Objects of Discovery

Thousand Word Project (Symbols and Metaphors), Lynn M. MacDonald, Lewiston High School, 9th and 10th grade – Career Readiness


This lesson focuses on three works of art as a starting point for students to discover new
things about themselves and further develop their thought for future dreams, vision, and
goals (personal and career).

Common Core Standard:
W.CCR.5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Teach It:

Specific Guidelines:

Day 1: 80 minute block–Students look at the art piece by Weng Fen, On the Wall, Haikou 6, 2003l…..share what you see….write down words on the white board—each student goes to the board with words…….discuss words, spelling and developing thoughts. Discuss ideas.

Weng Fen
On the Wall, Haikou 6, 2003

We will discuss how Weng Fen used symbolism in his work.  Looking at the “what if’s” or could he be saying, or do you thing this or that.  This conversation will be all about brainstorming and ideas. Talking about how metaphors and symbolism are used in writing and how it can be used in their vision—goals for their lives and how they will arrive at that goal. It will be explained to the students that they are encouraged to use symbolism in their developed finished pieces.  At this time we will talk about symbolism they have already found in other areas of life, music, other writings; discuss what symbolism is and how to use it.

Students are then asked to sit on that wall.  To really go there….close their eyes and pretend you are there. What would you see if you were there? Use your five senses and tell me what you smell and hear—-write these thoughts down.  Now, is there a smell so strong that you can taste it?  What was in ‘your’ bookbag? What are those papers of yours on the ground all about? Where are you going?  Where were you?  Why did you stop at this wall? How did you get here, at the wall?   What can a wall represent in life?  Students will go on a journey…..imagine themselves there.   Share with the class your thoughts.

Day 2: 80 minute block–Look over what you wrote. Does it makes sense to you on this new day?  Now, go back to the wall where you were sitting the other day.  Dream, bring ‘me’ (your teacher) into your mind and take me on a journey of what you hope your life is going to be like.  Include for me, how you expect to get to certain points in your life.  Who will help you reach your goals?  While the students are doing this I will be checking in with them to help them be present at the wall while they think about their future goals in life.  Students will share—pair share and then group share (if desired).

Next we are going further into the All About ME Theme by looking at Alison Hildreth

Passages.  Again we will discuss symbolism in this art piece. Life Choices…roads we take which lead us to different places in each of our lives, etc.  And the students will write about the following questions:

Alison Hildreth
Passages #4, 2006

What has made me who I am today? Why do I have the dreams I have for my future? What will hinder me from following through with me dreams? What keeps me on the right track? What are some of the accomplishments I’ve had in my life so far? What are some other big things I want to achieve in High School?  What roles do I play in life? What do people think and say about me? Why? What do I think about myself? Why? Where do I see myself in a year, two, five? etc., etc.

Gather back together for a group discussion about how these two art pieces help answer some of these life-goal-vision questions.

Day 3: 80 minute block–Since they will all be doing different project to display there thoughts, goals, vision, and dreams they will individually choose their third art piece from the Bates Gallery collection on the Thousand Word Project.  They will look at each of them and then show me which one they identified with and why.  This will be a discussion and a brief writing.

Students then will begin their individual final project—through their written poetry about this topic and put on the computer, their dance routine and then video taped and put on their fb page, their comic story and copied and put on the computer, etc.    How they decide to represent their thoughts will be up to them.  I will do individual meetings with each student.

Day 4, 5,: 80 minute blocks–students work on individual projects.