Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad Lesson Plan
This is a reading lesson that is at the end of an initial reading module "How does reading help us learn?". This particular lesson is the culminating lesson using James Salisbury Burt's Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad.
Initial Art Lesson in Reading
Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad
Reading Lesson Plan
FOCUSING QUESTION: What can we learn from studying visual art?
CONTENT FRAMING QUESTION: How does this painting build my knowledge?
Students will examine James Salisbury Burt’s Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington. They will consider how this painting can add to their developing knowledge around the power of reading and help answer the Essential Question (How does reading help us learn?). [This lesson is the last one in a module of 6 introductory type lessons.]
Post the Essential Question and read it aloud. Ask: “What do you notice about this question?”
Use responses to confirm that it is the same big question students have been thinking about since the beginning of the module.
Post the Focusing Question and read it aloud. Have the students Echo Read the question. Explain that this is a new Focusing Question because responding to multiple Focusing Questions will help students answer the Essential Question.
Highlight the words visual art in the Focusing Question. Share that students will not be reading a book today, but will work with a different type of text. Ask: “What do you think we will explore today?”
Use responses to confirm that students will examine a painting today. Explain that visual art is “artwork that is created for people to look at.” Provide examples, such as paintings, drawings, photographs, videos, etc
Post the Content Framing Question and read it aloud. Have students Echo Read this question. Remind students that their work in this lesson will help them answer the Content Framing Question by the end of the lesson.
Explain that as students explore the painting today, they will look at the painting several times, for different reasons. This builds their understanding of the painting and helps them answer the Content Framing Question.
Instruct students to start by thinking about what they notice and wonder about the painting.
Display the painting Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad by James Salisbury Burt. However do NOT provide the artist’s name or the title of the painting at this stage in the lesson. Give students time to notice and infer from the work itself.
Invite students to observe the painting silently. Gently suggest that students look from the top to the bottom, from left to right, and notice details, lines, and colors.
Instruct students to share what they see in the painting by asking: “What do you see in the painting?”
Once a student has shared, ask the other students if they, too, see that detail in the painting. If other students indicate they do not see the detail, have the speaker point out where it is located.
- I see a train on a bridge over water
- I see two men fishing on the bank of the river
- I see green trees
Post and read aloud the sentence frame: I notice ______________.
Instruct students to Think-Pair-Share, and ask: “What do you notice in this painting?”
If students have difficulty with this question, you might ask follow-up questions, such as, “What is the first thing that catches our eye? Then, what do you see? Is there anything unusual about this painting?”
- I notice the colors are a bit subdued
- I notice landscape is huge and the two men are very small
Post and read aloud the sentence frame: I wonder ___________.
Instruct students to Think-Pair-Share, and ask: “What do you wonder about this painting?”
If students have difficulty with this question, you might ask follow-up questions. Ask: “What is confusing about this painting? What do you want to know more about?”
- I wonder why the men were so small in the picture
- I wonder why the train is going over a bridge over the water
- I wonder which river that is
DETERMINE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE PAINTING
Shift students’ thinking to now look at the painting for a different purpose. Ask: “What is happening in this painting?”
Explain that just as students need to figure out what is happening in a written text, they can learn a lot about a painting by asking the same question. If possible, zoom in on different areas of the painting for closer examination.
Ask: “What are the people doing in this painting?”
- The men are fishing on the riverbank
- One man has his pole in the water
- The other man is holding his pole and appears to be watching the train
Ask: “What is the setting for this painting? When and where is the scene taking place? How can you tell?
- I think it’s on a river
- I believe it’s the start of the fall of the year because of the colors
- I believe it happened a long time ago
ANALYZE COLOR AND SHAPE
Explain that, just as readers examine a text closely to learn more from it, students can also better understand a painting by looking at it closely. Direct students to look at the painting, and ask: “What does a deeper exploration of color and shape reveal in this painting?”
Explain that artists make choices about color and shape when they create works of art. Ask students to identify two different colors and shapes in the painting.
Display and distribute the handout on one of the following pages. Read the directions aloud.
- Individuals use drawing materials to complete the handout.
As the students work, pose questions to further students thinking about color and shape. Questions may include:
- Which colors does the artist use the most in the painting? Which does the artist use the least?
- How do you describe the colors?
- Where do you see curved shapes? Shapes with straight lines?
Gather the whole group and ask students to hold up their handouts for others to see. Ask: “What colors do you see in the painting?”
Point to them in the painting and ask: “How does this combination of colors make you feel?”
Instruct students to Think-Pair-Share, and ask: “Why might an artist choose these colors to include in his painting?”
- These colors make him feel thoughtful and quiet
- Maybe he wanted to show a place of rest and relaxation
- I think maybe he wanted to show how one place can be noisy at one moment and quiet in the next moment
Observing Visual Art
Directions: Look at the painting. What colors do you see? Use crayons or colored pencils to show which colors you see.
How do these colors make you feel? Circle all that apply.
Happy Sad Calm Mellow Excited Other feeling
INTERPRET ESSENTIAL MEANING
Post and read aloud the title of the painting: Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad. Explain that Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad is Oil on panel
It was Signed and dated on the rock, J. Burt 1832
A landscape painter, James Salisbury Burt was active in Boston, Massachusetts in the years 1830-1849. He worked closely with his friend and Tremont Street neighbor Samuel Lancaster Gerry. This painting, Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad, is one of a series of paintings that Burt executed based on engravings by William Henry Bartlett. Burt exhibited his landscapes at the Boston Atheneum.
Instruct students to Think-Pair-Share, and ask: “After learning more information about James Salisbury Burt, why do you think he enjoyed doing landscape painting?
ANSWER THE CONTENT FRAMING QUESTION
Know: How does this painting build my knowledge?
Instruct students to Think-Pair-Share, and ask: “How does James Salisbury Burt use color to tell a story in this painting?”
- He used subdued colors to season
- The colors were muted to show calmness
Select three or four strong responses, and write each response on a different piece of large paper. Post each response in a different area of the room.
Instruct students to select the response to the Essential Question that stands out the most to them. They walk to the area of the room and stand with the poster showing their selected response. Call on a student or two from each area to explain their thinking.
Encourage students to reflect on the work they just completed. Ask: “What was most challenging about working with visual art? What did you like best about it?”
Disclaimer: This art lesson plan was adapted from Wit and Wisdom published by Great Minds. Intended for educational purposes only. Not to be reproduced for commercial use.
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