Nobody Knows the Stories of Others: High School English Language Learners Find Their Poetic Voices by Responding to Works of Art

Related Content
Gulla, Amanda Nicole
TESOL Journal
Resource Type
Acquisition Number
Published Date
07-17-2017 3:54 PM
Published Year
Number of Pages
Subscription Only
This essay tells the story of a collaboration between an English education professor in a large urban university and a high school English teacher working in a school whose population consists almost entirely of new immigrants. The English education professor serves as a visiting teaching artist, introducing the students to studies of works of art, and collaborates with their teacher on developing the students' responses to these works and collecting the students' own poetry and collages into an anthology. The experience of discussing works of art and writing poetry had a significant impact on the students' academic performance in other areas, especially in regard to their sense of efficacy and their self-images as students. Most striking was the fact that there were no extrinsic incentives for participation in creating the anthology. Rather than working for grades, promotion, or credit toward graduation, the students were intrinsically motivated to participate in writing these poems, spending considerable amounts of time on many rounds of revisions because the work was valuable to them personally. The students' poems are breathtakingly beautiful and honest in their telling of the stories of their homes prior to coming to the United States and their adjustment to their new lives as Americans and New Yorkers.
Secondary Education
English Learners
English Learners