Art in English...Say what? Years ago, when the Common Core Gods created the standards, they placed the "Integrations of Knowledge and Ideas" strand under Reading Literature. Part of this strand states students should "Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment." For years, I just ignored this thinking to myself 'What good could analyzing art be in English?' Stop booing me; I realized I was wrong!

After having a come to Yeezus moment, I realized that teaching students to analyze different artistic mediums involves a similar skill set related to closely analyzing literature. When analyzing literature, we tell students to read closely looking for specific details  to better understand the text. We also ask them to consider an author's craft and structure and how the craft and structure helps to reveal important elements of the piece.  Analyzing art can function in the same way and can be used to help further our understanding of the texts we are reading. For example, my 12th grade students read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (cue the Gothic music), and I incorporate an art analysis activity when we finish the novel. I accomplish this activity by having my students analyze different artists' creations of the monster, and they have to relate the artist's interpretation to a theme in Frankenstein. I place my students into seven different groups, and each group is given a different artist's portrayal of the monster (click here). The students first begin by individually analyzing the image using a guided image analysis sheet (click here); this handout asks students to describe, infer, inquire, and connect this information to a major theme of the novel. Then after they have individually analyzed the image, they discuss their findings in a small group. Working together on their analysis, the students come up with a 2-3 minute presentation about what their image reveals about a theme in Frankenstein. They present their ideas to the class. My students enjoy seeing the different portrayals of the monster, and how each of those portrayals reveals something different about the novel. This is such an easy activity to put together, and it lends itself to conversations not only about the novel but how we can analyze art and literature in similar ways.

So, are you ready to turn your regular students into art connoisseurs? Ha, that's wishful thinking, but we should definitely be exposing them to art and its connections to literature. See, I told you I realized I was wrong.

Keep on stressin' on,

Michon Otuafi

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