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    Laura Totten

    Grades: 9 -12

    Room: 502

    Best form of contact: Laura.Totten@mercerislandschools.org

    Phone: 206-230-6313

    Courses: Digital Photography, Advanced Digital Photography, AP 2-D Art & Design

    Extra curricular: Key Club Adviser

    Hello Mercer Island students and families!

    I’m Ms. Totten, the CCR Photography teacher at MIHS, and I'm excited to see what my 7th year here brings. I received my Masters in Teaching from Seattle University in 2012, and I have a B.A. in Journalism/Advertising. I've been working in the photography industry since 2000, and have had my own business since 2003. I've been blessed with photographing nearly 200 weddings, more than 300 families, the Seahawks and Sounders, and various bands and musicians for KEXP. Before I started my own business I assisted fine art, fashion, commercial, product, portrait, and wedding photographers for three years, giving me a wealth of experiences before starting my own company.

    Since 2005 I have been involved with Youth in Focus, a Seattle-based organization that offers free darkroom and digital classes to teens. Because of my incredible experience working with these students, I decided to pursue teaching so I could work with teens full time.

    My teaching philosophy is based on synergy, the concept defined as “two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.” By learning from and teaching to the strengths of my students, my classroom becomes a creative workshop where our experiences continuously build upon one another.

    This year we will study and incorporate Principles of Design and Elements of Art to create compelling images. Through a variety of lessons exploring master photographers and innovative techniques, students will define their artistic voice while building their technical and social skills in real-world settings. I believe every student has relevant insights and passions to share, and I look forward to discovering these jewels daily in my classroom.

    There are many ways for you to you be involved with your kids in this class. Ask them to teach you about composition and creating dynamic images by incorporating the Elements of Art. Teaching is the highest form of understanding, so you should be impressed when they can show you their skills! You could also plan a photo session as a family, document a life event, or capture your day by taking an interesting picture every hour.

    Watching a documentary is a fun way to learn about working artists.

    • Finding Vivian Maier 

    • Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

    • Visual Acoustics

    • War Photographer 

    • Manufactured Landscapes

    • Rivers and Tides

    • Bill Cunningham New York

    You can also go to an art gallery or museum and talk about the work you see. Below is a list of some of my favorite local museums:

    •  Frye Art Museum (free) 

    •  Seattle Art Museum ($11 with school ID)

    •  Photographic Center Northwest (free)

    •  Henry Art Gallery (free with school ID)

    •  Western Bridge (free)

    •  Rare Medium (free)

    •  G. Gibson- ask to look in their cabinets for more artwork! (free)

    I love connecting with students, families, local businesses and community members. If you have ideas or wish to be involved with my class you can contact me via email: laura.totten@mercerislandchools.org

    I look forward to sharing the results of our class synergy ~
    Ms. Totten


    Visual Arts Department Student Outcomes

    Students completing Visual Arts courses at MIHS learn a variety of creative, technical, and professional skills. All classes qualify for Fine Arts credit, and most classes qualify for Career and College Readiness (CCR) credit. Students can earn college credit through College in the High School in Beginning Graphic Design and Beginning Photography classes.

    Visual Arts Courses include:

    * Beginning and Advanced Ceramics

    * Beginning (college credit available) and Advanced Graphic Design (CCR)

    * Beginning and Advanced Glass Art (CCR)

    * Beginning (college credit available) and Advanced Digital Photography (CCR)

    * Beginning and Advanced Metal and Jewelry Design (CCR)

    * AP Drawing

    * AP 2-D Design: Photography (CCR)

    * AP 3-D Design

    Through projects that build upon a series of fine art and industry skills, students learn, apply, and develop:

    • Creative thinking: students excel by achieving unique outcomes for each project; unlike other classes where students are expected to formulate the same answer

    • Problem solving: failure is part of the learning process- resilience!

    • Safety and Community: classrooms are design studios where students share tools and equipment, work together to maintain equipment, follow rules and guidelines, and help one another

    • Develop artistic voice as an individual

    • Professional skills: time management, presentation, high expectations

    • Visual language: students learn and apply vocabulary from the Elements of Art and Principles of Design

    • Meet/exceed WA State Arts Standards: Create, Performing Presenting Producing, Responding, Connecting

    • Hands-on experiences and projects

    • Critiques: critical thinking

    • Workflow: concept planning, development, creation, presentation, self-evaluation

    • Develop Personal Portfolio

    • Integrate Technology: digital portfolio, voice thread, blog

    • Exhibition: school display cases, Showcase, MI library

    • Juried exhibition: Passing the Torch Metal and Jewelry State Competition, PTA Reflections, WA State High School Photography Competition, MIVAL Scholarship, National Art Education Association Youth Art Month, MI Summer Celebration