art history, text Structures, hyrdopolitics & the concrete jungle

First and foremost, a jam I’d like to share in honor of this lesson plan, I highly suggest that you listen while you read this post to get the full effect, although you may not want to play this for the kiddies:

Pretty Lights – Jay Z Empire State Of Mind Remix

(All of Pretty Lights’ music can be downloaded for free at:“)

This post is about a potential unit plan for middle schoolers that I’m currently working through in my brain. I can’t quite figure it out, so I’m hoping that reflecting on what I hope to accomplish could help me get my thoughts together. Here’s a little two word concept and vocabulary break down:
-Water politics, sometimes called hydropolitics, is politics affected by the availability of water and water resources, a necessity for all life forms and human development.
-(a cool new word i discovered and huge part of the unit. – How we effect the water, how the water effects us, the effect of  various policies on the water that we drink.
-Arrangement and connectivity of the ideas in a textual passage in terms of format, order, density, repetitiveness, elaborateness, etc., as related to comprehension and/or recall.
-(the goal of the unit is for students to understand, identify, and properly use Cause and Effect and Problem and Solution text structures, they will be tested on these through state assessments) 
  • Sequence (pictured above)
  • Cause and Effect
  • Problem and Solution
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Descripton
If you read my previous posts you know that my first few sessons with the first class, we practiced Sequence, Compare and Contrast, and Description, so we can cross those off the list.
  • Sequence
  • Cause and Effect
  • Problem and Solution
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Descripton

“Doin’ WERRRK!”

This time, around, I’ll be working with the same students a writing project that utelizes the museum’s collection and existing educational materials. Right now what I’m working on two computers to pull together information for my unit.
On one computer, I’m searching through the museum’s digital database using keywords (in this case: hudson, henry, empire state, river, new york, city, new jersey, and different combinations of the bunch… you’ll see why later) to pull images and information about artwork in the museum’s permanent collection (aka owned by the museum) into a file on my desktop. I also have a powerpoint presentation open and am slowly pulling images, phrases, and other visuals into the powerpoint as I go. On the other computer, I’m typing out the outline of the unit, objectives, and links to visual resources. I’m also  looking for extra information on the Hudson river, water policies, text structures and additional tools . Most importantly, on my destk  I have practice worksheets and tests which show examples of the exact manner in which the kids will be tested.
So, this would be a great time to explain what Jay Z, Alicia Keys, and water have to do with state assesments. I think I need to bring in a friend for this just to let you know that this unit plan is Shawn Carter approved:
Okay let’s get down to the nitty gritty: 
“Passing State Assessments with an Empire State of Mind”
Students need to identify and undersand the difference between “cause and effect” and “problem and solution”. I chose to illustrate some different examples of by first wowing them with the glitz and glamour of the concrete jungle and bringing in a little NYC flava. Big city living has it’s pro’s, con’s, and problems.  I think that using NYC as an exemplar will be interesting. these are not “city kids” although it is an inner-city school (if you know Maine, you understand what I mean). They may not have been to NYC but they’ll still understand based on what they’ve seen on TV, in movies, and through class dialogue and other visuals like this short youtube video that will take them on a 6 minute excursion of the city over a 24-hour period:

Based on this video and through class discussion TSWBAT (the student will be able to) use carefully chosen vocabulary make observations and as a review, DESCRIBE (text structure) the city as a class or on their computers, (I’ll make a post about the Maine Laptop Technology Initiative sometime to about these). I anticipate them saying: big, loud, crazy, overpopulated, crowded, hectic, artsy, overwhelming, flashy, famous, expensive, and  I know someone will say dangerous, i’ll address that later.

Big City Problems 

  • From there we’re get right into big city PROBLEM/DILEMMAS AND SOLUTIONS. Maybe I’ll warm them up with a dicussion of the traffic light as a briliant man’s “solution” to a problem that we take for granted everyday Here’s another example:

 PROBLEM: Driving a car through a densly populated city. (I’ll elaborate more on this for them, but you understand why)

SOLUTIONS: Instead of driving, many people walk, ride their bikes, carpool (I’ll talk to them about HOV lanes in some cities), or use public transportation.

Other problem and solutions that we will expore will be: sicknesses in highly populated areas, saftey and street smarts (i won’t scare them, just help them understand that it’s a different way of life), urban planning… in 7th grade terms. and a few other examples. We’ll make list maybe, have then come up with some examples of what they think, and maybe COMPARE (text structure) the big city problems to small city problems, that could be cool. The museum owns several photographs that I’ll use for the visuals.

I imagine that all of this will take one day. Moving on to day 2:

Cause, Effect, and Affecting

Moving on to CAUSE AND EFFECT. From the chaos of the big city to the beauty of the Hudson River. There are lots of image from the collection about the Hudson River, including some really sweet prints from Currier and Ives, (“a successful printmaking firm headed by Nathaniel Currier  and James Merritt Ives. Based in New York City from 1834–1907″) like the one seen here.

We’ll definitey sneak in some art history and talk a little bit about the Hudson River School, “a group of painters, who between 1820s and the late nineteenth century, who established the first true tradition of landscape painting in the United States”

Then we’ll go into talking about different causes and effects that involve the river and other parts of the environment, Air and water pollution affects health, water treatement effect the water, the river effects transportation, water transportation effects the economy, Maybe we’ll talk about what effects the tides have on the river.

I think it’s time for some fun facts:

  1. While tides from the Atlantic compel the river to flow north, its official origin at Lake Tear of the Clouds pushes currents south. That was why the local Indian tribes called it “Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk”, meaning “the water that moves both ways”.
  2. “No part of the United States had a more correct kind of Romantic scenery to offer”, wrote Catskill historian Alf Evers. about the Hudson River
  3. Species of fish found in the estuary: 200+, including shad, sturgeon, striped bass, perch, bluefish, herring, carp, needlefish, menhaden,, shiners, darters, tomcod, and sunfish.

I’ll leave you with that, instead of boring you with eduational standards and a full on lesson plan.

Now that I’ve given you a glimpse into the life of a museum educator, my method, my brain, and my musical taste, I urge you to go out and do something fun! It’s Friday (I’m sure know this) and I’m gonna let this idea rest and marinate over the weekend.


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