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9-12: Behind the masks: Exploring culture and self through Art and Poetry


This ReadWriteThink unit engages high school students in a study of the relationship between masks and cultures. Students research mask making from various cultures, draw sketches of the masks, and take notes that highlight the connections between the masks and the cultural practices of the people who created them. Using this information, students recreate the cultural masks and compose poetry to reveal their understanding and appreciation of these cultural artifacts. They then analyze aspects of their own culture, and create personal masks and poetry to reflect their culture and themselves. This resource includes links to teacher and student materials and related websites.

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h4. Goals For Art Classes:

1. The learner will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.

2. Know that the visual arts have a history, purpose and function in all cultures.

3. Recognize and discuss that cultures have different aesthetics and each individual is a product of his or her culture.

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Goals for Computer Technology Skills

1. The learner will use a variety of technologies to access, analyze, interpret, synthesize, apply, and communicate information.

2. Use electronic resources for research.

Goals for English Language Arts

1: The learner will express reflections and reactions to print and non-print text and personal experiences.

Respond reflectively (individually and in groups) to a variety of expressive texts (e.g., memoirs, vignettes, narratives, diaries, monologues, personal responses) in a way that offers an audience:

a) an understanding of the student’s personal reaction to the text.

b) a sense of how the reaction results from a careful consideration of the text.

c) an awareness of how personal and cultural influences affect the response.

2: The learner will explain meaning, describe processes, and answer research questions to inform an audience.

a) Explain commonly used terms and concepts that:

  • clearly state the subject to be defined.
  • classify the terms and identify distinguishing characteristics.
  • organize ideas and details effectively.
  • use description, comparison, figurative language, and other appropriate strategies purposefully to elaborate ideas.
  • demonstrate a clear sense of audience and purpose.
  • The learner will apply conventions of grammar and language usage.

b) Demonstrate an understanding of conventional written and spoken expression that:_

  • uses varying sentence types (e.g., simple, compound, complex, compound-complex) purposefully, correctly, and for specific effect.
  • selects verb tense to show an appropriate sense of time.
  • applies parts of speech to clarify and edit language.
  • addresses clarity and style through such strategies as parallelism; appropriate coordination and subordination; variety and details; appropriate and exact words; and conciseness.
  • analyzes the place and role of dialects and standard/nonstandard English.
  • uses vocabulary strategies such as roots and affixes, word maps, and context clues to discern the meanings of words.

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