Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Responses to My Public Questions on Visual Arts

In an effort to target an audience of teacher-readers, I posted a question regarding the use of visual arts in language arts classrooms. So far, I've only had one response, but I'll take it! Here's our conversation:

Where the Red Fern Grows Where the Red Fern Grows question

The Incorporation of Visual Arts in a Language Arts Classroom (edit)
Amy Whitaker Amy May 27, 2011 02:07pm
I am a senior English Teaching student at Brigham Young University, and I am currently taking a class that focuses on writing about literature in the digital age. This class have given me the opportunity to research aspects of an independently chosen novel that are relevant to me. As a future teacher of language arts, I wanted to focus on an old childhood favorite, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Through my research I have become highly interested in visual interactions with the text; that is, I have come to believe that a language-only reaction to Where the Red Fern Grows (a written or oral response) falls flat when compared with visual arts reactions. Written responses (including Facebook and Twitter feeds) are often, "It is such a sad book." Visual responses, I have found, are much richer. (See

Now, here is what I would like to know. Have any of you had any experience with teaching Where the Red Fern Grows in your English or language arts classroom? Did you incorporate any visual arts into the lesson plan (including pictures (painted, taken by a camera, whatever), sculptures, videos, etc.)? Was it beneficial in the students' interaction with the story? Any thoughts, ideas, or experiences will be greatly appreciated.

I was an Educational Assitant once and they viewed the film, don't know if they used it as a Language Arts theme. My daughter was at a school where the children would either be read books, or read the books themselves then would draw a picture incorporating what their visual interpretation of the book was. I thought that was a brilliant concept. Hope this helps.

Amy Whitaker Thanks so much, Robin! That is very helpful.
May 27, 2011 02:19pm · delete

I also received a response to a question I posted on the English Teachers Chatboard. Here's that:

    Re: Visual Arts in the Literary Study of Where the Red Fern 
    Posted by: Mae in Texas on 5/29/11 Visual imagery and the use of artifacts is an excellent way to introduce and support new ideas, concepts, and texts across the curriculum in all subject areas. The cover of the book (as well as picture books) is the artist's interpretation of the text. Visual aids are particularly helpful to ESL & SPED students who struggle with language and reading. One of the key strategies readers use is visualization or the envisioning of text like a painting/photograph or movie. Many of your nonreaders have never learned to create visuals in their minds as they read. One way to help them visualize is to provide them with visual aids. You have some good thinking. Keep on this path. Mae Next Post >>
Clearly, other people care about the topic, which is extremely rewarding to see, not to mention encouraging as I continue to pursue greater understanding of the implications of visual arts mixed with more traditional literary study.

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