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Title: Alternate Reality


If our students can't physically walk in one another's shoes, what if they "Photoshopped" each other in? In this project, students create and exchange digital photocomposites to visually imagine what their partners' lives might be like if they lived in their community.


1) Invite one or more of your students to volunteer to be the "models". Students then make photographs of the models in a variety of everyday poses against a blank background, like a plain solid-color wall. For example: reading a book, sitting at a desk, throwing a ball, looking excited, looking bored, waving to a friend, etc.

2) The model(s) then write down a short list of things they enjoy doing at school - subjects, sports, activities - as well as things they don't like. (If they moved to a new school, what would they want to continue doing, if possible, and what would they want to avoid?)

3) Post all the photos and notes on the Alternate Reality forum (or, if you have one specific partner in mind, you can exchange them by email, Google Drive, or other means.)


The steps above are all you need to do to get started with a rich experience in Alternate Reality. 

Just be sure to skip down to step 9, below, to begin a discussion with your partner(s).

But... If you have access to image manipulation software like Photoshop, Gimp, or another program which allow you to make photo composites, try the steps below to have the full Alternate Reality experience!


4) If you don't have a specific partner in mind, explore other schools' recent posts in the forum, and choose which images you want to work with.

5) After studying their models, students photograph some scenes in your community or school, where they will place the "new student". If possible, they should try to find a similar angle and similar lighting to the original.

6) Using Photoshop, Gimp, or other image-editing software, your students create photocomposites by cutting and pasting their "guests" into their scenes in your community.

7) Students write documentary-style captions for their photographic creations, explaining aspects of what life might be like for them. How would their guest fit into your school routines and activities? What are they doing in this new image? Use this as an opportunity for students to teach their partners something they might like to know about your community, but when possible tailor it to their model "guest". What would their guest enjoy? What challenges might they face? 

8) Students then return their photocomposites and captions to their partners, by reposting them back to the forum, or by using email or other means.

9) Wait and see what your partner(s) return to you. Be patient! It may take a few weeks or even months.

10) Finally, students respond in the forum to as many finished works as possible - especially those depicting their peers. Discuss and ask questions. What problems might they face at their "new" school (not as a foreigner, but just as a student)? 


  • Maria Soledad Gomez Saa, Argentina
  • Chris Baer, United States



Student Age Levels

12-14 (Middle), 15-18 (Secondary)


Nov 01 2020 - Jun 01 2021

Possible classroom activities

See above.

Technically advanced students may extend this project by experimenting making and exchanging video Alternate Reality creations, or even VR Alternate Realities.

Screen reader support enabled.

Remote Learning: We will be emphasizing the use of software that may be freeware and/or mobile-based rather than expensive professional in-school software like Photoshop.



Expected outcomes

Students will create and share finished, captioned photocomposites.

Group contributions to others and/or the planet:

Students will have a "feel" for what it would be like to live in their partners' community and attend their school, and in doing so may have more empathy for their partners' struggles as well as appreciate or even glean new ideas from their differences.