Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Picture tells a 1000 words

This week I had a follow on lesson from the Primary and Secondary sources lesson we did a few weeks ago. In between me teaching them, the students went to the HK Museum of History where they applied their knowledge of Primary & secondary sources by taking a few photos of primary sources. They also figured out that Museums contain may primary sources.

This week was a lesson on learning from photographs and asking questions to find out more.

I created another bundle of photographs of HK in the 1950's. The 1950's was chosen as it wasn't too long ago, and the decade was a turning point in HK history.

The set of photographs are contained in this slideshare
Hong Kong in the 1950's from Dimac4

This is the thinking page with questions.

The students were broken up into groups of 2, 3 or 4. They were instructed to spread the pictures out so they could see them all together, they could group things together if they saw a connection.

We worked with I see, I think, I wonder.  They had a thinking sheet of questions they might focus on when looking at the pictures.  There was no writing involved, it was all dialogue. At the end of 15 minutes or so they were to share a fact about HK in the 1950's they had learned, and a big question they had about HK after viewing the photos.

It took a little while for the students to warm up to making connections, but once they had really looked at the photos beyond what they saw and made connections between what they knew and what was in the photographs, there was a lot of discussion and making sense of what they were looking at. They particularly liked the picture of the naked children and this got their attention. 

It was interesting in the students really had a bit of difficulty looking and creating facts about what they saw without injecting their own opinions, or assumptions. For instance - based on the image of the naked children, some of the students came to the conclusion that children had no clothes in the 1950's. When redirected to what the children doing in the photo they came to the conclusion that in some parts of HK, water had to be collected from a central pump. We then explored questions about this - why didn't they have water in their homes, then connected this to photos of the slums, and sampan living in contrast to the modern buildings image.  

Two of the most controversial images were the Chinese children learning on the street and the English learning in a proper school. The questions were quite insightful and built up to be quite 'phat questions". Why did the English have proper schools and the Chinese children didn't? Why didn't the HK government look after the Chinese people? How much rascism was in HK at this time? Why were so many people living in slums? Why were the English rich and the Chinese poor? Why did the English invade HK? 

These questions tied in nicely with the first unit they did earlier in the year on Human Rights. 

Some of the the things they learned was that Rickshaws were the taxis, The english had proper schools and the Chinese didn't, there were not many cars in HK at that time, there were slums in HK, people carried their goods over their shoulders. 

Something else I noticed was they always wanted to give answers to the questions ... based on their limited knowledge. They were trying to make connections with what they knew and how it could be the answer. 

Overall, it was a good 40 mins and I think the students are more aware of what they can learn from images. This could easily be transferred to older students, and I hope I get the chance to do that to see the different thinking and connections.

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