Lesson Reflection

It’s hard to choose one lesson that is the “best” since many of the lessons I do are one small part in a longer project sequence.  It’s hard to take a single lesson out of context as it might not make sense.  Also, some of my best lessons, where students are the most engaged are what I call “explorations”  where students are asked to experiment with art materials and record their findings.  It’s freeing for the students, but doesn’t have a long teacher led, highly structured lesson plan.  That being said here is an example of one of my favorite lessons.  This is the first lesson of a longer Drawing Unit, but it’s a short 2-3 day lesson that is neatly tied together.  I’ve included the lesson and activity sequence below, but here is a summary.

This lesson is designed to introduce students to the most essential element of drawing: the line.  The esstential question is “How can a line have meaning?”  In drawing, lines describe the contours and details of objects, but they can also represent emotion based on the line’s shape, density, texture and journey as it crosses the page.  This is one of the first times the concept that a color, shape or form can represent a deeper meaning is introduced in class.


Drawing tools: forks, straws, feathers, chopsticks, dip pen, brush, toothpick

Black India Ink

Strips of paper

First day:  We start by looking at a Van Gogh drawing (not painting) of “The Starry Night”.  Students are asked to describe what shapes or objects all the lines create.  Then they are asked what emotion or mood is portrayed and how the lines Van Gogh used show this emotion.  They see that different types of lines create different emotions.  They then experiment with creating their own lines using different traditional and non-traditional tools (forks, straws, feathers, chopsticks, dip pen, brush, toothpick).  To structure this exploration I projected a series of adjectives as they were working.  They had to create lines that symbolized each adjective.  We did one together as a class first, then they “drew” as many lines as they could depicting each emotion.

Day 2:  Students gathered their lines from yesterday and choose their best five to present.  Gave each line a title.  As a group at their table, they decided how they would categorize and display everyone’s lines.  Some chose to group their lines by tool used, some by weight, some by what each line reminds them of.  When finished and all the lines are attached to a chart paper, the class does a gallery walk.  We look at the most innovative categories of lines, similarities they see throughout each group and the most creative title and line.

Day 3:  Now students are given a long piece of paper folded accordian style.  This long paper represents the chronological timeline of one day, beginning to end.  They are to draw a line, using whichever tool they choose to represent one day in their life.  The weight, shape and tool they use will change as events happen.  This long paper folds into an accordian book.

Here’s the lesson in Curriculum Map format:

UNIT # 2.1: How can a line create emotion? (Drawing)

Essential Questions How can a line depict meaning and describe what we see?


SWBAT use variation in a line to depict the change in emotion during the course of one day.Students will have the skills to use drawing tools to create a variety of lines to represent different emotions.


Starry Night, drawing pen and ink.  Van Gogh.


1.     Material Exploration:  Students set up with ink, brushes and chopsticks and feathers and toothpicks.  On projector, one word is projected, students have 3 minutes to draw as many lines as they can to represent that word, using whatever tool they choose.  However they have to use all tools before exploration is finished.  Label each line. Switch through 4 different words.2.     Students choose their best 5 lines.  As a table they decide how to group and categorize their lines.  They attach to a chart paper and as a class we discuss the most inoovative way to group these lines, the most creative title and line and any similarities they see across each group.

3.     Final:  draw one continuous line that changes using whichever tools you think you need to show how your emotions change during one day. Choose one line that represents your beginning/middle/end of the day.  Draw lines connecting on long paper.   Fold to create a accordion book and add cover and title.

Enduring Understandings Students will understand that a line not only describes the shape of things, but can describe abstract concepts such as moods and emotions.  Students will understand that artists use many non-traditional tools to create meaningful marks in a drawing.


Continuous, abstract vs, representational art, traditional vs. non-traditional tools.

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