Lesson Plan: The Place We Call Home

Written By: Debra L. Knutson
Grade Level: 8th

Time Allotment

Twenty Class Periods, One Day Long Field Trip


“The Place We Call Home” is an interdisciplinary unit in which students study various aspects of northwest Minnesota through different lenses. The focus of the art lesson will be to capture aspects of Buffalo River State Park using digital photography. The graphic below illustrates how the lessons of the different classes intersect and dovetail. The project culminated with a field trip to MSUM’s Regional Science Center on May 27, 2010. Each student’s final product was a photograph and a haiku poem that demonstrated his/her understanding of some aspect of the change this place has experienced.

Lesson Plan -
Buffalo River State Park Lesson Plan
Supplemental -
Field Trip Worksheet

Subject Matter

Digital Photography/Landscapes & Nature

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the changes that have occurred throughout the history of photography.
  • Learn the basic principles of photography: subject, time, and light.
  • Be familiar with vocabulary relating to the subject of photography.
  • *Be familiar with photographer Ansel Adams.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the operation and use of digital cameras.
  • Be able to use composition, lighting, and angles to capture an image that reflects change in the natural setting of the park.
  • Edit and prepare their photograph for public display.
  • Write a haiku poem that demonstrates a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of the landscape found within Buffalo River State Park.

Media Components - Video/Web


Keynote slideshow on camera parts Keynote slideshow on history of photography Old cameras and photographs Digital cameras for student use Computers and color printer Photography paper, mat board for photographs STUDENT MATERIALS: Students may choose to use their own camera on the day of the field trip.

Teacher Preparation

Review websites for content. Become familiar with the use and operation of the cameras you will be using. Assemble necessary supplies such as cameras and schedule computer lab time.

Introductory Activities

  1. Introduce students to short video on photography found on Brain Pop: Arts & Music/Concepts/Photography
  2. ‘Show & Tell’ time looking at old cameras and photographs.
  3. Discuss changes in taking and processing photos.
  4. Visit websites and gather information regarding the various ways photography is used, such as photojournalism, commercial, etc.

Learning Activities

Students take short quiz on photography found at the end of the Brain Pop video. This establishes what the students know before we begin our unit of study. Daily photography assignments based on subjects of the teachers choice.

Culminating Activity

Field Trip to Buffalo River State Park Photography exhibits of student art in the community Online gallery of student photos

Cross-Curricular Activity

Language Arts: Lessons on point of view/perspective. Writing the final haiku poem for project.
Math: Lessons on the velocity and discharge of the Buffalo River.
Social Studies: Unit on history of the Red River Valley.
Science: Lesson on using GPS. Perspectives on geologic history of the RRV.

Community Connections

Guest speakers: Guest speaker on Glacial Lake Agassiz and the Red River Valley Guest speaker on flora and fauna of Red River Valley and environments Photography exhibits within the community along with student written reflections. made.