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Artifactual Literacies Module

Welcome to the Drew Writing Project/NEH Grant “Building a More Perfect Union” workshop series on Artifactual and Historical Literacies!


This Module will introduce you to the exciting, emergent field of artifactual literacies, which includes understanding how:

  • Objects evoke memories and stories. 
  • Objects provide rich connections to daily life as well as to intellectual practice. 
  • Objects invite humans to better understand each other, themselves, and the world around them.
  • Objects provide a relatable way into difficult concepts, topics, and texts.

Prior to getting settled, please be prepared with the following:

  • A handwritten journal or a downloaded copy of this organizer. 
  • Look around you. Find an object that has meaning and bring it to your workspace.


Did you describe it? Tell a story about it? Then you just embarked on your first exploration into artifactual literacies! But, what are artifactual literacies exactly? Why are they important? And how can they enhance our classroom instruction?


Please watch this short video to find out!



BUILDING OUR VISUAL LITERACY SKILLS

We’ll begin this next part of the Module by listening to Carol Jago, self-proclaimed and esteemed “Reader, Teacher, Writer and Speaker,” discuss the value of using visuals to strengthen what she calls students’ “literacy muscles.”

Watch Carol Jago Video Here

Now, it’s time to spend some time “just seeing” and exercising our own visual literacy skills!  Please look at the image closely and respond to the subsequent prompts. 



After you’ve closely examined the image, please read the poem, Artifact, by Janet Wong, and subsequently take a few minutes to respond to it.

Artifact by Janet Wong
Use These Prompts to Help Unpack the Poem:

Was the object one of the initial ones you saw, or did you zoom in on another object in light of the poem? Did particular words or images in the poem strike you upon unpacking the image? How did the superimposed texts elevate your understanding of, or connection to, the meaning of each?


EXAMINING YOUR PERSONAL ARTIFACT

Now you’re going to look at your object and see where they might lead you. Go back to the personal object that you brought to your workspace and about which you’ve written.

Use these Question to Interrogate Your Object (Please Click on the Accordions Below):

Material
Group (Contextual)
Individual (Personal)

Hopefully, this series of inquiries have invited you to uncover more of the meaning of this object.

That interrogation process and its subsequent discoveries is the work of artifactual literacies!


Now let’s see it in action in the classroom!

Please watch both of these videos.


STUDENT SAMPLES

The Gargantuan Swing Set, Katie, 11th Grade

Click Here for Katie’s Story
Click on this image to access Katie’s essay
CLICK TO HEAR KATIE’S VOICE!

Untitled, 12th Grade

Click Here for Untitled
CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO ACCESS ANOTHER STUDENT’S WRITING

OBJECTS AND MEANING-MAKING: Putting it together

Return to your object.


Re-read what you’ve written about your object, from your initial reflection at the onset of the Module, to the deeper observations later on, in it.

Circle or underline a word or phrase that gets at the core of the meaning of this object to you.


IMPORTANT: Now, take a picture of this object in a way that shows the meaning you have identified.


IF YOU WOULD LIKE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CREDIT FOR COMPLETING THIS MODULE, THEN PLEASE SUBMIT THIS FORM.

About the Author

Heather Lutz