Visual Literacy: Understanding the World Through Imagery

While extensive and explicit use of text types and writing in the art room is limited, visual culture pervades much of what is taught.  I find that, as a PYP art teacher, I may not be focused on formal literacy as much as the classroom teacher is, however, there is a “visual literacy” that is taught and overlaps with much of what “academic literacies” cover in a traditional classroom.

Empowering students with the tools to decipher the images and “learning to see” in their daily lives can allow them to express and communicate in much of the same ways that writing can…and it transcends language barriers.  In a time where Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat are a common form of communication for our youth (and adults), embedding visual literacy into our schools is a necessity for students to interpret and make sense of the world around them.  Increasingly, the modes of formal and informal information gathering for our students is visual.  Here are a few resources that I’ve used to promote a visual literacy in the art room and are quite applicable to classrooms of all subjects, ages, and language levels.

  1. Using photos to build vocabulary, take on new perspectives, or tell stories.  This article shows practical ways to do all of the above using photography in the classroom.
  2. Analyzing and interpreting visual images using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is something we can all do on some level in our classrooms.  This is especially pertinent to using VTS with Common Core.
  3. Art criticism activities can be translated through the lens of any subject matter that has images to describe, analyze, interpret or evaluate.
  4. Using visual literacy techniques to navigate advertisements and propaganda.
  5. Another blog post that explains the value in teaching visual literacy.

4 thoughts on “Visual Literacy: Understanding the World Through Imagery”

  1. Thanks for this great blog! I like your point about formal and informal information gathering becoming more visual, so true. The articles and links you suggest are also very interesting. I am about to start some intense PD on Visible Thinking and my current school year has been shadowed by visualizing the learning of my students. Thanks for sharing!

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