NNWP Presenter: Sandra Young and her Art & Writing Projects Workshop for Teachers
one of the NNWP's inservice coordinators shares her lessons and resources
Welcome to a small part of my world, a place of words, color, rhythm, line and form. My name is Sandra Young, and I have always loved art. I am the coordinator for this page of lessons at WritingFix that combine writing, art, and literature. During the past ten years, I have added a love for writing to my life, which has been an exciting journey.
In my second grade classroom, I have observed writing give substance to art and art give new dimension to writing as my students become more involved with their projects. Well-thought-out writing lessons should be paired with equally well-planned art lessons.
I believe that creativity and the desire to express it flows in all people. I see it blossom in my second graders as they experience success in both their writing and art. The lessons below, I believe, can be adapted to any grade level. I firmly believe that you do not have to be an artist to teach art. You need to know procedure then let the students create under your tutelage and direction. I have attempted to give clear, concise, step-by-step directions with each art and writing project provided below.
In her book, Creating Young Writers: Using the Six Traits to Enrich Writing Process in Primary Classrooms, Vicki Spandel discusses the addition of art to the primary writing rubric. She states that this feature has been added for some significant reasons. “For many students (not only those at the primary level), picture writing is an essential form of expression. They need to use art to communicate. It does not just make the writing pretty. It is the writing. Much of the detail and most of the voice within early writing appears in picture form. To exclude this is like assessing Picasso’s art by asking him to write an essay about form” (2004 p. 219).
Spandel quotes Bob Steele, author of Draw Me a Story: An Illustrated Exploration of Drawing-As-Language, “Children use graphic units (schemata) much as we use vocabulary, and the thought processes that go into drawing—raw materials organized into meaningful expressive forms—are syntactical in nature.” Steele also comments that children “intuitively use the medium most likely to satisfy their [communication] needs: words for practical communication, drawing for expressing more subtle and complex thoughts. In short, when we overlook drawing (or other art forms) in children’s work, we may be missing the deepest and most important part of their thinking. This has two implications: First, we miss a vital opportunity to enhance thinking skills using children’s natural inclination toward art as one means of doing so. In addition, we diminish the true value of any assessment that fails to recognize art as a legitimate means of communication. Art is 'the unrecognized language,' and language is the way children make sense of their world and, in doing so, develop their minds” (Steele, 1998, p. 7).
On this page at WritingFix, you will find four of my lessons that I share when I teach my Art & Writing In-service Class here in Northern Nevada. Below my four lessons, you will find lessons created by teachers who have taken my class. If you're inspired to create your own art & writing lesson and want to use my template, I would love to have you send it to me! If we post it here, I'll even have the NNWP send you any two of its Print Publications. For more details on this offer, click here.