Ideas and Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Teach It 
  3. Dig Deeper


This segment is about the ideas behind art and writing. Artists and writers share their strategies for identifying and developing ideas for their work.

Time: 45-50 minute period


  • Students will create a list of ideas and topics for future pieces of writing and art.
  • Students will use two techniques to develop topical ideas for writing and art.
  • Students will construct answers to questions and convey their ideas about a specific work of art.

Common Core State Standards English Language Arts:

  • L.CCR.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression
  • SL.CCR.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • W.CCR.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.CCR.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Maine Learning Results Visual and Performing Arts Standards:

  • A3 Media, Tools, Techniques, and Processes
  • E2 The Arts and Other Disciplines

Segment Vocabulary:

resonance, collaboration
Word Wall

Teach It

Prior to viewing:

Students, independently, spend no more than one minute writing their answers to, “Where do you get your ideas for art pieces, poems, songs and/or stories that you have created?”

Tell students that the segment will include writers and artists sharing answers to where they get their ideas for their work. As they view the segment, students should add to their brainstorming list additional “places” to get ideas.

Pause the segment after Fateh Azzam states, “…had to be written down in Arabic before I lost what I was trying to say.”

Tell students that they will be provided with an opportunity to try out some of the techniques used by the artists.  Remind them that playwright Fateh Azzam and songwriter Judd Caswell both get ideas from what they know about or have experienced.  Caswell said, “Write what you know.”  Azzam said, “You have a narrative inside you that needs to come out.”  Give students three to five minutes to add ideas to their personal brainstorming list that come from events in their life and topics they feel they know a lot about.

Link to Fateh Azzam

Focused Listing:  Next, ask students to consider the word, “art.” Tell them to use an online dictionary and thesaurus to generate as many words as they can that they associate with the word (a strategy discussed by artist Amy Stacey Curtis in the segment).  Give students three to five minutes to collect their words.

Tell students that the last part of the segment describes another way to create ideas.  Show the remaining part of the segment, beginning where the Narrator states, “Some artists like to work with other artists to get their ideas or to expand ideas they have.”

Divide students into small groups and post Michael Reidy’s statement, “Collaboration is a great opportunity to discover what you don’t know.”  Ask students to share their list of words associated with “art.”  Tell students to add new ideas from others to their own list.  Next, as a group, ask them to select some of the words on their lists to create a phrase that might work as an opening line in a poem about the subject.

Writing Through Art Activity:

Display the image(s) students used to construct paragraphs in the previous segment. Ask them to share their ideas about the image. Students could add their responses to their collection of paragraphs:
Do you like it? Why do you like/not like it?
What does it make you think about?
What emotions do you feel when you view it?
Who do you know who would enjoy the image?
Would you want to hang this image in your house or would you prefer to visit it in a museum? Why?

Dig Deeper

Note: If students created a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast art and writing in the first segment, revisit the diagram and make any necessary additions or corrections based on this segment.

Have students use the phrase they developed about art and write a poem.

Compile students’ brainstorming lists about where they get ideas and create a word cloud to display in the classroom or online for future writing assignments.

Link to teacher inspired lessons:

Link to Wordle