In my unit, students are asked to use the six hats analytical method to interact with both visual and written art. During the unit, students will be introduced to the six hats technique and apply the practice to art work from artist collective the Spiral Group as well as various versions of their core text. For our core text, my students will be reading Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play “A Raisin in the Sun.” The text is important to our unit because Hansberry is an artist who is creating works reflective of the social movements of the period of time in. Many of these social movements still resonate today.
One of the standards that my language arts students are expected to demonstrate mastery in revolves around the comparison of written and visual art. In this unit, students will be provided opportunities to compare the written word to various filmed performances of the play. In doing so, students will be able to see how other artists interpreted the work of Lorraine Hansberry. By showing multiple versions, my hope is that the students will see that there is no right or wrong answer. In turn, a secondary goal of this unit is to have students start to determine how they would approach the art and how they can use these thoughts and ideas in the creation of their own work.
My students are coming of age in a time of multiple movements that are fighting for major societal changes. People not much older than them are sharing their thoughts and taking action in physical protests and sharing of their stories and experiences on social media. A major way that people can share their thoughts and opinions is through the creation of art. In this unit, students will have the opportunity to consider how they too can be a part of this process by cultivating their voice.
A key component of this unit is student voice. In language arts class, we study various aspects of reading and writing. In middle school, students are really beginning to find and develop their voice. It is my responsibility to provide opportunities for students to safely do that by not only reading the works of others, but creating their own texts to be analyzed. One way to do this is by using art.
Art techniques are being used across the board to enhance educational outcomes for a number of learners in a number of fields as broad as medicine. Art analysis is being used to enhance critical thinking skills because, often in art analysis, there is no single right or wrong answer. Besides analytical skills, critical thinking involving art has been shown to have an impact in increasing student’s empathy.1 Living in a post pandemic world, students are in need of more opportunities to cultivate social emotional skills. In acknowledging feelings associated with both the artist and the viewer, learners are able to build empathy. Also, students are pressed more to use sight to look for visual clues leads to learners being able to better read people in general.
When looking at the Civil Rights Movement, we specifically examine the work of the artist collective the Spiral Group. We will examine how the work of artists such as Romare Bearden and Norm Lewis were reflective of the time and their philosophies. In reading the texts, students will be asked to consider what is important to not only Hansberry, but to themselves, in terms of the Civil Rights Movement. They will be asked to choose a movement that they feel passionately about and to create art that represents their viewpoint on the issue. Students will then have the opportunity to do some small research on a movement they feel particularly drawn to in order to create this art. After creating their art, students will be asked to reflect on how their work represents said view point.
In the final stage of this culminating activity, students will be asked to go on a gallery walk of their classmates’ artistic productions. Students will be asked to transfer the skills that they have developed while analyzing the work of other artists to that of their classmates. It is my purpose to push my students to see themselves as producers, not just consumers, of the written and visual texts.