Practice in Action
Making Connections to History and Culture focuses on understanding the
meaning and significance of works of art from different cultural perspectives and historical periods. Visits to museums or the symphony, examining various art forms (such as dance, music, or pottery) as an expression of cultures, or interpreting historical works of art (such as paintings, sculptures, or architecture) are all ways to connect art to history and culture.
Think about your own students, the cultures represented in your community, and the resources that are available to your afterschool program. Consider how local museums, parks, science and natural history centers, or theatre and music groups can highlight a significant cultural expression, or make history come alive. Holidays and school-day themes can also be a starting point.
You can take your students to see an exhibition of Pre-Columbian or Native American pottery, learn about the pottery of that time, and then have students make their own ceramic figures. Alternatively, you can explore community murals (they often tell a story about local history), propose a mural project, or have students study and discuss other murals, such as those of Diego Rivera in Mexico. Watching movies and holding discussions are another way to of make connections with history and culture. Look for adaptations of Shakespeare's plays or reenactments of historical events. Be sure that students are learning about and discussing the history of the arts, creating a work of art, or making connections to their own lives and experiences.
The National Standards for Arts Education suggests that being aware of
exceptional works of art from other cultures and historical periods helps
students understand the role of the arts in society and, potentially, in their own lives. When students are able to see the relationship between the arts, history, and culture, and see how these are also connected to their own lives—the arts become more meaningful, which in turn may open a door to greater creativity and self-expression.
Planning Your Lesson
Great afterschool lessons start with having a clear intention about who your students
are, what they are learning or need to work on, and crafting activities that engage students while supporting their academic growth. Great afterschool lessons also require planning and preparation, as there is a lot of work involved in successfully managing kids, materials, and time.
Below are suggested questions to consider while preparing your afterschool lessons.
The questions are grouped into topics that correspond to the Lesson Planning
Template. You can print out the template and use it as a worksheet to plan and
refine your afterschool lessons, to share lesson ideas with colleagues, or to help in professional development sessions with staff.
Lesson Planning Template (PDF)
Lesson Planning Template (Word document)
What grade level(s) is this lesson geared to?
How long will it take to complete the lesson? One hour? One and a half hours? Will
it be divided into two or more parts, over a week, or over several weeks?
What do you want students to learn or be able to do after completing this activity? What skills do you want students to develop or hone? What tasks do they need to accomplish?
List all of the materials needed that will be needed to complete the activity.
Include materials that each student will need, as well as materials that students
may need to share (such as books or a computer). Also include any materials that students or instructors will need for record keeping or evaluation. Will you need to store materials for future sessions? If so, how will you do this?
What do you need to do to prepare for this activity? Will you need to gather
materials? Will the materials need to be sorted for students or will you assign students to be "materials managers"? Are there any books or instructions that you need to read in order to prepare? Do you need a refresher in a content area? Are there questions you need to develop to help students explore or discuss the activity? Are there props that you need to have assembled in advance of the activity? Do you need to enlist another adult to help run the activity?
Think about how you might divide up groups―who works well together? Which students could assist other peers? What roles will you assign to different members of the group so that each student participates?
Now, think about the Practice that you are basing your lesson on. Reread the
Practice. Are there ways in which you need to amend your lesson plan to better
address the key goal(s) of the Practice? If this is your first time doing the activity, consider doing a "run through" with friends or colleagues to see what works and what you may need to change. Alternatively, you could ask a colleague to read over your lesson plan and give you feedback and suggestions for revisions.
What to Do
Think about the progression of the activity from start to finish. One model that
might be useful—and which was originally developed for science
education—is the 5E's instructional model. Each phrase of the learning
sequence can be described using five words that begin with "E": engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. For more information, see
the 5E's Instructional Model.
Outcomes to Look For
How will you know that students learned what you intended them to learn through this
activity? What will be your signs or benchmarks of learning? What questions might you ask to assess their understanding? What, if any, product will they produce?
After you conduct the activity, take a few minutes to reflect on what took place.
How do you think the lesson went? Are there things that you wish you had done differently? What will you change next time? Would you do this activity again?
Engage students with a project to create a Web page on art history. Ask students to work in production teams and compete for prizes as part of ThinkQuest, an annual competition to produce outstanding educational Web sites. The ThinkQuest Library includes more than 5,500 educational Web sites created by students from all over the world, as well as competition guidelines.
Huichol Yarn Paintings
Research Summary: This idea is reinforced in the National Standards: "Have an informed acquaintance with exemplary works of art from a variety of cultures and historical periods" as a means of providing a knowledge base and context for works of art (2003, No. 4). It is also described in studies of afterschool settings where the community and its culture is an important element (Winner and Hetland, 2002; Miller 2003, YouthARTS, 2003, Arts Corps 2004, 2005). Student involvement with their own culture and history allows them to explore personal and local issues and interact with their community in a positive way. Community collaborations about history and culture are a way to gather support and acknowledgement of the students' efforts. McCarthy et al in Gifts of the Muse see promoting early exposure to the arts, through school, community, or museum based programs as a way to start a process of involvement as well as to establish a context for why the arts are important to history and culture (2004).
- YouthARTS (2003). Arts Programs for Youth At Risk: The Handbook. Retrieved from the web: Americans for the Arts.
- Miller, B.M. (2003). Critical Hours: Afterschool Programs and Educational Success. Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
- McCarthy, Kevin F., Elizabeth Ondaatje, Laura Zakara, and Arthur Brooks (2004). Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts. RAND: Research in the Arts. Commissioned by: The Wallace Foundation.
- Winner, Ellen and Lois Hetland (2000). Beyond the Evidence given: A Critical Commentary on Critical Links. In Arts Education Policy Review, 2000. Retrieved from the web: pzweb.harvard.edu/Research/Reap/REAPCritLinkResp.htm
- Arts Corps (2004). Program Evaluation Report: 2003- 2004. Seattle, WA: Arts Corps
- Arts Corps (2005). Building on our success: 2004-2005 Annual Report. Seattle, WA: Arts Corps.