The Arts and Literacy: Part Three

Posted by Big Universe on Feb 18, 2013 10:12:50 PM

In The Arts and Literacy Part One, we took a look at how drama and movement can be integrated with literacy. In part two, we took a closer look at music. Today, let's discuss the visual arts.

In the Common Core State Standards there is much to do about working with and examining texts. I'd like to consider how these skills can be addressed using visual art.

The following links and standards come from The commentary after each standard is my own interpretation of how each of the standards can be paralleled and taught through visual art.

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

In reading a piece of art, students are studying the details. They need to look closely at everything in the fore and background, examine facial expressions and body language and draw conclusions about the action in the work. In addition, students can read into a image by examining all the pieces to decipher a central theme or summarize a main idea.

For great artwork to use for these exercises, visit and browse . There you can pull from a magnitude of great art pieces. For example, this image, A Beech Wood in May near Iselingen Manor.

art 1 Craft and Structure

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

This is where you have a great opportunity to collaborate with your art teacher! Discussing and analyzing how an artist chooses colors, shapes, creates balance and shading parallels how an author chooses words, structures their text and shapes the tone of a piece of literature. In addition, you can look at point of view and purpose. In the painting example above, you could look at the various points of view from the different characters (including the dog) and discuss the purpose of such a painting in comparison to others you may examine or study.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

These standards relate quite directly with the arts. Here you could take images (and poetry and music and drama pieces) that represents a piece of literature and evaluate the content in each. Finding a book with great illustrations may be all you need to do to get started with this. Paying attention to a story's illustrations is an important strategy that can be overlooked by some readers.

The second standard here can refer to comparing two pieces of art that address the same topic. Take these two images of a couple dancing. There are many details in each that can be compared according to the CCSS.

Midsummer Dancemidsummersdance

Country Dance

Country Dance


Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

I firmly believe that learners can and should practice literacy skills through the arts. It is a tangible way for them to understand the concept or the skill without the possible stumbling blocks that written text may cause. In addition providing for an opportunity to work the mind in this way offers a challenge for those who come easily to English language arts. In other words, regardless of whether you are teaching struggling or proficient readers, working literacy skills and strategies through the arts has its benefits for all.


Topics: Classroom Ideas

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