Lesson Plan 1

Katie Kretchmar


Interpreting Words


Middle School


Characteristics of the Learner


The students should already have a basic knowledge of art characteristics and research skills related to defining words.




The students will look up/research the two vocabulary words given. They will then define the terms in their own words deciphering their various meanings individually and combined to a single idea. This incorporates language arts vocabulary as an interdisciplinary lesson. This lesson also involves critical thinking as the students must take their understanding of these two words and create a work of art based on the words meaning. An example might be the words, “ominous” and “portent”. The students will first have to look up and define the two words separately, then combine the two words and meanings to create an overall meaning or idea. The students will then be given the choice of three given mediums to create a work of art based on their interpretation. This is important for students as vocabulary and knowing how to define ideas in their own words and visually is beneficial in helping them understand the world in which they live.


Historical/Cultural Context


The key to teaching this lesson well is to not give excessive guidance.  It is important to interact with the students by asking open ended questions that encourage critical thought.  The focus of this lesson needs to be the ability of the student to defend his/her choices and the ability of other students to analyze concepts from various angles. The possibilities with this lesson are almost endless.  Vocabulary words could be selected from different subject areas.  Students could be challenged to use the same words but required to create a second project representing both a different concept and medium. The project is also wide open in terms of interpreting the art pieces based on personal values and the cultural and individual experiences that lead the students to the different interpretations.  Students could also be expected to write a paper explaining the processes and choices made during the project.  Students could also be expected to categorize the various pieces by different criteria.  Obviously, one criterion would be the medium utilized.  However, students could be asked to develop three other criteria for grouping and assign the appropriate pieces to the groupings.  All of these activities lead to skills that are utilized in the various disciplines throughout life and develop observational and higher level thinking skills.  


Sunshine Standards


The art standards include:




Enduring Understanding 1: Cognition and reflection are required to appreciate, interpret, and create with artistic intent. (VA.68.C.1)


1. Apply a range of interests and contextual connections to influence the art-making and self-reflection processes. (VA.68.C.1.1)


2. Use visual evidence and prior knowledge to reflect on multiple interpretations of works of art. (VA.68.C.1.2)


Enduring Understanding 3: The processes of critiquing works of art lead to development of critical-thinking skills transferable to other contexts. (VA.68.C.3)


Enduring Understanding 1: The arts are inherently experiential and actively engage learners in the processes of creating, interpreting, and responding to art. (VA.68.S.1)


1. Manipulate content, media, techniques, and processes to achieve communication with artistic intent. (VA.68.S.1.1)


5. Explore various subject matter, themes, and historical or cultural events to develop an image that communicates artistic intent. (VA.68.S.1.5)


Enduring Understanding 3: Through purposeful practice, artists learn to manage, master, and refine simple, then complex, skills and techniques. (VA.68.S.3)


1. Use two-dimensional or three-dimensional art materials and tools to understand the potential and limitations of each. (VA.68.S.3.1)




Enduring Understanding 1: Understanding the organizational structure of an art form provides a foundation for appreciation of artistic works and respect for the creative process. (VA.68.O.1)


4. Create artworks that demonstrate skilled use of media to convey personal vision. (VA.68.O.1.4)






By the end of this lesson the student will be able to:

            1. Demonstrate the ability to identify and utilize various sources for determining the definition of words by writing the definition of the words and the sources utilized in their journal.

            2. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize word meanings and identify a minimum of three different artistic concepts that could represent the combined word meanings by generating sketches in their journal.

            3. Demonstrate the ability to analyze the pros and cons of creating the selected image with three different mediums by listing the pros and cons of each medium in their journal.

            4. Demonstrate the ability to create the selected image in the selected medium.

            5. Demonstrate the ability to present their image for critique by generating either a written report or notes for an oral report related to the choices they made and the reasons for those choices.

            6. Demonstrate the ability to participate actively in the critique of another individual’s project by either writing or responding orally to the piece of work with both components that they feel are strengths and weakness of the project.



The materials necessary to teach this lesson are as follows: Dictionary, internet access, paint, cameras, and charcoal (as three given mediums to create the art work).





The most important component of the lesson is the selection of the words.  The art teacher will need to consult with the English teacher (or teachers of other subjects as appropriate) to determine words that are relevant to the subject and will lend themselves well to the art activity.




The teacher would say only that the student should create a work of art titled x and y (the two vocabulary words). You will need to define the words and create a work of art based on their meaning to you. Part of the success of this assignment is generating student interest by identifying words that are unfamiliar to the students and thus creating a mystery/puzzle that needs to be solved before any thought of an art product can be generated.


Procedures (it is important at every stage that the teacher monitor progress but not give any communication that might lead the student in the development of ideas and/or the project.)


1.  The teacher will display the two words in a prominent location in the room.  The teacher will purposefully not say the words as frequently even students of this age may not be able to read a word but might recognize the word if they heard it.  With this particular project we want students to discover everything (as much as possible) on their own.


2. Students will be directed to write the definition as well as the source for the definition in their journals, with the teacher monitoring progress.  The teacher should initial the journal page to indicate approval that the student has discovered the appropriate information.


3.  Once the teacher has approved the student definitions, the student should be directed to start thinking about a work of art that will demonstrate visually a combination of the two definitions.  They should be told at this time that they will have the option of creating the object with the mediums of paint, charcoal, and/or photography.  They should be directed to create a minimum of three sketches in their journal as ideas for their final product.  The teacher should monitor progress and initial the journal when the three sketches have been satisfactorily created.


4. Once the teacher has approved the sketches the student should be directed to choose one of the three and create a list of at least three pros and cons related to creating the project in each of the available media.  The teacher should monitor progress and initial the journal when the list has been satisfactorily created.


5. Once the teacher has approved the list, the student should start to create the piece.  The teacher should monitor the progress.


6.  When the student has completed the project the student should be directed to create either a written report or a set of notes that explain their project by providing the reasons behind their choices of medium, color, subject matter, and any other factors involved in the final project.  The teacher should monitor this process and approve the report/notes.


7.  After all projects are completed the teacher should monitor a critique.  Here again it is critical that the teacher not influence comments.  Students should be directed to communicate either orally or in writing the strengths and weaknesses of the piece being critiqued.  Part of the evaluation has to be the effectiveness of the piece in communicating the intended definition.  However, the communication should take place in the form of statements starting with:

            A. This component of the piece did a good job of communicating the intended definition because……

            B. This component of the piece did not effectively communicate the intended definition for me because……


Distribution and Clean-up


Distribution and clean-up will depend on the stage of the lesson as well as the medium chosen.  The teacher will know the quantity of materials needed for distribution depending on the medium selected by each student for their project.  The teacher will need to develop normal procedures for distribution and clean-up.  Some obvious strategies include:

            1. Allowing one table to go at a time

            2. Allowing one person from each of the mediums gather materials at the same time

            3. Grouping students and materials by the medium selected in various locations in the room so that they can share materials

            4. Grouping students by their stage in the lesson process

            5. Teacher evaluating of the clean-up process including a chart and ranking of clean-up efforts related to various clean-up areas such as sink and workspace.




See the steps associated with the process.  There is formative assessment at every step of the project with teacher approval before moving to the next step.  The summative assessment for each individual is based on three components:

            A. The project created by the individual

            B. The reasoning developed by the individual for the choices made in the project

            C. The critique evaluation related to the analysis of the projects of the other students


Each component will be evaluated by the teacher in a system of “O”, “S”, or “U”.  Since all three components are identified in the Sunshine Standards all components will receive equal weight.












Andrew is a seventh grade Asperger’s special needs student, with a high skill in spelling. This assignment will be good for him in that he enjoys spelling and I could challenge him by giving him multiple words and having him combine the words himself to create a word pair for the class to utilize. For instance, giving him a dictionary to find two words that go together and having the class create a work of art in addition to the assignment. He can also help by reading the definitions to the class, which might give him a task that will help him stay focused. I will alter his level of support by giving him a partner to help keep him focused and on track. Every Asperger’s student is different so obviously I will have to ask for guidance and background information from his special education teacher before determining what additional adaptations are most appropriate. I might alter the goals for this student as well by having him create a work of art using a pencil instead of charcoal. Finally, I might have him verbally tell me the meaning of the words and spell them out for me rather than write them in the journal.