Create Your Own Florida Murals
Learning through the arts has significant effects on learning in other domains and provide compelling evidence that student achievement is heightened in an
environment with high quality arts education offerings and a school climate supportive of active and productive learning (Champions of Change, 1999). The arts enable teachers to reach students not only on an academic level but also on an socio-emotional level. Thus, learning through the arts does not limit students to the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical pathways of acquiring knowledge. It holds the potential to combine all of Howard Gardener's Multiple Intelligences and Learning including: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and naturalistic (Gardner, 1983). In addition, by the sharing of art both in practice and appreciation it helps facilitate a connection between teacher and student that may not be found through the pedantic measures of old. Hence, by engaging in the arts both student and teacher can share a holistic aesthetic experience inspiring both student and teacher.
In addition, many middle schoolers who are Special Ed have their social studies and exploratory classes (i.e. art and band) cut to give them more reading instruction. This does a disservice to the kids because it cuts their exposure to cultural appreciation and knowledge. By infusing curriculum into themes discovered though art rather than separate domains the student is exposed to the "bigger" picture of things seeing how all things are intertwined.
This lesson is designed to teach Florida History through the arts, but can be extended to learning about other states as well. You could even have different student groups create murals about other states and compare & contrast them.
Two class periods that may be extend if necessary
Instructional Objectives from Sunshine State Standards:
1. Uses and organizes two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to produce works of art that are derived from personal experience, observation, or imagination. VA.A.1.2.1
2. Understands that subject matter used to create unique works of art can come from personal experience, observation, imagination, and themes. VA.B.1.2.1
3. Uses the elements of art and the principles of design with sufficient manipulative skills, confidence, and sensitivity when communicating ideas. VA.B.1.2.4.
Obtain several feet (i.e. 5-10 feet) of rolled construction paper, regular construction paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, artist's erasers, rulers, and tempera paint.
A painting is never finished - it simply stops in interesting places. - Paul Gardner
Each of the Florida Chamber Murals shows a glimpse or snapshot of an interesting place and or time of Florida. But are the paintings really finished? Do the characters go on in your imagination? Does the bird fly away flapping its wings in the distance? Do the boats float down by swampy shores? Or does the alligator hide when he sees the steamboat glide on by? As you look at each painting ask yourself does the sun ever really set when the image is before you? Or does it simply stay stationary fixated in the imaginary sky in your mind? This lesson is about creating a class Florida mural. Ask your students to "finish" a particular mural.
Place selected images of Florida Chamber Murals on the overhead and/or have the students look at the images online at the following websites:
Now ask them to imagine a story about what the mural is saying. Give them prompts like who are the people in the image? What do you think they are doing? Where are they going? What do the symbols mean? How are they related to the story? Etc..
Ask the students to compare each of the mural scenes. Then have them pick their favorite Florida mural and break into groups of 3-4 children each based on the mural they chose.
Now ask the students to step into the pictures, so to speak by having the students create a story about the interesting places that their chosen mural is taking them. Each group should have a secretary to write down or chart the group's story and eventually share. Now have the chosen group leader to ask the group prompt questions about how the group would "finish" their chosen mural. As they are discussing the image and its story, the teacher should be walking around modeling this through guided practice. Be sure to become apart of each group. Have the secretary write ideas and or images on construction paper. Now have the secretary share the group's collective story mirroring back the ideas to the group.
Next ask each group go to the tables with the blank rolled paper on it. Have the groups "finish" each of their murals' stories visually.
After the murals are completed have the group's leaders share their stories of how they "finished" their chosen mural. Then proudly display your classes Florida Murals along the walls of your classroom. You could also extend the activity and have the class create their own group mural incorporating their family heritages showing the diversity that makes up today's Florida and what Florida may look like in the future.
For the writing component have the murals act as a writing prompt. Ask the students to write their own stories and myths relating to Florida. Then the students could put their stories together creating a Florida Mythology book authored by them.
Evaluate the extent to which each student contributed to the group in "finishing" their mural.
Florida House Chamber Murals
The Artists Christopher Still's Webpage