This could be implemented as a school-wide project, including teachers from a variety of disciplines, and include historical research, interviews, writing, art-making, and more. It could also occur each year to create a record of your school and neighborhood’s history—and what students want to see for its future.
Define the characteristics of your school community based on people, places, and events. Create a list of the class’s ideas.
Research the history of your school. This might include interviews with teachers, family, and community members as well as finding sources on the internet and in the library.
Discuss how you are learning about history, as well as contributing to and preserving the school and neighborhood’s history.
Share your findings with a larger community. Remember visual arts are a way to understand and exchange ideas, so how can findings be shared visually? Think about the variety of places to share these ideas, including bulletin boards, the yearbook, school newspaper, website, blog, etc.
Discuss how your students’ research and discoveries might lead to visions about the future of their school and the community surrounding it.
Category: Identity and Community
, Observation & interpretation
Explore ideas of how people, places, and events shape a community. How does it relate to someone’s sense of place? How can communities change over time?
Students should pick a variety of Teenie Harris and Picturing the City photographs that they think convey the idea of community and/or a sense of place.
Brainstorm how each photograph conveys the idea of community. What are the elements that make up a community? In what ways did the artist accomplish this visually? Make a list of the class’s observations and ideas.
Ask students what is their community? How can you be part of more than one community? What are the people, places, and events that come together to create those communities? What about online communities? How do they compare to physical places? Make a list.
How do the physical and virtual communities you belong to relate to your identity? How do you shape those places— and how do they shape you?
Use photography to document a shared community: the school community! Discuss how you might use the techniques explored through Teenie Harris and Picturing the City photographs to take new photographs.
Be observant of places, people, and events around your school.
Compare photographs by Teenie Harris and Picturing the City artists with the photographs that students took of their school community. What can you learn about the people, places, and events in each? In what ways does that affect the sense of place associated with those communities or neighborhoods? How do the artists capture a sense of place in both?
Category: Identity and Community
, Making inferences
This works nicely as a follow up to the pre-visit suggestion for locating your school and the museum on a city map.
Revisit this map to locate the Hill District and other places Teenie Harris photographed. Locate places in downtown Pittsburgh found in Picturing the City.
Find or take photographs from your school neighborhood. Use a variety of these photographs to “illustrate” the map.
Discuss what these photographs might tell us about these different neighborhoods. How can we tell some places have changed over time? What are the relationships among neighborhoods visible through these photographs? Why have they changed?
What are students still curious about? Assign research to answer questions about places, events, and changes over time. Discuss how students’ research and discoveries might lead to visions about the future of their locations.