Everyday Projects Curriculum Lesson 6

Everyday Projects Education Curriculum

Produced by Everyday Projects in partnership with PhotoWings

We’re excited to bring you a new curriculum created in partnership with The Everyday Projects!

The curriculum utilizes photography to encourage middle and high school students to learn about stereotypes, representation, journalism, and truth in storytelling.

Over the course of ten classroom sessions, students will gain a broader understanding of life around the world, and can then apply those lessons to their own lives and help control of the narrative of their own homes and communities. In the process, they will become more aware and discerning news consumers and global citizens while learning practical photography and journalism skills.

In doing this we help create new generations of storytellers and audiences that challenge stereotypes that distort our understanding of the world and recognize the need for multiple perspectives in portraying the cultures that define us.

Common Core Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.D: Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
  • CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Teacher Preparation


Students will need to access their photos as well as photos made by their classmates. Groups of students will need to be created in advance.

Online Media:

Lesson 6: Learning from each other by giving and receiving constructive criticism

Length: 55 min
Learning Objectives Students will gain experience analyzing and critiquing photographs made by themselves and others. Students will be able to:

  • Select images that best convey their narratives for an outside audience

  • Think critically about the photos made by their peers and articulate constructive criticism

  • Work with a group to select photos made by multiple students for a presentation to the class


Have a few examples of student work ready to show the class – some very strong examples and a few that need work.

Depending on the size of your class, don’t feel that you need to show one photo per student. These reviews are a chance to give the class overall some encouragement and to show them what they can learn from each other’s work. If you have started an Instagram feed for your class project, another option is to choose one or more student photos and post them before the start of each class, and then explain your selections to your students.


Part 1: Select and Critique Photos – 25 minutes

Step 1: Students will select their best photos to share with the class. (They can still make more photos – in fact this lesson will likely help them see what kinds of images they still need to make.) Ideally they will come to class having already made these selections, or at least having thought through it quite a bit, so that this process will be largely done, allowing more time for the small group critiques, which might be time-consuming.  

1. Explain to the students that this exercise is intended to help them progress toward creating a class exhibition at the end of the unit, which ultimately will require them to not only select high quality images, but to also select images based on other attributes, such as variety, theme, narrative, etc.

2. The students should create two folders – “Yes” and “No” – to help them sort through their images. Encourage them to limit the number they choose for the “yes” folder to no more than six.  

3. In selecting their images, students should be thinking about how they will present their photos to their small group. It is important to be considering variety, to be showing as many different kinds of images as possible.


★ Check-In

★ Use a simple checklist for each student. Are the selections the student's best work? Are there a variety of photographs represented?
★ Use the Lesson 6 Photography Rubric to to critique student photographs. You may also want to distribute this to the students to critique each other's work, or you may find the conversation is more natural if they don't feel glued to this document.

Step 2: In small groups, students will present their images to their fellow classmates and participate in constructive critiques of the images.

1. Divide the class into small groups (three or four students each), and have each student spend about three minutes sharing their images with the group. As students present their photos, they should be describing the qualities of each image that led them to select them as their best.

2. After each presentation, the other students in the group should spend a couple of minutes giving feedback.


❖ Teacher Notes

❖ It can be difficult for students to learn how to critique the work of their peers. Suggest to them that they start by giving a compliment to the photographer, highlight at least one thing they like, before moving on to making suggestions about what they would like to see changed. Finishing with another compliment can help draw the sting of any criticism they might have offered.
❖ Of course it is also difficult to have your work critiqued. Explain to the students that they don’t have to take everyone’s feedback and that they still want to be true to their own voice/vision, but that it’s important to listen to and process everyone’s thoughts.

3. Ask the students to reflect for a moment on the process of critiquing and being critiqued. What is the value of receiving feedback from others? Why is receiving critical feedback hard for us, how does it make us feel, and how can we learn to take feedback without taking it personally or finding the process too painful? How can you use the feedback received to further edit your pictures or change your selection?

4. As a preliminary step to Part 2, have the students watch this video on selecting photos. It should automatically start play at 5:58, a section on Photo Editing.


Part 2: showcasing to the class – 20 minutes

Each group will present a selection of photographs to the entire class. These images will be chosen by the group from the photos that were critiqued in the group sessions. This exercise is intended to help get the students begin thinking about what will eventually go into an exhibition of images from the entire class, while continuing to refine their critiquing skills.

1. Once they have watched the video, each group should select 5-7 photos from among those presented by their peers to show to the entire class. They should select at least one photo from each student, and think about what they learned from the video while making selections.

2. Choose one member of the group to make the presentation to the class. As the students present the photos, they should be explaining why each was selected. This will help the students continue to refine their understanding of what goes into making a good photograph and how to construct a narrative from a group of images.

3. If time permits, the entire class should engage in a critique of each presentation, much like what was done in each small group.

4. Teachers should end the class by explaining that this process should help the students begin to think about the photos they are making in a broader way. How could their images work together with the images of their peers to create a classwide exhibition? Or would it be more effective to break up the class’s exhibition into chapters that represent the work of the students in groups? Are there other ways the students could imagine putting together a group exhibition? What kinds of themes – in group form or spanning the entire class – could be incorporated?

PHOTO NEXT -> 5 minutes

Arriving at this Photo Next assignment should be a continuation of the class discussion. As they finish discussing how they want their class exhibition to be organized, this will help them assess how they feel about their collective body of work and identify any gaps.

Depending how your class is scheduled, this may be the last class before they edit their work. So, at this point, they should identify as a class: are there things we wanted to showcase from our community that we haven’t photographed yet (or would like to make stronger photographs of)? Which student can photograph a specific element that is remaining; can the students self-assign some remaining photography?

Some questions they may want to consider at this point:

  • Are there parts of the community – local businesses, popular local attractions, hidden gems that they know are special, etc. – that they want to showcase in their exhibition, but have yet to photograph?

  • Do the class photographs show a variety of activities, moments, expressions, and emotions?

  • Do the class photographs show a variety of types of photographs? For example, has anyone photographed a strong overview of the community, or a part of it? Has anyone photographed portraits? Etc.

  • Do the class photographs show the community as the students want it to be seen, both by other members of the community and by the outside world?


    In this additional video from our partners PhotoWings, students can hear from photographer Michael Williamson as he discusses storytelling and, importantly, how to include a narrative arc in all stories, specifically in photo essays.

    After the video, you can lead your class in a brief discussion. Here are some potential prompts: 

    • What were the key elements of storytelling that Williamson described?
    • What were some of the elements of photography that Williamson mentioned, and how can they be used as visual cues in a story?
    • As your students continue to photograph and edit their projects, how might they incorporate some of these visual storytelling lessons into their own work?


    Award-winning photographer Michael Williamson draws on his years of experience to give us insights into how he creates successful visual stories. This interview was conducted by PhotoWings in partnership with The Eddie Adams Workshop.Michael Williamson was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in a series of foster homes and orphanages in more than 15 states. It was an experience he says that has led to his interest in documenting the plight of the homeless for the past 18 years. He and a collaborator, writer Dale Maharidge, have produced three books. The pair's book "And Their Children After Them" received a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1990. He shared a second Pulitzer Prize in 2000 with colleagues Carol Guzy and Lucian Perkins for their coverage of Kosovo. A photographer with The Washington Post since 1993, Williamson was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the 1995 Pictures of the Year contest and Photographer of the Year in 2000 by the National Press Photographers Association.

This curriculum is produced by Everyday Projects, and presented in partnership with PhotoWings.