Fundamentals of the Curriculum:

  • The curriculum combines art, visual and media literacy, and technology lessons.
  • Masterworks are shown side-by-side with student work during reviews and discussions.
  • Teachers lead hands-on activities in every class.
  • Visual literacy depends upon people feeling comfortable talking about visual images. In every lesson, students are encouraged to talk about photographs through an open inquiry process, which in turn encourages open dialogue among students while the teacher guides the discussion. Aperture’s teaching artists use Visual Thinking Strategies as a resource for engaging students. To read more about VTS, please visit the Visual Thinking Strategies website.
  • The twenty-week curriculum aligns with the New York City Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Visual Arts, and can be adapted to fit after-school, summer, and museum programs.

Part 1 (Lessons 1–10):

Programmatic Goals:
Students will learn to understand photographic form and use related vocabulary to support their analyses of photographs, as well as articulate the process of creating meaning through form, content, and context. Students will expand their visual literacy by learning to look, and by decoding and encoding images. Students will learn through direct involvement with the process and equipment used to create objects and visual images.Essential Question:
How do images create and communicate meaning? At the close of Part 1 of the program, students will:
The language and form of photographic images.
Understand: Photography is a form of communication with method and purpose.
Do: Decipher an image’s meaning. Use visual and photographic vocabulary (shape, form, texture, color, frame, perspective, foreground, background, point of view, style, documentary, portrait) to articulate meaning. Defend interpretations with evidence. Create photographs with intention.

Part 2 (Lessons 11–20):

Programmatic Goals:
Students will deepen their visual literacy by planning and creating photographic essays. They will consider the role of photographic images within various media. They will select and sequence images to understand how context influences meaning, and will create cohesive photobooks that communicate visual themes.Essential Questions:
How do images speak to each other?
How do they communicate their meaning as a group?
How does context influence meaning? At the close of the program, students will:
The language and form of photographic images. How sequential presentation of images influences the meaning of single images and groups of images.
Understand: Photographs influence each other through proximity, sequence, and layout. Image selection matters, and grouping a selection of photographs, whether small (the photo-essay) or large (the photobook), is a form of communication with method and purpose.
Do: Create a coherent body of photographic work. Use photography and design vocabulary (edit, sequence, layout, design, text, narrative, etc.) to articulate meaning. Explain editorial decisions with evidence. Create books with intention.

Aperture On Sight at Your site!

Would you like to bring Aperture On Sight to your school or educational program? Aperture Foundation teaching artists, who helped to write, develop and test the Aperture On Sight curriculum, are available to provide direct educational services to your school, camp, museum or after-school/weekend program. Learn more here.

If you have questions about Aperture On Sight or wish to speak with someone about the program, please email Aperture's Educational Partnerships Coordinator, Alice Proujansky.

Aperture On Sight was conceived by Sarah Anne McNear, Deputy Director for External Affairs and Public Programs, and was written by Sarah Anne McNear and Alice Proujansky, Coordinator for Educational Partnerships, with contributions by Zalika Azim, Francis Dorenbaum, Schuyler Duffy, Adair Ewin, Becca Imrich, Alexis Lambrou, Christopher Lopez, Pete Pin, Nancy Schneider, José Soto, Emily Stewart, and Ashley Strazzinski. The program has been piloted in the following New York schools: Grand Street Settlement Beacon Community Center, Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School, M.S. 136 Charles O. Dewey, I.S. 61 Leonardo Da Vinci, Storefront Academy Harlem, Highland Park Community School, and East Side Community High School.

Aperture’s youth program Aperture On Sight: Teaching Visual Literacy through Photography is made possible, in part, with support from The Bay and Paul Foundations, The Charina Endowment Fund, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Reba Judith Sandler Foundation, The Tinker Foundation, and The William Talbott Hillman Foundation, and a gift from Agnes Gund. Additional public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, Manhattan Borough President’s Office, and Grand Street Settlement.

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