Students Utilize Art, Music in Short Story Analysis

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Ninth-grade students in Jennifer Cusano-Pernice’s English class at Elwood-John H. Glenn High School recently completed a study unit on short stories that had them incorporate artwork, film and speeches into their work. By doing so, they were able to analyze, evaluate and synthesize multiple media and apply that knowledge to future work.

The students were asked to bring in any media they came across that related to the unit’s topics to share with fellow classmates. A major section of the short story unit revolved around “The Scarlet Ibis,” in which author James Hurst describes the oil spills in Nigeria and the effects they had on the surrounding wildlife, specifically the scarlet ibis.

Student Katie Latawiec presented a 2007 article detailing the true story that Hurst wrote about, making a direct connection to the symbolic scarlet ibis in the story and Lindsey Carr’s painting, “An Oiled Scarlet Ibis,” which the class analyzed. Student Joy Lee chose the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds,” along with a video, to express how the mood, symbolism of the birds and allusions related to one of Hurst’s main characters.

After examining different media, the students were tasked with formulating their own questions and thoughts about the story and presenting their findings to their peers, ultimately becoming the teachers for the class period.