online casino for mac os http://www.euro-online.org *-online.org

Norman Rockwell: A picture tells a story

Writer(s): 
Catherine Cheetham, Tokai University

 

 

Quick guide

  • Key words:Group work, vocabulary, questions, writing, cross-culture, discussion
  • Learner English level:Intermediate and above
  • Learner maturity: High school and above
  • Preparation time:20 minutes
  • Activity time:20 to 30 minutes for each activity
  • Materials:A collection of Norman Rockwell paintings, a worksheet listing each letter of the alphabet from A to Z, an example question sheet handout, and a writing template

Introduction

Norman Rockwell, a 20th century American painter and illustrator, offers a unique insight into American culture through his sentimental and idealistic portrayal of everyday life scenarios. Like any picture, a Rockwell painting can tell many different stories. With this lesson plan students have an opportunity to observe and express their own interpretations of Rockwell’s work. Each pre-writing activity is designed to build towards the final writing task of telling a story.

Preparation

Step 1:Select and prepare at least eight different Norman Rockwell paintings. Norman Rockwell paintings may be obtained from various websites, although please note that paintings taken from online sources may contain watermarks. When selecting paintings, it is recommended that there be a lot of background details and imagery. The following are some recommended Norman Rockwell paintings: Doctor and Doll (1929), Freedom from Want (1943), Dugout (1948), The Shiner (1953), Surprise (1956), and Before the Shot (1958). Print or copy a set of paintings for each group of four students in the class (Appendix A). Note: In order to complete Activity 3 of this lesson, it is important not to reveal the original title of the paintings; therefore, it is advised to omit the title if possible from the print.

Step 2:Prepare a worksheet (Appendix B) with the alphabet listed from A to Z and a blank line after each letter. Copy enough worksheets to give one to each student.

Procedure

Activity 1

Step 1:Have students form groups of four. Give each group a set of the Rockwell paintings and each student a copy of the prepared worksheet.

Step 2: Ask the students to select one of the paintings for their group. The painting should then be placed in the center of the group for all members to see.

Step 3:Encourage students to think of different words that can be used to express one object. For example, the word “blackboard” could also be referred to as “board” or “chalkboard.” Inform the students that they will have about two minutes to write as many words as they can that describe things in the painting, using each letter of the alphabet. Points are awarded for each original noun; therefore, if students within the group brainstorm identical words, that word would then be disqualified. Students should not share their words with other group members. Furthermore, it is necessary to remind students that adjectives such as “red,” describing “apple,” are not accepted in this activity.

Step 4: After two minutes, students should stop writing and compare their worksheet with those of other group members.

Example:

Student 1

Student 2

Student 3

Student 4

A

 

X

A

apple

X

A

apple

X

A

apple

X

B

belt

X

B

belt

X

B

blackboard

O

B

boy

O

C

coat

O

C

chair

O

C

chalkboard

O

C

children

O

D

desk

X

D

desk

X

D

desk

X

D

desk

X

E

 

X

E

eraser

O

E

 

X

E

 

X

F

fruit

O

F

 

X

F

 

X

F

 

X

Activity 2

Step 1: Remaining in groups, students select one of the paintings. Three of the students look at the painting and memorize as many details as possible. The fourth member of the group, the questioner, must think of three specific questions about the painting. The following are typical sample questions that might be used for Rockwell’s Happy Birthday Miss Jones (see Appendix C): How many students are in the classroom? What is written on the blackboard? What were the students studying?

Step 2:After about two minutes, the “questioner” takes the picture away from the group. The questioner then asks the group his/her three prepared questions. Group members answer the questions by recalling various details about the painting.

Activity 3

Step 1: In groups again, students discuss their interpretation of the paintings. After the discussion, groups need to give the paintings a title.

Step 2:Groups then share their selected titles with the class. A class discussion may be warranted as to why the group selected that title.

Variation:Have groups try to guess the real titles of the paintings. Those groups that correctly identify the titles of the paintings win points.

Activity 4

Individually or in groups, students write a narrative story or descriptive paragraph based on one of Rockwell’s paintings (Appendix D).

Conclusion

The above collection of activities brings elements of cross-cultural studies to the classroom and draws upon various language skills useful in pre-writing. Engaging in activities prior to a writing assignment not only familiarizes students with the subject matter, but also greatly assists with creativity.For language learners to effectively express themselves it is important to write frequently and on a broad range of topics. Activities 1 to 3 could be effectively applied separately in any lesson and modified with different materials.

Resources

If you are interested in similar activities using art in the classroom, I recommend Rucinski-Hatch’s article “Grandma Moses Meets ESL: Art for Speaking and Writing Activities” in the Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching <www.njcu.edu/cill/vol3/rucinski-hatch.html>.

Appendices: Available below

 

PDF: 
Website developed by deuxcode.com