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Lesson Plans

MEANING (long post)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Kevin Hall (kehall)
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 21:42:06 -0700

Guess artsednet is back on line! I just got 65 messages. . .

This year I have used many color transparencies to project images
relating to what we are studying in English and social studies. Every
time I have incorporated this medium as part of instruction, the
interest of my students seems to peak. The social studies textbook
makes reference to historical places, objects, people, and elements of
culture. For example, when I show students a large visual image of the
geography of India, the Egyptian pyramids or how a battle or literary
reference in displayed in art -- it truly comes to life for my
students. A great deal of discussion is usually generated when students
view the "big" picture.

To assess the effectiveness of this teaching strategy and to determine
students' thoughts relating to the concept of "size and meaning",
students discussed and/or wrote their thoughts relating to these
topics. Below is a sampling of student responses to questions posed
(many of the questions come from or are derived from the Classroom Forum
at the end of the Philosophers Forum web site):

1. Think about the images you have seen relating to the ancient
civilizations we have been studying. When these images are displayed in
a large form, using the overhead projector and the color transparencies,
does it change your view? Why or why not? Provide examples to support
your answer.
• students overwhelmingly responded that their view did change–seeing
larger details allowed them to view images more clearly and sometimes
it made it easier to understand a concept being studied
• useful to see the larger image, many of the images in the textbook
are so small it is hard to tell what is being depicted–interesting to
compare and contrast an object using different sizes
• student generated examples included: (1) geographic locations
(maps) of ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, India,
China (2) art portraying the epic Ramayana (3) hieroglyphics displayed
in an Egyptian pyramid (4) the languages shown on the Rosetta Stone (5)
daily life and examples of culture from ancient civilizations

In addition to seeing greater details, student retention also seems to
have been increased!

2. Imagine being able to reduce the size of a large artwork so that it
is small enough to put into your pocket. Is the message of the artwork
the same when it is in its regular size and when it is "pocket-size"?
• messages may be altered–some pieces are made to be large,
impressive and grand, while others are inteded to be small with minute
details (One student illustrated this point with the example of "art"
possessed by his family--a single grain of rice inscribed with a message
written in Chinese. Everyone thought this was simply amazing--students
agreed the effect would not be the same if portrayed in a different
• it is important to see details to determine meaning
• skill and patience of an artist is shown on very small objects
• some students felt small items were not as important

3. Do people who live in America think "big is good"? Do you agree
that we seem to want to have "the biggest roller coaster, the tallest
building, and the mega-est mega-mall"? The size of some ancient
structures say something about power--for example, the pyramids of
Egypt, the Great Wall of China and others. Are there modern structures
which give similar messages?
• most students felt and agree "big is good"
• student examples: (1) Mike Tyson is big and powerful (2) multiplex
theaters are becoming more multi, 6-8 used to be common--now a 30-plex
is not uncommon, demonstrating the power of media (3) Statue of Liberty
displays the power of freedom (4) Golden Gate Bridge (5) Sears Tower (6)
World Trade Center symbolizes the US as an economic force in the world
(7) Empire State Building (8) St. Louis Arch (9) Eiffel Tower

4. Do Americans ever like things small? If so, what?
• microchips and related technology (Gameboy, lap top computers, cell
phones) because it is more convenient
• small is thought to be cute, for example, dollhouse furniture,
miniskirts and little jewelry
• petite, small women are looked upon favorably and acceptable
• sportscars, they are small and FAST

5. Artworks seems to say things, send messages, and have meaning. Who
decides what a work of art expresses or means? For whom do artworks have
• students were split in their opinion--art sends the message and the
observer decides the meaning/the artists decides the meaning when the
artwork is created
• art is for everyone and it all has meaning, but that does not mean
everyone has to agree on what the particular meaning is

Fortunately for me, my students enjoy thinking and are eager to
question and respond. The Philosophers Forum has been an interesting
vehicle to implement into class discussion.

Thanks for reading this long post!

Ellen Hall