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Envisioning the Future

Students explore the power of the imagination to overcome hardship and heartache by envisioning a positive future even in the midst of troubled times.

  • Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Show students the four pictures that accompany this lesson in no particular order. Ask if anyone can identify an historic event that the art illustrates. Most will probably recognize the picture of the two towers being destroyed. Allow time for discussion of the events of 9/11. What do the other pictures have to do with the event? Ask students to suggest a possible chronological order for the pictures. Answers will probably vary which is okay. Ask students to give reasons for their choices and discuss them.
    2. Looking at all four pictures together, encourage discussion of the work as a whole. Is the artist trying to make meaning out of the chaos of that event? What kind of message is here that could apply to people facing other tragedies or personal difficulties?
    3. Distribute scrap paper and ask students to brainstorm lists of other tragic events people in our country have faced such as the Revolutionary War, slavery, the Great Depression, Hurricane Katrina, etc.
    4. Ask volunteers to share items from their lists. Discuss how one of these events might be illustrated with a series of three or four significant drawings. Encourage students to discuss how visual images can convey meaningful messages just as easily and sometimes more powerfully than words.
    5. Have students look again at the sample art. Remind them that simple, symbolic images are often more powerful than detailed pictures. Although there were many cars and people in the city on 9/11 and many different buildings, note how the artist focused on simple, nondescript skyscrapers, the sun, and the sky. Ask students to compare the colors in the sunrise picture with the picture of the ruins. How does color choice affect the mood of each picture?
    6. Invite the class to choose five or six historic events to illustrate and then divide into groups of three or four students each to create the art. Suggest that they research their event first to refresh their memories regarding details and to establish an emotional connection to the event.
    7. Once everyone has completed background reading, provide time for groups to meet again to discuss their chosen events and consider possible themes for their art. Although each member of the group will be creating a different image in the series, encourage them to discuss and decide on a common medium to provide unity.
    8. Provide time and plenty of Crayola® Crayons, Markers, and Colored Pencils for completing the art. Encourage groups to arrange their work in a meaningful order once it is complete and discuss and evaluate its effectiveness. How do they think it should be displayed to best convey the intended meaning?
    9. Allow time for groups to mount their own displays and take time to look at the work of other groups.
    10. Come together as a class to discuss the effectiveness of this assignment. What did students learn from researching and illustrating their chosen events? What did they learn from the work of other students? Did viewers come away with the intended messages? Were unexpected messages suggested?
  • Standards

    LA: Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    SS: Demonstrate an ability to use correctly vocabulary associated with time such as past, present, future, and long ago; read and construct simple timelines; identify examples of change; and recognize examples of cause and effect relationships.

    SS: Analyze a particular event to identify reasons individuals might respond to it in different ways.

    VA: Students experience, analyze and interpret art and other aspects of the visual world.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students demonstrate how creative thinking skills transfer to all aspects of life.

  • Adaptations

    Guidance counselors and therapists may find this activity helpful in encouraging students to communicate personal concerns and reflect on a positive future. Use the activity to help initiate discussion while being mindful of sensitive issues.

    Regular classroom teachers living in an area that has recently experienced a devastating storm or other disaster may find this activity helpful in dealing with difficult issues when school reopens.

    Use this as an end of year review activity to focus on major events discussed during social studies class. Since 7th and 8th graders will probably have studied many of these events in previous years as well, discuss how they see them differently now as compared to when they learned about them in earlier years.

    If the students have focused on events that occurred within the past one hundred years, invite a group of senior citizens in to view the display and discuss personal memories and feelings associated with the illustrated events. Where were they when they heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination? Did they know someone who fought in World War II? Were their own parents affected by the Great Depression?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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