Teaching the French Revolution? Go far beyond the textbook this time by bringing in the Power of Art, a video series by noted historian Simon Schama.
Not only will your students get a thorough review of the entire French Revolutionary period in only a single hour, but they will also understand like never before the ways in which visual imagery can be harnessed as propaganda. Plus, they'll gain a wide exposure to one of the most important French artists of all -- Jacques-Louis David. Culture and history all in one, who could ask for more?
Plus, the video this teaching unit is based on is highly entertaining and engaging -- it works well as a review of the French Revolution but can also serve as a teaser / interest-generator / preview!
WHAT THIS POWER OF ART VIDEO TEACHING UNIT CONTAINS
--Power of Art Worksheet: 60 multiple choice questions on Episode 4 of Power of Art, "David," all of them presented in video order so the worksheet can function as a during-viewing activity --or-- as an after-viewing test.
--Teacher Answer Key for the multiple choice problems
--Power of Art Essay Prompts: 7 essay topics to help students formulate and defend their own opinions about major issues raised in the episode
--Power of Art Projects: 7 research topics to help students go beyond the video and conduct independent or group investigations into both the art and history presented during the episode
ABOUT THE VIDEO, "POWER OF ART: DAVID"
"David is the fourth episode of Simon Schama’s excellent video series The Power of Art. Lasting about 56 minutes, the episode focuses on how the artwork of French painter Jacques-Louis David captured the mood and feeling of various phases of the French Revolution.
In particular, Schama dives deep into the messages communicated by David’s paintings -- propaganda used for good and for ill during the turbulent ten years of the French Revolution.
Although a major focus of the episode is "The Death of Marat," David’s infamous and controversial portrait of one of the leaders of the Terror, Schama also examines in detail several of David’s other noted artworks, including:
• Portrait of Antoine and Marie-Louise Lavoisier
• The Oath of the Horatii
• The Tennis Court Oath (sketch)
• The Tennis Court Oath (unfinished painting)
• The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons
INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES FOR POWER OF ART: DAVID
• Help students understand that in many cases, art is not just entertainment; it is a way of communicating powerful political messages
• Review the entire sequence of the French Revolution and Napoleon in a single hour
• Familiarize students with a major Neo-classical and Romantic artist
• Examine history through the use of primary sources in the realm of the visual arts
A WEALTH OF POSSIBILITIES!
This video teaching guide provides teachers with a student worksheet containing 60 multiple-choice questions, all of them in video order so that the worksheet can easily be used as a “during viewing” activity should teachers wish.
Alternately, teachers can save the worksheet for afterwards and use it as a test or quiz. In some classes, this may work better if students are encouraged to take notes during the video and are allowed to use those notes when they take the test/quiz. Since the video itself is very engaging, however, teachers may find that students can perform well on a test afterwards even without the use of notes.
An answer key for the multiple choice questions is included directly after the student worksheet.
After watching the video, teachers may want to assign students to do a variety of follow-up activities. Two broad genres of such activities are included in this teaching unit. The “essay prompts” ask students to formulate opinions and defend them on a variety of topics that require deep thinking, but relatively little outside research.
The “research projects,” in contrast, are specifically designed to help students delve more deeply into the historical period of the French Revolution and into the styles of art used by Jacques-Louis David in his most famous works. Depending on the exact topic, the research projects may lend themselves well to formats other than the narrative essay.
Other formats that may be appropriate include skits and plays, posters and collages, student-created short videos and infographics, or multimedia or PowerPoint presentations.
Video Teaching Activities by Elise Parker