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Enduring Idea: Throughout time and across cultures, artists have depicted people as unique individuals.

Lesson Title: Portrait Investigation

Grade: 4

Time Allotment: 45 minutes


1.) Lesson Summary:

The lesson will begin with groups sitting at their designated tables.
Each table will have:
• a folder with a picture of a portrait enclosed
• 6 “Art Expert” names tags for each student to write their name on
• an envelope with descriptive terms enclosed (see attached wordlist)
• an envelop with color swatches
• worksheets (see attached worksheet)
There will also be available:
A document that will be projected with the 6 group portraits and 2 extra portraits (this will be what the class looks at when deciding which group had which portrait) (see attached screen model)
A short description of each portrait (see step 4)
The lesson will proceed in 4 steps:
1. Students working individually will analyze and interpret the portrait at their table and complete their worksheet, which will help them, compose a personal back-story for the portrait.
2. Students will work as a group at their tables to decide which of the adjectives in the envelope best describes their portrait. They will also decide what the title of their portrait is and write it down.
3. One group of students at a time will be labeled the “Art Experts”. They will go to the front of the classroom and present their title and adjectives and color swatch choices. The rest of the class will then vote on which portrait they think belongs to the group that’s presenting. Each group will repeat the process.
4. Students will return to their tables where they will find a paper about their portrait with the following context:
a. The artist’s name
b. Medium
c. Year that it was made
d. The title of the work
e. Matching color swatches
f. A short description of the work
g. Why the artist create the work

The students will then have a culminating group discussion given this new information. They will decide if their pre-conceived opinions of the work have changed now that they know its true context.

2.) Art Works, artists and/or artifacts:
• The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer. Ca. 1879-80, Edgar Degas.
• The Scream. 1893. Edvard Munch.
• T.B. Harlem. 1940. Alice Neel.
• Alice Liddell as a young woman. 1872. Julia Margret Cameron.
• Germany’s Children Are Starving. 1924. Kathe Kollwitz.
• Bust of Marsyas. Ca. 1680-85. Balthasar Permoser.
• Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. 1940. Frida Kahlo.
• Medicine (Hygieia). 1900-1907. Gustav Klimt.

3.) Key Concepts:
1. Every person has unique experiences through out life.
2. We can read emotions through facial expressions and body language.
3. While viewing portraits of others, we can recall experiences from our lives.

4.) Essential Questions:
1. Why do artists create portraits?
2. What are some ways people communicate emotions non-verbally?
3. How can we use/manipulate art materials to evoke an emotion?
4. Are there universal emotions all people experience?

5.) Standards:
• 9.4.3.A
Know how to respond to a philosophical statement about works in the arts
• 9.4.3.B
Know how to communicate an informed individual opinion about the mean of works in the arts
• 9.3.3A
Recognize critical processes used in the examination of works in the arts and humanities (compare and contrast, analyze, interpret, form and test hypotheses, evaluate/form judgments)
• 9.3.3.D
Explain meanings in the arts and humanities through individual works and works of others using a fundamental vocabulary of critical response
• 9.3.3.G
Know and demonstrate what a critic’s position or opinion is related to works in the arts and humanities (e.g. I like patriotic songs because…the movie was enjoyed for its exceptional special effects)
• R3.A.2.1.2
Identify and/or interpret the meaning of content-specific words used in text.
• 8.1.3.B
Identify fact, opinion, multiple points of view, and primary sources as related to historical events.
• R3.A.2.3.1
Make inferences and/or draw conclusions based on information from text.
• 8.4.3.D
Identify conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations from around the world.


1. Students will be able to analyze and interpret moods and feelings expressed in the portraiture by using given questionnaire and descriptive art terms.

2. Students will be able to create personal connections and relate given descriptive art terms to portraiture.

3. Students will build meaning of the artwork through observation and use of descriptive art terms.

4. Students will be able to determine which descriptive art terms match which portraits.

5. Students will be able to form a critic’s opinion of the portraiture.

6. Students will be able to determine which color swatches appear in the portraits.

• Students will complete the individual worksheet, which will then be collected at the end of class. The worksheet is worth 7 points total, 1 point awarded for each question answered (see attached worksheet).
• Objective #4: Students will be able to determine which descriptive art terms match which portraits. Teacher will observe the students and assess them on attached checklist


1.) Motivation/Engagement/Anticipatory Set:
• Teacher will say “Hello class!”, class is to respond by saying “Hello”. Teacher prompts the class by gesturing and saying “Smiles and Eye Contact!”.
• “What are some ways people communicate with out talking/using words?” This question will be used to help students begin brainstorming cues to look for when they examine a portrait.
• Teacher poses the questions, “What does your angry face look like?”, students are encouraged to portray various emotions using facial expression and body language.
• This activity will be referenced through out the lesson so that students will recall these clues.

2.) Development:
• Groups will be provided with their “Top Secret” folders, asked to remove the portrait and give each person one worksheet. Students will silently and individually fill out the worksheet while teacher reads the prompts and makes sure all students are on task. If a student is having difficulties they will be able to skip the question. This worksheet is meant to stimulate thinking and record ideas, and not to upset the student. Students who can’t seem to express themselves with a written responds, can use colors of crayons to represent their answers.
• Groups will then be asked to remove the envelops with the descriptive words. They will work together to choose the 5 words that best describe the artwork, as well as any color swatches that match the portrait. Teachers will monitor for any possible arguments or problems that may arise.
• We will then return to a culminating group discussion for a game. The students will remove the print out with the 8 portraits. Groups will be chosen by the teacher to read their descriptive words. Groups will also read the title(s) they have created.
• Students of other groups will then vote on which portrait they believe the group reading has. Votes will be recorded.
• Teacher will direct this around the room until all groups have shared their descriptive words and made up titles.

3.) Culmination/Close:
• Each group will reveal the portrait they actually had.
• Students will be provided with a sheet of paper that has some “Quick Facts” about their portraits. Facts include artist, title, medium, context.
• We will share the “Quick Facts” and compare them to the students’ original guesses.


1.) Teacher Research and Preparation:
• Chose and print out eight portraits done by various artists. The artists chosen will include both male and female, various mediums, and various races portrayed in the portraits.
• Research the artists and create a print out of key facts to present at the end of the lesson.
• Create “Top Secret Art Investigation” folders.
One for each table, six total.
• Research adjectives and descriptive words used by third graders.
• Create color swatches that match the colors used in each portrait.

2.) Instructional Resources:
• 6 folders (1 for each table) with portraits in them need to be prepared
• 8 portraits printed 8.5 x 11”, or larger to be posted on the board
• 8 portraits reprinted on one page included in the folders, six print outs total (one for each table)
• Description word cards must be creating and cut out, one set for each folder
• 10 color watches that include colors of all portraits.
• An envelope for each folder must be made that will house the descriptive terms we chose. The terms are chosen by the teacher.
• Worksheets with a variety of higher and lower level Bloom’s questions will be designed and implemented
• “Art Expert” name tags to engage students.

3.) Student Supplies:
• pencils

Student name: ______________________________________

Attitude and Work Habits Checklist
Characteristic rated by:
0 = Unacceptable (less than expected)
3 = Acceptable (average)
5 = Outstanding (much more than expected)

Student Attitudes & Work Habits

_____1. Shows interest in the visual art works presented

_____2. Is receptive and cooperates with others

_____ 3. Respects opinions of others

_____ 4. Participates in group discussion

_____ 5. Can provide reasoning for descriptive words chosen

_____ 6. Is able to choose 2 descriptive words

_____ 7. Makes an educated guess when asked (accuracy of guess is not relevant)

_____8. Makes eye contact

_____9. Is able to match 2 colors that appear in the portrait with color swatches