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Art and Literacy. Ideas and information compiled for ACIRA and the Aiken Writing Project by Amy Conkelton. Why integrate art and multimedia projects?.

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Art and literacy

Art and Literacy

Ideas and information compiled for ACIRA and the Aiken Writing Project by Amy Conkelton

Why integrate art and multimedia projects
Why integrate art and multimedia projects?

Current press statistics show that the amount of reading done by our students, and society, is decreasing. Parents are not modelling reading for pleasure as much as they might have done in the past.

The types of reading done are also changing. People are using more time to read email, web sites, and social networking sites than “books,” whether they are in electronic or paper form.

Causes for concern
Causes for Concern

Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

  • As published in Readicide:

  • “The National Assessment of Adult Literacy finds that literacy scores of high school graduates dropped between 1992 and 2003” (Gallagher 2).

Literacy statistics
Literacy Statistics

  • “The Alliance for Excellent Education points to 8.7 million secondary students—that is one in four—who are unable to read and comprehend the material in textbooks” (Gallagher 3).

  • “Three thousand students with limited literacy skills drop out of school every day in this country” (Gallagher 3).

Literacy statistics1
Literacy Statistics

  • “Nearly half of all Americans ages fifteen to twenty-four do not read books for pleasure” (Gallagher 41).

  • “The 2005 ACT College Readiness Benchmark for Reading found that only about half of the students tested were ready for college-level reading, and the 2005 scores were the lowest in the decade” (Gallagher 3).

Literacy statistics2
Literacy Statistics

  • “The American Institutes for Research reports that only 13 percent of American adults are capable of performing complex literacy tasks” (Gallagher 3).

  • “USA Today reported that 27 percent of adults in this country did not read a single book in 2007” (Gallagher 3).

Literacy statistics3
Literacy Statistics

  • “By the third grade, students who suffer from ‘word poverty’ are often at a million-word reading deficit; by the sixth grade, they are already three grade levels behind their average-performing peers” (Gallagher 32).

  • As quoted in Readicide, according to To Read or Not to Read, from the National Endowment for the Arts (2007), Americans are reading less and:

Literacy statistics4
Literacy Statistics

  • Less than one-third of thirteen-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from twenty years earlier.

  • The percentage of thirteen-year-olds who read for fun on a daily basis declined from 35 percent to 30 percent, and for seventeen-year-olds, the decline was from 33 percent to 22 percent.

Literacy statistics5
Literacy Statistics

  • Among seventeen-year-olds, the percentage of nonreaders has more than doubled over a twenty year period, from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.

  • On average, Americans ages fifteen to twenty-four spend almost two hours a day watching television, and only seven minutes of their leisure time on reading.

Readicide concerns
Readicide Concerns

  • “By gearing students year in and year out to practice for state-mandated reading exams, we had begun producing high school seniors (students who now had numerous years of testing focus) who had passed their reading tests but were leaving our schools without the cultural literacy needed to be productive citizens in a democratic society” (Gallagher 28-9).

Readicide concerns1
Readicide Concerns

  • “…Our students are in desperate need of large doses of authentic reading—the kinds of reading we, as adults, do in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites. These doses need to come from a mix of reading experiences, from longer, challenging novels and works of nonfiction to ‘lighter’ recreational reading…. There is a dearth of interesting reading materials in our schools…. Students are not doing enough reading in school” (Gallagher 29).

Because writing matters
Because Writing Matters

National Writing Project & Nagin, C. (2006). Because writing matters: Improving student writing in our schools. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.

  • “Writing is no longer only about putting pen to paper…. E-mail, the internet, and the fax are all forms of writing, and writing is, finally, a craft with its own set of tools, which are words” (NWP 5)

Because writing matters1
Because Writing Matters

  • “Because Writing Matters makes the case that students need to write more across all content areas and that schools need to expand their writing curricula to involve students in a range of writing tasks” (NWP 6).

Exploring fandom
Exploring Fandom

Guzzetti, B., Elliott, K. & Welsch, D. (2010). DIY media in the classroom: New literacies across content areas. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • “Fandom, the act of being a fan, is a large part of youth culture….One way that young people formulate their identities is by associating themselves with the music, books, television, and movies that are most relevant to their lives” (Guzzetti 59).

Fandom and fan fiction
Fandom and Fan Fiction

  • “Fandom gives kids a way to find common ground with others” (Guzzetti 59).

  • “Fan fiction is creative writing based on the characters or settings of books, television shows, movies, comics, and video games….it is now propagated almost exclusively online” (Guzzetti 59-60).

Fandom and fan fiction1
Fandom and Fan Fiction

  • According to Guzzetti (61-2), fandom includes comics and fan art, visual art depicting characters or scenes related to a series.

  • “The phenomenon of teenagers creating fan fiction on their own is very common. Fiction shared online ranges from amateurish first attempts riddled with spelling and punctuation errors to professional-quality work” (Guzzetti 60). A unique teaching opportunity!

Think it s not rigorous enough
Think it’s not rigorous enough?

  • “In short, reading the cartoon is not a problem. Comprehending the cartoon, however, is another matter…reading consists of two factors: 1) being able to decode the words on the page and 2) being able to connect the words you are reading with the prior knowledge you bring to the page” (Gallagher, 33-34).

Fandom and fan fiction2
Fandom and Fan Fiction

  • “In the anonymous world of the Internet, teens delight in reading, sharing, editing, commenting on, and receiving feedback on their fan fiction” (Guzzetti p. 61).

  • “Fan fiction accomplishes the formidable task of getting otherwise academically unmotivated teenagers to read and write outside school” (Guzzetti p. 60).

Writing and fan fiction
Writing and Fan Fiction

  • “Writing and role-playing fan fiction can aide in fostering and practicing students’ writing skills and abilities. These include developing characters through the use of adverbs and adjectives, changing voice and dialogue from narrator to character, crafting intricate plots, editing, and writing in the fantasy genre. In addition to fostering students’ learning and practicing of these skills, fan fiction may support the acquisition of other literacy skills.... Adolescents use fan fiction to project their identities and social affiliations…. They create complex texts by blending elements from various genres….” (Guzzetti 64-66).

Writing and fan fiction1
Writing and Fan Fiction

  • “Creating fan art, comics, and animations through web-based programs like Scratch can help young people to develop 21st century learning skills,…tap into their creativity, practice their language and storytelling abilities,…find their voice, and express themselves through writing…. Students authoring, reading, and discussing comics learn and practice skills of debate, discussion, and critique” (Guzzetti 66).

Writing and fan fiction2
Writing and Fan Fiction

  • Authoring comics can help teachers address the state standards for reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and develop their abilities with literary response, expression, critical analysis and evaluation, and social interaction. Producing comics has taught students vocabulary…, terms related to art…,” and helped them acquire knowledge about other countries (Guzzetti 66).

Writing and fan fiction3
Writing and Fan Fiction

  • “Proficient manga readers develop their skills with and are adept at interpreting graphical information as well as printed texts” (Guzzetti 66).

    Best of all,

  • “Maintaining familiarity with youth culture is an effective way for teachers to build positive relationships with their students” (Guzzetti 66).

Teaching resources
Teaching Resources

  • The following web resources can be used to integrate art and literacy:

  • or


    Use six word memoirs to integrate “real world writing” and student work into teaching grammar and writing, illustrate someone else’s memoir and justify your illustration, generate a memoir, publish your memoir, organize memoirs into categories, critique them…!

Teaching resources1
Teaching Resources


  • Hover over the home page illustrations to find links, or click on the books below for a host of ideas integrating art and writing. Print pocketdoodles, then plan and produce a completed project, generate writing with “Become an Escape Artist,” and more!

Teaching resources2
Teaching Resources


  • Create your own comic strip that integrates art and writing. Have students summarize, write a procedure, differentiate information and produce a comic featuring only the most important information.

  • Users need not be artists. They can simply integrate their writing into the talk balloons.

More with makebeliefscomix
More with MakeBeliefsComix

  • Users can write in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Latin.

  • Users can choose their characters, objects, and scenes.

  • As they create a comic, they can differentiate between “talk” and “thought” balloons and integrate transitions with panel prompts.

  • Writer artists can print or email you their projects.

Teaching resources3
Teaching Resources


  • Described as a minimalist comic strip made from royalty-free clip art.

  • Find art on a variety of subjects. Have students generate their own writing for the strip sections.

  • Each comic is limited to three sections.

  • Assess a chosen “clip” and add a comment.

Teaching resources4
Teaching Resources


  • Users can create and share their own interactive stories, games, music and art projects.

  • Students can view over 2 million projects from around the world.

  • Users can revisit often to summarize, compare, explain, and organize “Featured Projects.”

Teaching resources5
Teaching Resources


  • Users can view over half a million multimedia strips, critique the appropriateness of a work’s title, evaluate photography, art, and a variety of posted works.

  • Users must register/sign in to post a comment on works published on the site.

  • Students could generate stories based upon the usernames chosen by people who comment, or generate grammatically corrected comments.

Teaching resources6
Teaching Resources


  • Users can create a comic strip, book, or cartoon.

  • Posted works can be used as writing prompts from which students generate stories, articles, sequels, prequels, and more.

  • The site offers a video tutorial.

More teaching resources
More Teaching Resources

  • These sites are currently blocked by ACPS (as of 10.26.2011), but teachers and parents could work from home to see what materials might prove useful and visit linked resources. They are great idea generators.

  • (blocked as adult art)

  • (blocked as forum)

  • (blocked as game)

More teaching resources1
More Teaching Resources

  • (blocked as game)

  • (blocked as adult game)

  • While these sites are currently blocked within ACPS, some information follows because they contain elements which may prove wonderful teaching tools and writing prompts.

About deviantart com

  • Allows readers/surfers/users to browse over 100 million original works of art, search for artists, styles, keywords, use tutorials to improve their craft, exhibit an unlimited amount of art and create galleries for free.

  • Users can communicate, collaborate, and learn from artists in over 190 countries.

  • Users can generate a portfolio, write and publish daily entries in a journal and more.

About fanart central net

  • Allows artists to exhibit works and users to discuss and evaluate works.

  • Submissions are pre-screened.

  • There is a limit of three submissions per day.

  • Each category has sections for pictures, stories, and links.

About qwantz com

  • The site features dinosaur comics by Ryan North.

  • Art can be posted and printed in not-for-profit magazines or newspapers.

  • Users/readers can check out the archive for past postings.

  • Students could rewrite blurbs to go with each comic, use ideas to generate new writing, etc.

About thewebcomiclist com

  • A great source for finding comics on a variety of subjects, both old and new.

  • Displays links to the latest comics available from a variety of sites and the date and time of their last update.

  • Users can compare comics using the “Navigation” tool.

  • The site features a ranking algorithm.

About xkcd com

  • Subtitled a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language by Randall Munroe, this site features interesting graphs and a variety of topics.

  • It is okay to reprint occasional comics if not merchandizing, but attribute the comic to the site.

  • Strips will translate into Spanish at

More about xkcd com
More about

  • The site contains links to translations in Spanish, German, and Russian on the “About” page.

  • “Indexed” page link shows art illustrated on an index card which could be used to model as students plan and generate their own Index Card Art.

Art literacy and networking
Art, Literacy, and Networking

  • If you know of other web tools which can help interested parents and teachers use art to improve literacy, please share them.

  • Email

  • Feedback and suggestions are welcome!