• Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy

    Walt Whitman.

    Walt Whitman sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. His efforts had a profound influence on subsequent generations of American poets. In this lesson, students will explore the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" by reading his poetry and prose and by examining daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Next, students will compare the poetic concepts and techniques behind Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again," and will have an opportunity to apply similar concepts and techniques in creating a poem from their own experience.

  • Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask

    Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)

    In this lesson, students analyze Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson’s Harlem Renaissance poem “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s late-nineteenth-century poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896), considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration.

  • In Old Pompeii

    Vesuvius from Portici, c. 1774–1776. Joseph Wright (British,  1734–1797), oil on canvas, 101 x 127 cm.

    A virtual field trip to the ruins of Pompeii. In this lesson, students learn about everyday life, art and culture in ancient Roman times, then display their knowledge by creating a travelogue to attract visitors to the site. They can also write an account of their field trip modeled on a description of Pompeii written by Mark Twain. 

  • Midnight Ride of Paul Revere: Fact, Fiction, and Artistic License

    The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Grant Wood

    This lesson encourages close study of Wood's painting, American Revolution primary sources, and Longfellow's poem to understand the significance of this historical ride in America's struggle for freedom. By reading primary sources, students learn how Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride became an American story of patriotism.

  • Martin Puryear's "Ladder for Booker T. Washington"

    Martin Puryear

    Students examine Martin Puryear’s Ladder for Booker T. Washington and consider how the title of Puryear’s sculpture is reflected in the meanings we can draw from it. They learn about Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy, and through Puryear's ladder, students explore the African American experience from Booker T.'s perspective and apply their knowledge to other groups in U.S. History. They also gain understanding on how a ladder can be a metaphor for a person’s and a group’s progress toward goals.

  • Thomas Hart Benton: The Sources of Country Music

    Thomas Hart Benton (1889—1975), The Sources of Country Music, 1975. Acrylic on  canvas, 72 x 120 in. (182.9 x 304.8 cm.).

    By analyzing The Sources of Country Music, students will discover the musical legacy of Thomas Hart Benton’s story of America and learn how the processes of modernity changed American life in the early decades of the twentieth century. By listening to country music, they will understand how advances in audio recording both captured and changed folk music.

  • The Royal Art of Benin

    Benin Kingdom people, Nigeria, mask

    This lesson plan introduces students to art of the West African kingdom of Benin, which flourished from the 12th or 13th to the end of the 19th centuries in what is now southern Nigeria. Students learn about how the royal power of the king of Benin was communicated through brass plaques and use symbolism to create their own paper plaques.

  • Genre in the Visual Arts: Portraits, Pears, and Perfect Landscapes

    Washington Crossing the  Delaware by Emanuel Leutze.

    Still Life, portrait, and landscape are all categories, or genres, of painting which your students have probably seen examples of on their trips to the museum or when looking through an art book. This lesson plan will help students to understand and differentiate the various genres in the visual arts, particularly in Western painting. Students will learn to identify major genres, and will learn to discriminate between a painting’s subject and its genre.

  • Poems of Tennyson and Noyes: Pictures in Words

    Photograph of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

    Striking examples of poetic "pictures"-not just vivid images but the entire mental picture conjured up by a poet-are to be found in "The Charge of the Light Brigade," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes. As they explore the means by which Tennyson and  Noyes create these compelling pictures in words, students will also learn the critical terminology to analyze and describe a variety of poetic techniques and will have an opportunity to create their own pictures in words.

  • Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad: From Painting to Poem

    16-A Edward Hopper (1882–1967)

    After a close reading and comparison of Edward Hopper's painting House by the Railroad and Edward Hirsch's poem about the painting, students explore the types of emotion generated by each work in the viewer or reader and examine how the painter and poet each achieved these responses.