Connotation: The Banksy Project


So no school today. Students were supposed to return to the classroom today in my district, but that didn’t end up happening due to Georgia’s version of inclement weather. To be fair, I understand why they wouldn’t want students of any age to be standing outside waiting for a bus in 7° weather! Since I’m here in the warmth of my home today, I figured it would be a great opportunity to share how I capped off the fall semester with my 10th grade students. It was a joint effort with my media specialist and based entirely off of the street artist, Banksy. 

If you’re unsure of who Banksy is as an artist have no fear. A simple Google search will tell you all you need to know, but essentially he (or she for that matter) is a mysterious graffiti artist (some don’t agree with that title) who traditionally uses stencils and spray paint to generate often times jarring, contrasting images and at times includes words to enhance the images connotation.

Connotation! Now that word there is the key. At the end of this past semester, I forwent pursuing another piece of literature in lieu of concentrating on writing, but more specifically a look at diction and connotation versus denotation of words. I wanted to cap my lessons with a powerful and lasting impression, and I expressed as much to my media specialist who is one of the best mind you. After doing some searching himself, he helped locate another teacher’s Banksy project, which I quickly molded into my own spin and take on the purpose of the project. Ultimately, I wanted my students to briefly study Banksy, discuss his or her images (including what makes them effective/jarring), and then use this thought process to generate their own images and slogans where word choice and connotation play a significant role in what they are trying to communicate to their audience.

My students struggled with this at first. Not as much as they would have at the earlier part of the year, but it is clear that every time I try to stretch their definition of language and literature they hesitate and are cautious of moving forward. But as with most of the year, they embraced it eventually. In the future, I’d like to do a true stencil “wall” of physical images and words that can be posted in the school, but due to time and logistics, we went the digital route where students found images and used MS PPT to recreate the image as a “stencil” (ideally you can use Photoshop) and develop a word choice or phrase that emphasized the point of the image subtly. The projects culmination will happen early this semester, when students’ images will be shown and rotated on the school’s large set of screens in the commons area (lunchroom). I was really happy with the result of many of the products, and I’m thrilled their work will have a real audience in the school when they appear on the screen in the commons. My hope is that it was a project that impacts how they think of connotation and diction all together.

Below are a few of my favorite images from the project. Some are subtle while others are quite jarring, but either way I hope you can clearly see the power of multimodal literacy in action. Cheers!

BanksyProject1 BanksyProject2 BanksyProject3 BanksyProject4 BanksyProject5 BanksyProject6 BanksyProject7 BanksyProject8 BanksyProject10

As a quick caution, this last image is the most jarring and possibly disturbing of the others. Personally, I think it is fairly insightful, but I know it may bother many. Scroll down with caution.


6 thoughts on “Connotation: The Banksy Project

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