Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Considering the Impact of the Visual Image on Interpretation
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Slice of Life: Considering the Impact of the Visual Image on Interpretation

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h“Do you really think the song sends a good message?”

“Yes. What are your thoughts?”

“I think the image around perfect for young girls is troublesome.”

“Hmmm. Tell me why you think that? What part of the song do you think sends this message?”

“The part when the perfect girl is gone and she stands in the light of day.”

 

I take a closer look at the lyrics so I can reread the words she is referring to:

 

Let it go! Let it go!

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn!

Let it go! Let it go!

That perfect girl is gone!

 

Here I stand in the light of day…

Let the storm rage on!!!

The cold never bothered me anyway

 

I honestly still do not notice how a negative image is being made in the song.

 

“Show me where in the text this image is coming through for you. I am not having the same response.”

 

She pauses.

 

“Well, not just in the words. It is what happens when she is singing those words. In the movie she completely changes during this part of the song. How she changes sends an image around the word perfect.”

 

I realize that since I am not really familiar with the movie I am creating my own image as I listen to the song. This teacher is referring to the image in the movie. Here is a clip of the movie during this section of the song:

 

Let it Go

 

This pushed me to think about Standard 7 in CCSS:

Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Our students need to continually consider how the words and visuals in a text integrate. They need to think about why an author may choose to visually represent a text in a particular way. Does it change the meaning, tone, mood or message? What is the author’s purpose? How does it impact a reader’s interpretation?

Graphic novels are a wonderful format for students to explore how authors integrate the visual and the words. This format provides many structures for them to consider and evaluate. Graphic novels portray characters, settings, and conflicts both visually and with words. Authors and illustrators make choices that impact how the reader interprets the text.

Graphic novels are designed so the reader must integrate the visual and the words.  When readers interpret and evaluate graphic novels they need to use both the words and the visuals as evidence to support their thinking. This can be a scaffold for comprehension for some readers and for others it can be an opportunity to learn how to integrate various media formats they encounter with both pictures and words. Digital literacy demands this type of integration.

I interpreted the theme and message of that song, but without the visual image provided by the movie. Now that I have closely examined the image and integrated it with the words, my interpretation of the song has dramatically changed. I know the students in our classrooms will have to navigate a digital world that requires them to integrate many sources of information. I want to give them many opportunities to discover the importance of visual literacy. Graphic novels seem like the perfect format for students to make this discovery!

If you want to learn more about graphic novels join our celebration this month #GNCelebration and our twitter chat with Terry Thompson, author of Adventures in Graphica on Nov. 1 8:00pm EST.

Clare

 

 

 

17 Comments
  • Avatar
    Julieanne
    Posted at 10:21h, 20 October Reply

    Guys,
    I just love this. My students are so in tune with the visual. They seem to process it on a much higher level than they do straight traditional text. I find the more I use visuals with words the higher children fly intellectually.
    Thanks for the link to your twitter chat.
    Julieanne

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:48h, 20 October Reply

      We are really looking forward to the twitter chat with Terry — we hope you can join us. We will post the questions soon. Thanks for sharing with us.
      Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Lisa
    Posted at 10:32h, 20 October Reply

    I think this is an important consideration. Music videos totally change songs for me too. Sometimes the video makes me like the song, other times it makes me dislike the song. But I have to say, I think the message in this song is a positive one. She’s just realized it is OK for her to make mistakes, and for her to be herself instead of hiding her gifts. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:50h, 20 October Reply

      The image does change our interpretation. The image in my mind is very different from the video and I have to think about the author’s purpose in choosing that image. What do he/she want me think? Why does she become all “glam up”, “curvy and let her hair down? I am not sure, but I think it is important to consider. I still love the song!!
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Chris
    Posted at 10:35h, 20 October Reply

    Visual literacy is so important, especially in a world where we are bombarded with visual images in media! And with an increase in screen time/ decrease in face-to-face interactions, I think some students are losing the ability to infer feelings, moods and character motives. That’s why I “push” picture books in the library–and add to our graphic novel collection. They can be useful tools to build inference skills.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:52h, 20 October Reply

      We agree that visual literacy is becoming more important in our current digital culture. We need to show our students to think deeply and interpret across many formats. Thank you for joining us!
      Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 11:20h, 20 October Reply

    Visual literacy is so important and you highlight many valid reasons to use graphic novels to help our students grasps these standards. Just the nudge I needed to get more for my classroom. I have Squish and Baby Mouse but currently we need books that are a bit easier. Thanks for increasing my shopping list. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:53h, 20 October Reply

      We needed that same nudge! The #GNCelebration this month has been great! We have learned about so many new titles and are thinking about how to use these texts in new ways. We hope you can join our twitter chat with Terry Thompson on Nov. 1 How are you?
      Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Bernadette
    Posted at 11:46h, 20 October Reply

    This is a post that is good food for thought. I never really thought about how the visual illustration can change the meaning of the written word. It would be an interesting experiment to just read a book without the illustration and then go back and read it illustrated and see how your reaction to the written word might change. It is sort of like watching a movie after reading a novel. Most of the time I think people who read the book are disappointed in the movie because they have already developed their own visual message.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:55h, 20 October Reply

      It is a lot like seeing a movie after reading the book — it can often ruin the book for me! Let us know how it goes with trying this with your readers!
      Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Aileen Hower
    Posted at 12:55h, 20 October Reply

    I am very grateful for this post. I am studying visual literacy for two classes (one teaching one taking) this week and next, and this really helped put some things into perspective for me. I learned and can move forward with one of my projects as a result. See you later this week!!!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 20:57h, 20 October Reply

      Glad you found it helpful!! Love to hear about your projects! See you soon!
      Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Joan
    Posted at 14:51h, 20 October Reply

    Love this post Clare! Your words certainly made me look more deeply at the impact on the meaning of text through visual literacy. Such a vital skill given the role technology plays in our student’s lives. Thanks!!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 21:00h, 20 October Reply

      Hi Joan!

      The teacher’s words pushed me to look more deeply as well. We are really thinking a lot about how we help kids read the pictures to help us understand the layers of meaning in a text. Your 3 ways to read is such a great entry point to this type of interpretation. We love the 3 ways to read — so smart.

      Thanks
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Tara
    Posted at 16:02h, 20 October Reply

    Love this post! My students are such visual learners – graphic novels are just such a boon to us, they have opened a doorway to a whole new way of reading.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 21:03h, 20 October Reply

      Thanks Tara — I loved March which I learned about from you! Thanks.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Dana Murphy
    Posted at 02:03h, 21 October Reply

    What do you mean you’re not familiar with the movie? You haven’t seen it 800 billion times?!?

    I love the connections you made here – between the song lyrics and movie, the CCSS, and graphic novels. I think this is one of the most important skills we can teach students today.

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