Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. . .

Pictures are “an important lifeline to literacy learning” (p.16).

“The link between the verbal and the visual goes both ways in conveying meaning… pictures really can serve the verbal function of telling or speaking, and words can serve the visual function of creating a picture” (p.19).

“As students develop their visual literacy, they begin to understand that every visual choice the artist has made, every detail regarding subject and color and composition, conveys information that informs the reader” (p.46).

One of the most “powerful” texts I have read on the subject of visual literacy is Beth Olshanky’s The Power of Pictures: Creating Pathways to Literacy Through Art. The quotes above provide some insight into the research and theories behind her work, but you really have to read the book to fully see and understand the powerful arts-based approaches she has created to teach writing to students.

Using crayon resist paintings and collages created from students’ own hand-painted papers, Olshansky uses artists/writers workshops to help students learn to let their creativity and artistic sides guide the writing process. The results are phenomenal!

You can learn more about her nationally validated art- and literature-based literacy models: Image-Making Within the Writing Process and Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art in her book, at her website Picturing Writing and Image Making, and in her article “Teaching the Art of Writing.”

comments and ideas welcome!

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