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Journal for Learning Through the Arts, v4 n1 Article 3 2008

This eight-week study supports the view that literacy learning is multimodal (Berghoff et al., 2000). It contributes to existing research (Dyson, 1986; Gardner, 1980; Hubbard, 1989; Hubbard & Ernst, 1996; Olshansky, 2007, 2008; Skupa, 1985) on the communicability of drawing and writing as vehicles through which children make and share meaning. In the traditional classroom where language is privileged over other ways of knowing, opportunities to construct meaning through art diminish as learners progress to higher grades and reading and writing therefore shift to the more common curricular resources of the classroom. While some learners are ready for the new shift, many comfortably linger in other forms of expression such as drawing to show their comprehension (Eisner, 1998a). In first grade, varying abilities in writing abound. Exposure to and the personal construction of visual text may provide young writers opportunities to develop and reveal some of their own literacy strategies (Albers, 2007). Simply put, there is power in children's use of art and, when it is valued as a conduit for understanding how children construct meaning, understanding children's literacy processes is also expanded.

Descriptors: Grade 1, Freehand Drawing, Writing (Composition), Literacy Education, Emergent Literacy, Code Switching (Language), Logical Thinking, Aesthetics, Aesthetic Education, Young Children, Teachers, Teaching Methods, Qualitative Research

Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences and Sustainability. University of California Irvine, School of Biological Sciences III, Office 2656, Irvine, CA 92697. Tel: 949-824-4317; Fax: 949-824-2965; Web site:

Author: Leigh, S. Rebecca; Heid, Karen A.


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