National Writing Project

NWP Teachers’ Writing Featured on Smithsonian Photography Website

Date: January 15, 2008

Summary: Works by writing project teachers are featured on the Smithsonian Photography Initiative website click! photography changes everything, a collection of essays and stories discussing how photography shapes our culture and lives.


In the summer of 2008, NWP teacher-consultants had a unique opportunity. The Smithsonian Photography Initiative invited teacher-consultants to be among the first to contribute their reflections on the impact of photography and the photographic image in their lives in a new project: click! photography changes everything .

Increasingly, digital technologies support writers in developing compositions that blend word, sound, and image in powerful ways. Teaching writing, therefore, has come to involve the study of sound and image as well as text.

Writing Project Essays

Read the four essays below—including one by NWP's executive director, Sharon J. Washington—to see how photography has affected the lives and teaching of these teachers.

A teacher's response to a photograph helps to teach students how to begin the writing process.

Photography changes how we read the world

Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project, explains how a single photograph can be interpreted in multiple ways based on our individual perceptions and perspectives.

Photography changes how writing is taught

Ellen E. Hyatt, a teacher-consultant with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, teaches English at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, SC. She details how a teacher's response to a photograph can help instruct students on ways to begin the writing process.

Photography changes the ways we understand ourselves

Greg Graham teaches first-year writing composition as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is also a teacher-consultant with the Little Rock Writing Project. In this essay, a childhood photo of the author's fourth birthday party sparks bittersweet memories of growing up with four siblings.

Photography changes how family history is sustained

Cayetana Maristela, a teacher-consultant of the National Writing Project, teaches English Language Learners (ELL) at Indian Creek Elementary, Center School District, in south Kansas City. For Maristela, a family photograph from 1960 inspires this revealing diary entry.

Submit Your Story to click!

You can submit your photo and story anytime to be considered for the click! website. Smithsonian Photography Initiative curators review and feature new visitor-contributed text on a monthly basis.

The project focuses on six theme categories, how photography changes:

  • who we are
  • what we do
  • what we see
  • where we go
  • what we want
  • what we remember.

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