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I’m one of those teachers who is forever writing new lesson plans. If I end up using a lesson or prompt more than once, it’s because the students and I LOVED it.
In this lesson, students research and try to get into the heads of famous artists. Then, they are tasked with creating work in their styles. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.
You might have them explore Pinterest, look through books, or create a WebQuest to focus students’ research. If you plan far enough ahead, you might be able to have your school librarian pull books together for you. Or check to see if your public library will pull books for you based on certain topics.
Having students pretend they’re an artist they love helps to remove some of the fear of creating while also helping them to practice synthesizing information. The work becomes a collaboration between the selected artists and the student.
Here is an example of some information gathered from a student who decided to research Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
As they respond to the following questions, they should do so, not as themselves, but thinking like their selected artist. Remind them they can do some research to better understand their artist, and sometimes they’re going to have to make educated guesses.
Here is an example of how the student studying Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec responded.
Some of your students may find this difficult because it’s an abstract concept. You might walk through the process together as a class. Also, consider having children’s books about artists available for students to peruse.
If your students are struggling, start by having them copy the work of their artist. Then talk about how to transition to taking inspiration from the artist.
I like to use this lesson near the beginning of the year. Seeing the artists students choose and why is a nice way to learn about your students. Plus, the research students gather for this project can inform future work.
This exercise works well because there is safety in the process. Students are not creating as themselves, so if the piece doesn’t turn out how they wanted, it’s not their fault. Instead, they can place blame on not fully understanding the artist’s process, technique, or materials.
There are so many reasons I keep coming back to this lesson. Try it out for yourself and see if it becomes a favorite for both you and your students, too!
If you were going to pretend to be an artist, who would you be and why?
What is your favorite lesson to teach?