Visual Literacy


While we teach out teens many literacy skills, from text analysis to grammatical correctness, the world bombards us with many forms of literature that should be analysed as well.

I’ve just finished teaching a great unit about non-textual communication and analysis. It is creative and a good way of keeping the students engaged in the last few weeks of the year.

Effectively, the students are to analyse the lyrics of a song and represent the themes in pictorial form; basically they are creating the foundation for a film clip to go with the song. The results have been wonderful!

While the kids had selected a variety of songs (including a few I didn’t know, which was nice), they all tried to choose a song that help some sort of inherent meaning. Some of the kids also caught onto the call-to-action concept we’d discussed earlier in the year and went for a song that deeply engaged the audience in a ‘mission’. Having analysed what the lyricist what trying to communicate (or interpreting it from their own life experiences), the students used good old Google to source images that communicated the same type of themes and emotions.

We had also explored the power of imagery, looking at what make a powerful image more significant than others. We also explored black-and-white and colour images, and even sepia, as a way of communicating emotion.

As I’ve indicated, the end results have been amazing. We’ve spent about a week now showing the work to each other in class and there has been more than one presentation that brought tears to the kids’ eyes! How powerful is that!

Communication is such a broad field and I’m really proud of my students for the way they’ve expressed themselves in a new genre.



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