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Lesson Plans

 
Untitled XXI
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
According to philosopher John Armstrong, “Reverie is the state of giving ourselves up to the flow of associations. This state of letting something happen—a species of relaxation—is one we need to cultivate when we look at paintings or buildings. . . . Reverie is a mode of introducing personal material into a picture or building: it brings an abundance of thoughts and feelings into play. It also frees us from merely following routine assumptions. . . . Reverie operates at the root of thinking: it is essential to the creative process in which we come to make thoughts for ourselves.” In this lesson, students are encouraged to contemplate art and make associations to prior experiences and memories in order to construct meaning that is both personal and original. Through writing, students record their ideas and understandings to be shared with others.
My Friends
Language Arts - Critical Response
The Artful Thinking approach, designed by Project Zero at Harvard University, teaches students how to think critically through the use of simple routines that guide them to develop processes for observing and analyzing art. The art is a force for developing thinking skills and thinking dispositions that students can then apply across the curriculum.
Sunflowers
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
The Artful Thinking approach, designed by Project Zero at Harvard University, teaches students how to think critically through the use of simple routines for observing and analyzing art. In doing so, the visual arts becomes a force for developing thinking skills and dispositions that students can apply across the curriculum.
Carnival of Venice
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
The Elaboration Game encourages students to look deeply at a work of art. The goal is to facilitate careful observation and the ability to communicate effectively what is observed. After close observation provides a depth of information and insights, interpretation of what the student has seen is enhanced. Students will be asked to work in small groups to observe and then to build on those observations. Assessment can be through extended discussion or through writing.
Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
The thinking routine called “What makes you say that?” is designed to encourage deep observation, followed by an explanation of support that is the basis of critical thinking. Building explanations for observations promotes evidence-based reasoning. Further, listening to the reasoning offered by classmates allows students to understand alternatives and multiple perspectives associated with 21st Century Learning Skills. This lesson also scaffolds to a more sophisticated version of the strategy, asking students to make a claim from their observations, support that claim, and develop further questions from their preliminary work.
The City
Language Arts - Critical Response
This lesson, although aligned with Career, Art, and Twenty-First Century standards, can be easily adapted for any core subject area.
Bicycle Race
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Descriptive writing vividly portrays a person, place, or thing in such a way that the reader can visualize the topic and enter into the writer's experience. The best writing engages our five senses, and nothing provides as rich an opportunity for sensory engagement as art. This lesson is designed to help students recognize sensory details in works of art and incorporate these details into their writing.
The Ballet Class
Language Arts - Critical Response
While biographers and historians are guided by actual events, artists and writers can select those details that suit their purposes, specifically to develop character, tone, conflict, and theme.
Still Life with a Ham and a Roemer
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
The elements and principals of art and design, and how they are used, contribute mightily to the ultimate composition of a work of art—and that can mean the difference between a masterpiece and a messterpiece.
Fountain
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Today, a century after Duchamp both shocked and delighted his peers, we still debate what constitutes art. This lesson encourages students to challenge first impressions and their own ideas about art by providing a context for the iconic readymade. By reading and reflecting on information about the Fountain scandal and Duchamp’s larger body of work, students will gain deeper understanding and insight.
A Coming Storm
Language Arts - Critical Response
In this lesson, students will work in the opposite direction and use their skills in poetry to examine and interpret works of art.
Tapestry showing Constantine Slaying the Lion
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Constantine tapestries represent thirteen iconic scenes from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine (around 270–337 CE). Each tapestry is filled with detail and drama, and offers an opportunity to witness the ability of art to tell a story. This lesson, designed for a Language Arts classroom, grades 4–8, uses a structured poem (the diamante) to examine contrasting story elements in narrative art.
Still Life with Roses in a Fluted Vase
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Though we may not actually be able to feel or hear the objects and scenes depicted in a painting, artists often invite us to use a variety of our senses when we explore a work of art, encouraging us to imagine the textures, smells, and even tastes of what is depicted.
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)
Language Arts - Critical Response
The more questions we generate around a problem, a text we want to explore, or a work of art, the richer our exploration and the answers we come to can be. This activity encourages students to build habits of mind around creative questioning as they work to generate multiple questions about a work of art and then use those questions as a basis for discussion.
Prometheus Bound
Language Arts - Production, Performance, & Exhibition
In recent years graphic novels have gained mainstream attention for their ability to tell rich, complex stories in a unique way. Books like Art Spiegelman’s Maus showcase the power of the medium to combine powerful dialogue with rich visual metaphors. Comic books are a creative way to engage students in the art of storytelling, decision making, and critical thinking. In this activity, students will be introduced to the basic language of comic books. They will explore the way comic artists use the sequential art that combines text and images to tell a story. Discussion and exercises will lead each student toward creating an original, three-panel comic strip.
Portrait of Laura Canadé Zigrosser
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Sculpture is an art form that, unlike painting, printmaking, and photography, exists in 3-dimensional space. Most sculpture can be explored from all sides. This 3-dimensional aspect challenges the artist and offers a new set of opportunities for expression. This lesson is meant to introduce students to some of the more common forms of sculpture, as well as to a few of the terms used for description and discussion.
Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Whether looking at a work of art or reading a text, students often rush over the images or words to make quick decisions about what they see and what is going on. This lesson plan challenges students to look carefully at small squares of a picture that has been cut up to slowly make inferences/predictions about what the work of art might look like. Students start from their single square of the picture and then team up with other students to build their understanding as more squares and parts of the picture are revealed.
The Return of Ulysses
Language Arts - Critical Response
Throughout history, artists have created visual images inspired by stories. Each new version is at once personal and universal, innovative while still connected to tradition, and unique in the way that it reflects the artist’s influences. This lesson guides students to look closely at two works of art that depict scenes from the same archetypal story in significantly different ways and to analyze how each artist reinterprets the story to make it his own.
Unicorns Came Down to the Sea
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Building confidence in the appreciation and analysis of works of art sometimes involves viewing those works with new or novel approaches. This lesson begins with the assumption that students have some experience observing and interpreting works of art in areas of composition and theme. The teacher in this lesson should allow students to independently engage with the selections as much as possible, and guide class discussion to those questions that naturally arise in a close observation of works of art. The goal here is not the critical analysis of art, but rather the product which emerges from that analysis. Students will use their understanding of these works to create character sketches, plot summaries, and music play lists.
Embroidered Picture
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
World leaders are, and always have been, larger than life, and for thousands of years, governments and statespersons have been keenly aware of the power of symbols to express complex beliefs, values, and ideas. This lesson explores how artists employ symbols to speak of the greatness of America’s premier founding father, George Washington. Students will examine several depictions of our country’s first president, focusing on the artist’s use of symbol.
Mr. Prejudice
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Historical periods or moments can be appreciated in many forms. A video clip or audio file provides context, as does a well-documented historical text. Works of art can also provide a lens into the past, documenting events and issues of the time through the eyes of the artist who produced it. This lesson compares paintings that commemorate similar historical periods, allowing the student to note similarities and differences through the eyes of the artist.
A Huntsman and Dogs
Language Arts - Critical Response
Mankind’s struggle for dominance over nature is a universal theme that has resonated with people throughout history. Whether linked to a specific belief system, geographic area, or culture, views about this relationship are ever-changing, and have often been addressed by American artists. This lesson explores the complex relationship of man in the natural world. Students will discover those details in artistic composition that reveal the artist’s views and compel the viewer to consider greater truths.
The Battle of the U.S.S. "Kearsarge" and the C.S.S. "Alabama"
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The adoption of Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy has highlighted those skills required to understand and work with informational texts. The visual arts are viewed as alternative informational texts; and when also considered as primary source objects, works of art present unique opportunities to work with Common Core skills. This lesson will focus specifically on determining central ideas, supporting inferences and analyses with textual details, and comparing sources for specific events.
Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale I)
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Artists often invite us into their paintings so that we might imagine ourselves stepping inside the picture frame and experiencing it firsthand. Some painters take this invitation to another level by painting details with such precision that viewers are tricked into believing the objects, people, and setting are real. These highly realistic paintings, known as trompe l’oeil, provide an ideal opportunity for students to respond to art by assuming the roles and voices of the painted figures.
Cuirassier Armor
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Symbols are all around us. They are a natural part of our language and of the objects of our culture. In fact, our ability to communicate would be limited without the use of symbols. A Symbol is a person, place, or object that represents something beyond itself. Symbols possess standard interpretations, which are generally accepted by a culture, and also personal interpretations, which vary from one person to the next. These interpretations allow us to use symbols to examine other cultures and other viewpoints.
Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil
Language Arts - Critical Response
The shift to implementing Common Core standards in schools has placed new emphasis on helping students develop critical thinking skills. While the use and definition of these skills continues to evolve.
Still Life with a Ham and a Roemer
Language Arts - Critical Response
This lesson plan is the sixth in a series that is focused on using art to enrich instruction in these critical skills. The research on which this information is based can be found in many sources, perhaps best summarized in the book Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.
Shipwreck
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Recent research has shown that we can build innovative thinkers by reinforcing a set of thinking tools, including such skills as observing, abstracting, pattern recognition, modeling, and transforming (among others). As these skills can all be taught, it makes sense that we can help students become the creative thinkers that we will need in the twenty-first century. This lesson plan is the seventh in a series that is focused on using art to enrich instruction in these critical skills.
South Philly (Mattress Flip Front)
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Adapted and expanded from the 2011 Philadelphia Museum of Art teaching kit, Looking to Write, Writing to Look.
Grand Canyon of the Colorado River
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
We live in and experience landscapes every day—at school, at home, at work, on the commute, and through many other settings and experiences. Often, we don’t pay much attention to these “everyday landscapes,” but just as often they hold special meaning for us. Our personal landscapes may bring a sense of comfort, peace, or drama; and may even strike us an extraordinarily beautiful. Artists can help us learn to explore and examine our surroundings. What can we learn by taking the time to look carefully at the world around us? What can we take away from observing artist’s depictions of landscapes they have experienced or observed? This lesson challenges students to look closely and examine different landscapes and imagine they are experiencing them firsthand.

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