Liter-Artsy Day: Sharing Stories

January 29, 2024

Literacy, essential for communication and critical thinking, forms the foundation of education. At Green Chimneys, teachers develop differentiated instructional strategies for their classes and apply ability-based methods to meet each student’s abilities and academic goals.

Why Integrate ELA and Art?

Studying art improves comprehension of visual information but also nurtures critical thinking. Recognizing and discussing symbolism, themes, and subtext within artworks encourages students to think beyond the surface and draw connections between visual and written expression.

In addition, incorporating art into ELA can introduce new vocabulary. Describing, analyzing, and replicating visual elements challenge students to articulate their thoughts, building verbal and written language skills.

The synthesis of art and ELA also cultivates creativity and originality. Consequently, encouraging students to express themselves through artistic interpretation strengthens their voice and individuality. This creative outlet not only enhances their understanding of literature but also contributes to a deeper connection with the subject matter.

Diverse artistic styles and themes show students new perspectives, encouraging an appreciation for different cultures and historical contexts.

A New Art and Literacy Initiative

Students and staff at Clearpool campus recently explored stories and art connections through “Liter-Artsy Day,” a play on words between “literacy” and “artsy.” A new student, Lukas, coined the name and a peer, Rylan, added ‘Sharing Stories with Staff and Students’ as a subtitle. Getting ready for this new program was a schoolwide effort, with everyone willing to help.

This first event, of many to come, spotlighted Black history in honor of Black History Month. Each class explored the life and works of an artist, poet, musician or activist and students learned about Miles Davis, Faith Ringgold, Jean Michel Basquiat, Amanda Gorman, and Rosa Parks.

In the program led by Literacy Specialist Gina Viebrock, students partnered with teachers to read and discuss short biographies of their assigned figure. Group discussions guided students in exploring the person’s historical or contemporary experiences that are different from their own.

Each class then worked together to create a mural – some depicting the person they studied and others inspired by an artistic style. Murals have been put on display in the Clearpool dining hall for all to enjoy.

Discussions will continue throughout the month of February with classes presenting their murals and influential Black figures to the school during lunch time. 

Classroom Projects

Building on a prior lesson about Faith Ringgold’s quilt depicting the story told in her children’s book Tar Beach, students in Ms. McEneany’s class read about her life. Then, Ms. Newman helped students and staff create a mural from their individual art pages, drawing inspiration from quilting.

Students in Mr. Maxwell’s class had previously listened to Amanda Gorman read her Inaugural Poem from 2020, “The Hill We Climb.” On Liter-Artsy Day, the students dove deeper with partner reading and discussion about the poem. Mrs. Viebrock helped the class create a watercolor mural featuring Amanda in her Inaugural garb.

Mrs. Sarracco’s class spent time reading and conversing about Rosa Parks and her work as an activist in the civil rights movement. Partner reading and a colorful collaborative mural highlighted Rosa and her accomplishments.

Mrs. Ireland’s class read Radiant Child, by Javaka Steptoe, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelo, and supplemental biographical information about artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Students examined the artist’s style, the meaning behind his images and the nuances of his life. Mr. Samuelson led students in a mural making a depiction of Basquiat-style artwork.

Mr. Martino’s class discovered Miles Davis through combined partner reading, musical accompaniment, and pop-art style painting of the musician.

Green Chimneys administrators, teachers and staff work together to develop new opportunities and community-wide events that support learning through literacy and the arts. Read more about Green Chimneys’ academic program