Blending Art, Literature, and Problem Solving at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Common Core Standard 7 for Reading presents teachers with many possibilities for mixing all kinds of art forms with literature. Music, photography, painting, sculpture, and many other media are easily brought into the classroom today because of the internet…the important thing is to use these resources heuristically. 7. Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" and Breughel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus). Teaching students to analyze subjects or scenes in comparative forms gives us an opportunity to explore with them the traditions of storytelling—the many and various ways stories can be told and have been told throughout history. Poetry, short stories, plays, and even novels and epic tales have important connections to art and present new, thoughtful ways to analyze and evaluate themes. To start, you might explore the J. Paul Getty Museum's "Telling Stories in Art" website where you will find a wide variety of art to connect to literature as well as lesson plans and other resources. The Getty Museum's stated goal here directly supports standard seven: "To build students' awareness of how stories can be told visually and how artists use color, line, gesture, composition, and symbolism to tell a story." These lessons encourage students to think critically about how writers use particular elements to tell stories compared to how artists tell stories similarly but with different elements such as color, line, and gesture. In the Classroom Though it is listed for grades 6-8, the lesson titled "Painting Europa" is especially useful for our purposes of meeting standard seven. Integrating technology effectively means teaching students to apply it heuristically—to discover ideas and to solve problems. Try approaching the lesson with students this way: Tell students to imagine they are editors for an online, multimedia textbook that will include an illustration for a selection from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Two paintings are being considered. Students must submit their choices along with a brief explanation as to why the chosen painting best illustrates the selection. Expand further by having them also choose music to accompany the selection. You might pair them and have each team create a wiki with the chosen text, images, and music. Try wikispaces…it's an excellent tool for online classroom collaboration. I hope you find the resources at the J. Paul Getty Museum and at Wikispaces useful. Standard seven is one we can easily revisit often and technology affords us the ability to make each activity meaningful and beneficial to our students.