Much of what I have learned about the relationship of image and text from attending the seminar entitled "Picture Writing" has informed my own curriculum unit.
I have showing my own art since 2001 as well as teaching art in the district for seven years. The link between art and literacy has been an interest of mine for as long as I have been teaching. Interpreting art orally and in writing are ways to engage higher-order thinking from students of any age and ability. These two strategies, talking and writing about art during class, are something I plan to use daily in all of my art classes and will use to further strengthen the students' knowledge of visual art in all stages of its creation.
Research has shown that students who do not have a strong foundation at home of a rich use of language and conversation lag behind their peers when it comes to future literacy skills and vocabulary acquisition. In a 2012 journal article from
Child Development Research
concerning language acquisition, it was noted that:
…children must hear much language from adults willing to explain and expand, including a broad range of vocabulary and sentence structures, to show this growth [an expanded vocabulary and the use of more complex sentences]. In other words, children need to engage in many language-based interactions with supportive adults.
Many of my students are not hearing a lot of this explanatory language from the adults in their homes. It takes considerable time and effort for children to learn how to interact with other students and teachers; and as an enrichment teacher, I can support the classroom teacher by modeling these conversations in my classroom.
What I have learned through our seminar discussions informs my teaching of this area of visual art. This activity will incorporate Common Core standards for speaking and listening as well as for oral language and writing, listed in the appendix. I will also be able to enhance the curriculum I am currently teaching by enriching it with discussion about artist's intent and teaching students to read a painting just as they read books in their classroom. The skill of visual literacy is still a recently identified one, one that classroom teachers are still learning to use effectively. As an art teacher, I strive to teach my students the importance of images to tell a story even if the words are created by themselves, the viewers of the work. In the book
Raising Confident Readers
, Richard J. Gentry states that readers start out by drawing, and "their drawings can have elaborate details even though the first written stories may be a one-word label"
It's appropriate if one student has a different interpretation about what's happening in the story or of the picture their classmates are looking at because art is subjective. Any answer, oral or written, is acceptable as long as there is a reason or justification for that interpretation. To be able to defend their points of view successfully, students must have and use the proper vocabulary. It is the use of higher-order thinking skills, inference and deductive reasoning, that makes students more intellectually stimulated. Students who demonstrate those skills often have a more expansive vocabulary than others in their class.
One of the weaker vocabulary and grammatical areas that I have seen is the ability to properly use prepositions. Many of the ELL students whose first language is Spanish struggled with this during my time teaching English. Many of my other students have not had the proper use of prepositions modeled for them at home, or they are used to just pointing and being understood when asked about the location of something.