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Blogs We Are Reading This Month

by Lily Burgess, 1st-2nd Grade Teacher

What Happens to Student Behavior When Schools Prioritize Art
Hearing this retelling of Orchard Gardens’ shift is awe inspiring. The forward thinking nature of the leadership but also of the team assembled under a new vision is powerful. This shift from deficit and fear focus to expression and inclusion is what rings so true. In this current climate it is essential to prioritize the very human needs of belonging and ownership. The arts have always felt especially human to me. Using abstraction and realness to access thoughts and feelings which words too often fail, is the real gift of the arts. Adults and children alike are equally responsive to this media. The arts are a force to unify as they allow community members to feel connected and seen all at once. As a fellow education enthusiast and collaborative innovator, this story reminds me that it’s in the small moments of being responsive to the whole child, to the whole community, that some of our biggest work is done as teachers.

Comics belong in the classroom – Gene Luen Yang at TEDxManhattanBeach
From Chi’s Sweet Home to Lunch Lady and so many in between, graphic novels have seen an influx in the series book selections we offer at our school. Even in the last few years the acceptance of these texts as suitable reading practice has increased, especially with parents. Several years ago the argument I often presented was that graphic novels were complex and stimulating due to to their intricate format. I noted that they encouraged sustained independent reading and supported comprehension with robust illustrations. While all of this is true, the idea of “permanence” illustrates the power of graphic novels in a whole new way. The idea of empowering readers to have multiple modes of understanding accessible to them at any speed as each cell reflects the past, present, and future of the story on each page is revolutionary. Maybe graphic novels can have a home in classrooms even beyond reading times for kiddos. The opportunities to engage a multitude of learners with a sense of independence and control is worth investing in. Graphic novels aren’t just popular, they are engaging and valuable as a teaching resource.