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Visual Arts in Society: We Wear the Mask –Visual Arts and Literacy Project

Author: Samuel A. Reed, III


Dimner Beeber Middle School

Year: 2006

Seminar: Visual Art and Society

School Subject(s): Arts, Visual Art

This curriculum unit, which is intended for middle grade students (grades 6th-8th), revolves around an overarching question, “Who Am I?” This essential question allows both students and teachers to research and analyze the past and then set goals for future. This unit which draws from both visual art and literature will allow students to explore masks as metaphors to better understand identity. The first part of the unit involves researching and analyzing visual art in general and masks in particular. Examples of masks will be found in museums, internet sites and our Holt, Rinehart and Winston Elements of Literature text book. Next the unit will analyze masks as metaphors in literature, in particular using Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask.” Then students will design and draw their own masks, while concurrently producing an anthology of poetry on the theme of masks. The unit will culminate with a live performance show casing students’ final mask drawings and recitation of poetry exploring the theme Who Am I?

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Full Unit Text

This curriculum unit, which is intended for middle grade students (grades 6th-8th), revolves around an overarching question, “Who Am I?” This essential question allows both students and teachers to research and analyze the past and then set goals for future. This unit which draws from both visual art and literature will allow students to explore masks as metaphors to better understand identity. The first part of the unit involves researching and analyzing visual art in general and masks in particular. Examples of masks will be found in museums, internet sites and our Holt, Rinehart and Winston Elements of Literature text book. Next the unit will analyze masks as metaphors in literature, in particular using Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask.” Then students will design and draw their own masks, while concurrently producing an anthology of poetry on the theme of masks. The unit will culminate with a live performance show casing students’ final mask drawings and recitation of poetry exploring the theme Who Am I?


Understanding Masks as Metaphors

Imagine looking in the mirror, confused about the image you see. Or imagine the image is the opposite of the chiseled, “cool” rapper or movie star you wish to be like (Frisby, 147). Many of my students “wear masks” based on popular magazines, hip hop videos or other media that often promote distorted self images.

According to George Ulrich of the Milwaukee Public Museum, “masks have the ability to conceal, change, or transform the person behind the image into something else.” He further notes that “exploring the aesthetics of masks provides a playful and powerful way to relate to rituals, religions and myths” (Ulrich, para 2-3, 17). Consequently, an exploration of masks as metaphors found in visual arts and literature can offer a means for my students to better know themselves and their place in the world. By analyzing and interpreting the relationship between masks, literature and culture, students will gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for their own culture and “unmask” distorted self identity complexities often found with middle school students.

School’s Demographics and Culture

I teach at Beeber Middle School, located in the West Academic Area of the School District of Philadelphia. Pupil population is close to 900. The student body is 95% African American or of African decent and less than 1% percent is Caucasian. The balance of students is bi-racially mixed or from other ethnic backgrounds. Additionally, we have a growing immigrant population of African and Caribbean students. Most of my students come from working class families and over 70% of the student body qualifies for free or subsidized lunch.

If we consider that in many schools students of color and poor students are positioned in ways that undermine who they are, and are often assigned particular identities based upon their race and class (Gee, 379) then we recognize that it is critical for students to find ways to explore their identity. The pressure to conform is intense at my school. Students who dare to be different often receive the treatment that Josephs C. Philips talks about in his book, “He Talk Like a White Boy.” The author recalls that he did not realize until his time in Junior High school, “that something was wrong with the way I spoke, that answering questions in class was acting white” (Phillips,19). I observe this similar culture in my classroom. Students often hide their intelligence or talents and “wear masks” to be accepted by the peers who think racial identity or gender fits into a neat stereotype, portrayed in rap videos or popular culture. This unit will not remove the pressures students face to conform, but it will offer a means for students to better understand the complexities of identity.

My students are part of a wired-multi-media generation. According to a University of Kansas report by Huston and Wright, “children spend more time watching
television than in any other activity except sleep” (Huston, Wright, 37). Many of my students rarely have the opportunity to visit art galleries and museums. During this unit my students will visit these institutions to gain a better appreciation of art and view cultural mask exhibits. Such visits will provide a means of exploring identity other than the mass media to which most students are exposed.

Standards and Arts Based Learning Projects

This unit will meet specific standards required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Academic Standards in Reading Writing, and Speaking and Listening along with Standards for Arts and Humanities. In recent years, my school has been developing an art magnet program while striving to meet mandates of School District of Philadelphia’s Core Curricula Standards which are aligned to the Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards. The standards are listed in the Appendix # 1.

According to the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership, Program Assessment Report 2002-2005, when students participate in arts based learning projects; there is a noted improvement in literacy skills, critical thinking and student learning outcomes (Leach et al, 19). I believe visual arts in general and studying masks in particular will provide students with means of knowing themselves and their place in the world.

Dunbar – Mask Aesthetics through Literature and Art

References to masks are plentiful in literature. Dunbar’s Poem “We Wear the Mask” is good example of the piece of traditional poetry that provides contemporary context for young people. According to Frances Pierce in her 1987 Yale-New Haven Teacher’s Institute’s unit, “Understanding and Appreciating Poetry: Afro-Americans and Their Poetry,” “Dunbar’s works are suitable for middle and high school students because they are easy to understand and demonstrate good poetic technique” (Pierce, para 3-5 ). Poems such as Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”, Carl Sandburg’s, “Mask”, Ellen Bauer’s “Hiding in the Mask” or Emily Dickinson’s “I am Nobody” will provide students an opportunity to examine relationships between masks and cultures. Students can then analyze aspects of their own culture, and personal masks that reflect upon the essential question, “Who Am I?”

When exploring the aesthetics of masks and identity construction, it is important to analyze concurrently works of both visual and literary arts. An exciting element of this unit is that it provides students hands-on art experiences in drawing masks as well as composing poetry. Both the hands-ons and cognitive learning that takes place in this unit will allow students to explore the complexities identity. Students will demonstrate their discoveries, by publishing an anthology of their poems, accompanied by illustrations of
masks. The unit’s culminating event will be a multi-media “Who am I? ,We Wear the Mask” showcase of spoken words and visual images for a live public audience made up of students, parents, teachers and collaborating art partners.

By viewing masks as functional and symbolic artifacts students can juxtapose the masks they research and analyze in this unit with the masks depicted in Dunbar’s and other related poems. Ultimately, by creating masks as art objects, producing their own poetry and multi-media show case, students will engage in their own self discovery. By drawing masks, analyzing and producing literature, and ultimately staging a multi media performance, this unit will engage students to learn more about visual arts and its connections to other disciplines.


The objectives of this unit can be placed in 4 categories: objectives related to researching and analyzing visual art; objectives related to interpreting and analyzing literature; objectives related drawing and creating original masks and literary art; objectives related to performing and showcasing students’ work. By the end of the unit, students will be able to synthesize their research and demonstrate the cultural and personal significance of masks through producing an anthology of poetry and mask illustrations and perform a multi-media show case of their learning outcomes.

Objectives Related to Researching and Analyzing Visual Art and Masks

  1. Students will research and analyze visual arts by: spending time appreciating mask as metaphors, viewing art exhibitions at museums, internet sites and book resources.
  2. Students will take notes, use graphic organizers and question the purpose of masks. Students will describe the meaning or metaphors found while viewing masks and make personal connections by reflecting on their individual culture and the meaning behind masks.

Objectives Related to Interpreting and Analyzing Literature

  1. For this unit students will use Dunbar’s work, “We Wear the Mask” as the anchor piece of literature to identify poetic devices that represent masks as metaphors.
  2. Students will further interpret and analyze literature by studying biographies of poets such as Dunbar, Carl Sandbrug, and Ellen Bauer and Emily Dickson, and by placing their poetry in proper context. Through the interpretation and analysis of literature students will be able to identify mask themes in the works of Dunbar and others; they will
    juxtapose images viewed at museums, internet sites and books with masks ’metaphors described in the selected poems.

Objectives Related to Creating Original Mask and Literary Art

  1. Students will draw their original masks and compose original poetry by following the creative process of planning, drafting, peer reviewing and improving their craft.
  2. Students will design their masks as either functional or symbolic objects and craft poetry that explains the meaning behind their masks. To complete their final works, to be published in an anthology, students will experiment with shapes, lines, symbols, words, phrases, and metaphors to create drawings of masks and poems related to their discoveries.

Objectives Related to Performing and Showcasing Students’ Works

  1. The final project will ask students to incorporate traditional poetry recitation, spoken word, and mask illustrations about their personal lives into a cohesive performance.
  2. In the culminating show case students will use multi-media technology to present variations of their masks and celebrate the production of their literary and visual arts anthology.


Because I teach two sixth grade classes in a balanced literacy and social studies learning block of at least 120 per minutes per day, I will have ample time to spread my unit over the course of the school year or 1-2 grading periods. Furthermore, because the essential question, Who Am I? is the driving inquiry for our entire Sixth Grade Small Learning Community, it is easier to spread this theme of self discovery and masks throughout the academic year instead of just focusing it in a short period.

Artistic and Museum Collaborations

In previous years, I have collaborated with the Fabric Workshop and Museum to expose students to visual art, masks and fabric design. Philadelphia offers a host of museums and galleries that could support our theme of masks exploration. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and The Philadelphia Museum of Art offer teachers and students resources that could be used to support learning about masks and their functions as utility and symbolic objects. I have found that education departments’ at local galleries and museums are very willing to collaborate with teachers.
Page to Stage

Moving students work from the page to the stage is a powerful way to celebrate and acknowledge students’ self discovery. When students know that their work will have an audience beyond the classroom teacher they gain greater commitment to the quality of the finished product.

Categories for Strategies

Because the objectives of the unit are comprehensive, lessons can be easily staggered over a longer time period, or implemented as discrete lessons taught in a stand-alone fashion. The strategies in this unit can be similarly grouped into four categories.

Strategies Related to Researching and Analyzing Visual Arts and Masks • Conducting mini lessons on viewing masks as art objects and metaphors • Taking field trips to view art and analyze masks • Using internet and text book to view and describe the vocational or symbolic value of masks • Using graphic organizers to analyze mask from varying cultural regions

Strategies Related to Interpreting and Analyzing Literature
  • Conducting mini – lessons on Paul Laurence Dunbar’s biography, and his poem “We Wear the Mask” • Conducting mini-Lessons on poetic devices, analysis and critique i.e. Carl Sandburg-“Mask,” Emily Dickson- “I Am Nobody,” Ellen Bauer- “Hiding in the Mask”
Strategies Related to Creating Original Mask and Literary Art
  • Drawing masks and visual art objects as a response to poems about masks • Taking a line, phrase, word from a poem and used poetic devices learned to compose a new poem • Composing a poem that represents the feelings behind the masks or a response to response to a mask using poetry.
Strategies Related to Performing and Showcasing Students’ Works
  • Conducting mini-lessons on performing and evaluating recitations of Dunbar’s poem We Wear the Mask.
  • Conducting mini-lessons on reciting and assessing students’ spoken word performances.
  • Conducting mini-lessons on how to self publish students’ work.
  • Conducting mini-lessons on how to promote student and teaching artists’ collaboration.
  • Conducting mini-lessons on how to make Power Point Slide and other multi-media presentations.
  • Collaborating on final plans for showcasing and performing students’ work.

Standards and Core Curricula

This unit employs mini-lessons which easily tie into the Philadelphia School District’s Core Curricula standards that focus on reading, discussing and analyzing literature and art. The specific standards which are aligned with the Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards are: 1.2. Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature 1.4. Variety Types of Writing 1.5. Quality of Writing 1.6. Speaking and Listening 1.8. Research, 9.1. Production, Performance and Exhibition of Visual Arts 9.2. Historical and Cultural Contexts 9.3. Critical Response 9.4. Aesthetic Response

These standards are detailed fully in Appendix #1.

Culminating Work

Each student will be responsible for drawing his or her own mask either in 2 or 3 dimensional space; students will also produce individual writing portfolios, based on the concepts and techniques explored during mini-lessons. The mini-lessons will progress from concrete and accessible concepts to more difficult and abstract work.

The production of the students’ anthology and the preparation of the multi-media show case will be accomplished simultaneously. Students will become very adept at multi-tasking and may work on two or more duties. The mini-lessons and hands-on tasks will allow for both individual and cooperative team work. During this time, the class will be structured according to the principles of constructivism and autonomous learning. I will place students in groups of four-to-six to practice skills or concepts taught after the
mini-lesson in conducted. These groups might be functional-based teams, where student team members perform tasks based on their predominant skills and intelligences. For example, there might be separate teams for the illustrators and editors, with each working to prepare some part of the culminating showcase.

Multiple Intelligences

By paying attention to students’ varying learning styles, I hope to bolster their success and improve the final outcomes. The notion of varying learning style or multiple intelligences was developed by Howard Gardner, a noted professor of education and learning at Harvard University. Gardner contends that students learn in at least 7-8 different ways. Therefore, my lessons offer a variety of learning styles. These learning styles cater to: Verbal/ Linguistic Learners, Logical/Mathematical Learners, Visual/ Spatial Learners, Bodily/ Kinesthetic Learner, Musical / Rhythmic Learners, Interpersonal Learners and Intrapersonal Learners (Gardner, 1993). In preparation for the culminating showcase I will have students apply for specific jobs and tasks and arrange for students to be interviewed by parent volunteers or collaborating teaching artists. Refer to the Appendix – 2 Job Descriptions and Multiple Learning Style Charts for

Classroom Activities / Lesson Plans

Presented here are 3 sample lesson plans to be used in this unit. Teachers can use the lesson ideas for a single lesson or plan an integrated learning unit based upon the minilessons in the strategies noted above.

Sample Lesson Plan 1

Title: Introduction to Researching Mask

Grade Range: 6th – 8th Grade

Subject: Literacy (Reading and Writing) Social Studies:


Reading, Speaking #1 & 2, Writing #1, #2 & 3: Asks relevant questions, and respond to questions; write in a variety forms; write for variety of purposes; and speak using effective communication skills. Social Studies Standard(s): culture, time continuity & change, people, places and environment.

Concepts/ Skills: Apply geographical skills and knowledge to demonstrate an understanding of how geography affects, places movement and environment.

Duration of Lesson: 2-3 Class Periods of at Least 30 Minutes


Students will research mask as vocational and symbolic objects, write detail descriptions about selected masks, use graphic organizer to describe the cultural regions from which the masks originate.

Warm Up Activity

Students will be introduced to mask as vocational and symbolic objects by searching the internet. Students will find some interesting examples of masks from various cultural regions. Students should be instructed to go to the two sites listed below: masks/resources.htm

Working in small groups, students should first locate 3-4 masks that resonate with them. Each student should than record in their writers’ notebook a description of their selected mask, focusing on it shape, lines, tone, symbols. Next, students should share their descriptions in their small group and compare notes. Lastly, students should try to describe the vocational or symbolic value of the masks they selected.

Mini- Lesson – Using Graphic Organizer for Research Skills.

Teacher should conduct mini-lesson on how to use graphic organizers to analyze mask.

Activity Graphic Organizer

In groups students will use a mask graphic organizer to analyze masks from varying cultural regions. Students will use the two sites listed above or use additional museum sites listed below:

Using the graphic organizer from the ReadWriteThink website, a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers
of English (NCTE),, students will locate the following information about selected masks: website where masks was located; origin of mask – country, region, continent, purpose of mask; material of masks; culture reflection of mask; personal connections to mask.

Wrap up or Extension Activity- Visit an Art Gallery or Museum

During an art gallery or museum visit students will pay particular attention to masks and use Cultural Mask Graphic Organizers to record interesting facts and personal connections they make while viewing and touring the mask exhibits. For a wrap up activity students will select a mask and write a short poem responding to the mask. A Mask Poem Rubric is provided online by ReadWriteThink

If a field trip is not possible, direct students to select masks from on-line galleries such as National Museum of African Art – Smithsonian Institute Another alternative is to find mask using reprints, book collections, or even art work created by students in the visual arts class at school.

Sample Lesson Plan 2

Title: Read and Interpret Paul L. Dunbar “We Wear the Mask”

Grade Range: 6th – 8th Grade

Subject: Literacy (Reading and Writing) Social Studies:


Reading, Speaking # 1 & 2, Writing # 1, # 2 & 3: Asks relevant questions, and respond to questions; write in a variety forms; write for variety of purposes; and speak using effective communication skills. Social Studies Standard(s): culture, time continuity & change, people, places and environment.

Concepts/ Skills:

Apply geographical skills and knowledge to demonstrate an understanding of how geography affects, places movement and environment.

Duration of Lesson: 4-6 Class Periods of at Least 30 Minutes.


Students will learn biographical and historical information about Dunbar and read and understand at least 2-4 poetic devices used in his poem “We Wear the Mask.”

Warm Up Activity – Dunbar’s Biography Students will be introduced to Dunbar’s Biography to understand cultural and social context from which he crafted his poetry. Students will also learn new vocabulary words, review main ideas, themes, and answer comprehension questions.

First students will read a brief biography of Dunbar, and complete a text rendering of the selection where students highlight a sentence, phrase and word that resonates out from the text. Each student will read aloud, their sentences, phrases and words in that sequence. Students are allowed to repeat the same sentences, phrases and words. Students will answer basic comprehension questions to demonstrate understanding of the biography. To conclude, students will write a brief biographical sketch of Dunbar’s life

Mini Lesson – Vocabulary and Poetic Devices –

Teacher should model how to use context clues to define interesting or difficult words and identify key poetic devices used in Dunbar’s poem.

Activity – Vocabulary Squares

Students will read and understand difficult or interesting words used in Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask” First students will scan the poem to locate any difficult or interesting words i.e. guile, vile, tortured myriad, subtleties, and sigh. Next students will create vocabulary graphic organizers to demonstrate their comprehension of key words in the poem. A vocabulary square is graphic organizer divided into four quadrants that provides the origin or part of speech or a word, synonym or antonym for the word, a logo or icon of the word, and a formal definition of the word (Burke). Students will exchange their vocabulary squares with a partner to assess for completeness and comprehension of difficult or interesting words. A layout of a vocabulary square can be found on the following link: .

Wrap up or Extension – Take a Line From “We Wear the Mask”

Students will do a close reading to understand at least 2-4 poetic devices used in Dunbar’s poem. Students will then craft their own poem, taking a line, a phrase, or word from the poem “We Wear the Mask”. First students will read the poem to locate any of the following poetic devices: assonance, rhyme, repetition, stanza, imagery, meter, refrain, or lyric. The teacher will read the poetry out loud. Student volunteers will read out loud after having time to practice reciting the poem. In small groups students will do close reading of poem, share the meaning of the poem, and examine poetic devices used in the poem. For the wrap up, creative writing activity students will take any line, phrase or word from the poem and compose their own “We Wear the Mask” poem using some of the poetic devices learned in the lesson.

Sample Lesson Plan 3

Title: From the Page to the Stage – Recitation and Rendering “We Wear the Mask”

Grade Range: 6th – 8th Grade

Subject: Literacy (Reading and Writing)


Reading, Speaking # 1 & 2, Writing # 1, # 2 & 3: Asks relevant questions, and respond to questions; write in a variety forms; write for variety of purposes; and speak using effective communication skills. Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance. Theatre and Visual Arts. Historical and Cultural Context, Critical Response, Aesthetic Response.

Duration of Lesson: 8-12 Class Periods of at Least 30 Minutes.


Students will recite Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” and students’ original spoken word art using a poetry recitation rubric. For details see Poetry Out loud Teacher’s Guide or refer to Appendix 3 for Poetry Out Loud Evaluation Sheet. Students will produce Power Point Presentation using their original poems, drawings and on other multi-media representation of the themes “Who Am I? and We Wear the Mask.

Warm Up Activity – Poetry Recitation “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Teacher will play the CD “Poetry Out Loud” produced by National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, audio guide number 5 “We Wear the Mask” recited by Rita Dove. Teacher and students will discuss the poem and review what evident recitation skills can be heard when listening to the poem. The teacher will then model to students both effective and ineffective recitation skills. Students and teacher will develop and review a rubric to assess poetry recitation skills; standards might include proper voice levels, appropriate speed with proper pauses, voice inflection, articulation, pronunciation, and eye contact with the audience. The teacher may also play portions of other poems on the audio guide for the students, as further examples of exemplar recitation skills. Students will than work in pairs to practice reciting the Poem “We Wear the Mask.” Student partners or whole class should offer constructive criticism, using the evaluation sheet and criteria provided from the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest website:

Activity – Create Power Point Presentation and Live Exhibit with Poetry Text, Visual Aides and Masks.

Working in teams of fours, students will produce Power Point Presentations using original mask drawings, illustrations, poems, cultural masks, audio and other video clips as a multi-media rendering of their self discoveries around the inquiry “Who Am I?”

Teachers or teaching artists will model to how plan a multi-media presentation and use Power Point to make and view slides; produce animation and transitions; insert clip art, original art, sound and video clip (Presley, et al. 17-1, 17-23). Student groups will first work out a sketch plan of their slide presentation using pencil and paper. Students will make sure slides includes lines, phrase, words from their original poems; represent some aspect of their culture, depict their original masks as well as mask from other cultural regions. Students will make sure the words, texts, images, video or sound clips are separated over several slides to avoid clutter or presenting too many concepts or ideas on one slide. Students groups will spend time editing and revising their slides they could be present at the culminating show case.

Wrap up or Extension – Culminating Show Case and Presentation of Masks and Poetry Anthology.

This entire unit can be wrapped up with a celebration and showcase to present the students final outcomes. With support from teaching artists (if available) and parents volunteers, a full exhibition can be presented. A typical program might include spoken word and poetry recitations, music, video and sound clips related to the themes of “Who and I? and We Wear the Mask” An exhibit of mask drawings, Power Point Slides, and the launching of the anthology of students’ poems and mask illustrations can be on display.
The anthology can be published through Nation Wide Learning’s Students Treasures Class book program where students and parents can order reprints.

Annotated Bibliography / Resources

Teacher’s Reading List and Resources

Burke, James. Tools of Thought: graphic organizers for your classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002. A book written by Jim Burke of Burlingame High School, California, is a must have for teachers using graphic organizers for English and Humanities content.

DeBlase, Gina. Missing Stories, Missing Lives: urban girls (re)constructing race and gender in the literacy classroom. New Orleans: AERA paper, 2000.An AERA paper that offers a tool to understand how race, class and gender play out in classrooms.

Dolby, Nadine E. Constructing Race: Youth Identity and Popular Culture in South Africa. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001. A book published by the State University of New York Press that explores the context of how youth shape their identity.

Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York, NY: BasicBooks, Perseus Books Group,1993. This publication provides the framework and theory behind Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences pedagogy, which has had a great impact on how teachers view teaching and learning. Huston, Althea C., Wright, John. C. Television and Socialization of Young Children. Thousand Oaks CA: In T. MacBeth (Ed.), Tuning in to young viewers (pp. 3760), 1996. This article shows that children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep.

International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English. ReadWriteThink – Lesson Plan: Behind the Mask: Exploring Culture and Through Art and Poetry. 4 April 2006. <> . This unit provides resources and instructional tools for teaching about masks, culture and poetry.

Leach Evan., Cohen Raye M., Schaeffer Pearl.B. Philadelphia Arts in Education
Partnership Program Assessment Report 2002-2005. Philadelphia, PA: PAEP, 2005. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of arts-based collaborative partnership programs. The report is available on line at .

National Endowment of the Arts and Poetry Foundation. Poetry Out Loud National Poetry Recitation Contest. 7 April 2006. <>. This website is a collaboration between the NEA and Poetry Foundation and offers resources to encourage students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

Pierce Frances. Yale-New Haven Teacher’s Institute, Understanding and Appreciating Poetry: Afro-Americans and Their Poetry 3 March 2006. This curriculum unit provides rationale and strategies for teaching Paul L. Dunbar’s poetry to middle and high school students.

Presley Bruce, Brown Beth, Malfas Elaine, Marreli Jan. A Guide to Microsoft® Office XP Professional, Pennington, NJ: Lawrenceville Press 2002. This book is a comprehensive guide for teaching or using Microsoft Office® Applications such as Power Point for student projects.

Toure, Yemi. Elder Statesmen: An Era Is Passing For Five Authors Known For Reclaiming The Role Of Blacks In History, Los Angeles Times 1, 13-14, May 1991. This article presents an interview with John Henrick Clarke, a noted historian and scholar, covering his historical and cultural perspectives about African American society.

Ulrich, George. Mask: Lore Magazine 39.3 (Fall 1989): p. 2-9, 3 March 2006 <> This article, about mask comes from Milwaukee Public Museum’s website.

Students’ and Classroom Resources:
Bauer, Ellen. Hiding in the Mask 1999. Winner Poetry Grades 7-9. Lit Site: University of Alaska. 7 April 2006. <>. This site is a part of the Alaska Writes program which promotes writing at the K-12 and college level. The poem, “Hiding in the Mask” found on this site was written by a middle school student. This poem offers an excellent model for students about themes related to masks.
Frisby M.M. Holla Back … But Listen First: a life guide for young black men. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Skye Larieux Publishing, 2005. An independent press publication for young black men that covers such topics a sports, sex, religions and popular culture. The author interviews athletes, actors, and professional who share their own teenage experiences.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Elements of Literature, Austin, Texas: Harcourt Brace and Company, 2003. This text book is aligned with the Philadelphia School District’s Core Curricula; provides thematic learning units in literature and includes extensive art, poetry and drama references.

Media Awareness Network. Gender Stereotypes and Body Image. 3 March 2006 < body_image/gndr_stereo_body_image.cfm> A media and internet resource for teachers, students and parents that provide resources and lesson plans on the media, stereotyping, violence and advertising influence on society.

Modern American Poetry- Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906). Ed. Cary Nelson. 2000. Oxford U. Press. 7 April 2006 <>. This online journal published by Oxford University Press, provides reviews and commentary of Dunbar’s work. The site is more suitable for high school students, but can be adapted to middle school students.

Moreillon, Judy. Cultural Mask Resources. (6 June 2004). Created for Ms Roderick’s Ceramics Classes. Sabino High School Tucson, Arizona. 7 April 2006 <> . This website provides students and teachers resources and activities to explore mask as art objects and cultural artifacts. This web site is created by the Librarian at Sabino High School and provides a pathway to several websites that can help students and teachers save a great deal of time researching information about mask.

Milwaukee Public Museum. Education and Online Resources. 7 March 2006 <>. This site provides links to education resources such as creating an African Mask activity.

National Museum of African Art. Smithsonian Institute The Diversity of African Art Resources. 7 March 2006 <>.A website of the Smithsonian Institute that provides many examples of masks and demonstrates
that mask can be used by certain peoples or places, performance, or masquerades. This site as an excellent resource for African Mask.

Neverdal, Gier. Emily Dickinson, English Poems. 3 March 2006 <>. This site provides a brief biography and selected poems such as “I am Nobody” by Dickinson which students can read and analyze.

Nation Wide Learning. Student Tales Publishing Program 7 April 2006. <>. This program motivates students to publish anthologies or individual books. Students can order reprints of a hardbound book of their poems and mask illustrations.

Sandburg, Carl Mask Chicago 1918. Chicago Poems. 7 April 2006 <>. A web site dedicated to Carl Sandburg – Chicago Poems. The poem “Mask” and an index of other Sandburg poems are available to download and print for students to read and analyze.

Appendix 1:

Pennsylvania’s Department of Education Academic Standards

The School District of Philadelphia’s Core Curricula Standards are aligned with the Pennsylvania’s Department of Education Standards. The Standards below are applicable for grades 6-8.

Standard: Reading #1

Apply effective reading strategies to comprehend, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate texts to construct meaning.

Standard: Reading #2

Read a variety of materials including fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary texts from a diversity of cultures (especially African, Asian/Pacific, European, Latino, and Native American cultures), communication systems, and functional texts.

Standard: Reading #3

Read for a variety of purposes: to seek information; to apply knowledge; to enhance enjoyment; to engage in inquiry and research; to expand world views; to understand individuality, shared humanity, and the heritage of the people in our city as well as the contributions of a diversity of groups to American culture and other cultures throughout the world.

Standard: Literature

Listen to, read, recognize, and respond to literature as a record of human experience that provides individual perspective, promotes understanding of multiple perspectives, and reflects the importance of cultural influences.

Standard: Writing #1 –

Plan, draft, revise, and publish writing using correct grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, and effective vocabulary, appropriate to the purpose, context, and audience.

Standard: Writing #2

Write for academic, personal, social, civic, and school-to-career purposes.

Standard: Writing #3

Write in a variety of forms including journals, essays, stories, letters, plays, poems, and reports using figurative, descriptive, literary, and technical language.

Standard: Writing #4

Conduct and document inquiry-based research using oral, print, and communications systems.

Standard: Speaking #1

Speak for a variety of purposes including informing, persuading, questioning, problem solving, sharing ideas and stories, reaching consensus, and responding sensitively and respectfully using language appropriate to the context, audience, and purpose.

Standard: Speaking #2

Speak using effective communication skills including enunciation, inflection, volume, fluency, and non-verbal gestures.

Standard: Listening #1

Listen actively for a variety of purposes including comprehending, interpreting, analyzing, evaluating, responding effectively, and for enjoyment Standard: Listening #2 – Recognize the diversity of oral English language use, patterns, and dialects, and understand its implications across social contexts, cultures, ethnic groups, and geography.
Standard: Viewing
View media, technology, and live performances for a variety of purposes including gathering information, making informed judgments, processing information, and for enjoyment.
Social Studies Standards;


Demonstrate an understanding of culture and how culture affects the individual and society.

Time, Continuity, and Change

Analyze historical events, conditions, trends and issues to understand the way human beings view themselves, their institutions, and others, now and over time, to enable them to make informed choices and decisions.

People, Places, and Environment

Apply geographic skills and knowledge to demonstrate an understanding of how geography affects people, places, movement, and environments.

Individuals, Groups and Institutions

Demonstrate an understanding of the role of individuals, groups, and institutions and how their actions and interactions exert powerful influences on society. Visual Arts Standards

Media, Technique, Processes

Understand and apply art media, techniques, and processes.

Elements, Principals, Features

Demonstrate knowledge of elements, principles, and expressive features from diverse historical periods and cultures, especially African, Asian/Pacific, European, Latino, and Native American cultures. Subject Matter, Symbols, Ideas

Recognize, select, and evaluate a variety of subject matter, symbols, and ideas from diverse cultures and historical periods, especially African, Asian/Pacific, European, Latino, and Native American cultures, in making original works of art.

Reflecting on Artwork

Observe, reflect, and value the characteristics, meanings, uses, and merits of one’s own artwork and artwork from diverse cultural groups and historical periods.

Historical, Social, Cultural

Understand the visual arts and artifacts in relation to historical, social, and cultural contexts, especially African, Asian/Pacific, European, Latino, and Standard: Racial, Cultural Gender – Use the visual arts and artifacts as a way of understanding ourselves and our communities through racial, cultural, and gender differences and similarities. Native American cultures. Relationship with Other Arts
Understand the interconnection between the visual arts and all disciplines.
Appendix 2:
Job Titles and Multiple Intelligences Used for Students’ Culminating Project
Below find sample jobs titles, description of duties and dominant intelligences that could be used to match students with their appropriate skills and talents:

Job Title: Illustrators

Description of Duties • Decides which poems will be accompanied by which mask and artwork. • Designs and composes art work for anthology • Selects artwork to be published in anthology • Works closely with writers and readers

Intelligence Used-

Visual Learners enjoy visual metaphors, illustrations and drawings

Job Title: Readers/ Speakers
Description of Duties • Selects poems and poets to read at show case • Practices reading and presenting for live performances • Selects order of speakers and auditions the M.C. • Works closely with writers and illustrators

Intelligence Used-

Verbal Learners enjoy reading poetry and dramatic dialogues

Job Title: Executive Writers
Description of Duties • Edits and improves anthology selections for style, clarity and creativity • Helps writers add figurative language, similes, metaphors, etc. • Selects a variety selections from individual portfolios to be published in anthology • Edits other written materials for show case performance • Works closely with readers and illustrators

Intelligences Used-

Linguistic learners enjoy writing poetry; Intrapersonal learners can work alone and enjoy editing.

Job Title: Host and Promoters
Description of Duties • Prepares and distributes subscription and invitation cards • Makes budget and plans menu for show case performance • Makes plans and caters for special guests • Keeps order and maintain seating arrangement • Works closely with set-up and music members

Intelligences Used-

Interpersonal learners work well in-groups and enjoy catering to others needs and feelings.

Job Title: Music and Sound Members
Description of Duties • Conducts music survey • Selects and makes music play list to correspond with poetry • Auditions and selects Dee jay and any rap or dance presentations • Makes lists of all musical equipment • Works closely with host and set up members up and set-up members

Intelligences Used-

Musical learners enjoy rhythm and creating sounds; kinesthetic learners enjoy movement.

Job Title: Set-up Members
Description of Duties • Makes sketch layout of stage and café performance venue • Determines and makes lists of all materials required • Places poetry displays and decorations at poetry café • Works closely with hosts and illustrators • Intelligences Used-

Spatial learners enjoy making layouts; Logical learners enjoy analyzing problems.

Job Title: Coordinators
Description of Duties • Works with all committees to make sure deadlines are set and made • Encourages and praises all workers for completing assignments • Assists senior coordinator (teacher) with special assignments

Intelligences Used-

Interpersonal learners are great leaders and motivators.

Job Title: Senior Co-coordinator
Description of Duties • Circulates , motivates, monitors and conferences with students • Evaluates students’ final anthology and show case performance

Intelligences Used-

Teacher supports all intelligences used by students.

Appendix 3:

Poetry Out Loud – National Recitation Contest Sample Evaluation Rubric (NEA / Poetry Foundation)

Volume 1 2 3 4
Speed 1 2 3 4
Voice Inflection 1 2 3 4
Posture and Presence 1 2 3 4
Evidence of Understanding 1 2 3 4
Pronunciation 1 2 3 4
Gestures 1 2 3 4
Eye Contact 1 2 3 4
Level of Difficulty 1 2 3 4
Overall Performance 1 2 3 4