Monday, February 11, 2013

Paper-Cut Illustrations to Inform Writing

Kyle's paper-cut of his summer camp. 
The connection between image and writing is powerful.  I noticed that as students and I created digital stories last month.  In a couple of weeks students will begin writing organized essays about their favorite places--essays to convince others that "their favorite place" is a place one should visit.

Before students write these essays they have to take the time to remember their special places with detail and strength.  I've been thinking about how to motivate detailed memory, and I've decided we'll use paper cut design.  If you've created a paper-cut illustration, you know that this medium takes time, thought and attention to detail.  It's also a forgiving venue since you can simply cover up an error or add additional shapes to change the design. Paper-cut design enlivens the senses too since you're using many colors, textures, shapes and patterns to relay a message and image.

As usual, I'll try this out before fostering students' work.  Here's what we'll do.
  • List a number of places that you've been to that you really like, want to tell the world about and think others should visit too.
  • Choose a place that you'll enjoy writing about, and one that you remember well. If it will help look at images online and in your photo collection.
  • List what's special about that place.  Then study your list and name three distinct categories that describe that place--three distinct reasons why your place is a great place.
  • Take three 8 1/2 X 11 white pieces of paper (easy to scan) and create a scene that represents each distinct reason why your place is a great place. Use paper, fabric, cut-out images/photos and other materials to create your paper-cut illustrations.
  • Scan your images, then mount the images in a thoughtful order on a large piece of paper.  
  • Use the images to inform and illustrate your writing. 
Once students complete their paper-cut illustrations, we'll share the work with each other, and then we'll get busy writing those wonderful essays--essays that we hope to publish in a local newspaper or magazine. The paper-cut illustrates will be displayed on our hall bulletin board for all to see.

Oliver's Winter Fun Paper-Cut
We won't spend this much time on every essay, but giving the first essay of the year considerable time and thought helps to pave the path to greater writing success as we write a number of essays in the coming weeks.

Project Time Line/Checklist

Project Note:  Paper-cuts proved to be challenging for students so in the future I would hope to work with the art teacher in this endeavor.  I did find though that the task did elicit memory and detail.