Connecting Poetry & Art Lesson Plan



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Connecting Poetry & Art Lesson Plan



Ekphrasis: Poetic Letters

Grades: Upper Elementary (3–5)

Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts

Time Required: Three to four 30-minute periods

Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff


Lesson Overview

Students learn about ekphrastic and epistolary poetry. They learn the parts of a letter and analyze poems by William Carlos Williams and Thomas Moore. Students compare and contrast an epistolary poem by Moore and a version of the poem in a 19th-century illuminated manuscript. They discuss Paul Cezanne’s painting Still Life with Apples, learn that the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote letters about the artist, and then write original epistolary poems about the painting.



Learning Objectives

Students will:



  • identify the parts of a letter in different genres, including a poem and illuminated manuscript.

  • understand that epistolary poems are poems in the form of letters.

  • compare and contrast the text version of a poem with its depiction in an illuminated manuscript.

  • identify primary and secondary colors in works of art.

  • write original epistolary poems about a painting, incorporating sensory details.



Materials


  • Reproductions of Illuminated Manuscript of a Poem by an unknown artist and Still Life with Apples by Paul Cezanne

  • Sample friendly letter of your choice

  • Copies of the following poems:

    • “Letter,” by Langston Hughes (available on the Library of Congress Web site at http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/journey/hughes-transcript.html)

    • “Dear Fanny,” by Thomas Moore (available on the Litscape Web site at www.litscape.com/author/Thomas_Moore/Dear_Fanny.html)

    • “This Is Just To Say,” by William Carlos Williams (available on the Academy of American Poets Web site at http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15535)

  • Colored pencils

Featured Getty Artworks

Illuminated Manuscript of a Poem by an unknown artist

http://search.getty.edu/museum/records/musobject?objectid=110664
Still Life with Apple by Paul Cezanne

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=109325

Lesson Steps

Warm-up

  1. Display an example of a friendly letter of your choice. Review with your students the parts of a letter: heading, salutation (greeting), body, closing, and signature.



  1. Tell students that poems are sometimes written in the form of letters. These are called epistolary poems. You may wish to share grade-appropriate background information about epistolary poems, which is available on the Academy of American Poets Web site at www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22718.



  1. Distribute copies of “Letter,” by Langston Hughes, and ask students to identify the parts of a letter that they can see in the poem.

Illuminating an Epistolary Poem

  1. Distribute copies of the poem “Dear Fanny,” by Thomas Moore. Give students time to read the poem silently, and then read the poem aloud to the class.



  1. Have students identify the parts of a letter that they can see in the poem. Next, ask students to share how this poem is different from a letter. Depending on students’ level of proficiency, you may wish to summarize what is happening in the poem. (Both “Reason” and “Love” are personified in the poem as if giving advice to the speaker, and the speaker chooses to listen to “Love” over “Reason.)



  1. Display a reproduction of Illuminated Manuscript of a Poem by an unknown artist and repeat step 2.



  1. Draw a Venn diagram on the board or on chart paper. Have students work with partners to compare and contrast “Dear Fanny” and Illuminated Manuscript of a Poem. Ask students to discuss the following with their partners:

  • What is similar and different about the way the words are written?

  • Which words are different?

  • What else is similar and different?



  1. Focus on Illuminated Manuscript of a Poem and ask students to discuss the following with their partners:

  • What details do you notice in the decorations?

  • What types of lines do you see?

  • What colors do you see? (e.g., gold; green; primary colors—red, blue, yellow) (Note: If students are not already familiar with primary and secondary colors, you may wish to discuss the terms as defined in the handout “Understanding Formal Analysis: Elements of Art.”)

  • Why do you think the artist decorated the poem?



  1. Distribute copies of William Carlos Williams’s poem “This Is Just To Say.” Ask students to discuss the following questions with their partners:

  • Do you see any elements of letter writing in this poem?

  • What should be added to the poem to make it an epistolary poem?

  • Where would you see a note like this in a home?

  • Who do you think the note could have been written to?



  1. Distribute colored pencils to students. Allow them time to “illuminate” the copies of the poem “This Is Just To Say.” Tell them that their designs should include a variety of lines and all three primary colors.

Writing Letters in the Form of Poems

  1. Inform students that they will write their own epistolary poems, using a painting for inspiration. Display a reproduction of Paul Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples. Give students time to silently look at the painting and observe all of its details. Then ask them to share their initial observations. Chart students’ responses on the board in three categories: “noun,” “adjective,” and “other.”



  1. Tell students that the poet Rainer Maria Rilke often wrote in letters about Paul Cezanne and his paintings. He believed that looking closely at Cezanne’s works helped his writing. In a letter to his wife, Clara, the poet described how he liked the colors in Cezanne’s paintings. He wrote: “Today I went to see his pictures again; it’s remarkable what an environment they create.” Ask students the following questions and add their responses under the appropriate columns on the board:

  • What colors do you notice in Cezanne’s painting?

  • Where do you see primary or secondary colors?

  • What color stands out the most?

  • What color is the faintest?

  • What else stands out in the painting?

  • What other things do you see? How would you describe them? (Connect to the definitions of nouns and adjectives as appropriate.)

  • If you could be in this painting, what would you smell and taste? What textures would you feel?



  1. Tell students that they will find out if Cezanne’s painting can help their writing too. They will write original epistolary poems about the painting. Tell students that poems about art are called ekphrastic poems.



  1. Allow students time to brainstorm a list of people to whom they could write. They could write to a friend, a family member, Cezanne, Rilke, or another individual of their choosing. What do they want to tell that person about the painting? Have them select the phrases and sensory details from the board that they would like to share with the addressee of the poem. Give each student time to complete his or her poem.

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their ability to achieve the following:



  • identify the parts of a letter in different genres, including a poem and illuminated manuscript.

  • understand that epistolary poems are poems in the form of letters.

  • compare and contrast the text version of a poem with its depiction in an illuminated manuscript.

  • identify primary and secondary colors in works of art.

  • write original epistolary poems about a painting that include sensory details.

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
Grades 3–5

Writing



4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Grades 3–5

Language


3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
Grade 3

Speaking and Listening

SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.3.3 Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
Grade 4

Speaking and Listening

SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 4

SL.4.2 Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.4.3 Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker or media source provides to support particular points.
Grade 5

Speaking and Listening

SL.5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.5.2 Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.5.3 Summarize the points a speaker or media source makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence, and identify and analyze any logical fallacies.

Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards

Grades 3–5

R.CCR.1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

R.CCR.4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

R.CCR.7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

R.CCR.10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

W.CCR.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

SL.CCR.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 3

1.0 Artistic Perception



1.4 Compare and contrast two works of art made by the use of different art tools and media (e.g., watercolor, tempera, computer).

1.5 Identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.

5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications

5.2 Write a poem or story inspired by their own works of art.

Grade 4

1.0 Artistic Perception



1.5 Describe and analyze the elements of art (e.g., color, shape/form, line, texture, space, value), emphasizing form, as they are used in works of art and found in the environment.

Grade 5

1.0 Artistic Perception



1.3 Use their knowledge of all the elements of art to describe similarities and differences in works of art and in the environment.


© 2014 J. Paul Getty Trust


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