Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ansel Adams and the ARTWALK!

Each spring, 4th graders in Mr. Pahl’s class participate in a learning experience about one of America’s greatest photographers and environmentalists, Ansel Adams. The unit begins with information about Mr. Adams’ life and upbringing. They learn about his social and academic difficulties in school due to his misshapen nose, his fits of hyperactivity, and his struggles with dyslexia. The 4th graders also examine his transition from pianist to photographer. It was said that art “brought substance, discipline, and structure to his frustrating and erratic youth” (William Turnage, Adams’ biographer).

Photo taken by Mari
 They are taught some of the specific characteristics of his approach to photography: carefully picking and thinking about your subject, “creating your shot,” being technically accurate, using “grayscale” (a concept he created), and taking pictures from interesting angles. Next, students carefully study his photographs noting the different elements they have learned and begin thinking about what they would like to photograph on our school grounds and neighboring Memorial Park.

Photo taken by Claire

Photo taken by Niklas

Photo taken by Georgia

Students also learn about Ansel Adams’ contribution to environmentalism. He was a fierce advocate for Yosemite National Park and the national park system as a whole. Adams also spoke out in favor of wilderness preservation, clean air and water, and the protection of many marine mammals. With the information from the Ansel Adams Unit combined with a program called Students For Salmon by Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Mr. Pahl’s 4th graders are discovering many different ways they can have a positive impact on their natural environment.

Photo taken by Sterling

Thank you Allied Arts for the Children’s Art Walk and special thanks to Belle Flora for hosting our work. Arts give children like us and like the young Ansel Adams an outlet and means to express ourselves that is invaluable. Thank you for your support.

Mr. Pahl and the students of room 12 at Sunnyland Elementary School

Here is a compilation of the students' work:

And you can see examples of student created slideshows of their work on each of their Google sites. Visit and then click on the name of a student on the left.

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