Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Real Me!

Scott Reeve
Bay District Schools


Students examine and understand who they are and communicate that person to the viewer through the use of the visual arts.


The student applies various subjects, symbols, and ideas in works of art.

The student understands that works of art can communicate an idea and elicit a variety of responses through the use of selected media, techniques, and processes.


-Actual items that represent or symbolize the teacher's self-identity
-Examples of works by Freida Kahlo, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe
(See Weblink)
-Grab and Run worksheet (See Associated File)
-Color Symbolism handout (See Web Design Weblink)
-Array of media (can be limited to what has been worked with to this point):
sketch paper
paint (watercolor and/or tempra)
color pencils
oil pastels
pen & ink
drawing paper
watercolor paper
tempra board or paper
-Computer access (if available) or writing paper
-Copy of Assessment Rubric (See Associated File)


1. Acquire appropriate examples as mentioned in materials list. (See Weblink)
2. Choose and arrange personal items that symbolize you.
3. Make copies of the Grab and Run worksheet for each person in the class. (See Associated File)
4. Go to Web Design Weblink and acquire a copy of the Color Symbolism handout.
5. Make copies of the Color Symbolism handout for the class.
6. Make supplies in materials list available for student use.
7. Make appropriate arrangements for computer usage if applicable to situation.
8. Make copies of the Assessment Rubric. (See Associated File)


NOTE: A knowledge of elements and principles of design, and the communicative ability of specific mediums is required for this lesson.

Day 1: The Real Me

1. Before students enter the classroom, set up an area with personal items that symbolize who you, the instructor, are. Use items that are symbolic in nature so that the class can discuss the symbolism present, and try to read something about you through the objects that you have chosen and the arrangement of such objects.

2. Discuss the meaning of self-identity. Ask students if they know who they are, or what makes them the person they are. Also ask them to think about what makes them different from each other.

3. If it does not come up in the discussion, be sure to steer conversation toward their background, cultural heritage, family influence, friends' influence, values and beliefs, personal likes and dislikes, and past experiences that may have had an impact on their life. Other areas not mentioned here that relate to and define who we are as individuals can be added. The more in-depth the discussion gets, the more students will start thinking about their individuality.

4. Show the works of artists who use their art to define and communicate who they are and the cultural background from which they come. Show and discuss how Freida Kahlo uses strong cultural symbols and subject matter in her work to show the importance of her cultural heritage and its defining of a portion of her identity. Show work of Jacob Lawrence and discuss how his work symbolizes not just his own cultural identity, but the identity and life of the African American. Georgia O’Keefe’s work, from differing times in her life, can be shown. Reflect the importance of her surroundings and environment, and the symbolism and impact they had on her life at different points in time.

5. Ask the students to now look at your arrangement of objects previously put together to symbolize yourself. Have them view it for a moment and then try to interpret the symbolism you chose as well as the significance of the placement of objects with in the arrangement.

6. Ask students to start thinking about themselves and specific traits and characteristics that define them. Pass out copies of the worksheet entitled Grab and Run. (See Associated File) This worksheet asks students to put themselves in the position of being in a house fire and having to choose 10 items to save as they get free of the fire. On the way out, they trip and fall, dropping everything and can only grab five of the ten items. The worksheet also asks them to justify why they chose those five items to save. This will get them to thinking about what is of importance and why. It should serve as a way to realize priorities in their lives.

7. Once complete, tell students to think about themselves and try to find five things that represent who they are and what they feel is important to them. (For example, if they are sports-oriented, they may want to bring in a piece of equipment from their favorite sport, or if they are a nature enthusiast they may want to bring in a flower, or leaf, or other representation of the outdoors.) If possible, have students bring the items to class the next day. Tell them if there is something they want to represent about themselves but can't think of an item to serve as a symbol, write it down and discuss it the next day.

Days 2 through 5:

1. Ask students to take out their lists of items and things that represent who they are and what is important in their lives.

2. Make a T-chart on the board. On one side, ask the students to give specific things they want to portray about themselves (i.e. belief in God, importance of family, a love of sports, etc.).

3. On the other side, ask them to give ways to symbolize these traits visually. (At this point you may want to refer them back to the examples by Kahlo, Lawrence, and O’Keefe and remind them of the ways that these artists symbolized important aspects of their lives.)

4. At this point, talk about the symbolism of colors. (Refer to the Web Design Weblink on color symbolism.)

5. Using the items they brought to class and sketching paper and pencil, have the students create a compositional arrangement of the objects that will communicate who they are and what is of importance in their lives to the viewer. Tell them to keep in mind the previously learned knowledge of the elements and principles of design for effective communication. Also remind students to keep in mind the communicative properties of specific mediums when deciding on the mediums to best communicate their message.

6. Allow chance for students to work on design. Circulate around the room to assist with individual problems and offer suggestions when appropriate.

7. When the design is achieved, the student should get a piece of final copy paper (be sure the appropriate paper is chosen for the individual's choice of mediums).

8. Allow students to work on final piece for the next three days.

Day 6:

1. Now that students have finished the actual created piece, tell them to create an artist statement that describes the piece and what and why they chose the items used. This may be done on computers, if they are available for student use.

2. Have students display their work around the room as if they were all part of an exhibit. Use bulletin boards, easels, and wall space for exhibition space.

3. Tell students to take out a piece of paper and something to write with. Have students circulate around the exhibited works and try to read each piece to see if they can figure out who the creator was. Tell students to make a note of some identifying item within the piece to remind them of which piece and which creator they think go together.

4. Talk with students about why some pieces are not easily interpreted since we all come from differing backgrounds and symbolic items may hold different meanings to each viewer. The point should be made at this time and should serve as an example of the fact that the artist’s intentions are not always read the way he or she intended.

5. Assessment should be completed using the rubric in the associated file.


The teacher uses the rubric to formatively assess each student's work. (See Associated File)

Web Links

Web supplement for The Real Me!
Web Design

Web supplement for The Real Me!
Jamie's Posters

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