Mythology comes alive at East Elementary School’s ‘Gallery Walk’

East Elementary School students tour the “Gallery Walk” to learn more about The Odyssey and mythology. (Photo courtesy of Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – A recent art project reached across history — and grade levels — at East Elementary School, as sixth graders brought their study of The Odyssey to life with a “Gallery Walk” which fourth graders were able to explore.

Sixth grade teacher Laura Tokar gave her students a project in which they used text, images, video and illustrations to bring scenes from the epic poem The Odyssey to life. The sixth grade students have been reading Gillian Cross’ adaptation of Homer’s epic tale The Odyssey, about a hero who overcomes many trials and hardships, such as a shipwreck and an encounter with a Cyclops, on his journey home. That reading project coincided with a fourth grade study of mythology, and the idea for the “Gallery Walk” on the shared topic was born.

Tokar teamed up with fourth grade teacher Lindsey Howard, who had her students tour the illustrations and works created by the sixth graders and took note of their inferences of the pieces. Some students also used iPads to record their explanations of the illustrations to include with the artwork as a way to incorporate technology and mixed media. The illustrations were safely spaced to encourage social distancing.

“We collaborated to have students practice application of speaking and listening goals within a small group while making inferences and applying connections from what they had studied to the text,” Tokar explained. “The students loved it! My sixth grade students have even asked if they can take a walk to see the work completed by peers in other homeroom classes. My daughter is a fourth grade student. After participating in the gallery walk, she told me she can’t wait to read The Odyssey when she is a sixth grader.”

The “Gallery Walk” was such a success, the teachers plan to make it an annual event as a new way to bring the stories they’re studying to life for students at both grade levels.