Writing about Art On-site: Preparing for the Field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT prepare for their fieldtrip by observing and writing about pieces of art online that they will then experience tomorrow in person.

Big Idea

We 'make friends' with art pieces by viewing them online and writing about them; when we see the pieces tomorrow in person, it'll be that much more meaningful!

Creating "Old Friends" through Pre-Research

15 minutes

Today, and Tomorrow.  Just to clarify, the fieldtrip is a two-day experience.  Today, we'll be in the classroom at school, doing pre-research, doing informal writing, talking up the art, and becoming familiar with some of the art pieces.  We'll also be setting behavioral norms for our excursion.  Tomorrow, we go on site, to observe, take notes, walk around, venture, voyage and experience all that the museum has to offer.  The students will take informal notes on site, and these will form the basis of their three writings in this unit (W.9-10.10). 

Choice in Writing.  No doubt about it, this lesson is the focal point of the unit, as it is a real, on-site visit to see famous art works and to do some informal writing about those pieces (W.9-10.10).  These shorter writings, assigned yesterday, that the students will complete onsite will help fuel their three medium-length pieces, a stepping-in story, an artist's statement, and an argument called "Frame it or trash it?" (narrative, W.9-10.3; informative, W.9-10.2; argument, W.9-10.1), (English1WritingAboutArt) and later to revise one of those pieces for a full-length essay to be graded against the rubric. 

"Making Friends" with Art.  This experience, as well as the choice of three medium-length writing prompts, gives students the opportunity to be motivated and engaged by the choices that they make.  Even the informal writing (W.9-10.10) that they do prior to the fieldtrip here helps give them the choice to find a painting that speaks to them and to be an "expert" to the class about stepping in to the painting.  They provide the access.  

The great thing, though, is that we not only have the Art Institute of Chicago in our back yard, but the museum also has an extensive website available for this assignment.  I simply asked the following on our class' google+ site (for a tutorial on how to use a google plus community site, please check out this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuP19okCtD0)

The Prompt.  What piece of art at the Art Institute of Chicago do you find interesting?  Reply to this post and add a link and explanation as to why you selected the piece you did.

This prompt seems like and probable is too open for typical purposes.  However, tomorrow I think that some magic will occur when I ask the students to direct us to their pieces of art. They become the experts and introduce us to their "friends," the pieces of art that they have already spent some time examining.  I am taking this tack because often fine art is high, far off and inaccessible.  In this way, they will explain what they have found and why the art is interesting in an informal journal entry (W.9-10.10) on our class's website. 

Meet my friend: The Art Work!

15 minutes


After doing their writing about art and posting their responses (W.9-10.10) on our google+ site, I will have several of the students to explain (SL.9-10.1) their choices to the class, and it is really neat to hear them talk about the various reasons why they made their choices.  Again, the purpose of episode is to put the control for stepping into a painting in their locus of control. 

I will focus the discussion along the lines of see/think/wonder:

1.) What did you see in this piece that attracted you to it at first?

2.) What types of interpretations do you make of it?  Does everyone agree/disagree?

3.) What does the painting/photo make you wonder about?  What questions does it ask?

Setting Behavioral Expectations

10 minutes

In addition to the above pre-research activities, we will take some time to review behavior on the fieldtrip, as engaging in positive relationships on the trip can be an important side benefit of the experience.  Viewing art online is o.k., and visiting a museum solo can also be rewarding, but there is something exciting about visiting a museum with a group of scholars (my class) and taking it all in together as a bit of a learning adventure.

Attached is a sheet that we used on this trip Field Trip Expectations, and you can feel free to use or adapt it.  **I am indebted to my colleagues who designed this sheet!