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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, But How Many Pictures is a Word Worth? The Power of Images

            The content foundation for this unit is Imagism poetry. Poetry is typically dreaded in the classroom. Students and teachers are scared of poetry because many times the emphasis is placed on the correct idea to think, instead of focusing on the method of the thinking process. Using the close reading method students feel more free and flexible to connect the new information with their past experiences. “Learning never takes place in a vacuum; it is always contextual” (Style). With prior knowledge and experiences serving as a foundation students have a familiar context from which to begin their exploration.

            Placing an emphasis on culturally sensitive curriculum, I found it very important to integrate the poets of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Understanding that a picture is worth a thousand words, I would like to ask my students how many pictures is a word worth? I have chosen imagist poets as the content foundation for my curriculum unit. The universal appeal of images has the power to connect people across boundaries and time zones. The poets of focus include: Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, Gerald Raftery, William Carlos Willams, and Mongane Wally Serote. Incorporating authors of diverse backgrounds creates an inclusive classroom. The majority of my students are of color. Emily Style states, “women and men of color...find almost no mirrors of themselves in the house of curriculum for them it is often all windows” (Style). With a diverse selection of poets, all students are able to see both themselves as well as others. In this unit, I strive to provide windows and mirrors for all students, not just those of color.

            In this unit, students will explore the power of images across cultural and regional boundaries. Using various instructional strategies students will discover the use of images allows for once foreign content to seem familiar because of its connection to prior knowledge and experiences. Instructional strategies are pulled from a multitude of sources including Teach Like a Champion, Understanding by Design, and Making Thinking Visible. Using imagist poets and images, students will discover challenge preconceived notions about the urban experience. Students will connect powerful words with even more powerful images. It is also an important objective that students will see reflections of themselves and their cultures through the eyes of others.

Femi-Ama K. Johnson

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