SWOS class blends English and art
Some Southwest Open School students are getting graphic with their writing ... in a good way.
Twenty students in Patty Ledford’s class have been working on a nine-page “graphic novel” project for their fall intensive term Language Arts class.
The students, who get half a credit each in English and Art for passing the class, are learning about the Japanese “anime” art form.
The graphic novels consist of a personal story, i.e. something that happened in the student’s life, that incorporates drawings into a short story or storyboard (poster) form.
Mancos artist Brad Goodell has been helping the students with the project. The students have been drawing nine to 25 pictures per graphic novel, said Ledford, who is starting her fourth year at the public charter high school.
“Kids seem to be a little more open to the graphic art content,” said Ledford, who calls it “a first step or back door into traditional literature.”
Kaila Gray, an 11th-grader, loves the “anime” art form, which makes up “manga,” Japanese graphic novels that are read from back to front.
Tawny Bailey, also an 11th-grader, said she’s learned a lot about comics and the elements of writing, such as climax and conflict. “It’s more hands-on. It’s easier to learn. Patty makes it fun,” she said.
“We focus a lot on the elements of story,” Ledford said. This includes the “six traits of writing” that make up one of the school’s “best practices.” These include: ideas, organization, word choice, voice — making it sound like the author, sentence fluency — varying sentence length, and convention — grammar, punctuation, etc.
This is the second year Goodell, 53, has helped Ledford with her class.
Goodell has been a professional artist ever since graduating from the Colorado Institute of Art in 1984. He believes it’s a good thing to incorporate art into other school subjects. “Art and music get pushed into a little corner (oftentimes), but art is in every aspect of what we do when we sell and create products,” he said. “Art gives retail products a lot more value.”
Art “is a great way to make English class entertaining but also to make the kids aware of how much art we’re surrounded by,” he said.
Prior to helping Ledford, Goodell didn’t have any experience with “anime,” but he was exposed to it by his children, Zane, 15, and Wyatt, 13. The boys, who are homeschooled and also attend Mancos schools part-time, got involved in “anime” on their own through electronics and YouTube videos, he said.