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This content is taken from the Into Film & Tate 3 Year Project's online course, Developing Literacy: A Journey from Still Image to Film. Join the course to learn more.
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Self-reflection through film, photography and art

Portraiture, photography and moving image have been used to record, celebrate and explore who we are for as long as we have had these art forms. Filmmaker Hitchcock and artist Edward Hopper observed many aspects of the human condition through their given art forms to tell stories about different people and places. However, we also use image to tell our own stories, reflecting on the experiences we’ve had.

Take a look at a person’s Facebook feed; photographs will sit next to self-shot films, covering the key moments from their lives. Moments of triumph or pride, moments that made them laugh or cry, and of course some random pictures of food or cats. We curate our life story through images, now more than ever. As artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen states when discussing the Tate Year 3 Project:

‘There’s an urgency to reflect on who we are and our future […] to have a visual reflection on the people who make this city work. I think it’s important and in some ways urgent.’

As well as using imagery and moving image as an approach to improve literacy, we’ll also be using moving and still image to help our young people self-reflect; encouraging students to think about their place in the world and to consider their strengths, hopes, dreams and aspirations.

While Week 1 will focus on activities that can help to improve literacy, Week 2 will bring the idea of the ‘self’ far more into focus. We’ll consider how our own filmmaking and use of images (including personal photographs), can lead to excellent reflective writing opportunities.

The Tate Year 3 Project

The theme of identity is one of the key themes that the Tate are exploring in their newest project. The Tate Year 3 Project with Turner Prize and Oscar-winning artist, Steve McQueen, is a major new artwork, which will culminate in one of the most ambitious schools projects that London has ever seen.

They are inviting Year 3 pupils, alongside every Year 3 class across London, to take part in the largest group portrait ever made.

By taking part, pupils will see themselves in one of the most compelling British artworks of modern times.

If you’re London-based and would like more information, simply click here.

If you’re not a London-based school or don’t teach a Year 3 class, there are many other ways you can incorporate the unique power of imagery to help students become self-reflective in your classroom. This course will help you do that.


Throughout this course we’ll be inviting you to share your work on our Padlet wall. Padlet is a very simple way to share documents; you simply go to the URL provided and double click on the page or drop a document onto the page. You can find out more information about Padlet and how to use it by going to the Future Learn Padlet page.


Find an old photograph of yourself, ideally from your school days.

Using Padlet, upload the photograph with three words that describe yourself at that time of your life.

If you prefer not to share a photo of yourself, share three words that describe your photograph along with one thing that you remember about your school building or playground.

Share your work from this step on our Padlet wall.

Extension Activity

If you are interested in this topic, download Photo to Film, an Into Film resource supporting the Tate Year 3 Project, to use with your class. This cross-curricular resource focuses on analysing portrait photographs for their framing, context and character before translating this understanding into the making of a two-shot film. It is designed to be delivered in one half day PSHE/Art and Design/Literacy/Computing lesson, with a photo-gathering task completed in advance. Although it is aimed at 7-8 year olds, it can be adapted for all ages.

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This article is from the free online course:

Developing Literacy: A Journey from Still Image to Film

Into Film