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Barbara W. Coles Trader
Current research, using literature in the content areas, suggests that contentrelated literature should supplement or supplant textbooks to facilitate conceptual learning. Even though, contentrelated literature appears in many forms, tradebooks/paperbacks, are often suggested to use as supplementary educational materials in conjunction with textbooks, tradebooks/paperbacks are fiction or nonfiction books which are not textbooks. Hence, it will be very easy for me to introduce paintings and photography with the literary components.
The students are assigned to my Chapter ILanguage Arts classes by requirement rather than by choice. Many of the students are not interested or do not show enthusiasm for the subject of reading/ language arts, because they are reluctant readers, when enrolled in my classes. I use various motivational and innovative teaching strategies to arouse the students’ curiosity. I give them opportunities to read topics/materials which are appealing and interesting to them. I have observed, during the past years, that most students enjoy drawings/paintings even though they may not be gifted painters; whereas, a few of their classmates are usually very talented. I will include a family painting and photograph each month in my weekly literature classes. For example: at least 5 paintings and 5 photographs = 10 pieces by renowned painters and photographers during the school year. I will teach one family literary story each month.
The students are seventh and eighth graders; thus, the curriculum unit will be adaptable for grades fifth and sixth in regular education classes. My students are regular education students whose Degrees of Reading Power vary from high to low. Some of the eighth grades have instructional comprehension reading levels as low as fourth grade while others have higher levels within the same class/es. Hence, I use a wide variety of trade books/paperbacks and supplementary materials to accommodate a broader range of reading abilities rather than always using a single textbook. According to current research and my observations, textbooks are not appealing for recreational reading and do not usually encourage the reluctant reader/s to become more independent readers. Bernstein and Woodward notes that “textbook authors respond to pressure to match state and local curricula by presenting too many concents in too little depth to be comprehensible let alone enjoyable” (p. 14).1 When teaching literary works, I will have the freedom to replace an expository format with a narrative one when desirous to inject humor and/or incorporate artistic designs/paintings and the like. My diverged formats will reflect the author’s and painter’s varied purposes; explore topics; profile personalities; enhance storytelling; absorb the messages that content is not just informative, but very enjoyable; the students can also answer their questions about topics/ideas with greater ease and self-confidence.
Relevance and Students’ Prior Knowledge: Students can understand new information more readily when they are able to correctly relate/associate their ordinary life experiences with concrete experiences, and they can use the real world examples of concents which are familiar.
I agree with Orlanda Patterson, a renown black sociologist, “An AfricanAmerican and others must possess information which is essential for improving their mental health/selfesteem, economic status and the ability to hold positions of responsibility with power.” The strategies of power are acquired through literacy, but an individual must be aware of his/her ancestry to try to understand this pluralistic society. I will give each student an opportunity to read the speech written by Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” which deals with social goals. The students will read several bestsellers children’s family biographies. They will write their family biographies to identify the elements of biographies. The students will interview and write about their family members in a positive manner. The Curriculum Unit, which I wrote in 1988 entitled, Immigrants and American Identity” “African Americans during The 19th and 20th Centuries in New Haven, Connecticut,” will be used with this Curriculum Unit. I have excellent (RIF) Reading Is Fundamental trade books that are available in my classroom. The students enjoy reading about families, painting, photography and other literary works for selfesteem/mental health to improve cultural skills/literacy.
A mentally healthy person understands one’s self and has positive selfesteem (can control emotions). I still agree with a renown Greek philosopher, Socrates, “Know Thyself.” There will be several questions addressed further in the lesson plans of this unit. Do I know and like myself? Do I continually grow to understand myself, relate to others and try to solve realistic life problems without using drugs/alcohol?
On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson had a dream of an American society based on personal merit rather than race/class. During the present, the American dream depends on a high level of universal and mature literacy. What does all of the above information mean to an AfricanAmerican youth and family if one does not view himself/herself as an active participant in one’s community/country? Hence, an individual often does not go to the polls and vote, because one has the feeling of powerlessness. In order for a person to comprehend, one is to focus the attention on background information which includes content-knowledge and positive shared attitudes. A student can learn the above information by being taught reading in the content areas of literature and ethnic history/art.
Establishing Fluency in Oral Reading: I will read aloud a synopsis of the literary story for modeling fluency in oral reading. Oral reading fluency is reading in phrases with appropriate intonation and inflection. This is a complex process since literary writings usually provide very few cues for the readers. I will encourage the students to read their summaries aloud with expression, and I will demonstrate orally appropriate expressions for specific punctuation marks. The students will be given the opportunity to read at least one family story each month silently. The rereadings will be done orally and within the students’ subgroups. Story plays that emphasize a family will help to facilitate the development of reading fluency. Thus, I will let the students read a family focused story play at least once per month. I have found that students enjoy reading story plays with embellishment.
There are other sets of images that can settle the questions by demonstrating visual ideas, with linguistic principles which can be studied as a text to embody opinions and reinforce family institutional priorities. This is the category of African Americans, especially in the nineteenth century; even though, the African slave trade began in the midfifteenth century and continued for the next four hundred years. The African American art contents and formal qualities were regulated by the dialectical tension between slavery, economics (slaveowners) and abolition.
Fortunately, Caucasian English and North American abolitionists’ artists connected and preserved the pictures of Artists’ prevailing views “for” or “against” slavery. Hence, the students and I will explore the broad themes familiar to both partisans and opponents of the slavery institution.
#1 The inhumanity of the system and its dehumanizing effect on both, slave masters and slaves. #2 The question of African American people’s competency, and their capacity to integrate into the dominant society. #3 The potential of the slaveowners to rise above the inhumane status and attain the level of spiritual/moral enlightenment. These issues have been fundamental components of the abolitionists’ debates since the beginning of African slaves.
The Western art of the Invisible Man was written by Freeman Henry Morris Murray. He was the first African American art historian. Murray studied the imagery of African American people from several viewpoints, and how they survived until World War I. I will read Henry Murray’s book more in depth by October, 1990. Since African Americans have been neglected in the history of American Art during the earlier centuries, Murray’s penetrating criticism will help my students and I to resolve some lingering questions with enlightenment.
I will examine some major works of art depicting African Americans in paintings during the early centuries such as: Adoration of the Magi, 1464 by Andrea Mantegna. I find the picture very interesting, because the pervasive appearance of the black wise man in the painting of the midfifteenth century signifies an element of realism coinciding with the missionary expeditions to Africa and the beginnings of the slave trade. The black man of royalty was garbed in magnificent splendor, and he came to pay homage to the founder of Christianity. The painter found ways of giving him subordinate status; he walks to the rear of the other two kings and genuflects. The black man is further removed from the infant Christ. I will reread William Wells Brown’s book, an African American author, who wrote shortly after the Civil War. In Brown’s book, he stated “a noble and wise ‘black’ ruler comes of his own volition to the ‘white’ man’s land and lays down his wealth and power at the feet of the Christ Child instead of actually depicting the missionaries and slavers invading the black man’s land to plunder its wealth and subjugate its people by force.”3 The black Magus (man) is depicted and defined as a defeated Ethiopian in the critical theological writings and paintings.
Watson and the Shark, 1778 by John Singleton Copley and Gulf Stream, 1889 by Winslow Hormer are strikingly similar paintings. The students and the teacher will compare the two paintings with teacher-directed activities.
A. Watson and the Shark painting illustrates the water in Cuba’s Havana Harbor. The painting depicted an incident that occurred in 1749 when young Brook Watson was attacked by a shark while swimming in the Havana Harbor. The most of the nine men were sailors and they were crowded in a lifeboat. The men diligently tried to rescue the youth, Brook Watson. One of the sailors appeared to have distinct functions while trying to rescue the youth from the shark. One man shouted orders. Two men leaned over the side of the lifeboat to grab Watson; one navigated the boat; three others rowed; one held a towline; the harpooner held his weapon to strike the shark. The towline, that the African man held reeled down the side of the boat, which wrapped Watson’s right arm. The African appeared to have a primary role in the rescue operation which established a direct connection with the Caucasian victim (a positive position in the painting for an African person during that era). B. Gulf Stream painting depicted a helpless sailor drifting perilous circumstances near Key West, Florida in 1899. The painting depicted a solitary African man modeled with a powerful physique who was lying on the deck of a fishing boat. It was damaged by a tropical storm and severe waves. The man’s life was threatened by sharks. One school of thought was that the two above paintings were influential in breaking the artistic stereotypes of African ethnic groups as followed: the cottonpatch and back porch tradition. The paintings were the beginning of artistic emancipation with African families/people in American art. The students will view both pictures and answer oral/written questions when? what? how? why? where?
Raphael Soyer painted a portrait in 1936, Reading from Left to Right which depicted the homelessness. Some teaching techniques will be in the lesson plans about the paintings, comparing the urban problems of today and yesteryears such as: the homeless and the two most deadly fires in the Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx, New York (Sunday, March 25, 1990 (87 people) at 3:40 a.m.: Saturday, March 25, 1911 (146 people) at 4:30 p.m.).
Hence, the artists of the Social Realists believed that photography must be instrumental in the Contemporary World. A group of outstanding photographers were under the direction of the farm Security Administration. They were Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Carl Mydans and Ben Shahn (also a painter). The photographers traveled throughout the country to produce stunning documents of rural families and poverty in Magazines/newspapers. Ben Shahn returned to his easel later years.
Journalism and the arts became very popular in North America. Architects designed housing projects. Photographers photographed pictures of urban tragedies, poverty, ruined farmers, eroded land the like. Writers compiled state and regional histories. Composers and playwrights were commissioned to create symphonies and plays for the families/people who had previously known the secondhand pleasures of recorded music, radios, and movies. Painters were commissioned by the government to cover the walls of public buildings with murals; they also supplied pictures for town/city museums, schools and traveling exhibitions. I will introduce the preceding vocations to the students when teaching Career Awareness. The students will write ads and articles for their school newspapers/magazines. The students, who are very artistic, will design and draw blueprints of their creative buildings/vehicles/inventions. They will do paintings for homework which include murals, cartoons and comic strips portraying family members/friends in a positive manner. The students will be given the opportunities to take photographs in school and away from school, accentuating the positive to build selfesteem.
I will teach the students that family structure did and still vary from regiontoregion different decades. Families serve as transmitters of culture to the youths. Migration and immigration of people from different cultural backgrounds have influenced each other. Social and political systems are food based on people’s beliefs. The academic, artistic and recreational activities of people are reflections of their values and beliefs.
The collaborative/cooperative teaching and learning activities are to extend and enhance students’ reading of literature; to interpret paintings toward a better understanding of cultural differences and the eras; to enhance academic and social attitudes.
I feel that good artists are like good writers; they help us to enjoy not only their ideas, but our five senses we experience. We compare paintings like we compare written pieces of literature. We use words that are similes such as: As and Like to compare. I will give examples to the students with an explanation: A cave was very cold; the writer might state that the cave was as cold as ice. This comparison will help us to understand how cold the cave really was because all of us have felt the coldness of ice (prior knowledge).
I. The objective is given for students to develop imagery in literary and art works.
The Dandy Jim from Caroline, 1844 painting will be compared. The painter is anonymous. Thus, I will ask the students what ethnic background do they think that the artist might have been? Hence, the painting depicted visual stereotypes of African Americans who were slaveholding ancestors. The black man playing the banjo was enacting popular minstrel gestures, which the facial expressions illustrated freakishness, with a banjo—picking Jim Crow character having apelike features. The wide grin became the stereotypical ideal of white racism in the nineteenth century. Many times the performers, in reality and in the paintings, were Caucasians disguised with painted blackfaces. I will ask the students do they recall viewing Benny Hill Shows which are reruns on today’s television, and some of the scenes snowed him with a painted blackface. Hence, the grinning musicians portrayed the African Americans as symbols by eternal nature, rather than intellectual figures/people, in American history and art. It depicted their love of the slavemasters with all its political implications of minstrel shows/tradition. I will tell the students that the minstrel tradition lowered African Americans’ selfesteem/positive selfidentity.
A. In each sentence below, there is an incomplete comparison. Write your idea in the sentence. 1. The new street wound around the mountain like _____. 2. White clouds, like _____, scudded across the moon _____. 3. My son’s request to use our car are as persistent as _____. 4. White petals from the pear tree floated to the ground like _____. 5. On the maps, Connecticut River looked long, narrow and pinched into sections like _____. B. The two paintings, which I have addressed during the beginnings of the curriculum unit, will be compared in the cooperative learning groups: Watson and the Shark 1778: Gulf Stream, 1889. The teacher directedquestions will be generated. How were the paintings similar? What was the setting? How did they differ? What audience does one think the painter/s are painting the picture/s? What is your image of a strong man? Why does one think that the artist was projecting a certain image? Where does one think the artist conceived his/her ideas? The preceding questions will be modeling techniques for the teacher during the oral and written brainstorming sessions. C. The objective is given to interpret and compare family paintings. Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first renowned African American male painter. One of his famous paintings was The Banjo Lesson, 1893. Closer to actuality, the painting showed an unsentimental affection and tenderness between an African American grandfather and his grandson. The grandfather teaching his grandson how to play the musical instrument. They were totally selfabsorbed and concentrated on the lesson which showed intellect and was scholarly/academic. The painting did not demonstrate idle amusement or play, but it illustrated an opportunity for the transmission of the knowledge. The students will also read Tanner’s biography who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; his father was an African Methodist Episcopal Church bishop.
The students will discuss Jacob Lawrence’s painting, the Tombstones, 1942 which conveyed overcrowded tenements and families living in Harlem (New York, New York). The students will design picture stories comparing overcrowded tenements then and now (non-verbal and verbal skills).
D. The objective is given for selfconcepts. Looking Back at African American Artists: 1. b—He was a landscape painter (18281901). 2. a—The Ohio Freedmen’s Aid Society sent him to Art School in Glasgow, Scotland (18211850’s). 3. c—His painting, Family, was featured in the February, 1989 issue of Instructor magazine. 4. e—He painted the Tombstones, 1942 in Harlem, New York. 5. d—They are famous women painters who are presently living. a. Robert Duncanson b. Edward M. Bannister c. Charles A. Alson d. Annie Lee and Varnette Honeywell e. Jacob Lawrence E. The objective is visualization. The skill will form mental pictures as students interpret paintings and literary works. The students will draw pictures within easel designed art papers. They will use pencils, felt tip pens, water colors and/or crayons entitled “My Art Gallery”.
After the students have viewed the video tape, the teacher will direct the students to read specific pages in the book. They will answer written statements to summarize the preceding questions. The students will reread their answers aloud for group discussions and analyze inner conflicts that families might encounter. Hence, there are different positive ways to manage stress and to cope in today’s society.
A. The objectives are given to help students change the way they think about reading and themselves. 1. Procedure—The students will read the story silently in subgroups of 3’s (cooperative learning). Zeely, written by Virginia Hamilton who is a famous African American author of children’s current stories, will be read. 2. PostReading—I will ask the students to write and briefly describe the following: elements; details; the suspense; identify clues. 3. Enrichment—I will give the students an opportunity to make handprints using a washable ink/paint. They will compare and contrast the different hands in the class. 4. Homework—The students will compile a list of at least 10 things, and what can be done with the hands. They will draw individual pictures. “Our hands help us to be different from all other living things”. B. The objective is given to identify fictional and nonfictional elements. The students will visualize descriptive passages and analyze the author’s attitude toward them. Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of A Fugitive Slave is by Virginia Hamilton. Her book is a fiction for children of the 20th century. The paperback is written in the form of a diary. Selections are written from the Fugitive Slave Act 1850’s: May, 1854June, 1854. C. The objective is given to predict orally the Novel: The Color Purple. The students will do the following before they watch the video tape. 1. The student will predict what does one think when he/she hears the word purple?
- 2. How did the sisters impress the individual student?
- 3. What do you think will happen in the story?
- 4. How will the problem be solved?
- 5. Where and when did the story take place?
Objective: #1. The student will list at least 25 facts about Blacks Before the Mayflower: “A History of Black American” written by Lerone Bennett, Jr.
I. Weeks #14
The reference books will be available in the reading room of the author writing this unit. Thus, each student will be given the opportunity to orally discuss his/her data when completing the “notetaking” assignment.
Objective: #2. The student will be given basic vocabulary to identify pronunciation, part of speech, structural analysis and meanings such as:
Objective #3. The student will recall facts, main ideas and details from the biographies in this unit.
Literal comprehension—The student(s) will do the study skills approach: Survey, question, read, recite, and review/record/write. The steps and techniques are available in my reading room; please contact me if more information is needed.
Objective #1. The student will read to identify the elements of autobiographies.
“Auto” means self. “Biography” means a life history of one person written by another person. Hence, an autobiography is a life history written by the person that the story is portrayed. When a person starts to write her/his autobiography, one chooses those events in her/his life that mean the most the individual.
The individual’s life story has a beginning, middle and an end. It cannot cover everything that happens in a person’s life. The person writes to tell her/his beliefs, feelings, opinions and thoughts. Hence, the individuals is highly encouraged to omit the facts about one’s self that are embarrassing, too personal and not important.
A person usually writes autobiographies to tell about their struggles and success in life. The story can be very inspiring to a reader who can learn that he/she is not to give up so quickly when one seems to be failing. The reader can be encouraged to succeed by continuously trying to obtain his/her goal/s.
Objective: #2. The student will read several bestseller children’s autobiographies.
Objective: #3. The student will write and read his/her autobiographies.
Each student will write what he/she has done in the past which is important and meaningful to one’s self. The writer will express what he/she presently thinks. Who are the interesting people that the writer has met and/or has become to know very well? The instructor will inform each student that he/she will probably be amazed when reading what one has written about himself/herself.
Objective: #1. The student will read to identify the elements of biographies.
The written story of a real person’s life is a “biography.” A biography can and should read like an adventure story. A biography must include certain things that is found in a good story: what happened, where and when did the events happen? The writer of today must tell the facts and not exaggerate with fiction. Years ago, the writer included fiction in a biography; for example, “George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree and never told a lie.” The previous statement is not true. Hence, a story should not be dull.
Objective: #2. The student will read several bestseller biographies and Interracial Books for Children.
Objective: #3. The student will write and read his/her biography.
Each student will interview a parent or friend and write a short story. The writer is to record the fact and keep the story interesting. The biography should consist of at least 175300 words in grades 7 and 8.
Tips on Interviewing Follow these tips when you interview someone.
Objective: #4. The student will recall and think reflectively upon personal and concrete experiences.
1. Bring a pencil and paper so you can take notes. 2. Find a quiet place for the two of you to talk. 3. Be sure the person is comfortable before you get started. 4. Know what you want to talk about before you begin. 5. Give the person plenty of time to answer each question. 6. Write down whatever you think is important. 7. Thank the person for the interview when you are done.
Objective: #5. The student will draw reference and map skills.
a. Each student will be assigned homework to look at the family photographs, albums, scrapbooks and other family possessions that parents have available to share. The student will record and list the information. b. Each student will collaborate and share his/her family findings/information with one’ s peers within the classroom. c. Each student will select a name from the instructor’s box. Each student will find in the Ebony Magazine (located in the author’s reading room at Jackie Robinson Middle School) the designated person’s biographical sketch: will design a scrapbook: cut and tape pictures in the book: write a biographical summary. The scrapbooks will be shared with classmates and displayed in the classrooms. The student(s) will be given opportunities to take photographs, develop slides of the buildings and the like addressed in this unit.
Objective: #6. The student will identify and draw how wellgroomed the black families in New Haven area were many years ago (contrast and compare with today’s fashions).
a. Each student will write and draw a set of directions from Jackie Robinson Middle School to Dixwell Avenue: Webster, Goffe and Sperry Streets: Whalley Avenue, Temple and Orchard Streets, thus the like. The directions will be written and drawn explaining how to locate the specific streets and avenues that are mentioned in this unit: Insights of American Blacks in New Haven during the 19th and 20th Centuries. The instructor will emphasize the thinking stage by encouraging the student(s) to apply one’s knowledge and experiences. This activity also provides a study in the various purposes of writing to different audiences. b. Each student will draw and design a map which relates to the above activity. Secondly, several New Haven maps will be viewed and studied. Thirdly, the U.S.A. and World maps will be used to locate countries, states and cities mentioned in this unit.
The instructor will have pictures/snapshots available in the classroom that have been taken within the AfroAmerican Historical Society. Thus, student(s) will be encouraged to visit the Society with their parents/relatives. Each student will be encouraged to look at an older member of the family’s pictures. #1. Females’ Clothing—dresses: suits: hats/bonnets: shoes: coats: boots: stockings: undergarments. #2. Males’ Clothing—work clothes: sportswear: shoes and boots: undergarments: suits and the like. #3. Baby Clothes.
c. The instructor will take the students on field trips to visit the AfroAmerican Historical Society: the New Haven Colony Historical Society Museum (the both are located in New Haven, Connecticut).
3Brown, William W. The African American in the American Rebellion. New ed. New York: Citadel Press, 1971. Albert Boime is the author of the latest edition. William was the first African American novelist and essayist in North America after the Civil War.
Hamil, Pete. “Fire Tragedy and 87 Deaths in Bronx”. New York: New York Post (Tuesday, March 27, 1990). It is an excellent news article.
Hamilton, Virginia. Zeely. New York: Avon Publishers, 1985. It is a biography about Zeely and her family. Excellent for youngsters.
Hormer, Winslow. Hudson River Logging: American Painting and Puzzle 18361910. Cororan Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C. (More than 50 pieces). It is a fine art Jigsaw Puzzle pencil signed and painted in 1892, 14 X 20 5/8” for intermediate grades and above).
Kamm, Karlyn. Solar Reading Flight #2: Purple Colors and Central Thought. Wisconsin: Learning Multi Systems, Inc. (No. 4 Disk; Apple II and 64K Computer Software), 1989. It is for the Middle School Grades.
Lutz, William. Language Power: Paintings and Photography. Illinois: National Council of the Arts, 1989. It is an excellent book for educators.
2Riccio, Gabriele L. Writing the Natural Way. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983. The book emphasized using the rightbrain techniques to release one’s expressive powers. The “clustering” is highly useful for creative writing.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Pocket Books Co. 1985 It is a current novel/book; a videotape is available for youngsters and adults.
Wigren, Barbara. Life in Art, Art in Life. West Haven, Connecticut: NEA Professional Library (December, 1989). It is an excellent article for educators.
Know Your World Extra. “The 1911 New York City Triangle Shirt Company Fire.” Ohio: Vol. 23, No. 15 (March 30, 1990).
MECC. Literary Words and Photography. Minnesota: Educational Technology.
Software of Apple II/64K, 1989.
The National Galleries of Art and The Museums of Modern Art. The galleries and museums are located in various cities/states especially in Washington, D.C. and New York, New York.
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