After learning about art form the Great Depression era, students completed a worksheet that required them to do two different tasks. The first was to analyze a work of art from the Great Depression era. Students answered four questions: what do you see in this image, what is the artist trying to say, could you identify that this work is from the Great Depression era, and why or why not? The second portion of the worksheet was for students to transfer the themes and concepts in a contemporary and personal way. Students answered two questions: what are the important elements of Loveland today, and if you were to create an artwork about Loveland today, what would it look like? We also asked that students sketch what they think a drawing or painting of Loveland would look like today.
Students were expected to do three activities throughout the class to demonstrate understanding and learn about art work from the Great Depression era. First, students were given eight photos from photographer Dorothea Lange. They place each image into one of seven categories to determine what the theme of the artwork may be. After they did this, I called on one person from each category to explain why they placed their image there. This was a form of pre-assessment where students showed they understood the historical context of the Great Depression and what the images were portraying. After that, we presented a slideshow about history of art in the Great Depression, common themes, and the government’s influence on the arts during that time. During the lecture, we asked students to explain why they thought certain themes arose and guess certain answers to questions. Thus, we were able to assess along the way if students were really understanding the information and tried to clear up any misunderstandings. The final activity which we took data on was a worksheet that required students answered questions about an art work from the Great Depression and transfer concepts into contemporary times. There were a couple standards I felt this activity fell into: Standard 1.1 Historical and cultural context are found in visual art. Standard 1.3 Art and design have purpose and function. Standard 2.3 Interpretation is a means for understanding and evaluating works of art. Standard 3.3 Artists make judgments from visual images. Standard 4.1 The work of art scholars impacts how art is viewed today. There was a certain expectation students had to get proficient. For the first half of the worksheet, students needed to answer 3 questions thoughtfully and completely. Students needed to identify more than three features of the image, interpret the message of the art based of prior knowledge and observation, and explain one common element of art from the Great Depression. For part two of the worksheet, to get proficient, students needed to answer both questions somewhat thoughtfully and completely. Students needed to have three important elements of Loveland today, discuss two things they could put in an art work about Loveland, and draw an image of Loveland that incorporated three elements. I think this activity was a good way to demonstrate knowledge. It asked students to apply their historical knowledge during the first part of the worksheet and challenged students to apply the same ideas to a contemporary context. Also, if students were struggling to write the answer, they had the opportunity to visually communicate.
Diagnosing Student Strengths and Needs
Quick sort: 57.1% of the class met the objectives. 28.6% of the class partially met the objectives. 14.3% of the class did not meet the objectives.
Demonstration of Knowledge
Objectives Met: For the people who met the objectives, they were able to explain the history and reasons for themes in the Great Depression and identify art works. For most of the answers, there was thought put into them rather than just using the examples the teachers used when describing common features of Loveland today.
Objectives Partially Met: Most of the students in this category could explain the themes of the Great Depression art and some features of what they observed. They could also explain few features of contemporary Loveland, mostly using examples that were provided in the slideshow, like mountains and sculptures.
Objectives Not Met: Most of these students had a general understanding of what was going on during the Great Depression. The students were able to describe what they saw in the images, and some made few connections about what they saw and themes during the Great Depression. Also, they mostly understood the general landscape of Loveland.
What Students Did Not Demonstrate
Objectives Met: Students in this category still did not really understand or explain more sources of income or idealized features of landscape in a contemporary context. The students did not think of other sources of income or work which was a really important aspect of the Great Depression.
Objectives Partially Met: Many students explained in contemporary work that the landscape and increase in population is what the common elements of a Great Depression, rather than idealizing rural life and hard work. While they were heading in the right direction, I do not think they fully understood what the concepts were.
Objectives Not Met: For the history of the Great Depression, they do not talk about the ideas and key features. They cannot really explain why the image shows what it does. For part two of the worksheet, they do not identify concepts that would have been important to Great Depression art.
Identifying Instructional Next Steps
Common Patterns Most students understood the ‘big ideas’ we were trying to get at in terms of themes in Great Depression art and cultural context. Most of them thought more about what Loveland looks like rather than what important sources of revenue would be. They used examples that we provided, but did not really think further about the common themes and trends in the art works.
Beneficial Strategies for Whole Class I think more examples and discussion as a class would help students. Looking back, a lot of our paintings were about regionalism which idealizes rural life, but we did not show as many murals that showed what people hard at work.
Strategies for Students at Each Level:
Objectives Met: For this group, I think some form of ideation for transferring the understanding would be helpful. Something that could be effective is a concept map worksheet that guides students to really think about important sources of revenue or important elements of Loveland. Another option would be to do the strategy called ‘The 4 C’s’ where students could look at images and write their connections, challenges, concepts, and changes. This would require students to really read into what they are observing. Also, another great strategy students at this level could do is called the ‘Circle of Viewpoints’. This strategy could require students the look at the different perspectives of people or objects in the images so they see a different point of view rather than looking at the whole piece.
Objectives Partially Met: For this group, I think they really need to look at more examples of art work to understand the themes of the Great Depression. A slideshow of images while asking students to do a ‘See, Think, Wonder’ could be beneficial as it would allow students to think about the history they already know and figure out where they are struggling. Another good activity for this group would be to have a gallery walk where they are answering questions about the art works then discussing their findings as a group. Finally, a good strategy would be called ‘Step Inside’ where students choose a person or object and write as if they were them. This would allow students to relate and really try to figure out what is going on in an image and why.
Objectives Not Met: For this group, I would need to go through another lecture about the Great Depression art and have students do an assessment called ‘I Used to Think…’. Students would then write down any thoughts they have about what they know about the Depression. After an interactive lecture, they answer the question ‘Now I Think…’. Another activity would be to answer a worksheet with questions about themes and history during the Great Depression by using evidence from art work to support. This would make students think about why artists created art with certain styles or concepts behind them. Finally, this group could play the ‘Explanation Game’ with each other where they work in small groups with one image to observe, name, explain, and find reasoning. This would help students collaborate on what is in an image, why it is there, and how they know it.
CONCLUSION There were few students who did not meet or partially meet the standards. Most of them had a good understanding of what was going on in the 1930’s and could transfer that understanding onto art. The part that students struggled with most was transferring the concepts of Great Depression art into a contemporary context. But for not having much experience with art history, the students did very well with the assignment.
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