English and Language Arts Teacher Resources
Discover how to integrate American art into your classroom
Teacher Guides are free, downloadable PDFs.
Ekphrastic Poetry Lesson
How can an image inspire a poem?
This lesson plan guides students to write a ten line poem inspired by a work of art.
Primary Subject and Grade: 4-12 Language Arts, 5-12 Visual Arts
Components: Lesson Plan, Images, Student Activities
Standards: Language Arts K–12.1 Reading for Perspective; K–12.4 Communication Skills; K–12.5 Communication Strategies.
Visual Arts K–12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines; K–12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures; K–12.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas.
How do Carl Van Vechten's photographs illuminate leading literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance?
This teacher guide provides contextual information, key images, and discussion questions to accompany the exhibition Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten, featuring writers Nora Zeale Hurston and Langston Hughes.
Primary Subject and Grade: 5-12 Social Studies, Language Arts, Visual Arts
Secondary Subject and Grade: Music
Components: Teacher Guide, Looking Questions
Standards: This teaching resource supports these concepts:
- Cite pieces of visual and textual evidence to support analysis and inferences drawn from the text.
- Determine the central ideas of an artwork and how they are conveyed through particular details.
- Determine the meaning of symbols as they are used in a visual text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings. Analyze the impact.
- Analyze the structure an artist uses to organize a text, and how it fits into the overall structure and contributes to the development of the ideas.
- Determine an artist’s point of view and explain how it is conveyed.
- Compare and contrast a visual text to audio, video, or multimedia sources, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject.
- Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims presented, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not. Assess whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
- Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.
Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell
How does Norman Rockwell tell a story in a single frame?
Artworks featured in the Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell teacher guide
This teacher guide provides background information, key images, and lesson plans that can be used either in conjunction with a museum visit or in the classroom.
Primary Subject and Grade: U.S. History 512, Visual Arts 512, Language Arts 5-12
Components: Lesson plan, images, Student Activities, background information
Standards: U.S. History Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930); Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945): Era 9 Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s).
Visual Arts K–12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines; K–12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures; K–12.3 Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter.
Language Arts K–12.1 Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world.; K–12.3 Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
Download Artworks (PDF) featured in the Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell Teacher Guide
You’ve Got Style: Identity and Self-Expression
Art as Allegory: A Godlike George Washington
Constantino Brumidi's study for the massive painting that appears on the ceiling in the rotunda of the United State Capitol is steeped in history and mythology, from George Washington being depicted as Zeus to Jefferson Davis being vanquished by Athena.
Storytelling and Resilience Teacher Workshop
Examine stories of resilience found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection and discover how you might use these artworks to spark your students’ spirits for learning.
Second Impressions: Images, Slogans, and Influence Teacher Workshop
Consider how constructed images and words work to influence our behavior in subtle ways. Practice a Project Zero thinking routine to hone students' critical thinking and media literacy skills through close looking and reading.
Explore Literary Themes through American Art
Discover how common themes–conflict and adversity, freedom and social change, heroes and leaders, humans and the environment, immigration and migration, invention and progress–play out across three centuries of American art with the education resource The American Experience in the Classroom.
Critical Thinking in Action
Teaching Literary Devices through Art
This distance learning lesson plan demonstrates how artworks may be used to teach common literary devices such as metaphor, irony, symbolism, mood, foreshadowing, and more.
With this distance learning lesson plan, students will apply their existing knowledge of figurative and sensory language to the exploration of multiple texts and compare/contrast how an author’s use of such elements, not unlike an artist’s, might help individuals gain a broader understanding of community.