A more visual English Language Arts

Homer - Musei CapitoliniSome of us remain ever blind to our need to incorporate art and image into our curriculum. Though Homer worked in the written word, he came from an oral tradition that understood the importance of helping one’s audience visualize the setting, the characters, the action, and, thus, care about the story.

Not only do our students live in a world saturated with images and combinations of words and images, many possess reading comprehension problems derived from an inability to visualize, to make come alive in their imaginations, the text on the page. Upon doing some reflection, I realized that visualizing often presents something of a challenge when it came to my own reading and writing. I’ve become conscious of the fact that working on this skill could vastly improve my ability to do both.

Some lesson ideas…

After skimming Michelle Zoss’s dissertation for more of the whys and hows of integrating visual media into secondary English Language Arts classes, I knew I needed some remediation to counter my persistent bias for words over … well, every other medium, really. And, I know I’m not the only teacher guilty of this. I know my students could benefit from more engagement, on my part, with the practice of transmediation, to use Zoss’s lanuage. We have to start somewhere; so, why not with a few lesson ideas? In the future, I will likely borrow a sketch-to-stretch, ask student’s to create vocabulary squares, and use drawing to jumpstart descriptive writing in response to a specific theme or short reading (like the “Things They Carried”-inspired lesson described and illustrated by Zoss and linked  above).

I also hope to become more immersed in reading more diverse texts, including the reading of YA literature, newspapers, magazines, digital media and graphic works, in particular. For me, this represents an obvious and necessary strategy for more authentic engagement of the visual in our communicative media classes—perhaps a more appropriate name for 21st century ELA. Becoming comfortable and familiar in diverse media will help us teachers create more media-diverse classroom landscapes. And, where better to begin?

Some readings for the week…

  • Derf Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer
  • Lynda Barry’s What It Is
  • Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (Book 1).

Yep, at the insistence of numerous readers, young and old, I’m finally jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon. Thoughts on these titles, and more, soon!

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This entry was posted in Education, English Education, English Teachers, Grammar, Lesson Ideas, Lesson Plans, Reading Resources, Secondary Education, Visual Arts, YA Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A more visual English Language Arts

  1. drzoss says:

    Reblogged this on Musings from Dr Zoss and commented:
    Here, another blogger discusses the importance of the visual arts in English language arts and discusses what she learned from reading my dissertation.

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