Looking at Art
In Looking at Art you will find a database of art investigations prepared for classroom use, as well as tips on leading investigation discussions. Each art investigation is accompanied by background information about the artwork to be discussed and questions to ask students.
Create Your Own Art Investigation (7 Steps to Use in Your Classroom) Write and submit your own investigation to share with other teachers.
Step 1: Choose a Curricular Theme
Select the theme "community" from the menu on the left, then browse through the search results to choose a lesson plan.
Step 2: Read Interpretive Essays and Select an Artwork
We recommend several different artworks for teaching about community, so take your time looking at them and reading the accompanying essays before selecting the one that best complements your curriculum. Let's say you want your students to be introduced to communities that are unfamiliar to them. If your students live in a city, you might choose The Hermitage at Pontoise (Les côteaux de l'Hermitage, Pontoise, ca. 1867) by Camille Pissarro because it is a village scene.
Step 3: Brainstorm Questions
Now brainstorm questions for this artwork. In inquiry, we start with an observational question, such as "What do you see?" or "What do you notice?" This helps students observe before they interpret. Then we ask open-ended interpretive questions, some general and some about the theme we want to explore. Brainstorm several interpretive questions. You can eliminate some and sequence the rest later.
Remember, open-ended questions don't demand a particular answer, elicit yes/no answers, or contain answers in them.
Step 4: Select Informational Statements and Write Follow-Up Questions
Now go back to the interpretive essay and think about what information is relevant to the theme and might deepen your students' understanding of community. Select a piece of information, then write a question that asks students to follow up on this information.
Step 5: Vet Your Questions
Now reread each of your questions and eliminate some by asking yourself:
- Is this question open-ended?
- Are there many possible acceptable answers to the question? List some answers to be sure.
- Does this question give students the opportunity to build on prior knowledge?
- Will students have to look carefully at the artwork to answer this question? Will they be able to answer it by looking at the artwork?
- Is this question the best one to get students to think about the theme?
Once you’ve eliminated questions you feel are closed-ended, age-inappropriate, irrelevant, or off-theme, choose three or four of the best questions. You might need to make changes to your questions to create a plan that works.
Step 6: Sequence Your Questions
There are a few different ways to think about sequencing your questions:
- Start with general interpretive questions and move into questions specific to the theme.
- Imagine student responses to each question and try to follow up with a question that will naturally transition from student responses.
- Move through Bloom's Taxonomy
Step 7: Prepare for Your Lesson
- Try your inquiry plan with a friend and make necessary changes If necessary, add questions to make the lesson coherent.
- Download the worksheet and get started
Find examples of past Learning Through Art projects collaboratively taught by teaching artists and classroom teachers. These curriculum-related projects resulted from student engagement with important ideas and open-ended questions. Process-oriented explorations of art materials and techniques provide students with the tools to express their ideas visually. Selected projects contain downloadable lesson plans, which outline the project goals, National Content Standards, activities, and art works for investigations.
Tips for Finding Lessons
To find a lesson plan, check the box labeled “find only projects with lesson plans.” Once you select a project, navigate through the lesson on the upper right corner or download a PDF.