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Walking through Images: Gallery Walk

Written by Patricia Enciso
October 17, 2015

To move from general information about hurricanes to a focus on Hurricane Katrina, students first participated in a gallery walk of post-Katrina images as well as images of the storm from space. During this walk students closely examined the images, stopping at the one they thought was the most interesting and discussing the images with classmates. Their discussions focused on what stood out to them and why they were drawn to it. The gallery walk also encouraged them to pose questions about people’s experiences as well as more questions about the storm itself.
Students were especially moved by the images (linked) that pointed to human suffering (a lost, muddied toy; waiting and seeking rescue on a rooftop) and the chaos Katrina exacted (truck in tree). With these images in mind, and their concerns expressed about the gravity and extent of the disaster, Allison and Gaye guided the class through the first narrative in State of Emergency.
“As a class, we first read the excerpt of the graphic novel, which features two friends, Abbas and Darnell, who stay in New Orleans to protect Abbas’ store. Once they survive, they use the supplies from the store to help other residents who were stranded. After reading this story, we read 2 stories of survivors, in one case the family left for Arizona and never returned, and in the other, the family returned to rebuild. From these stories, students created their own mini graphic novels.”
In preparation for reading the next story, Zeitoun (Bearing Witness), we read an article about the fears and concerns expressed by undocumented immigrants post-Katrina. Even though the graphic novel we read featured an immigrant family, their status was not central to the text. This was contrary to the story of Abdulraham Zeitoun, the main character, who was a longtime resident, businessman and citizen in New Orleans, but was mistakenly and tragically viewed by National Guard and local police as not only ‘illegal’ but also a potential terrorist.