Analyzing Artists’ Angles, Gisele Cyr, 7th Grade Literacy, Lewiston Middle School

Overarching Goals

1. Students will understand that artists sometimes communicate one-sided information — propaganda.

2. Students will recognize that artists persuade others through their use of tone, details and symbols.

3. Students will demonstrate their ability to write in a focused manner, using reasons and details to support their positions.

This unit will also expose students to propaganda. Students’ limited experiential background has not given them the opportunity to always see the many sides involved in various topics. The discussions involving the art work, which is focused on the uses of biotechnology, will help students discover the one-sided nature of the art work.

The art pieces, provided by Anthony Shostak, Bates College Education Coordinator for the Olin Museum, will provide the focal point for discussion. One titled work, “Biodevastation 2001,” reflects the viewpoint that biotechnology is intrinsically evil. Another piece by the same artists (The Beehive Collective) depicts a poisoned corn field, the result of genetically modifying corn.

Middle school students have a particularly hard time answering constructed-response questions that are typically found on state-mandated reading tests. Part of the problem is that students are overwhelmed by multi-layered questions and do not know how to organize their answers.

Student Goals

1. Students will identify various symbols used in the propaganda presented. They will interpret the message each symbol conveys.

2. Students will organize their writing using graphic organizers.

3. Students will respond to a multi-layered constructed response question similar to those found on state mandated reading tests.

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