Curriculum Design

Integrating Photography Into the Common Core

Photography possesses many natural connections to the Common Core, and is an engaging subject for the art room. Even if you don’t have expensive cameras on hand, it seems every student over the age of 11 has a smart phone these days and schools are purchasing iPad carts like wildfire. Why not use this to your advantage!? Something is better than nothing. After conversations with several photo gurus and art colleagues and dabbling a bit in my own classroom, we’ve come up with some solid ideas to get you started!


Before deciding which direction to go, you will want to review your school’s curriculum standards for photography and/or art, as well as the subject matter of integration. Keep your connections very simple as you formulate lessons and have fun with it!

Math and Photography

Calculations with camera, lens, ISO and lighting. Learn about the Rule of Thirds and other proportion tricks.

Science and Photography

Chemical reactions with film, light, liquids, sensors, ect. Applying filters to photos and properties of light and color.

English and Photography

Picture is worth a thousand words….. Students can use photography to prompt story writing or artist statements.

History and Photography

Images document our history! Students could analyze photographs for historical content. Students could write about what they see and know using historical clues within an image (triple integration).

There are so many ways to connect, but you will want to ask yourself: Are you teaching through photography or with it?

For example, will the students learn math concepts through photographic problems; or, will you explore the close relationship of mathematics and photography? Will you teach about a particular history through photographs or will you teach about the history of photography?

The critical point to be made- maintain the integrity of each discipline. Photography is more than “tourist” behavior; and there’s more to the common core than standardization of knowledge. Integration is opportunity to elevate both curriculums and the students learning.

Think photography is only for older students? Think again. Check out this article that shows the amazing photos that can be taken with students as young as 2nd grade. When introduced properly, photography can be enjoyed by all.

What are other ways you connect or use photography across disciplines? 

Any creative and frugal photography projects you want to share?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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