My students are fourteen to eighteen years old, and attend high school at an urban, Title I school. All of our students receive free or reduced price lunch, and over a third of students are identified as an exceptional education population. Despite all this, they are still eager learners, when their attention is focused. Our goal, as an entire school this year, is to encourage our students to love reading again..
My students love to hear and tell a good story.
Diverse texts such as graphic novels, picture books, and biographies will engage students in new storytelling media and interest them with accessible texts. Often, they struggle to dissect the visuals of our media-saturated culture. Many of our students are visual learners and often stop in traditional texts for much summary and annotation. Sometimes this discourages their love for learning and understanding.
The world our students live in is composed of many layers of media to stimulate the mind. The texts that we teach in an English Language Arts classroom often are not. Students in my classroom would rather look at pictures on Instagram than read traditional novels, even if the story sounds interesting. They crave engaging, visual texts to complement their understanding of narrative.
"I picture the guy on the front of the book as Gerald the whole time I read it," said Tre, when asked about visualizing text in a Sharon Draper novel, "Why would he be on the cover if it wasn't him?" Imagine that!
Reading a visual text, such as "Hitler Youth" will complement our unit featuring "Maus" by Art Spiegelman, which will be more accessible and engaging for my students than traditional texts. It allows us to discuss and dissect more complex issues such as ethics, tone, and author's purpose. These analysis items are more elusive in traditional texts.
Finally, students will have the opportunity to create a visual text mashup of various texts as a final project. Students will combine images from a selection of 10 books in order to create their own artifact. We will discuss choices the students make as artists, to convey events, history, and themes from many Holocaust-inspired texts. This will help build a cross-curricular understanding for each and every student in my classes.
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