Never at a Loss for Words: Vocabulary Inspired by Masterpiece Art

BY Donna Martin-Langtry

Eastham Elementary School

Project Description

My goal is to increase vocabulary for all the students in Eastham Elementary School using art reproductions to stimulate language that can be displayed, and shared throughout our Cape Cod Community.  Collaborating with another SLP Colleague in another school in my district, we have come up criteria that we use to select words, based on the work of Isabel Beck:  Does the word occur frequently in a variety of oral and written contexts?  Do the students already understand the “concept” of the word, and can it be defined in child-friendly language?  Will the word contribute to improved comprehension of texts and discussions?  Will students have opportunities to use the words in conversations once learned?

Through the use of specific artwork and identified core vocabulary, four Masterpiece sentences containing the target vocabulary words will be constructed monthly to illustrate multiple meaning.  A MASTERPIECE SENTENCE paints a picture in your mind with words that tell you WHEN, WHERE, and HOW with rich vocabulary in a variety of sentence patterns.  In addition, to the sentences and the vocabulary, the artwork will be displayed and the artist will be presented through a “wh” question format:  who, what, where, when, why as it is displayed in a main area in our school.  Thus, we are encouraging the mature language user, encouraging vocabulary development, and enriching our cultural lives through the exploration of  artists’ works. 

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

The grant funds will be used to purchase a specific portfolio of art prints to be used in the project.  Additionally, each classroom teacher will be provided with the sentences and vocabulary words to review monthly in their classrooms. 

Benefit to the students and the school

Students and staff throughout the school will be exposed to rich vocabulary that is related to wonderful art pieces.  Additionally, sentence construction with grammatical elements, noun-verb agreement, multiple meaning words, and a variety of sentence constructs will be introduced.  The connection between art and language in print will provide multi sensory learning/input for those who learn best through those channels.  Information about the artist (name, name of the piece, date of the painting, location, etc.) will also be readily available through a wh-question format.  The artwork, words, and sentences will be displayed in a hallway that will be accessible to all members of the Eastham Elementary community. 

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

The project is slated to begin in January of 2016 and change monthly with a new artist, vocabulary words and sentences displayed every month through the end of June.  When the 2016-2017 school year begins, the project will continue to be displayed.

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