEP...we want your support materials even if you don’t share a lesson plan at this time! to get your work from YOU to FAAE?  Click on the Submission Form.  In this form, we’ll collect info about you so that we can properly “credit” your work when it’s placed online.  In addition, you’ll be asked to give FAAE “permission” to share your work with the world!  (Imagine it!  You are about to impact the entire world!)  In this form, you’ll also be asked to upload your files (it’s really as easy as locating your file and clicking on it!)  If you are in “the advanced class” and want to send video files, there are directions for that, too. (By the way, we love video - and photos!)

Burn the midnight oil...and share your best work!  Linking the arts and technology is where it’s at in today’s classrooms!  Join us!

Questions:  [email protected]

Download the following WORD document; voila! you have the Template to use for your lesson plan submission.

You'll upload the completed Lesson Plan Template as well as any lesson materials as part of the Lesson Submission Form. If you won't be submitting a Lesson Plan at this time, please go directly to the Submission Form to upload your Lesson Materials.
Note: If the document below does not open immediately after clicking the link, please check your downloads folder.

Lesson Plan Template

Submission Form

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