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IMGALTTAG Volume I: American History Through Art


Fine Art, Commercial Art and Printing Through History and Their Relevance to Each Other
Frank M. Barbera

This unit was designed for the average high school student in grades 9 through 12. It uses the introduction and comparison of fine art to commercial art and printing, to teach the history of printing and commercial art. The unit is targeted at making available to the student all the technological information available on the subject and to give a lesson in the changing values of the times. By the use of time lines the students will be able to compare and relate the changes and developments in fine art and commercial art, and those in the printing processes, with what was taking place in the world at the same time. This comparison will lend credence to fine art being the mirror of the times while showing the influence of commercial art on society.


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A Multidisciplinary Study of Song of Solomon and Invisible Man
Antoinette W. Brunger

This unit encompasses the study of two great American novels, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The study approach adopted for this unit is multidisciplinary, involving literature, history, cultural history, and art. Through reading, and discussion of the novels, related history and art works, students will become more fully aware of the interconnection among these disciplines. Writing exercises, research and oral presentations will more fully round out students’ knowledge and understanding. That knowledge and understanding will then be integrated into a final authentic assessment project through research, writing, and creativity in developing and executing a project and final oral presentation.


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Common Denominators between Primitive Art, Fine Art, Folk Art, Children's Art
Cynthia DeFilippo

The purpose of this unit is two-fold. I first want to establish the visual connections, or common denominators, between Primitive Art, Fine Art, Folk Art and Children's Art. I will first define each area and discuss its basic characteristics. This will help us formulate these common denominators and instruct readers about some of the connections and issues relevant to this unit. I will then focus on developing lessons for my students, which make a connection between these areas, and art activities that constitute a similar purpose and method. In doing so, I hope to relate to my students, on any grade level, the universality of art and how it speaks to us from all walks of life and all past civilizations. By establishing this, students will see a validity in their own expression. Students would then develop an appreciation of their work and feel successful in their attempts in painting and crafts. Grade levels will be suggested with each lesson but most lessons can be adapted to other levels.


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The American Dream Becomes Reality Through Art
Julie Gillis

This project’s objectives will be to answer the following questions: What is the American Dream? Where did the idea of the American Dream come from? How has the focus of the American Dream changed? Because in this nation of visual learners, fifth grade students respond most profoundly to visual stimuli, the project can most effectively utilize art – image of paintings and sculptures - to explore the American Dream. The students will explore how art depicts the struggle for and the achievement of the American Dream at various times in American history. The focus of the art objects will be on the Colonial and Revolutionary War era as this is the time period that is studied in the fifth grade curriculum. The students will develop their own self-portrait based on the art that they will be exposed to in this unit. They will learn to read paintings by identifying the various symbols that artists use to get across their views of the American Dream. The students will explore depictions of not only individuals but also families and determine what these paintings say about the values of Americans throughout history. The culminating activity for the unit will involve being able to read their own self-portrait and presenting a written explanation of their project to the rest of the class.


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The Art of the American West and the Culture of the Cowboy
Joanne M. Hattrup

This unit is an elementary art unit focusing on the art of the American West and the myth and the legend of the American Cowboy. Myths offer wonderful opportunities to study our history. Selected paintings will serve as the primary vehicle by which students explore the adventure, folklore, and myth of the American West.

The unit includes six lessons that involve learning experiences where students create their own artwork that is symbolic and reflective of this cowboy culture and the lure of the West. Students will view slides, dress up in costumes, listen to western music, conduct research, create a timeline, and design a class quilt focusing on the American West and the Cowboy.


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The Study of African American History Through Art
By Judith A. Lutz

This curriculum unit will provide opportunities for my kindergarten class to view, discuss and critique art that depicts various times in African American History. I’ve selected artwork that will appeal to young children and that will imprint images of African American culture on their minds.

When viewing the images, the students will focus on the artist’s message and its historic significance. My focus is for the students to be able to link together major parts of the timeline, such as the institution of slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the Reconstruction of the South, the Jim Crow Laws, the Great Migration North, the Civil Rights Movements and present day racism. The discussion concerning each work of art will develop their ability to examine, share ideas and listen. Last but not least, they will learn that works of art tell a story that is waiting to be heard.


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The American Dream vs. Reality: Illusion vs. Truth
Barbara Aronson

This unit is one, which integrates the study of American literature and American art of the twentieth centruy from 1900-1940. Primarily the discussion will revolve around the concept of the American Dream. The selections of literature all focus on that idea. These are two plays and a novel: Raisin in the sun, Death of a Salesman, and The Great Gatsby. The art will revolve around three schools: the Ashcan group, the Regionalitst, and the Social Realists.

The students are eleventh graders of average intelligence and ability, who bring very little understanding of American art to the classroom. Slides will be presented, and students will answer questions based on these slides, which allow them to think critically about that which they are observing. The notebook is the key source of evaluation in this unit. However, the focus of the unit is to have the students learn to appreciate visitation, library research, and class discussions. The point of the exercise is to allow the students to understand that paintings, much like written texts, can be "read" and interpreted to learn more about the time and place and people represented. Another point of the unit is to allow the students to understand that the concept of the American Dream, according to Daniel Boorstein, the historian, is that: "The unprecedented American opportunities have always tempted us to confuse the visionary with the real." In short, the American Dream is a myth, an illusion. Yet it is a necessary part of life because it is a motivating factor.


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Collecting Our Pasts: Making Museums in Our Lives
Michael Wantorek and Tish Rygalski

This curriculum is intended to help second and third graders make discoveries about life in the past by studying the art and artifacts of earlier days. Students will learn to discern similarities and differences between life then and life now. By viewing artwork and creating their own, and by reading literature and writing their own stories, students will be exposed to our American past. To better understand our visual history, children will learn to "read" artwork in three categories: portrait, cityscape, and genre. This curriculum is specifically geared toward the experiences of the urban lifestyles of the students. It is designed to be used over a two-year period. The lessons overlap and build upon each other. Concepts that are introduced in the first year are revisited and expanded upon in the second year to correlate with the developmental processes of the students.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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