As a teacher, I have never in my life found a lesson plan and used it in its entirety – ever. I recognize that there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” but the more I teach the more I realize how different each teachers intentions are when they develop a lesson plan. This is the magic of teaching. Yes, we have common goals regarding the specific skills and knowledge that we need our students to learn during a lesson – but the approach and the details that we use to reach that goal are very different.
So instead of packaging a neat lesson plan (which may or may not meet the criteria for a “lesson plan” where ever you are at this point in time) I am going share the overall idea, resources and purpose of my lessons. Do with them what you will. My favourite way to lesson plan is to set the purpose and goal of my lesson and then Frankenstein the best ideas from lots of different lesson plans into something that works best for me and the students I am working with at that very moment. As every teacher knows, one lesson that works wonders in first first period can flop in third period because the dynamics of each group of students is so different. It’s more important to be flexible and creative then it is to have totally organized and detailed lesson plans – because at any moment something could happen that will through the entire plan off track. Now what? Improvise!
Please feel free to share your own ideas and how you used or twisted any other ideas (whether from here or somewhere else) to make a lesson plan that worked!
LESSON IDEA #1 – Impressionist Movement – Self Portraits and Impressions of the Past
As an alternative teacher I wanted to develop an integrated curriculum where one assignment would meet the curricular expectations of two (or more) different courses. As a drama and history teacher I find it easiest to find curriculum links between the arts, English and Canadian history courses. I will focus on the arts aspects of my curriculum in this Lesson Share. In the first unit we explored the Impressionist Movement. It was a great way to introduce and set the stage for the first unit of the Canadian history course which explores the beginnings of Canada’s industrial age and gives context to the fundamental changes in thinking about how the world functioned at the turn of the century. We began by learning about the history of the Impressionist Movement and how it changed the purpose and style of art. We then learned how to paint as an impressionist artist using the touche technique – dry brushing and mixing acrylic colours on the canvas. Once students had practiced the technique they were give two assignments to complete. One, an impressionist style self-portrait painting and an impressionist style painting depicting how different groups of Canadians viewed Canada between 1900 and 1919.
Integrated Arts – (ALC 20)
B3.1 describe how creating, presenting, and analysing a variety of art works has affected their personal values and their awareness of the values of their community and culture and those of other cultures
B4.1 identify skills, character traits, and work habits that are developed through the processes of creating, analysing, presenting, and/or promoting art works, including integrated art works/productions
C1.1 use appropriate terminology related to elements, principles, and other key concepts when creating, analysing, or presenting various types of art works
C1.2 demonstrate an understanding of elements, principles, and other key concepts associated with the various arts disciplines
C2.1 demonstrate an understanding of common symbols and themes in past and present art works from a variety of cultures
My students watched a video and had a short reading to complete to gain an understanding of the Impressionist Movement.
Students needed to learn how to paint using the techniques of the impressionist painters. As a group we watched a video and broke down the steps. Students were given the opportunity to practice the technique until they felt comfortable.
Students were given the task of creating a self-portrait in the impressionist style practiced in class. They were asked to use colours that best suited their personality based on symbolic representations of colours (as provided to them).
Throughout the creative process students worked in groups and with me, discussing their choices along the way. Which picture will I use that best captures who I am? Who am I? What do I value? What defines who I am? Which colours best represent that? Does it matter that this painting doesn’t really look like me at all? What does this painting represent about me?
Here is the finished result…
- We learned a new skill (touche painting technique)
- We learned about the industrial revolution and gained different perspectives on its cultural impact
- We explored self-identity and personal expression
- We created artwork that became the center point of our classroom for the rest of the semester.
- The skills developed during this unit were later used in by students in different units as a new tools for creating integrated art projects.