Historical Witness, Social Messaging Lesson Plan Land Use and Lawmaking in California



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J. Paul Getty Museum
Education Department

Historical Witness, Social Messaging Lesson Plan
Land Use and Lawmaking in California (Intermediate Level)


Grades: Middle School (6–8)

Subjects: Visual Arts, English-Language Arts, History-Social Science

Time Required: 5–6 class periods, plus independent work

Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff
Lesson Overview

Students will read writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson and discuss the principles of transcendentalism. They will then discuss a landscape photograph by Carleton Watkins and use pinhole cameras to create photographic essays depicting a modern-day environmental issue.


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:



    • read excerpts of Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson to learn about transcendentalism.

    • use pinhole cameras to create photographic essays that explore a local natural environment.

    • create at least three photographs showing different perspectives.

    • write artist’s statements about their photographic essays.



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