"Smile" You're on Central Camera

Activity Overview: 

Students create collages using Microsoft Image Composer from photographs taken with a digital camera at a school event. The students post these collages on the school Web site.


  • Students will master the use of the digital camera.

  • Students will master the use of Microsoft Image Composer.

  • Students will create collages from photographs taken at school events.

  • Students will gain immediate gratification from their pictures and collages being placed on the school Web site.

Students create collages using Microsoft Image Composerfrom photographs taken with a digital camera at a school event.

(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)


Curriculum Standards


National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators

Students will listen to a brief overview of the project. Discussion will include the popularity of the site as well as the importance of having permission from everyone included in the collage.


Grades 9-12: 2, 3, 4

Students will view hard copies of past collages on a display board that exemplify good and bad examples.

Arts: Grades 9-12, Visual Arts: 2


Students will view the actual school Web site on a projector and smart board.


Grades 9-12: 2

Students will critique the actual collages on the Web site, establishing the components of a good collage in their mind.

Arts: Grades 9-12, Visual Arts: 2, 6

Grades 9-12: 2, 3

Students will select a disk with pictures and work through a step-by-step procedure to create a sample collage while advanced photo students demonstrate the procedure on the smart board.

Arts: Grades 9-12, Visual Arts: 2


Students create a “test”collage with the following elements evident:

  1. At least 3 pictures evident.

  2. At least 1 altered image evident.

  3. Use of Type evident.

  4. Use of edge techniques evident.

  5. Use of shadowing evident on at least 1 image.

Arts: Grades 9-12, Visual Arts: 2, 3

Grades 9-12: 1, 3, 4

Print a hard copy.



Class critique of finished product.

Arts: Grades 9–12, Visual Arts: 3, 5, 6

Grades 9-12: 5, 6

Students apply the class discussion to all future collages.

Arts: Grades 9-12, Visual Arts: 6


3 1/2 Floppy Disks
Sony Digital Mavica. Sony. Available: http://www.sony.com

Microsoft Image Composer. Microsoft. Available: http://www.microsoft.com

Teacher-Created Materials:
Handouts with step-by-step instructions
MIC Collage by CHS Photo Students

Photos on disks

Initially the students will create a collage that is not intended for use on the Web site. We will critique these for Design Content, Clarity of Idea, and Composition. Every student will be responsible for creating a Web collage each six weeks. They will incorporate what they learned during this initial trial run in all future collages.

Jean Kunath, Art and Photography Teacher, Central High School, Victoria, Virginia

Marie Gee, County Technology Director

This activity occurs at the beginning of the semester because it needs to be utilized throughout the entire year. The particular activity had to be reenacted because we were 4 weeks into the semester. The activity usually takes one 90-minute class period for the students to fully understand the importance of capturing images on the camera and creating interesting collages for inclusion on the school Web site.

My students cover almost every event at Central and create interesting collages. Over the last three years, we have learned that great collages come from great photographs. The students must properly understand the use of the camera and the importance of capturing an interesting image, then good collages easily occur. Also, I’ve learned to encourage them to “alter” only 2-3 photos in the collage. Altering too many images in a collage, coupled with trying to be too creative, sometimes makes the collage too busy. The absolute “BEST EXPERIENCES” are when the parents call, as well as other relatives, and relay their excitement at seeing their child’s pictures on the Internet. We are careful to include only students with parental consent to appear on the school effort. At the beginning of the year, we make a great effort to inform all students all the details of our project. Very few parents refuse to sign the permission forms. We never use first and last names of anyone appearing in a collage or anyone making a collage.

Technology Resources:
We started taking the photos for the County Technology Director, Marie Gee. She eventually asked us to try making the collages to help her out with the many images she was receiving. She made sure that Microsoft Image Composer was available for use in the computer lab. We have 24 computers loaded with Microsoft Image Composer in the lab, as well as three in my classroom. We also have the use of two digital cameras. Microsoft 2000 now offers Photo Draw, a comparable program with the same capabilities. However, my students get great results from working with Image Composer.

School Background Information:

  • Victoria is a quiet, rural community of approximately 1,800 citizens. Central High School has 578 students. Around 50% of the students are White, 49% are African American, and 1% are Hispanic. Forty nine percent of the students receive free or reduced price lunch.

Teaching Strategy:
“Hands-on” is definitely the best strategy for my new photo students to gain the best knowledge. By giving them old disks from past events, they get immediate satisfaction and get excited about doing their real collage.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Active Involvement is evident in this particular lesson. The students participate in a hands-on activity involving the creation of a collage using digital images.

Patterns and Connections appear throughout the lesson. The students utilize critical thinking in the selection of the photos, as well as the choices made during their collage creation.

Informal Learning is evident continuously during the lesson. The students are comfortable working at the individual computers and appreciate the assistance from their peers in Photo II.

Direct Experience occurs as the students look at the examples posted around the room that have appeared previously on the Web. They continue to incorporate this principle of learning as they view current examples on the actual school Web site.

They receive Frequent Feedback from myself as well as the advanced photo students. They appreciate the suggestions offered for improvement.

Student Characteristics:
Most of the students have a genuine interest in photography and are very exited about taking pictures that will be placed immediately on a school Web site. Numerous people visit our school site, which results in constant positive feedback for the students.

Evolution of the Activity:
We have emerged from downloading pictures from an old digital camera to taking images with an advanced camera that appear directly on a disk. The pictures often appear on the finished collage the very next day. In the past, the finished product sometimes took a week from start to finish. The students and community appreciate the efficiency of the pictures appearing directly after the occurrence of the event.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)