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Picturing Learning is the story of how Karen Ernst, a former middle school English teacher, developed an artists workshop parallel to a writers workshop, integrating reading and writing into an elementary art program. The artists workshop includes literature and writing, student choice and collaboration, portfolio as a means of assessment, and exhibition. Students are empowered to learn as they make choices selecting topics and media, discuss art, and share their writing.
The artists workshop shows what is possible as students use writing and picturing as partners to express their meaning and has implications for expanding the writers workshop to include visual ways of knowing. The author's experiences teaching writing to eighth graders and her evolution as an artist influenced and propelled the emerging artists workshop described here. Picturing Learning is rich with examples of student expressions in words and pictures as well as the author's drawings from her research journal, where she captured the learning in her classroom.
Teachers who are knowledgeable of writing process as it relates to whole language can use this book to expand the idea of writers workshop to include the visual ways of knowing. Art teachers eager to integrate the arts in the curriculum will find this book invaluable. Because the author discusses a live classroom with practical methodologies, it is ideal for use as a preservice text.
Picturing Learning describes an entire framework for incorporating the arts into the literacy conversation. Showing clearly how the visual can be a vital component of literacy, it is a prime example of how close observation and teacher research can bring important changes to classrooms and schools.
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