Visual Literacy in Action: Summer Collage

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn. . .” Thus Natalie Babbit begins her timeless story Tuck Everlasting.

Well, around here it seems that we are indeed ready to drop into the chill of autumn. And the first day of school is just around the corner!

Instead of the typical “What I did Last Summer” essay, why not change it up a bit and have your students create their very own summer collages. The picture above is an example of a collage depicting some of the key settings and themes of Tuck Everlasting, but the idea for a summer collage would basically be the same:

1. have students brainstorm lists of their summer activities (family vacation, books read, sleep-over at friend’s, camp, enjoying a popsicle on a hot day, baking cookies with grandma, visiting the library, etc.)

2. encourage them to “think deeper” than their everyday activities: Did they learn a new skill or work on a hobby? Do they think about things differently now that they are starting a new grade? Did any of their summer experiences change who they are or what they believe/understand about life?

3. provide magazine, ads, etc. for students to browse through and collect pictures (and words, too) that represent their summer activities and themes

4. encourage students to take time to try out various arrangements to create the collage that they like best before they glue everything down

5. provide time for students to share their creations and the activities and meanings behind them

6. display for others to enjoy

This could easily work into a written format, too, but the experience of thinking about their summers in visual form and sharing as they work together is not only a valuable part of learning but a great start to incorporating more visual literacy into the classroom this year.

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comments and ideas welcome!

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