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Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

Written by James Brown
November 27, 2017


  • Quadcopter (Recommended models: DJI Phantom Standard or DJI Mavic)
  • Ipad, IPhone or IPad Mini (download DJI app as per instructions)
  • Extra DJI battery (optional – for extended flight time during sessions with youth)
  • Computers with Photoshop CC installed (at least 1 CPU for everyone 2 students)
  • Micro SD USB Card reader (to transfer drone images onto a computer)
  • Color Printer or access to a printer
  • 16”x20” Wooden Screen frames (3)
  • Screen printing ink (various colors)
  • 10” Squeegee
  • Latex Gloves
  • Framed Canvases (Wood or Metal)
  • Projector (recommended)
  • Internet access (recommended)

Supply Budget Estimate: $1,600 –  $2,000

Before program begins:
Spend time with quadcopter reading instructions and getting familiar with its operation. Consult a local drone specialist. Train any other key staff on the basic safety and drone operations. 

Session 1: community mapping

  • Schedule an urban planner, community historian or long time resident to lead a conversation with the group. Have students prepare interview questions.  Have a large map out on a table or projected from a computer while the conversation is taking place.
  • Questions:
    • What are some things the group may not know about their community?
    • Where are the assets in the community?
    • What should we know about the history of the neighborhood?
    • What are some current initiatives taking place that impact our community?

Session 2: Drone Safety and flight tests (DJI Resources for safe flying)

  • Rules, regulations and guidelines for your region/city
  • Learn the parts of the drone and the controls on the remote.
  • Practice taking off and landing
  • Practice basic maneuvers and photography at low altitudes
  • Take an aerial shot of your project group!

Session 3: Location selection and Photography Basics

  • Students work in small groups and use local maps to identify compelling or interesting areas of their neighborhood that they want to photograph.  What parts of the community are visually interesting? What parts of the community are important to capture and discuss?
  • Photography basics:
    • Learn the rule of thirds
    • Consider how a close-up or wide shoot of the same thing tell very different stories
    • ISO — Keep in Low
    • Resource: 10 Surefire Drone Photography Tips

Session 4: Drone shoot Day 1

  • Arrive or meet at first locations. Have students take turns flying the drone and taking pictures. Encourage students to take pictures at different angles and altitudes.

Session 5: Drone shoot Day 2

  • Students take turns taking aerial pictures at second location.

Session 6: Drone shoot Day 3

  • Students take turns taking aerial pictures at third location.

Session 7: Review images and reflect, local artist or historian workshop

  • Have images printed or compiled on a computer connected to a projector. 
  • Invite each student to say something about each image they took. Have the group respond with feedback, ideas or questions. Encourage the group to start thinking about creative applications for the images.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • What do you see? Is their deeper meaning in this image?
    • What else can we say about this image?
    • What images stand out to you? Why?
  • Optional: Invite a local photographer, photojournalist or visual artist to participate in the review. Invite them to offer ideas and ask questions.

Session 8: Example artwork and idea board

  • Examples of Aerial Art: For added inspiration have students look at the work of Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu and other similar artists. What do you like (or not like) about their work? What inspiration might you draw from this?
  • Have students create in idea board by pinning their actual images to a cork board or white board. Students can then add words and phrases and also make additional sketches. Encourage students to draw themes from the words and images.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • What are all the images and words telling us about our community?
    • Can we cluster together some words and images to create themes?
    • How can we manipulate the images and use our creativity to further communicate the themes and ideas?

Session 9: Intro to Photoshop (Photoshop Tutorial for Beginners)

  • Import images into Photoshop and have students explore the basic functions such as applying effects, inserting text, using the lasso tool to create layers, using the paint bucket to fill colors.  
  • *GIMP is a free image editing software that can be used in place of Photoshop.

Sessions 10 & 11: Photoshop continued

  • Students continue to work with images in Photoshop. Encourage students to experiment with images by turning them black & white or adding color saturation.

Session 12: Photoshop completion

  • Students should finalize their digital images and export them in preparation for screen printing or digital printing.

Session 13: Screen printing planning session

  • Students should finish exporting Photoshop files in preparation for screen-printing (or digital printing. Digital prints can be further transformed by having students cut out objects, use paint and markers and turn cut-outs into a collage. This is a recommended option if you do not have screen printing capability.)  

Session 14: Field trip to art museum or art-making space

  • If time and budget allow, organize a field trip to a local art museum, gallery or art-making space.  Promote conversation about the actual meaning of the art as well they way it is presented.
  • *This break in the art-making is so that staff can have the images “burned” on the frames.  Identify a local screen print shop in your area who can do this for you or create your own screens by following this DIY Quick guide to making screens and ordering a screen printing starter kit like this one.

Sessions 15 – 17: Screenprinting

  • Students screen print images onto designated materials — Canvas, metal or wood all work well.  Here’s a DIY Quick Guide to screen printing.

Session 18: Finalize Screenprints

Sessions 19 & 20: Exhibition Prep & Event Planning

  • Students work collaboratively to design the installation of the gallery. Gallery exhibit can be a stand alone event or a component of a larger culminating showcase or community gathering. 
  • *Make sure students are ready to speak about their work and engage audience members.

Gallery Exhibition & Presentation

Re-Group and Reflect

  • Students re-group to discuss the experience and complete a self-reflection survey.
  • Reflection Questions:
    • What did you like most about this project/process?
    • What did you find challenging?
    • What did you learn?
    • What would you do differently next time?
    • Did this project/process challenge your thinking about art or community? If so, how?
    • How would you describe social practice art?