When faced with a problem, a slight change in viewpoint drastically changes our understand of the issue. Naturally, we want our students to have this flexibility of thought, but it’s such a complex idea.
I shot a series of three images, focusing differently each time, to show the power of taking a fresh look at a topic. Without even moving my camera, I’m able to see three completely different scenes.
Here’s a leafy, green plant against a blue sky with a building in the background. A simple scene without much complexity.
Suddenly the trees in the background have become clear, changing our entire perception of the scene. At first, I wasn’t even aware that those trees were there. Now they are obvious and dominate the image.
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Finally, focusing in a third way reveals a new detail: the browned and dry tip of a leaf. Before the change of focus, it was right in front of us yet also completely unnoticeable!
Want to illustrate this idea for your kids? Here’s a powerpoint of the three images.
A simple shift of focus adds an immediate layer of complexity and novelty that excites students. It gives them a new way to engage in grade-level curriculum, and doesn’t take hours of work from teachers.
Three quick ideas:
- Students sit alone at lunch while classmates pass them by. Can students’ refocus their attention to see and help their peers?
- We focus our discussion on main characters. Can students refocus on a minor character in a story, drawing out new insights?
- In a solar system lesson, the planets are naturally the focus. Can we refocus on planets’ moons and gain new understanding?
Ideas? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter as @ianabyrd.
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