Harvey Dinnerstein’s The Brownstone depicts multicultural individuals who come together to form a community in New York during the 1950s.
Throughout the year, themes in literature come back to identity and community. Using The Brownstone, students will complete a variety of activities to explore these two ideas. After the first introductory activity, subsequent activities focus on literary concepts such as perspective, characterization, poetry, theme, purpose, and setting. These activities will include additional art and literary works. Ideas are explored through discussion and writing.
This lesson pairs Childe Hassam's Tanagra (The Builders, New York) (1918) with Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892) to help students consider the relationship(s) between character and space both in literature and in their own lives.
For comparison and practice, the lesson could be repeated with Portrait of Mnonja by Mickalene Thomas (2010) and another work: "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker (1973), Baldwin's "Stranger in the Village," Langston Hughes' "Theme for English B."
The collection includes an excerpt from the introduction of Edith Wharton's The Decoration of Houses (1898). Another document includes comments on interior design from multiple sources.
Finally, while the lesson centers on interior landscape/decor, the collection includes multiple examples of external architecture, to use in an alternative warm-up activity.
This set of activities is designed to encourage students to think critically about how an artist’s race, background, and experiences might impact their ability to fairly and accurately tell the story of a different person or group - an "other."
Specifically, students will look at the creations of two white men - the painting Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning From Washington by George Catlin and the novella The Pearl by John Steinbeck - to analyze how the whiteness of these two artists might have affected their ability to fairly portray the indigenous people they sought to memorialize. Using primary source texts written by the artists themselves, students will conduct an inquiry into the possible motives and biases of these men in order to assess whether they, as white outsiders to the groups on which they focused, did or even could tell their stories accurately. The question students will be tasked with answering in writing as a culminating exercise is whether a white man can fairly and accurately tell the story of an indigenous people?
In terms of purpose, the study of the painting is intended to supplant a traditional anticipation guide to help students prepare to read The Pearl and also to provide a lens through which to analyze the text.
This collection contains the provocative piece The Way They Was and asks students to make parallels to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It uses thinking routines such as "See/Think/Wonder", "Circle of Viewpoints", and "Claim/Support/Question". There is also a graphic organizer in the shape of a door that allows students to record the connections they see between the piece of art and the novel. This lesson can be used after Chapter 25 or at the end of the novel.
Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way
The selected artwork and learning lab collection offers a historical approach to the transformation of Native Americans into white culture and society. It serves as a purpose to provoke discussion on the historical context of the Indian Removal Act, and gives students an understanding of the main character’s (from the novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) “modern day” internal conflict of erasing or eliminating his Native American culture to immerse into the lifestyle of a white teenager in a predominately white school.
As an introductory activity, students will engage in the see/think/wonder methodology to infer the artists’ purpose for the artwork. This initial activity will help scaffold students’ prior understanding and knowledge of the historical context of Native American history and the forced immersion into white culture. Therefore, after students have had ample time of using visual understanding skills to interpret the artwork, students can explore a “modern-day version” of Sherman Alexie’s image that showcases a juxtaposition of the main character’s internal identity conflict.Similar to the artwork, students will engage in the "connect, extend, and challenge" thinking activity. Students will make connections to the text and real-world connections as a culminating task. Lastly, students will discuss how it extended their thinking and a remaining challenge or wonder students still have. Using their remaining questions, this could lead to several extension activities.
Students can explore other Native American artwork in the learning lab, students can also use the "unveiling stories" strategy to learn more about the Carlisle school. The history of the Carlisle school connects and relates with the novel by adding historical context. Lastly, students can engage in teacher-made or student-made gallery walks using other Native American artwork or imagery to support the reading process of the paired text.
This collection is comprised of resources for introducing middle school ELA students to the concept of identity in art and literature. This was planned for use as an introduction to The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, so a special focus is given to Latinx culture and experience, but the resources could be used for any literature that addresses the topic of identity.
The resources in this collection can be used in whatever order you wish, but I have included my general plan and sequence for a three-day mini-unit. Each lesson is intended for a 45-minute class period for middle school English students, but could be extended or combined for longer periods or older students.
Day 1: Exploring the Concept of Identity
We begin with the painting Braceros by Domingo Ulloa, using the See/Think/Wonder visual thinking routine as a jumping-off point to lead the class to the topic of identity. The ideas recorded could remain as an anchor chart in the classroom as the class reads and discusses the novel. It would be interesting for students to revisit their initial ideas to assess how their concept of identity expands and changes through the reading. As an alternative or addition to the lesson, depending on the needs of your students, you could also use the Identity Worksheet handout provided as a metacognitive tool to assist your students in tracking the ways their thinking evolves and expands. This worksheet also encourages them to make connections with other works of art, literature and music from their past experiences; this can be done independently or in small groups.
Day 2: What Comprises Our Identity?
The goal today is for students to begin considering what factors determine or influence our identities. To begin class, students will be introduced to "Tenement Flats" using the "What Makes You Say That?" thinking routine. This will provide practice for students to make claims about the painting and provide evidence to support their claims. This will be the warm up for the day, but to extend time with the visual art, students could create a T-Chart or Venn Diagram for comparison and contrast with "Braceros."
Students will next listen to the poem, "Latino-Americanos: The Children of an Oscuro Pasado" by Xochitl (SOH-chee) Morales. After reading the poem, students will be invited to consider the stories they hear in the poem. Xochitl's voice tells one story, but what other stories do we hear? What stories are missing? IF the discussion does not naturally move toward identity, students should be invited to consider what comprises the poet's identity (for example, sense of self, sense of family, societal expectations, gender roles, home, community). Again, ideas could remain on an anchor chart for reference.
Day 3: What is the Author's Message about Identity?
On the final day, we will explore an excerpt from Cisneros' book ("My Name"). I have provided a handout with this excerpt. This could be an opportunity to guide students through close-reading techniques like intentional text marking, or students could do this work independently. After reading and annotating the text, students will be coached through the "Claim/Support/Question" reasoning routine to (1) provide an interpretation of the author's message or theme as it relates to identity; (2) provide support for the claim; and (3) extend their thinking by generating a question about what isn't explained or what information is missing, or what alternative points of view might exist.
I have provided some additional resources that could be added in to extend the time spent on this topic or used as journal or warm-up activities as the class continues Mango Street. These include an additional poem ("We" by Nathan M. Richardson) as a handout as well as a Youtube link to Richardson reading his poem, and a visual (typographic) prompt to use for the topic of identity. I have also included a video interview of Xochil Morales that might be useful for adding context, particularly because she is a very young poet and relatable.
This collection provides opportunities for students to uncover the complexity behind symbols found in art and artifacts. Curiosity and wonderment are sparked as students use close looking strategies to precisely describe what they see. Students can then apply these findings to reveal a deeper meaning behind the symbols and the identities of the designer and users. Students will be inspired to create their own stamps as they explore how symbols share messages and bridge connections to people and diverse cultures.
This collection provides opportunities for students to uncover the deeper meaning of and build an understanding behind an artist’s work, reveal an artist’s personal values, as well as begin developing empathy and sparking curiosity through close observation, perspective-taking and questioning. This deeper look into artwork can be used as a catalyst for students to share their own works, and act as an agent for action in their larger community.
Thomas Jefferson is remembered for his contributions to the ideals of natural rights and democratic principles. Yet, as a slave owner, Jefferson personally lived in contradiction of those principles. In this Learning Lab you'll explore how Thomas Jefferson is viewed at different times in history through portraiture. Using evidence from his portraits you'll answer the question, "How has our view of Thomas Jefferson changed over time."
This is a lesson designed for a teacher workshop on using Thinking Routines to spark curiosity and a desire to explore topics in depth. The estimated length of the workshop is 45 minutes, although there are extensions to the learning that could easily double that time (see below).
The first step is to engage in slow looking with the image. I will project it on a screen and we will get close in order to see all of the details. It's a dense image, with copious detail. I'll ask the teachers to look closely, noting where their eyes go, what they focus on.
Once we have had time to scan the image a few times, I'll introduce the See-Wonder-Connect Thinking Routine. See the next resource for the sequencing of questions. For the connect in this instance, I'll ask: How does this painting's subject matter connect to topics you teach, or that are taught in your school?
After completing the Thinking Routine, I'll reveal the title, Manifest Destiny, and ask for reactions to it. Why would Rockman choose that title? What do you think the artist is trying to say?
I'll give some background information about the artist and the painting. There are resources posted that give further information.
The teachers will go back to small groups at tables and brainstorm further how the image (or perhaps another image) could be used in their own context.
The lesson can be extended in a variety of ways. It can be a kick-off to an interdisciplinary study of various issues raised by the small groups, for example. I've used the 3Ys Global Thinking Routine to evaluate the significance of the various issues. Following the 3Ys, I then ask: How can you go more deeply with this topic? What more do you need to learn?
This image is a strong example of an artist's response to contemporary issues. One can't understand the potential impact of global warming without knowledge of science. In that way, it offers great potential for interdisciplinary exploration. But it could also connect to dystopian views in art (literature, visual art, etc.); artistic responses to the contemporary world; the ephemerality of human creations; etc.
Without even perhaps realizing it, we create self-portraits all of the time - in the form of selfies, in photos with friends, or in photos of exotic locales. Every time we share a self-portrait, we have a purpose and an audience, even though often we don't think explicitly about those things. First and foremost, often we (understandably) want to portray ourselves positively, as attractive and interesting people. Sometimes, however, our purpose is more complex, even if we don't realize it consciously. Let's take a look at three different types of self-portraits to gain a better understanding of purpose and audience.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.
Students use a Global Thinking Routine to explore both a portrait and a work of literature that together offer a rich view of the Chicano experience in the American southwest in the middle of the 20th century.
This teaching collection features Gaspar Enríquez's portrait of Rudolfo Anaya. It is the first commissioned portrait by the National Portrait Gallery of a Latino sitter by a Latino artist. Both artists address the Chicano experience and confluence of cultures in the American southwest.
Included here are the portrait, a bilingual video with National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol, the "Step In - Step Out - Step Back" Thinking Routine from Harvard's Project Zero Global Thinking Strategies, two other works by Gaspar Enríquez, and some links to National Portrait Gallery supporting materials.
Teachers and students can pair the portrait and read Rudolfo Anaya's coming of age novel "Bless Me Ultima," first published in 1972 and reflecting Chicano culture in rural New Mexico in the 1940s, to gain a deeper understanding of the Chicano experience in the American southwest.
Photographs are the entry point to help students think critically about the nature of community in America's urban environments of the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition introduced here, after which this collection is titled, features Latino artists who "turn a critical eye toward neighborhoods that exist on the margins of major cities like New York and Los Angeles." Smithsonian American Art Museum Curator E. Carmen Ramos has said that the exhibition was meant to explore the artists' complex vision of life in the urban environment, juxtaposing both a sense of unwelcoming urban neglect with a strong sense of community.
Included here are photographs from the exhibition, a bilingual video with the curator, the "Step In - Step Out - Step Back" Thinking Routine from Harvard's Project Zero Global Thinking Strategies, some links to Smithsonian American Art Museum supporting exhibition materials, including the exhibition webpage, a blog post, a link to Piri Thomas's book after which the exhibition was titled, and footage from a poetry reading at the museum.
Teachers and students can use these photographs in a variety of ways - to explore the work of individual artists, to compare the works of different artists, and to look as a whole at the exhibition and extract deeper meaning about "the urban crisis" of America's urban environments in the 1960s and 1970s.
Keywords: El Barrio, New York City, Urban Crisis
The Madeira School, Mclean, VA
11th grade, Native American and Asian American Voices
Lesson Time: 60 minutes
“Electronic Highway” by Nam June Paik
“I Hate Tonto (Still Do)” by Sherman Alexie
Excerpts from Tommy Orange's There, There
“Diary: December 12, 1941” by Roger Shimomura (optional)
Vocabulary List for Alexie and Paik
- Demonstrate the collective understanding of cultural identity and its role in different media.
- Introduce the novel There, There by Tommy Orange as well as Woman Warrior by Maxine Kingston.
- Understand the role of allusion and metaphor in a work of literature.
- Develop a multi-dimensional, complex understanding of identity in relation to the individual and society.
By including Paik’s “Electronic Highway” and Shimomura’s “Diary: December 12, 1941”, students will preview lesson concepts for There, There and Woman Warrior. These art works also work as introductory pieces for other multicultural texts that explore identity and place; both works conceptualize the idea of national, state, and individual identities and the complex relationship among those intersections. Moreover, the thinking routine, “Connect, Extend, Challenge,” allows students to examine art in relation to their own identity. This particular routine invites personal anecdote and cultural connections; the responses to “Challenge” may help students conceptualize the theme of either unit novel.
- Project “Electonic Superhighway” by Nam June Paik using the Smithsonian Learning Lab Collection, “Multicultural Voices.” Direct students to examine the piece for at least one minute, writing down any thoughts or reactions they might have.
- Begin thinking routine, “Connect/Extend/Challenge.”  Encourage students to examine and discuss the piece in relation to identity or cultural knowledge.
- Have students read the quote from There, There and respond. The teacher should connect the quote to Nam June Paik’s piece.
- Guiding Questions: how might you connect the artwork to the quote? What might they agree on? How might they differ?
- Have students read and define the vocabulary for Alexie and Paik.
- Read and annotate the poem, “I Hate Tonto (Still Do)” by Sherman Alexie.
- Guiding vocabulary: culture, heritage, identity.
- Discuss the poem using the essential question(s) below.
- How is identity associated with culture and/or heritage?
- What are some ways that mainstream culture celebrates or oppresses certain kinds of identity?
- What does it mean to be multi-cultural? Can individuals claim multiple cultural identities? If so, how?
- How is identity connected to geographical location? To stereotype? To history?
- Return to Paik's work. Ask students to make connections between Paik and Alexie.
- Introduce novel as an exploration of identity in memoir form.
- 1.Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
 See quiz attached to “Electronic Superhighway” in the collection.
This collection compares and contrasts the portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson, and explores the struggles Anderson experienced as a person of color in America and the dynamics of white privilege and race relations.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.
Included in this collection are several of Titus Kaphar's works in the "Unseen: Our Past in a New Light." Ken Gonzales-Day is also featured in one portrait of an "Erased Lynching." The general objective is for students of US Justice, Law, & Society to make connections and intersections, between the portraits in this special exhibition, and another portrait in the NPG. This lesson is intended for undergraduate students, but could be modified for secondary education. This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute. #NPGteach
This collection deals with individuals who were ordinary, rose to greatness, and then his/her life was reduced to less than ordinary. This collection will be used with the focus novel, Flowers for Algernon, as well as short stories, poems, and non fiction texts. The initial theme of the unit is FEAR and how we deal with it. These individuals were without fear or possessed the ability to mute that fear even though it cost all of them in the end. This unit will be used to compare the character arc of Charley from the book to their choice of artwork and the subject's journey. This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute. #NPGteach
This introductory lesson of a civics unit is specially designed for middle school students with language-based learning disabilities. The lesson is focused on the Preamble to the United States Constitution using as a resource the piece of art entitled The Preamble, by Mike Wilkins, who used license plates from every state and the District of Columbia to write out the words of the Preamble phonetically. Vocabulary exercises and suggested extension activities are included.
The collection contains work from an SAAM summer session from 2018 inspired by SOB,SOB by Marshall and is centered around the reading of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It is meant to be a resource for teachers seeking to consider identity critically, incorporate meaningful diversity, and promote the importance of complex representation. #SAAMteach
This is an example of how to build teacher-made materials into a scripted curriculum. My school uses the curriculum, EngageNY, to teach middle school English language arts. In 6th grade, the students read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan to study the genre of mythology, elements of mythology and theme, allusion, and the archetype of The Hero's Journey.
Resources created are shared through a living Google Doc in order to make it easier to make a copy and change to fit the needs of individual teachers and students. #SAAMteach
This collection is created to introduce and enhance the novel study lessons of Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy S. King. The resources will supplement environmental messages and dire warnings found in the book about the pollution of our waterways because of plastic. The collection includes artwork and photographs.
The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States is a collection of resources for educators to refer to when introducing the Constitution of the United States with a specific emphasis on the preamble. Mike Wilkins Preamble is used as a featured piece of artwork to give students an initial introduction to the text of the primary source document. #SAAMteach
This teaching collection helps students to think critically and globally by using two Thinking Routines to explore the painting, "Shifting States: Iraq," by Cuban American artist Luis Cruz Azaceta. The work is a metaphorical representation of the unrest taking place in Iraq, and more broadly, an exploration of the human condition during times of crisis.
Included here are the work itself from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a video with curator E. Carmen Ramos, another video from Articulateshow.org, two suggested Thinking Routines - "Colors, Shapes, Lines" and "The 3 Y's" - from Harvard's Project Zero Artful Thinking and Global Thinking materials, and three other works by Azaceta in the Smithsonian collections.
For use in Social Studies, Spanish, English, American History, Art History classes