Unit Plan: [Art Appreciation – Art as Social Response]


Philosophy of Literacy:

I believe students best learn when vocabulary is repetitive, meaningful, and can be integrated into their surroundings.  In the classroom it is important to build and develop a content specific language in order to translate their creative thought process to others.  This is important because I believe the classroom is to learn about the world, through instruction, but the interpretation of the world is self-learned, unique and specific to each individual.  I believe guiding the students in this way; to lay the groundwork, and then they construct a meaning.  I also believe this self-identity searching cannot be learned without the social exchange in the classroom.  I believe students best learn in dialogue with other students, and building a social classroom is part of my philosophy to literacy.  Like Vygotsky’s Constructivism, I believe that learning is rooted in social action (Kariainen, 2013, p.9).

My classroom then is built on the philosophy that students do most of the talking and engage with one another; the teacher is simply a source of information.  As the teacher, I will intrigue the students with guiding questions, providing the tools of information, but rarely will I want to elicit correct answers, students will develop what they think is right and wrong.  It is my philosophy to present information in a way that is leading, and never final, unless that’s unavoidable. I hope to work with the students, not for them.  I want to be a leading example by critically thinking about art, and art making, so it transfers to my students.  I am influence by the Socratic and Eastern philosophies to learning; this is the base of my knowledge.  This is how I agree with the studies that have shown to develop academic literacy, “teachers must have an extensive knowledge base and a set of promising strategies to employ,” (Meltzer & Hamann, 2005, p.9) but also allowing the students to do the learning by self-reflecting, and questioning the troubling desires they seek.  I do not see the art classroom as an easy place, art is a reflective process, and questioning actions can be difficult.  As the leader of the classroom I hope to challenge the students.  Like Paulo Freire says, “Reflective-action leads to greater active-reflection, and informed reflective-action.” (Morrell, 2008, p.8)



Kariainen, Carol. (2013), Integrating K-12 visual art to increase critical literacy. Northern Michigan University


Meltzer, J., Hamann, E. (2005). Meeting the literacy development needs of adolescent English language learners through content-area learning. The Education Alliance at Brown University: Providence, RI


Morrell, Ernest. (2008). Critical literacy and urban youth: Pedagogies of access, dissent, and liberation. Oxon, UK: Routledge.


 Unit Description [include “texts” students will be reading]:

            In this unit, students will learn about artists that have created works of art in response to an event, how events affect artists, and in what ways artists are socially responsible, particularly during war times and changes in technology.  Students will also learn how to create works of art themselves that carry a social meaning to be interpreted, and what it means to be an art activist and not, creating a work for video, a 2D work to be displayed in a gallery show, and a work to be presented in public.  Students will also learn the significance of social surroundings in art, consciously and unconsciously, then students will learn to describe to others the significance and the meaning to others and each other in presentation.



My philosophy to reading in art education engages with critical responses and conversations with artists.

            Students will have sketchbook to continually add to throughout unit (current events, other interests)

            Independent Reading will be required, and a choice by the student via instructor approval

Findelpearl, Tom. (2013). What we made: conversations on art and social cooperation. Duke University

                        (conversations with artists and curators about co-operative, collaborative, participatory art)     



Essential Question(s):

How do you create meaning to your art, and make art meaningful to others?

Enduring Understandings help us to build rationale for the unit. [Consider the enduring understandings that students will understand by the end of the unit. Remember that Enduring Understandings always begin with, “Students will understand that…”]:

Students will understand that…

·      Images and objects can have an affect on cultural change, and can elicit an emotional response

·      Creating work from within (personal) can be therapeutic, and instigate opinions and interpretations from others

·      Analyzing work can explain a time period, an experience, an opinion, and a personality




Standards [List and unpack the 10 standards that will be addressed in this unit. The standards addressed will be specific to the grade level you are focusing on]:


VA:Cn11.1.Ia – Describe how knowledge of culture, traditions, and history may influence personal responses to art.

Knowledge –

Identify a variety of artifacts that represent a culture

Recognize that artifacts/popular items have cultural significance

Understand that a personal created object or response may not be the opinion of a whole

Reasoning –

Compare and contrast historical representations of one event

Analyze cultural significance or a specific event from performance and objects presented

Skills –

Question how an artist came to their representation of a culture or event

Interpret styles or behaviors of a culture/your own, and identify it’s characteristics

Products –

            Create an artifact that represents a culture

Respond to an event through an artistic medium



VA:Pr4.1.Ia – Analyze, select, and curate artifacts and /or artworks for presentation and preservation

Knowledge -

Explain in content vocabulary why you like a work of art

Identify your aesthetic interests

Understand that opinions in art are widespread

Distinguish similar styles of artwork by other information; time, location, message.

Skill -

Plan and develop an exhibition with a specific subject

Question how works of art are similar and how they differ by design and by intention

Reasoning -

Evaluate your exhibition plan with practical needs (money)

Infer the characteristics of art by the emotional intention of the maker.

Products -

Produce the exhibition with needed advertising

Present the exhibition to peers and others as a tour


VA:Cr1.1.Ia – Use multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors.

Knowledge -

Identify the process of creating a work of art for the purpose of recognizing the steps needed to complete them.

Acquire tools to problem solving strategies for the purpose of applying them to project planning.

Reasoning -

Evaluate a task presented by completing the stages required to finish them

Skills -

            Analyze and correspond with problems presented to them

Products -

            Develop a plan with beginning, middle and end before a project has started.

            Create from scanning and deciding on a specific interest to focus attention on and depict



VA:Cr1.2.Ia – Shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of present day life using a contemporary practice of art or design.

Knowledge –

            Identify the type of art your community supports

            Identify the pop cultural elements that is viewed to you and to others

            Describe the affect the surroundings have on one’s viewpoint to art

            Understand that types of mediums reflect types of emotions

            Recognize availability to mediums and application can reflect a culture on it’s own

Reasoning –

            Classify mediums used in art representations

            Analyze the affect mediums have in interpretation of public art

Skills –

            Question how to best describe a scene or day through art

            Perform a singular representation of an event

Products –

            Design a work that speaks to others, used for advertising or activism

            Create work that is self reflective


VA:Cr2.1.Ia – Engage in making a work of art or design without having a preconceived plan

Knowledge –

            Recognize that trial and error, or failed ideas is part of creating

            Understand that surprising opportunities and accomplishments can come without a plan

            Identity that thinking on the spot is a challenge but has benefits

Reasoning –

            Analyze products on the spot

            Classify attributes to your process of working on the spot

Skills –

            Perform based on real time reasoning of decision-making

Products –

            Create a work without a preconceived plan


VA:Cr2.3.Ia – Collaboratively develop a proposal for an installation, artwork, or space design that transforms the perception and experience of a particular place

Knowledge –

            1.1Identify the characteristics to objects that help to define a space

            Describe what elements to objects in a space help to distinguish it from others

            Record and Locate communities that display elements to art

Reasoning –

            Discuss the attractions and un-attractions that make a space

            1.2 Evaluate a response to normative cultural habits

            Compare/Contrast reactions to abstractions

Skills –

            Perform research on historical presentations of art

            Question human boundaries and comfort zones

Products –

            Design an exhibition with the results to transform a space


VA:Cr3.1.Ia – Apply relevant criteria from traditional and contemporary cultural contexts to examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for works ofart and design in progress

Knowledge –

            Identify contemporary and historical works in context

            Understand that revisions are critical in proceeding to an accomplishment

            Describe the characteristics in work that have succeeded and have been questioned

Reasoning –

            Compare and Contrast the attributes in a work with failures

            Debate the reasons for what is deemed successful by certain cultures

            Classify contemporary styles

Skills –

            Perform a critique of a public work, a contemporary work, and a peer’s work

            Illustrate an alternative to a work of art you critiqued

            Observe the current works of art that push boundaries

Products –

            Produce a periodical that critiques a exhibition

            Create an alternative to construction in plans or completed


VA:Pr5.1.Ia – Analyze and evaluate the reasons and ways an exhibition is presented

Knowledge –

            Explain the design elements that go into exhibitions

            Identify the audience that is targeted in certain exhibitions

            Understand the types of work that are presented when and where

Reasoning –

            Compare and contrast the success of exhibitions in the past

            Analyze controversial exhibitions

            Support the work you choose to exhibit with reason

Skills –

            Question who exhibitions are targeted towards

            Observe reactions to work presented in certain ways

Products –

            Design an exhibition

            Produce the necessary documentation prior and post an exhibition display

VA:Re.7.1.Ia – Hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.

Knowledge –

            Explain the emotion that is responsible for the outcome of a work of art

            Understand that creating is guided by emotion and behavior

            Describe the emotions of the past through a work of art

Reasoning –

            1.3 Evaluate an event through the eyes of another by their response

            Compare contrasting opinions from a work made in response to a social understanding or event

Skills –

            Translate a style of art that was made in response to culture to your own understanding

            Demonstrate a personal emotion to an everyday occurrence through art

Products –

            Create a work that shows an emotional reaction or highlights to a common routine in your culture

            Design a work that is personal to you, that describes you through works and objects of others


VA:Re.7.2.Ia – Analyze how one’s understanding of the world is affected by experiencing visual imagery.

Knowledge –

            Understand that imagery is to be approached critically

            Identify the source of imagery and it’s targets and behaviors produced because of it

            1.4 Describe the impact imagery has on the viewer

Reasoning –

            Evaluate the types of imagery that is consumed by the human experience

            Analyze the different types of emotion a single image can elicit

Skills –

            Observe the reactions that imagery elicits

Products –

            Produce an example and prediction that a type of image will evoke

            Create an exhibition that produces a type of emotion




Targets: Create targets that emerge from the standards and enduring understandings for a 10 day unit on content of your choice.

Compare and contrast historical representations of one event


Day 1 Target(s): To compare and contrast images that turned up from Ferguson Missouri for the purpose of understanding how one image can create a certain response


Day 2 Target(s): Question how an artist came to their representation of a rainy day in New York City by images and artist statement for the purpose of connecting the emotion or style driven by that representation


Day 3 Target(s): Create a work of a specific interest in a scene for the purpose of developing self interest and developing taste


Day 4 Target(s): Classify characteristics in your work that explain a message for the purpose of reflecting on what attributes of style have transferred your message and what hasn’t


Day 5 Target(s): Illustrate an alternative to your work for the purpose of reflecting on and working through failures


Day 6 Target(s): Explain how an emotional response to the London Riots prompted a creation of art activism for the purpose understanding the experience of a distant culture


Day 7 Target(s): 1.1 – Identify the characteristics to what makes a space safe, free, open, closed, scary, unique, for the purpose of collaboratively adjusting that space to make it something else


Day 8 Target(s): 1.2 – evaluate a response to normative cultural habits by changing it’s behavior in a public space for the purpose of altering the experience of the public and highlighting that art can create certain emotional experinces


Day 9 Target(s): 1.3 – Investigate the response of your public work, asking public opinion for the purpose of understanding how human experience is altered by works of art


Day 10 Target(s): 1.4 – Describe and create an impact the public could have and does have on a piece of art for the purpose of understanding how one’s response could be affected by an image.







Icebreaker: Two truths and a lie.  Students write two truths and a lie on paper and share with class as they guess.

Activity: Based on photo evidence, how is a scene presented as honest or truthful. Looking at two photos from Ferguson, create a Venn Diagram for the sides of the protesters, police, and neutral.  Discuss write results on board.

Wrap: For an assignment students are to write in their sketchbooks an image they see between classes, and comment on it to explain how that same scene might look different from another angle. For example a family photo on vacation, a victor in a sport, something on the news










Icebreaker: Students share what they brought in to discuss from yesterdays assignment, explaining how a scene might look different from another angle.

Activity: Class divide in two reads the two artist statements and observes the rainy scene.  A Closed word sort is handed out.  In categories of emotion, style, and era, the students pick words from article and their own to sort on handout.

Wrap: The two sides of class take turns sharing what they concluded, popcorn style.



Icebreaker: Surprise, get sketchbooks and field trip to outside or lunchroom

Activity: Outdoor Sketch of anything that attracts your eye, something that elicits an emotional response (pick of the 7 emotions)

Wrap: Discussion of a few shared representations and what emotion is being presented in it.



Icebreaker: Take a stand from yesterdays assignment to explain why you chose a specific interest in a whole scene and why that triggers a response

Activity: Continue to work on sketch, but add to it with any medium what you think would help get your message across, for instance the color blue if something was sad

Wrap: Group critique and reflection on what contributed to the emotion and what parts were lost because of what is in the image, what could make it stronger.



Icebreaker: Looking at a few images from the Impressionist, have a discussion on what helped the scene give off a certain emotion

Activity: Add to yesterdays critique to your work, something that would make the scene stand out, or add another interest to test further what happens to the emotion of the scene.

Wrap: Students discuss, adding to what was said yesterday and how the emotional state of a students work has changed since



Icebreaker: Multiplication - behind the back guessing game

Activity: Double Journal Entry – After a short discussion on the London Riots, students read a few a segment of an article with 3 quotations from an artists response to the event and proceed with journaling the connections to their lives. 

Wrap:  Students share what they feel is relevant and what stood out to them, also sharing the sense the artist work gave to the viewer.











Icebreaker: Show slides of public eating areas, library common areas, parks, and ask the students to identify what traits stand out to make those spaces those spaces.

Activity: Using a Discussion Web the students will pick from a few public spaces to critique, respond to what makes that space that space, and what could change the outlook of that space by presenting a personal response to it, or simply highlighting it as it’s existing space.

Wrap: Work till bell rings



Icebreaker:  Show Richard Serra’s dividing beam and ask why this could be controversial, because it was eventually removed.

Activity: Continue the plan for the Alternative space from yesterday, if passed the conclusion, proceed to see how proposal to city would carry out

Wrap: Discuss the results or proposals the groups came up with.



Icebreaker: Group presentations

Activity: Present your proposal to other classmates and discuss the desires after the students response to the work

Wrap: Group presentations




Activity: Create an article, a critique to a classmate’s public work through the lens of its attributes to the affect of public outlook.  Using the RAFT strategy to guide the students prompt, they will fill out the Role, Audience, Format, Topic, as tool to help them get started and to begin a paper they could choose to use for their final project

Wrap:  Exit slip – Why do you think art is misunderstood, and does that matter, or does it need no explanation?