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From Struggle to Success

Ms. Recco is an art teacher at Cindy Avitia High School. Through teaching art, she has seen a tremendous amount of growth in several of her students. One such student is Alfredo Reynoso, a ninth grader who is an English Language Learner.

Alfredo really struggled at the beginning of the school year with understanding concepts and rather than seeking help, he would just perform poorly on tests. I noticed that he would demonstrate understanding of art concepts such as color harmonies, balance, value, etc. but the challenge arose when it came time for him to apply that information on tests. It was only once I realized that Alfredo was demonstrating the same concepts that he was missing on tests that I was able to find new ways to help him understand verbally what he was showing through art. The biggest disconnect for Alfredo was verbalizing the concepts he already knew. I understood that while he speaks English well, it can be difficult for Alfredo to put some of these concepts into words. Together, we developed a system for doing tasks that worked better for the way that he understands concepts. During tests, I would show him the artwork that covered the concept that the question was asking, and let him explain it verbally before choosing the answer. By helping him connect what he understands visually to the verbal answers on the tests, he not only performs better on tests but is also reinforcing his language skills.

For me, art is a language; it transcends culture, gender, nationality, even time. When students take art, they develop their own creative voice, and better understand other people and cultures through their creations. Art also contains all other subjects, so when students are creating art, they’re reinforcing skills and concept in math, science, language arts, history, geography, and more.