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Running head: VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

Visual Literacy for Writing Instruction


Connie Hinely
University of West Georgia
MEDT 7490
July 14, 2016

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

Article 1
The first article that I reviewed, The art of engaging young men as writers, was written
by M.J. Franco and K. Unrath in 2015. The purpose of this article was to document a study that
was conducted regarding the use of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) in relation to improving
elementary-aged boys writing skills. There was one main research question, with four
supporting questions. The main research question is, What happens when Visual Thinking
Strategies art discussions and related artmaking are infused into a remedial writing program for
K-5 boys? In order to keep the investigation focused, four more questions were used. First, how
do the K-5 boys respond when VTS dialogues initiate each writing club session? Second, what
role does artmaking inspired by the VTS dialogues play in the literacy lessons? Third, what
impact, if any, does a weekly VTS/artmaking/writing intervention have on the boys writing?
Lastly, if benefits of the intervention are observed, how might they be explained?
The study was originated based on one principals desire to meet the needs of young boys
academically, physically and emotionally. Research was conducted and it was found that young
boys traditionally scored lower on writing assessments. They also did not attend college as
frequently as girls. There were more special education referrals and greater dropout rates. The
principal chose to create a writing club, specifically for young boys, to meet and discuss visual
images. Once these images were discussed, the young men had the opportunity to put their
thoughts into writing. By using visuals to enhance literacy, twenty-first century skills were
encouraged. Students of different intelligences were encouraged to collaborate, think critically,
and share ideas in a safe environment. Lessons began with a twelve minute VTS discussion of a
given image. Students were encouraged to discuss and elaborate their ideas verbally. Then,

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

students were encouraged to narrate their thoughts. These narrations began with words, signs and
labels and moved to more detailed writing.
The study used a transmediational chain. This is a reflective process where a symbol is
presented, usually in the form of an image. The student responds to the image by viewing the
image and making a connection. At this point, a meaningful dialogue begins to share ideas. At
this stage, the student is encouraged to draw a picture representing their thoughts or ideas of the
image, and finally they write about it so elaboration can take place. By allowing the students to
create art prior to writing, an environment was created that encouraged creativity and promoted
supportive relationships among the boys. Students who had been quiet and withdrawn began to
participate. This was unexpected. The boys attitudes and emotions were positively impacted due
to these VTS experiences.
The qualitative study was thorough. It began by using flipcam videos during the VTS
dialogues. By using the videos, the boys actions and interactions were noted. Researchers also
took notes and created blogs so they could go back and review the videos to make better
connections. Once the videos and blogs were transcribed, both verbal and nonverbal clues were
coded for themes. The research was overwhelmingly positive. It began as a one semester trial
and turned into a five semester adventure. The boys were engaged and very excited about
participating. The study concluded that purposeful and substantive visual art experiences can
support the literacy learning of K-5 boys. The environment was safe and motivating to all boys
involved. The boys knowledge grew in all six language arts practices; reading, writing,
speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing. The study was a success.
The research was conducted in a manner to allow different ideas to be presented and
confirmed. By using the videos, questioning and triangulation, the themes were identified.

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

Students were questioned at the end of the study to confirm the studys success. The manner in
which the VTS were researched and confirmed seemed strong to me. The videos of the boys
sharing could be shared so others could see VTS in action.
This article was very interesting to me. I learned a new strategy by reading this. When
students are able to view an image, make a connection, draw a picture and then write about it,
students thoughts and written expressions flourish. I have seen young boys feeling reluctant or
less confident to write in elementary schools. As a mother of a son who, shared these inadequate
feelings, I wish this opportunity would have been available when he was in elementary school.
By giving young boys their own space and club to focus on areas of interest to them, it
encourages their participation. Once they are interested and excited about such an opportunity,
the engagement happens. When students are vested, they will have more success. This is a great
opportunity for young boys to develop their writing skills by using visual literacy.
Article 2
The second article I selected for review was entitled TeenACE for science: Using
Multimedia Tools and Scaffolds to Support Writing. The authors of the article are Caryl H.
Hitchcock, Kavita Rao, Chuan Chinn Chang and JoAnn W. L. Yuen. The purpose of this
research study was to evaluate the effect of a program called TeenACE for Science on expository
writing skills. TeenACE for Science is a Multimedia Technology program that is designed to
help students become better expository writers.
This review took place in Hawaii in a middle school. The participants were
predominantly ELL students, who were culturally and linguistically diverse. The majority of the
students were living in homes where English was not their first language. Some of these students
are also students with disabilities. The project provides these students with individual

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

opportunities to work through individual lessons to practice their writing process. They begin to
arrange with a group of pictures. Once they are arranged, they place the headings and the
pictures in the correct order. The pictures and the headings are placed in an organizer. This is
where the writing process begins.
Students are asked to begin to take brief notes, using keywords on a cognitive map. Once
the cognitive map is complete, they use this to write a paragraph. Using a rubric, students check
their work to make sure they have included the eight traits for good paragraphs. This report is
created in a digital format of the students choice and moved into a slide presentation. Students
are given the option to use voice to text feature due to their low vocabulary skills. Once the story
has been completely moved into the slide presentation, students record each slide of the report.
Students listen to the report and edit as needed. They are then asked to assess the writing by
rating all eight power traits.
The participants in this mixed method study include 26 students in grades 5 to 8. There
were 20 students in grade 7. The majority of the students were Hawaiian or Part-Hawaiian. The
mixed method research designed utilized quantitative methods to address the research question
by using pre and post intervention comparison design to address writing outcomes. Surveys and
focus groups were used to analyze qualitative data. The qualitative data analyzed the perceptions
of the writing process. The study took place over twelve weeks.
The results indicated that there was an improvement in the writing process for the
experimental group. There was also an increased engagement and involvement for participants.
However, it was a small group. I wonder what the results would have been had the group been
larger. The results also indicated there was not a significant increase in the editing skills. Quite
possibly more time could be spent in that area. Students indicated they enjoyed being able to

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

utilize the technology to improve their writing. It improved their self-efficacy, which is
incredibly important in middle school. If students feel good about their progress, that is half of
the battle.
This topic was interesting to me for several reasons. I have not used the talk-to-type
feature in the lab. Quite possibly, I will entertain that this year. Our school has a large ELL
population. This program is not available to us; however, it would be quite easy to have the
students create their own images or even self-select some images prior to them entering the lab
and have them arrange and create stories from the images. Again, we see images being used
simultaneously with text to create deeper meaning.
Article 3
The final article I chose to review was The Effect of Digital Storytelling on Visual
Memory and Writing Skills. The article was written by H. . Sarca, and Y. K. Usluel. The
purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of digital storytelling on visual memory
and writing skills of students of various ages. The study was conducted using fifty-nine primary
school students. The case study took place over thirteen weeks.
Visual memory is the ability to recall or remember images, scenes, words or other
information presented visually (Sarica & Usluel, 2016, p. 299). This study aimed to use digital
storytelling to determine its effect on visual memory. When we ask students to remember things
from the past, they have to use working memory, which may be short-term or long-term
memory. When students use their visual memory, they are recalling images, words or settings
that have made an impact on their learning. In education, students must visualize things in order
to learn them. Writing is a very difficult task for many students. It involves many cognitive

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

processes working together. Digital storytelling (DST) involves a great deal of writing; however,
there are images that play an important role in making the pieces fit together.
Throughout this study, the goal was to determine the effect of digital storytelling on
visual memory and writing skills. Students were given pre-test and post-tests. The participants
consisted of 29 students in an experimental group and 30 students in a control group. The groups
were formed randomly. Students in both groups were shown pictures and asked to recreate the
pictures. This measured their visual memory. The second phase was asking the students to write
a story about the job they would like to do in their future. This second phase measured their
writing skill. During the thirteen week period, the experimental group was exposed to the process
involved for working through creating digital stories. They created story boards, edited and
added to these and then drew pictures. The final stage was creating the story electronically. The
control group did everything with paper and pencil.
The Benton Visual Retention Test and Composition Evaluation Scale were used for
pre-test and post-test. The t-test was used to determine if there was a significant different in
scores gained after the study. After reviewing the data, it was determined that there was an
improvement in visual memory capacity and writing skills in both the experimental group and
the control group. However, the average gains were higher in the experimental group.
Furthermore, the experimental group showed greater gains in their writing skills than those in the
control group. There was greater engagement and excitement with the experimental group also.
As an educator of elementary students, it is imperative to utilize techniques that
encourage learners to perform at their best. We have to meet students where they are. Writing
proves to be a cognitively challenging task. If utilizing digital storytelling helps students work

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

through the process of organizing thoughts, revising and editing ideas and coming up with a final
copy, we should certainly give them that opportunity.

VISUAL LITERACY FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION

References
Franco, M.J., & Unrath, K. (2015). The art of engaging young men as writers. Art Education,
68(3), 26-31.
Hitchcock, C. H., Rao, K., Chang C. C., & Yuen, J. L. (2016). TeenACE for science: Using
multimedia tools and scaffolds to support writing. Rural Special Education Quarterly,
35(2), 10-23.
Sarca, H. , & Usluel, Y. K. (2016). The effect of digital storytelling on visual memory and
writing skills. Computers & Education, 94, 298-309. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2015.11.016