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edu180atl: bill brown 3.30.12

The basic scenario: yesterday, my five classes went on a “field trip” through the halls of our school.  All travelers picked three favorite student paintings.  They marked those locations on a map and explained what drew them into each painting.  Before traveling, we brainstormed a list of “painters’ tools”—terms like line, color, focal point and composition.

Today, they started a poem based on their most favorite painting.  (We have an in-house poetry contest approaching, and I want to encourage submissions by providing specific exercises like this one.)  I asked them to write a poem about a person to whom they feel connected, using their favorite painting.  I suggested that they describe the painting for someone who has not seen it, while thinking of the person about whom they are writing.  Just let that person’s presence influence your description of the painting.

I projected a photograph of the painting I was using and explained the start of the poem about my brother.  Then they went off to their respective sites.  In one class, however, all the students had photographed their paintings before returning to the senior lounge to write.  I had imagined them writing in front of the actual painting, which is what I asked all subsequent classes to do.

Here is the basic lesson.  When surprised by mild deflation, pick up, adjust and move on.  The road in the painting I chose has a dark foreground, but intermittent shadow and light as it moves around the next corner.


Bill Brown (@bllbrwn423) is a teacher who works with high school students and literature.  He enjoys making metaphors and growing things.


Photo of painted used with the permission of the artist.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. What an interesting lesson! I hope the feedback and level of engagement were positive and high. Sounds like a fun thing to do. Also, I like the integrated nature of the assignment and the fact that it is open-ended– art, observing, writing, and communicating.

    Thanks for sharing.


    April 1, 2012
  2. Thanks, Bob.

    The drafts are arriving this weekend. If groups from my previous schools are any indication, we should see intriguing lines and poems.

    This exercise gives us a chance to dissect the stages and attitudes of a process that many see as powered primarily by inspiration. In fact, specific vocabulary and steady awareness help, too.

    April 1, 2012

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