Arts-based ELA: Unleashing Student Voice and Academic Skills

Arts and YA Lit

In years past, teachers were seen as the authoritative, all-knowing figure who determined a student's success with their choices of literature, assignments, and tests.  As you might remember from your own school years, this type of power struggle didn't benefit all the students. If anything, many students became less engaged in classroom discussion and viewed reading as a task they wanted to finish quickly, if they finished at all.

The culture of today's classrooms is changing. In recent years, teachers are understanding that they don't need to know everything about every subject in order to teach. Teachers are embracing a more vulnerable position of saying, "Let's learn this together," or by correlating the reading text to trending subjects the kids know about, such as art techniques, the latest video games, or social media dancing trends. 

Why is this approach important? Simply because it's a way to approach literacy skills that starts with their community-based and cultural funds of knowledge -- and get them more engaged from the start. Mix things up by using a graphic novel as the text. Explore the design elements of a graphic novel together with discussion instead of the traditional vocabulary tests. Choosing books or short stories that interest the class will help them slow down to enjoy reading. 

My guest today is Dr. Rebecca Maldonado who is editing her third book about how to introduce art techniques into an ELA classroom setting.  Dr. Maldonado is a high school teacher, research educator, and a graduate from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma. Her research focus is critical theory, teacher development, curriculum ideologies, global responsibility, arts integration, and young adult literature.

Books Edited by Dr. Maldonado:
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from the students in your classroom?

I'd love to read your ideas! Feel free to share your thoughts in the collaboration area below.

reThink ELA Podcast
reThink ELA Podcast
Arts-based ELA: Unleashing Student Voice and Academic Skills

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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