Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Everyone Loves an Origin Story...


But in this case it's cool.


ADAM sits at his desk students leave the classroom. Some faces show boredom, others show confusion. Some students seem relieved the class is finally over. Adam watches them as they depart, then stares thoughtfully out the window. 

                           (to himself)
                     If only there was a way to make
                     this better.

Hi, I'm Adam, and this is the story of how Camera Obscura got started. Like many teachers, I fought the problem of meaningful engagement every day. By "meaningful engagement" I mean getting kids to do something they will learn from in a way that changes their understanding. Of course, the first step is getting them to do something at all.

As a teacher of electives at a K-12 charter school, my classes are pretty diverse. I usually have the whole range from seventh graders to seniors in the same class period, which presents some unique challenges. Often I found that when I was teaching at a level that worked for one age or maturity group (maturity doesn't always go by age), another group would be completely lost, or bored to tears, or asleep.

One day at a family gathering I was talking with my brother-in-law, who works in video games, about a project my graphic design class was doing - creating their own trading card game. He suggested I check out a YouTube channel called Extra Credits. That suggestion changed everything for me, because I found this:

I've always been a lover of strategy board games, among other types, and I couldn't believe none of this had occurred to me before. I started planning.

Enter: Liz.

Liz and I had worked together over the summer on a Chinese ESL arts camp that was hosted by our school. Here's a link to some videos about that, if you're interested. 

Knowing Liz's reliability and passion for photography, I asked her if she would be willing to help me revamp my photography class to be more engaging and super effective. She said yes, and Camera Obscura was born! A little while later, Liz adapted her senior project to fit the game. That was when things really took off and we got ambitious. We've been developing this curriculum for going on 8 months now, and our plans have only gotten bigger, hairier, and more ambitious. But you can read more about that in our other posts. Glad to have you on board.



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