During the beginning of the unit, I will introduce the topic of the Revolutionary War in the book "On Our Way to English" by activating schema. The students will be asked to translate and define the word "war". Then they will do the same with the word "revolution". After the basic concept is introduced we will do some short readings about the causes that led up to the Revolutionary War. Once we reach this stage we will pause and focus on the concept of "freedom". Here the students will be able to discuss what "freedom" means to them and they will be asked to draw a visual representation of what "freedom" means to them.
After the students demonstrate that they have grasped the concept of "freedom" and that it was one of the basic reasons for the Revolutionary War, the students will read the historical account of the Revolution and organize their facts on a time line graphic organizer. At this interval, I will them present them with some images of the Revolution itself and some of the important historical figures involved. I will begin with the portrait by John Trumbull ,
General George Washington at Trenton (1792)
, Yale University Art Gallery. I choose this portrait because I want students to observe the detail given to George Washington and how portrait painting signified a persons' importance. I also want the students to reflect on the significance of the horse and how it lends status to the subject. The students will be asked the following questions: Why do you think this portrait was painted? What impression does the General give with his pose? Why do you think the painter included the majestic white horse? By just looking at the portrait, can you appreciate the importance of the General? The second image I will present will also be by John Trumbull,
The Battle of Bunker's Hill, June
17, 1775 (1786), Yale University Art Gallery. In this battle image we see the consequences of war and death up close. I think this image is important because here we see that even in full battle, a fellow soldier is trying to protect and retain the dignity of the fallen soldier. The soldiers from neither side have not lost their composure nor humanity. Using this image, the students will be asked to provide as much detail as possible. I will guide them with the following questions: Who is fighting who? Can you recognize any familiar figures seen before? What group seems to be winning? How are they fighting? What weapons can you identify? How do you think these men feel? After we read about the end of the Revolution, we will then discuss the outcome and focus on a mayor historical event which was the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Trumbull,
The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, (1786–1820)
, Yale University Art Gallery. I will present the image and ask the students the following questions: What is happening in this picture? What is the significance of the men standing? Who do you think the others are that seem to be just observing? Do you think the image represents how important the signing of the Declaration was? After ample discussion about the importance of the Revolution and how it has affected us until this day I will present the students with the question: Why don't we see many women on our images? Once they formulate ideas and inference as to the reasons I will present the image of Molly Pitcher–Heroine of Monmouth Revolutionary War, a lithograph published by Currier & Ives (1859). They will then observe what they see and give their opinion they will also give an opinion as to if they think there were more women like Molly or was this an isolated event. They will be asked to research at the library and as a class, name at least three other important female characters during the revolution. As a writing assignment I will ask students to pretend that they were alive during the Revolutionary period and based on their observations, write a short letter to a family member describing their experiences. They will be asked to include as much detail as possible. The guide questions will be: What did you see? How were you feeling during this time? What did it mean to be victorious? What are your plans for the future?
For my second lesson I will re–introduce the concept of freedom. I will then go on to introduce that Britain had various colonies and one of them was Jamaica. I will present a brief discussion of the history of Jamaica and focus on the period of Emancipation . We will define the term of emancipation and briefly explain the concept of slavery. We will relate the term emancipation to freedom while assuring that the students realize Jamaica remained a colony and that independence occurred many years later. After a brief history of Jamaica is introduced, I will introduce a popular Jamaican artist, Isaac Mendes Belisario. He is important to this part of my curriculum because he is one of the most prominent artists of the period. Isaac Mendes Belisario was a Jamaican born artist of Spanish or Portuguese origin. He was raised in London and returned to Jamaica during the height of the emancipation looking for freedoms that were allotted to Jewish people at the time. What is interesting is that even though he was a white colonial artist of the Jewish community he represented the true sentiment and nature of the Negro population in Jamaica. Isaac Mendez Belisario was able to show through his works, a population undergoing and resisting changes. He was able to represent a people holding on to their customs and traditions. Through his artwork, students will be able to appreciate that as a white colonial artist raised in London, he was able to respectfully portray life in Colonial Jamaica. Students can infer that as a member of the Jewish community who suffered limited rights in London he could better sympathize with Jamaicans who were suffering limited rights in Jamaica and that through art he could tell their story. Once students have an understanding of colonial Jamaica, Isaac Mendez Belisario and emancipation, we will move on to the focal questions of the lesson which will be: What did colonization look like in America and what did it look like in Jamaica? Here I will utilize the Venn Diagram while presenting the students with two similar images. I will use the image of I.M. Belisario, Cocoa Walk Estate, (c1840), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica. and to compare and contrast this image I will use John Trumbull, View on the West Mountain near Hartford, (1791). These images are two focused on nature and its surroundings. John Trumbulls' image looks dry and barren in comparison to Belisarios lush green mountainside. In Belisarios image even though we see blacks working under white supervision, we can appreciate life, the life of the people, livestock, and greenery. These images tell of a beautiful land full of hope because where there is life there is hope. Trumbulls image also has livestock but in a more somber state, where you can see that change is coming about and the light in the background, in the horizon, is also a glimmer of hope. Students will be able to search the website, Colonial America.wikispaces.com and obtain images of colonial life in America. To these various colonial images we can compare and contrast other images by Isaac Mendes Belisario. I.M.Belisario, Band of the Jaw–Bone John–Canoe, (1837) Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon collection, USA. In this image we see musicians with tattered clothes and recognizable instruments with one exception, the instrument made of a horse skull. They are making music, looking happy even though we know that they are struggling. Students can search a similar image in Colonial America and see that physical characteristics may be different but the musicians do obtain joy from the activity. The students will be asked to focus on what can they find similar in each image with a minimum of at least three sentences. Then they will be asked to find the differences. Students will be asked as to why they think such great differences are present.
As a final look into Jamaican Colonial society students will see the image by Charles Tilt, An Interior View of a Jamaican House of Correction, (c. 1836), The National Library of Jamaica. Although graphic it is an image that leads to great discussions. I will provide the students with a little background knowledge of the concept of discipline during that period. Students will be informed that authorities imposed a system no less harsh then that practiced during slavery. I want students to notice that fellow black Jamaicans are inflicting punishment under the watchful eye of a white overseer. I also want to draw attention to the visitor who seems to be experiencing pleasure at what is going on.I will ask students to describe all the activity going on. I will then ask them why they think a lot of those things are happening. I will then ask the students if they believe the Jamaicans are truly free or is there a dominating class or race. After all, black or white, are they all not Jamaican? I will focus their attention on the two white figures and ask students what roles do they think they play in the scenario. Then I will show them the image of Abraham James, Segar Smoking Society in Jamaica, Lewis Walpole Library Collection, Yale University Library, ID 308529 Using this image I will ask them to observe the overall feeling they get when they view the image. Then students will be asked to notice the details of what is going on and who are the dominant figures in the image. Then putting the two aforementioned images together, I will ask students to compare and contrast, noting that they will find very few similarities in detail but if they inference they can pick up on at least two similarities. Students will be encouraged to use all their senses when they observe the images in order to appreciate the similarities and differences.
As a final project, students will be asked to choose some time frame or situation of the history discussed and write a short paragraph (5–7) sentences about how that certain moment in time relates to them and how that period in history has affected life as we know it today. They will be asked to consider the factors of gender, position in society, race, and economics. They will also be asked to draw a representation of themselves during that time. They would be encouraged to think about what they would look like and how they would feel. With these activities I am hoping to bring some life into the events that are from so long ago.