Using Navajo Contemporary Art to Teach Descriptive Writing to ELL Students

byIrene Jones

This unit revolves around prints and images from Native American contemporary artists like Ronald Chee, Shonto Begay, and Ryan Singer to help students compose a piece of descriptive writing.  Ronald Chee and other contemporary artists create works that have strong ties to their Native American heritage and culture.  They consider themselves storytellers and information holders for their generations of progressive art. 

In order for students to enter a mainstream class, their writing skills have to demonstrate competency in writing based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities specified in the Performance Indicators at the High Intermediate level. This unit was designed for 3rd to 5th grade ELL students to help them improve descriptive writing, with a focus on adjectives that can help them improve syntax and sentence structures. Strategies include using word explosion, activating prior knowledge, and taking a field trip to practice what they learned.  This unit will allow a smooth transition to narrative writing where students will use higher level thinking to include details to convey experiences and events.

(Developed for Writing and Grammar, grades 3-5)

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