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Literacy through the arts (and a mother’s digression)

“You don’t have to be an art teacher to include the arts in your classroom or to encourage children to think about the arts.”

Emily Valenza believes there are many engaging ways all educators can make thinking visible, rethink assessment and critique, and make critical connections across artificial disciplinary boundaries.

I am pretty darn excited about the upcoming webinar, Literacy through the Arts: Standards-Aligned Curriculum for History and Social Studies.

On May 10th at 5:00 PM Eastern, Emily Valenza and Julie Knutson will share the why, what and how of arts integratioScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.22.55 AMn in history and social studies.

The Follett Community website describes the session:

The 21st century has been labeled the “visual age,” and interweaving art into all subject areas bears a host of qualitative and quantitative benefits for its learners.

Valenza and Knutson will discuss current research on incorporating the arts into social studies, along with strategies for the creating immersive and engaging lessons that allow students to situate art history in cultural context. Throughout, focus will be maintained on building the 21st-century skills that students need most: critical thinking, research, collaboration, and creativity.

  • Cultivate historical empathy and the consideration of multiple perspectives through the arts
  • Create thought-provoking Surrealist collages using primary source documents to reinforce History topics
  • Structure an interactive mask-making unit that brings biographical studies to life
  • Foster your students’ sense of synaesthesia with art games to enhance their descriptive writing skills

Register here.

More on the presenters:

Emily Valenza is an art educator fascinated by digital storytelling, cinematography, scientific illustration and aesthetic critique. She has been teaching art to adults and students in community centers, public, and private schools for over 13 years.  She believes that everyone can be an artist and that being an artist in today’s world means that you are constantly changing, challenging ideas, and inventing new ways of seeing and doing things. New methods of creating art are being discovered every day so there is no better or more exciting time to dive in than NOW!

Emily has a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Penn State University and is the Arts Department Coordinator at Kingsley Montessori School in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.  Check out Emily’s blog!

051016 Julie KnutsonJulie Knutson is an experienced social studies educator and curriculum writer, with tenure teaching at the middle and high school levels. Julie holds an M.A. in art history, and staunchly advocates for the integration of arts education into all content areas. In 2010, while working with FotoFest’s Literacy Through Photography program in Houston, TX, she authored Contemporary U.S. Photography, a curricular companion to the organization’s biennial.  Currently, Julie works as an academic consultant for Follett School Solutions. She is active in the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), serving on the board for the Future and Advancement of the Social Studies (FASSE), and also occupies a seat on the board of Students of Strength, an online academic mentoring and coaching service.


Forgive me a nostalgic side trip, but Mother’s Day is in air.

Of course, Emily is my dear and supremely talented daughter.  And, blast from the past, you may remember her contributions to my books and websites way back in the day.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.10.58 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.10.52 AM






Of course, Matthew, from time to time has also made an appearance in this blog.  One of my favorite posts from the past was inspired watching Matty on the basketball court, On Librarians and Point Guards.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear friends.  And thanks, Emily and Matt.  I am so proud of your achievements and the people you have become.  Thank you for the joy you always bring me.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Thank you mom! I hope you enjoy the webinar! Love you!


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