Tuesday Part 1: Cropping & Editing

You can read Arnie Aprill's write-up of today (with lots of photos) here.

How we started: reflection

Unlike previous days, the room had about seven round tables in it. We sat around the tables, wherever we wanted. 

We started today with a half an hour of reflection. Kurt gave us a "connect-extend-challenge" structure, and told us to use it or ignore it, whichever felt best to us. We wrote our reflection on a small piece of stiff paper, and were told that these will all be displayed, and that all our reflections will be bound together in a book that we will take home with us. Here's a bit more about the connect-extend-challenge structure:

Connect: How are yesterday's ideas, experience, and information connected to what you already know?

Extend: What new ideas did you get that extended or pushed your thinking in new directions?

Challenge: What is still challenging for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings, puzzles do you still have?

After about twenty minutes of writing time, we shared with the person next to us, then Kurt elicited comments from the group. He framed this by saying "If you're a person who usually speaks, wait this time. If you're a person who usually waits, speak." Sure enough, we heard from very different people. 

I jotted down notes about the kinds of reflections people shared. Here are the types of things we heard:
  1. Connecting the practices we did to learning theory
  2. Sharing an anecdote from a particular exercise that illustrates a point
  3. Sharing a personal challenge that you're working on
  4. Connecting our experience to the experience of your students
Kurt closed the reflection by pointing out four aspects of the reflection that had been included deliberately:
  1. It will turn into a tangible product (a booklet)
  2. We have a prompt that we can use or not use, as we see fit
  3. Time to write alone
  4. Building community through sharing out

Workshop 1: framing a photo and editing a story

The first workshop was led by Cynthia Weiss, an artist and educator. My understanding is that a lot of what we did was developed in Project AIM ("AIM" stands for "Arts Integration Mentorship").

Cynthia opened the session by saying "Yesterday we focused on us, and who we are. Today we are working on the text." 

She introduced our work on text by beginning with photographs, and "photographers as storytellers." Here's how the first workshop went:

1. Choose a photo - On each table was a stack of printouts of photos by the Mexican photographer Flor Garduño. We were told to each take one. I took the one that was handed to me, other people walked around the room looking at different tables before selecting a photo. Cynthia provided time for this, then said "I want to give you time to choose a photo that speaks to you, but added "What we're going to do will work with any photo." 

Here's the photo I chose:

2. Observe your photo - "Notice what's in the frame, where the light is coming from, how the figures are framed within the image, what is in the foreground, what is in the background, what is not in view? What parts of their bodies are in the frame and what parts are not?

3. Talk about what you observe with the person next to you - After she brought this to a close, Cynthia pointed out that "One of our biggest questions as teachers is how long to let something go on for."

4. Write the story of your photo in 24 words

I wrote one 24-word story, then noticed that my neighbor had written hers about the moment of taking the photo, and started again. Here's my first story:

He was paid in lilies. Mourners always had a few extra when they visited their subterranean relatives, and they laid them outside his crypt.

And here's my second story, which imagines how the photo came to be:

"Nice shell suit."


"Want to be in a photo?"



"Will I look cool?"


Will I look scary?"



"Put on this mask."

5. Crop your photo with the largest viewfinder (the viewfinder is  rectangle of black construction paper with a rectangular hole cut into it. There were viewfinders neatly stacked on our table when we came in.)

Here's my first cropped photo:

6. Shorten your story to 12 words - You can only use words from your original 24-word story, but you can rearrange them. It may start to sound more like a poem than a story, and that's fine. 

Story 1: 

Mourners paid in their relatives' lilies. They laid them outside his crypt.

Story 2: 

"Nice shell suit."


"Want to be in a photo?"



By this point, I was incredibly anxious to share my story with people, and to hear theirs, but we kept working individually for a while longer... 

7. Crop your photo with the medium-sized viewfinder:

Here's my second cropped photo:

Cropping, it turns out, is a low-stakes way to experience "killing your darlings." My favorite thing about the photo is the pose of the kid in the dog mask (and his/her shell suit, who's pattern includes leopard heads) but framed by the medium-sized viewfinder, it looked pretty pedestrian, and I vastly preferred the view of the graveyard with the hill behind it on the lefthand side of the photo. So I went with that.

8. Shorten your text to six words - (your new text does not need to describe your latest cropped image - the two processes are separate)

1. Mourners paid in their relatives' lilies.

2. Want to be in a graveyard?

I didn't intend for my cropped photo to influence my story, but I found both drifting away from the kid in the dog mask and into the graveyard, along with the image. 

9. Crop with the smallest viewfinder (I haven’t measured the viewfinder dimensions, but I traced them into my notebook)

Here is my final cropped photo:

10. Shorten your text to three words:

1. Mourners paid lilies.

2. A graveyard want

11. FINALLY, share with the person next to you

I loved doing this. It was fun, it was simple, but it was full of all kinds of interesting resonance. We didn’t spend that much time discussing it, but we could have gone on for hours. One of the many things I love about it is that the two processes are, to an extent, metaphors for each other - or, put more prosaically, at least one aspect of this will appeal to just about everyone. 

More to come about today...