Students use art to grow as writers

CNJ Staff Photo: Benna Sayyed Clovis Christian Elementary teacher volunteer Suzanne Brockmeier shows third and fourth grade art students techniques of picturing writing.

Benna Sayyed

Third and fourth grade Clovis Christian Elementary students are learning to write by making observations of their artwork.

Clovis Christian art teacher Patsy Delk started “picturing writing” lessons at her school in January to get students excited about learning to write. The project will last 18 weeks. Delk’s students are each writing and illustrating a book.

“It is an opportunity to get kids engaged in the writing process,” said Suzanne Brockmeier, retired teacher volunteer at Clovis Christian Elementary. Brockmeier said children struggle with writing and the project effectively helps them learn to write.

“They’re excited about it. Even when I say it’s writing day, they say ‘yay writing day.’”

Delk’s students meet Thursdays to produce the art portion of the project. Every art lesson has four parts. Brockmeier first reads to students from a picture book and discusses pictures, various literary forms and techniques and picture ideas with the class.

Next Brockmeier demonstrates how illustrations are to be produced. Students then create original work following the teacher’s model. Thursday lessons conclude with students offering peer criticism on the work of two classmates and the class discusses whether or not the session was progressive.

Students later write the pages of their books by observing their paintings in language arts class. Brockmeier said students learn various conventions of writing including mood and setting.

According to Brockmeier, the project focuses on time of day, so students are working on landscapes.

“We’re talking about what the sun is doing, what the sky is doing, and you’ll see that in their writing,” Brockmeier said.

She said students have to explain aspects of their text and illustrations.

“I could say that my sun is a lemon yellow but if they painted theirs orange they’re going to have to come with descriptions for it.”

Fourth-grader Dede Wofford said she likes picturing writing lessons because they let her express her creative side through art and writing.

“This can make me a good drawer and writer when I grow up and I can teach other people how to do this,” Wofford said.

Fourth-grader Ryan Worrell believes picturing writing will give him important skills to pass on to his future family.

“I like that I get to paint and enjoy time with art,” said Worrell, who advised his friends and family to try what he does in art class.