I totally agree with Randy, Africa IS huge, and to unwieldy to try to do in
5 lessons. Here's probably how I would tackle the mask subject.
1. Open ended discussion with students (also have slides/posters/powerpoint)
on what IS a mask. Ask them questions about what they think a mask is, and
why a mask is used, that sort of thing. Engage them and find out what they
know already. Learning happens when you can associate something you know
with something you don't. I would show examples from everything from ritual,
to religious, to theater, to Halloween. Have visual examples from as many
cultures as you can find.
2. Then explain that they will be concentrating on ONE type of MASK, from
one specific CULTURE.(Again have visuals). I would give them specific
information of that culture, and then go into why MASKS are used and
important in that culture. This would be part of my powerpoint/slide/poster
presentation. I would give them a specific assignment to do in groups of 3
or 4 that had to do specifically with the culture, so that they would have a
basic understanding of the culture prior to concentrating on the masks.
3. Today would be my Venn Diagram day and the masks. I would be
concentrating with having students comparing and contrasting various masks
from your chosen CULTURE. After they do the Venn Diagram, you can have an
open ended discussion with questions so as: What do these masks have in
common? How are they different? What are they made out of? What sizes are
they? What do they represent? How do you think they are worn?
4. Today I would hand out paper, and say "given all you know
about___________culture's masks, I want you to design 3 masks, each
representing a________________(could be ritual, animal, religious...whatever
YOU have descerned the culture to do with the masks). Tomorrow you will be
presenting your drawings to the class, explaining why you designed it they
way you did. Be prepared to explain how your masks fits into the
'stereotype' of the culture's mask. Your 'thumbnail sketches" MUST include
the following: Size, materials you would use to create the mask, Intent for
the mask. (thesis statement development)
5. Each student stands up in front of the class with their drawings and
'declares'. Students critique based on their knowledge of the culture (you
may want to write up a sheet of questions that students should be asking
themselves when they see the other students' drawings, with a rating system.
I collect these sheets from the students and then collate them so that each
kid gets a checklist from everyone in the class). At the end of the 5 days,
students will have learned about masks, concentrated on a specific culture,
compared and contrasted masks from that culture, designed masks based on
that culture and stood up in front of the class to declare their intent for
their designed masks and critiqued each other's ideas.
I do this with freshmen, so I am sure you could do it with 8th graders.