Through the What’s Good project, (for visual arts students, English students, and all critical thinking programs,) students will understand the concept of subjectivity as they identify the underlying values of a song, piece of literature, object, or some other product of a contemporary or past culture. They will critically create a presentation that states their values. and choose examples that illustrate and support the significance of the object, creating understanding and appreciation of difference among the student audience. Students will engage in a productive critique of their peers’ presentations, working within the presenter's values.
Many CCSS.ELA listening and speaking standards are covered (thought not specifically identified), in this lesson.
Art students: What makes a good painting, sculpture, building . . .
English Students: What makes a good poem, song, short story, novel, film, satire . . .
Psychology Students: What makes a good partner, friend, parent, marriage. . . .
Humanities: What makes a good religion, school, government, meal . . . .
This project creates a critical context which you can refer back to throughout the year.
This lesson contains the following:
1 . A detailed, step by step description of what students do.
2. A detailed guide for students to evaluate their own and their peer’s presentations.
3. Ideas for grading and assisting.
4. A reflection activity.
5. Follow up assignment ideas.
Time: If the lesson is presented all at once, without other lessons happening concurrently; and if students work on the projects in class, rather than as homework, you will need around 2.5 hours of class time for students to create their presentations, and 7 hours for the presentations and critiques. The introduction will take 15-20 minutes.
I have had advanced students create their presentations as homework; however students who need help setting up a slide show or dealing the with concepts will benefit from class time where you can help. Each presentation and critique is around 15 minutes. To save time, you might want to have students work in pairs or small groups. But the presentations are more passionate if each student chooses something he or she really cares about.
Rather than use a full class period for student presentations, I have found that it’s good to have 2-3 students present at the beginning of each class, and then work on another project concurrently.
Introduced at the start the year, this project encourages students to challenge default assumptions, and creates a classroom community where students learn about each other‘s values as you explore the content of the class. Introduced at the end of the year, you can have students utilize what you have already taught, and students who think they know each other, will find they might learn little more.