Here are five project ideas to inspire students to use both writing and art to create a work that is powerful and new.
1. The Portrait Photo Essay
A photo essay is a wonderful way to educate and engage the public. Whereas one photo can catch a viewer’s interest, multiple photos can tell an in-depth story. Creating a portrait photo essay is a combination of art and journalism. You begin with planning. What story do you want to tell? Each individual photo contributes to the theme, the structure and the message of your final work. For a portrait essay, decide what subjects to photograph and interview. How much text will you use? How will you present your work. Examples: Humans of New York, The People You Meet at McDonald’s.
2. The Comic Strip
Comic strips and comic books don’t have to be funny. A comic strip can be an inroad into telling a difficult story. It can be used to illustrate and illuminate an important story or issue. Begin by planning your story and sketching out your frames. Will it be an informational comic strip (nonfiction) or a story (either fiction or nonfiction)? You can draw the images or use found art. Examples: American Born Chinese, Stitches, Pyongyang.
3. The Digital Poster
An interactive digital poster, such as those on Glogster or Biteslide, allows you to bring together text, photographs, videos, screenshots and other digital content in a meaningful mash-up. Examples: Ancient History Project, African American History.
4. The Short Film
Making a short film is easier than it has ever been. Students can use an inexpensive digital video camera and upload their results to a program like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. You choose the content, the images and the music. Search “filmmaking for beginners” on YouTube to find many simple videos on how to get started. Examples: Break Bad Habits, Real Friends Read, Freedom.
5. An Online Book
Using a program like Storybird.com or Utellstory.com, students can create a short online storybook that can include spoken as well as written text, images and video. It is an open and accessible platform for both the creator and the viewer/reader. Examples: The Dying Art of Pottery, The Bully Club, When It Fell.