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Who Tells Your Story? The Power of Debate and Discourse in the High School Classroom

Author: Katherine Steiner


Benjamin Franklin High School

Year: 2022

Seminar: Social Justice, Monuments, Museums, and Heritage

Keywords: Christopher Columbus, debate, High School, Monument, Mural, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky


High schoolers in Philadelphia are strongly opinionated, and bringing the power of opinion and argument into the classroom is a highly underrated learning tool. In this unit,  students will learn history from multiple perspectives, debate ethics and morals, and collaborate with their classmates to form convincing opinions and cohesive arguments. Students will debate about historical monuments, murals, museums, and even the nature of debate itself.

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Full Unit Text
Unit Content

Our surroundings have a profound power over us and our lives. What we see every day sticks in our brains, affects how we think about a variety of subjects, and impacts our views of our city and our world. Philadelphia, the Mural Capital of the World, is full of all sorts of art that sparks lively debate on almost any theme imaginable. As the name rightly implies, our city is covered with murals in all sizes and topics; but that’s not all the art we have here. Philadelphia is ripe with statues, monuments, universities, and museums; it’s a city bursting at the seams with history and memory. With any history comes conflict, differing opinions, and untold stories; questions of land ownership and property and even questioning the very nature of what a monument is, can, or should be.

More than one opinion is bound to happen in any room of more than a single person, so what better place to explore different opinions than a high school classroom? Teenagers are just beginning to form their own opinions about the world, while understanding that others have different views. High school is when most students start to see the world beyond themselves, develop views that may differ from those they live with, and really use their own independent thought to create arguments and opinions. This is the perfect time for students to not only learn to research and back up their opinions with evidence, but learn about differing opinions and how they might refute opinions they don’t agree with. These are skills that are useful in the secondary classroom, the post-secondary classroom, and in most workplaces and living situations.

This curriculum unit is in several distinct sections; each of 5 topics contains one and a half class periods for research and debate prep, half a class period for formal debate, and a field trip which may contain more than one artifact at a time. I will be focusing  on (1) are murals monuments? What makes a mural a monument? , (2) monuments that promote values we don’t agree with, (3) whether or not Rocky belongs as a monument next to the Art Museum, (4) the purpose of museums. I will also cover how teaching and advocating for social justice can get one in trouble with the law and other bodies of governance, but this section is specifically for teachers. It could be modified to an additional set of lessons, but that would depend heavily on the class.

Excluding field trips, this unit covers approximately 8 90-minute classes. The field trips would probably account for 2 3-hour trips that may or may not be class time depending on scheduling availability. I would take students to the Penn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and surrounding statues, a walking tour of some murals, and to the (boxed) Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza. These could be viewed as an addendum to the unit, as teaching these lessons outside Philadelphia would make the trips implausible. Video field trips may be an option, and this is something that will be investigated as this curriculum unit is being written.  I want my students to look at the art, resources and information around them and come at it with a critical lens. Whose stories are in the textbooks? Who put up the statues? Who built the museums? What power did those people have, and who did they exert their power over?

Debate as a Teaching Tool: Why high school students love to argue and how to put that to good use

            Classroom debate has been widely studied as an educational tool for many years. Debate, in a structured setting, provides explicit teaching of critical thinking skills, enhances speaking and research skills, promotes team-work skills, and also allows for individual grading to reward high-quality work (Oros, 296-298)

If you’ve ever met a teenager, or more than one, chances are you’ve seen them argue about something and probably passionately at that. To implement this at the high school level, I would sort students into teams based on different criteria for each topic of debate and have each team research one side. I originally wanted to have both teams do research for both sides of the argument, but it seems research shows this is less effective when it comes to persuasiveness (Oros 296.)

The Monuments, Museums, and History
Murals in Philadelphia – what makes a mural a monument

Before we get to mural monuments, let’s define each term individually.  The Oxford Dictionary defines monument as “a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event.” The same dictionary defines a mural as “a painting or other work of art executed directly on a wall.” The legal definition of mural monument, as of 1893 is “A memorial made in a wall” (Dictionary of Law,)  which pretty solidly fits with the individual definitions we have for each of those words.

So, what makes a mural a monument? A painting of a flower on a wall is not a monument. A painting of a notable historical figure on a wall is likely a monument. If we ask the question “does this mural commemorate a famous or notable person or event?” and the answer is yes, we probably have a monument. If the answer is no, then we dig further into the significance of the art to the people around it. If there isn’t any, then we’re not looking at a monument. If there is, then we’re looking at a different kind of monument not often mentioned in academic works.

Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza – Where did he come from, why is he still there, and why is he in a box?

The statue of Christopher Columbus in Philadelphia originated in Italy, and was a gift from Italy to The United States in 1876. He stands, in all his marble grandeur, at ten feet tall, on a twelve foot base. He was first erected on the Centennial Exhibition grounds, but was later moved to Marconi Plaza in a very Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia.

Some see Columbus as a hero; having found the New World. Others see him as a figure who brought death and disease to a land that was already  flourishing before he got there and “discovered” it. Many Italians in South Philadelphia see Columbus as a hero, as a representative of their homeland who ventured out and made a name for himself, having “discovered” America. Others, including many local Philadelphians, see the concept of discovering land as a problematic concept. Many others don’t quite see it that way, and feel very strongly that Columbus should not be idolized and should be removed from his pedestal of fame.

In recent years, as we have been analyzing which heroes we want to remember and honor, and as Columbus Day becomes Indigenous Peoples Day in many states, there has been much controversy over this statue. In June of 2020, there was heated debate over the statue, and tensions were high between those who wanted it removed and those who felt it a treasure and part of their heritage. The Columbus figure was boxed up by the City of Philadelphia, so he is still there as of this paper being published (December 2022) but remains hidden behind paint and planks of wood.  This was so controversial that in fact, a survey was published of Philadelphia residents in October of 2020 where 82% of Philadelphians polled said they had a negative view of the statue, and 54% of the respondents would like to see the statue disposed of completely, that it has no place in the city of Philadelphia.

Why is there a fictional character outside the art museum? Is he a monument? Does he belong outside the art museum?

The famous Rocky Balboa statue was shown in Rocky III in 1982, and was subsequently gifted to the city of Philadelphia by Sylvester Stallone. Over time, he moved from the top of the art museum stairs (his movie location), to the sports stadiums in South Philadelphia, to his current residence at the bottom of the museum stairs just North of the museum in 2006.

There was much debate among Philadelphians as to whether or not Rocky should stay as a public monument, and there were strong arguments on both sides of the debate. Some said its art fit for the museum and a display of the Philadelphia underdog spirit; others said it would be a perpetual advertisement for the Rocky movies, and not a representation they wanted for themselves. And yet, Rocky stands. He’s at the base of the museum, not elevated to the status of the top of the stairs or inside the museum, but he’s still out there and drawing a whole lot of attention (Holzman, 2014.)

Rocky was not a real person, and yet is being given human-like monument status. This fictional underdog has become one of the most famous statues in Philadelphia, which has many people confused. There are those who have strong opinions on whether or not he belongs outside the art museum, but there are many more folks who simply appreciate the statue there without any outright opinion.

Why do we have museums? What purpose do they serve?

There are several definitions of the term “museum” by different groups. Assistant Professor of Museum Studies at Michigan State University Eugene Dillenburg brings three separate definitions of museums, and then brings them together (2011, 8). First, he brings the definition from the International Council on Museums; which states that museums are non-profit “institutions in the service of society” open to the public, and “acquires, conserves, researches, and communicates exhibits for the purposes of study, education, and enjoyment.” He then brings the definition from the Museum and Library Services Act,  also stating that a museum must be non-profit and open to the public, and also emphasizes the use of professional staff and tangible objects. Then we come to the final definition, from the American Heritage Dictionary, with a simpler definition of “An institution for the acquisition, preservation, study, and exhibition of works of artistic, historical, or scientific value.”

Dillenburg posits that a more accurate and succinct definition of a museum might be “an institution whose core function includes the presentation of public exhibits for the public good.” Similarly, a case study done in Bucharest concludes that “Museums are cultural institutions which need to be regarded as productive organizations in the 21st century… they serve the wide public offering visitors outstanding experiences- noticeable changes at the level of knowledge and attitude, the continued exploration of an idea after the end of a visit- outputs which increase the quality of human capital.”

Once we get ourselves past the definition of what a museum is, we can get to the heart of the issues; what museums actually mean to communities and the people within them. Once we have definitions, we can break them down and get between the lines of what museums really are. Museums are all about how we see the world, how we relate to the world and each other. They’re about what we see, how we see it, and how we interact with things that we aren’t implicitly familiar with. Museums tell us about history in terms of art, nature, and science. Museums force us to interact with a reality in a time and space that isn’t where we usually reside. They take us out of our own timeline for a short while, and allow us to inhabit another environment where exploration of all kinds is encouraged.

Museums get more complicated once we introduce issues of artifact ownership, whether museums should charge entrance fees, and what obligations museums have to the community they reside in and vice versa. This can be a very deep rabbit hole, and I encourage falling down it for a while. I will not be delving into these issues here, but they’re certainly worth a short adventure if your students would benefit from that. I feel that it’s a bridge too far for my students, but it may be right for yours.

How do we fight for what we believe in, as far as social justice and art are concerned? What rules do we hold to and what rules can or should we break?

How are we defining social justice when we’re talking about public art and artifacts? If we use the book Museums, Equality, and Social Justice, it’s defined as follows: “We use the term social justice to refer to the ways in which museums, galleries and heritage organizations might acknowledge and act upon inequalities within and outside of the cultural domain. This usage is underpinned by a belief in the constitutive, generative character of museums; their capacity to shape as well as reflect social and political relation and to positively impact lived experiences of those who experience discrimination and prejudice” (Nightingale & Sandell, 2012,3).

Teachers have been studying and teaching for social justice for years. There are few accounts of what explicit teaching of social justice looks like, but the ones that exist are in urban communities with high populations of African American or Latinx students (Kelly et. al, 39.) Teachers agreed on some fundamental ideas, like being introspective about one’s own beliefs and being prepared to risk offending others. Teachers engage in social justice work in order to make classroom and school environments safer, and provide students with multiple perspectives and inspire critical thinking skills. This study from British Columbia has direct quotes from teachers who feel strongly about needing to teach about democracy and social justice in order to see progress in our lives and our world. The teachers argue that students need to feel agency and interconnections, and those things often bring students hope. They agree that one cannot be neutral as a teacher, that teachers should share how and why they take a stand.

Christine Sleeter, in her book Multicultural Education as Social Activism, suggests that the competitive individualism and social hierarchies of administrative leadership in schools can make teaching for social justice complicated (Sleeter, 1996.) Teachers in the British Columbia study discussed how they feel like they’re walking on eggshells around their administrators when they teach for social and curricular justice, like they’ll be reprimanded or fired for teaching students to be activists. Teachers feel policed, and express concern with lack of curricular justice but don’t always feel like they can make those changes for fear of repercussions.

So where does that leave us, as the educators in the classroom teaching the students directly every day? There’s no real research on that, but I think the debate is an answer. Don’t give students your opinion (yet) but allow them to draw their own conclusions by doing substantial research and coming to the answers and opinions on their own. Provide the students with the tools, information, and critical thinking questions and skills to come to their own conclusions. This isn’t the answer, and it’s not perfect to avoid being penalized for teaching politics and personal opinions, but it’s a pretty solid option in this educator’s opinion.

Teaching Strategies

Teaching strategies are what make lessons classroom-ready. Most teachers use teaching strategies and aren’t even aware they’re using them. These strategies not only create effective lessons but allow connections between the students as well as between the teacher and students and the students and the material. Strategies allow students to interact with the materials, their classmates, and the world around them. These ten strategies were selected based on how well they lend themselves to interactions between students, teachers, and all the materials involved. These particular strategies are easily adapted to all the lessons in this unit, and can be modified to fit almost any classroom. The nine strategies I highlight in this unit are: anonymous questioning, check in and out, conferencing, cooperative learning, differentiation, formative assessments, graphic organizers, inquiry-based learning, and sketchbooks.

Anonymous questioning is a strategy that allows students to anonymously submit questions and concerns to be addressed in class. Equity in schools, especially for students who don’t have the materials they need to succeed, can be a tough subject and students don’t always want their peers to know about their personal concerns. Anonymous questioning not only lets students get their concerns across but has the potential to show students that they’re not isolated in their concerns. This kind of structured research and debate is new to most, if not all, of my students and they’ll certainly have questions that they’re embarrassed to ask.

Check In/Check Out is a teaching strategy that allows teachers to figuratively take students’ emotional temperatures when they arrive and when they leave the classroom. This can be done in a variety of ways, through entrance and exit tickets, warmups and wrap ups, or even verbal or eye contact as students enter and exit the classroom. Gauging where the students are both before and after class is important not only with this course material, but with high school students in general.

Conferencing is exactly what it sounds like, both allowing students to conference with one another, and the teacher to conference with individual students or student groups. In person conferencing allows ideas to flow more openly than having written comments and allows the teacher and the students to better understand the concepts being discussed and assess the level of understanding. Conferencing is a great form of assessment that is low pressure for the student and allows the teacher to get a clear picture of what the students understand and what still needs to be ascertained. With this unit, conferencing is key as students will be creating their own arguments about art and the environment.

Cooperative learning has students working together in pre-planned groups to investigate materials as a team. This allows students to learn from one another and use each other’s strengths to create the work that they’re dreaming about and aren’t sure about the technical creation process. Students will look at artifacts together, explore and observe, and make design choices about their own work in conversation with classmates.

Differentiation is one of the most important strategies used in the classroom, allowing all students to succeed to their maximum potential. Differentiation is designing lessons, work, and assessments for students to address their individual needs. Having multiple options for how students can organize themselves or complete work allows students to create work that can show what they know without being confined by restrictions that might impede their ability to get across the knowledge and information they’ve gained during the lessons. Students will (mostly) get to choose their role in the research and debate process, which gives them the tools to choose what works best for them.

Formative assessment is using markers along the way to assess student learning, not just using the final product at the end of the unit. It often includes using student notes, student-teacher conferences, graphic organizers (see below,) and student observation to give student feedback (or grades in some cases) on the work they’re doing and insight into how they might proceed. Final products are still important with formative assessment styles, but the process is deemed the more worthy and weightier focus for the unit.

Graphic Organizers are often at the heart of my instruction, giving students a concrete place to pull their thoughts and ideas together before beginning an assignment. Graphic organizers go hand in hand with sketchbooks (see below.)  For students who have trouble focusing their ideas, graphic organizers are one of the best things they can do to get everything down on paper before embarking on a large project. Even for students who are skilled at organization, graphic organizers allow all group members, and the teacher, to see what students are thinking and where their assignments are headed so specific conversations can be had to address any potential concerns before any work is completed on the project. This unit will have teacher-generated graphic organizers for students to use, as well as options for students to create their own.

Inquiry-based learning is when students research, conference, and create to solve problems that they have posed. This strategy brings high-level thinking and real-world problem solving into the studio, and allows students to be more creative than simply recreating art technique. Not to say that making expressive art doesn’t have its place, which of course it’s a huge deal and a major focus in my studio, but there is also a place in the studio for inquisitive and curious students who want more critical thinking skills than mixing colors and refining skills they already have.

Sketchbooks are going to be one of the most heavily used items in the studio during this unit, as a key strategy to taking notes and keeping track of thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. Students would be creating sketches of objects in the classroom at the beginning of each class. This allows students to look back and reflect on their work as the unit progresses, as well as in the future. For this unit, the sketchbook will also double as a journal for students to keep record of their research, opinions, and feelings as they move through and explore the content.

Classroom Activities

Lesson One: Debate – Intro to Debate and Are Murals Monuments?

Warmup: Is a hotdog a sandwich? (respond with post-it notes on the board)

Lesson Intro: If you were going to argue your position for the warmup, what would you say? How would you back up your point? Where would you look for research?


Day One: Teacher will show students where to research, how to check validity of sources, and where to find valid sources if they feel stuck. Remind students that librarians (school or public) can be a great resource.

After about 30 minutes of finding sources on whether or not a hotdog might be a sandwich, the teacher will assign student teams for the mural debate. The teacher will show a short presentation on murals, including some that the students might recognize and some that might be in more obscure Philadelphia locations. The teacher will give a short quiz to assess student knowledge on murals and monuments before they do any research, to compare what they know before to what they’ve learned during their research and debate.

Students will work in their teams to assign roles (with teacher assistance, if needed,) and begin to get ready and research their side of the debate. Once roles are assigned, students will research independently or with their groups for the rest of the class period with the teacher circulating and asking probing questions to encourage critical thinking from the students.

Debate can be especially exciting if there are debates in multiple classes, and then documenting the total number of winners for each category.

Day Two: Teacher will introduce the format of the formal debate (there are several options to choose from, noted in the appendix,) and have students review and get familiar with the format. Students will use that format to work with each role to continue preparing for their debate for about 30 minutes of class.

With an hour left, students will begin their formal debate with the teacher as judge and moderator. After the debate, the students will complete the same short quiz as they did before their research.

Lesson Two: What’s up with Christopher Columbus being in a box?

Warmup: Is water wet? Or does it just make other things wet? Think about it and be ready to explain your answer. Be as convincing as you can.

Lesson Intro: Think about what it takes to be convincing, what do you need? (Have students brainstorm on the whiteboard/jam board/post-its, etc.)  That’s what you need to bring with you into a debate; a positive and confident attitude, facts, and wanting to change the other teams’ minds. Whether or not you believe what you’re arguing for, it’s important to be persuasive and confident.

Day One: Teacher will give a pre-assessment on Columbus, his history, and the history of the statue in South Philadelphia before beginning any instruction. The teacher will then teach through several renditions of the Columbus story from various viewpoints and sources.

At this point, students can be divided into teams for the debates, and take roles. Encourage students to take roles they have not taken before, but allow for all necessary accommodations to keep students comfortable and excited to learn.

Students will not have much time left after selecting roles, but they should use whatever time is left for research.

Day Two: Students will jump straight into their research and begin to form their arguments for the debate. The teacher will support students in this, and remind them of the format of the debate, like who talks when and who gets to ask questions when.

With an hour left, students will begin their formal debate with the teacher as judge and moderator. After the debate, the students will complete the same short quiz as they did before their research.

OPTIONAL Day Three: Students will take a walking tour of the Center City neighborhood to view, sketch, and  discuss murals, then take the train to Marconi Plaza to see the Columbus statue (safe in his hidey hole box) and discuss whether or not Columbus (and/or the box) are appropriately located. With enough staff present, students might even interview some of the community members in the area.

Lesson Three: Rocky – A fictional character, Philadelphia icon, or both?

OPTIONAL Day Zero: Walking tour to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and an adventure to see the Rocky Statue at the bottom of the steps. Students will see the grandiose outside of the museum, and even walk up the steps to peek inside (and a museum tour, if possible) and then walk back down the stairs to see Rocky in his permanent home on the Ben Franklin Parkway. The teacher will assign sides to the debate before the trip, so students will have an idea of the information they want to get from the trip. Again, with enough staff present students can talk to passers-by and gather public opinion on the statue and the museum.

Warm Up: Show data from two previous debates, in terms of how many pro/con teams won each. Have students reflect individually, then in pairs, and then have pairs share out.

Lesson Intro: Teacher will show a clip of Rocky III where the statue is featured, and have students talk about whether or not their experience of seeing the statue in person was anything like the movie statue.

Day One: If the students had a chance to visit the museum, they would take the beginning of the class to debrief on the experience of seeing Rocky and document their opinions in journals. Otherwise, students can watch any number of videos available on the internet touring and talking about the statue (with teacher vetting of course.)

Students will continue research with their teams on the internet, using previously identified sources. With prior permission, students might even go ask other teachers and classes what they think to get some more ideas.

Day Two: Students will begin the debate at the beginning of class, and after they debate will sit down with their teams and debrief. Teams will discuss what they think about the debate structure, and look into any changes they might want to make. This then becomes a class discussion with everyone weighing in on their ideal debate format and eventually voting on a new (or not) format for the final debate.

Lesson Four: Museums – What and Why are they?

Warm Up: Have students walk around the room to record their opinions on large post-it notes that read “Why Art,” “When Art,” “Who Art,” “What Art,” “Where Art,” and “How Art.”  Have students take a gallery walk when everyone is finished with their comments.

Lesson Intro: Virtual Museum Tour of the PMA (or if the students have already toured the museum, discuss what they saw and/or sketch and journal about the museum trip.)

Day One: Students will design this debate themselves, deciding what the question is, what the teams are, and who plays what role. This likely means that every class participating will come up with a different question to debate. They might choose a topic like “Should museums be free to the public?,” or “are museums relevant in the age of the internet?,” “who should decide what goes in museums,” or something entirely unique! Some students benefit from having choices, and others prefer to think entirely without those guidelines, so know your students and give them some choices if they get stuck. Otherwise, let them make choices and decisions! Give students a time limit to come up with a topic so they still have time to research and prepare for their debate.

Day Two: Research, debate, and wrap up – Have students continue and complete their research, and hold the debate of their own design. When done, have students write about how they felt doing the debate unit, what they liked and what they felt could be improved. This is valuable information to collect after any unit, but specifically after something so new and different that gives students a chance to think differently and work in groups in new ways.

This could be super interesting but I also think that it has the potential to get really heated, and quickly, and I wouldn’t want your students to be at risk- some people feel super strongly and the box before has sometimes been protected” by white supremacist groups


Print Media/Books/Articles:

Coman, Adela and Pop, Izabela, (2012) “Why Do Museums Matter? A Case Study on the Maramures County Museums.”

Dillenburg, Eugene (2011) “What, if Anything, Is a Museum?” Exhibitionist, Spring 2011

Doss Erica, 2010, “Statue Mania to Memorial Mania: Scope of the Subject,” in Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America, pages 17 – 60

Holzman, L.M. (2013) Rocky. In Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Rutgers University.

Kellty, Deirdre, et. al. (2004) “Teaching for Social Justice: Veteran High School Teachers’ Perspectives.” A Journal for the Scholar-Practitioner Leader, Volume 2, Number 2 (pp 39-57)

Lees, William (2021). “The Problem with ‘Confederate Monuments’ on our Heritage Landscapes. Social Science Quarterly (1002-1015)

Oros, Andrew L. (2007) Let’s Debate: Active Learning Encourages Student Participation and Critical Thinking, Journal of Political Science Education, 3:3, 293-311

Sandell, R., & Nightingale, E. (2012). Museums, equality and social justice (p. 344)

Sleeter, C. E. (1996). Multicultural education as social activism. SUNY Press.

Van Inwagen, Peter, (2004) “Freedom to Break the Laws.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy, pp.334-337


Demonstration at Philadelphia Columbus Statue:


Appendix #1  National Core Art Standards

Visual Arts/Connecting


Anchor Standard: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

Enduring Understanding: Through art-making, people make meaning by investigating and developing awareness of perceptions, knowledge, and experiences.

Essential Question: How does engaging in creating art enrich people’s lives? How does making art attune people to their surroundings? How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through art-making?


Document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.


Utilize inquiry methods of observation, research, and experimentation to explore unfamiliar subjects through art-making.


Synthesize knowledge of social, cultural, historical, and personal life with art-making approaches to create meaningful works of art or design.

Visual Arts/Connecting


Anchor Standard: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Enduring Understanding: People develop ideas and understandings of society, culture, and history through their interactions with and analysis of art.

Essential Question: How does art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures? How is art used to impact the views of a society? How does art preserve aspects of life?


Describe how knowledge of culture, traditions, and history may influence personal responses to art.


Compare uses of art in a variety of societal, cultural, and historical contexts and make connections to uses of art in contemporary and local contexts.


Appraise the impact of an artist or a group of artists on the beliefs, values, and behaviors of a society.

Visual Arts/Presenting


Anchor Standard: Select, analyze and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Enduring Understanding: Artists and other presenters consider various techniques, methods, venues, and criteria when analyzing, selecting, and curating objects, artifacts, and artworks for preservation and presentation.

Essential Question: How are artworks cared for and by whom? What criteria, methods, and processes are used to select work for preservation or presentation? Why do people value objects, artifacts, and artworks, and select them for presentation?


Analyze, select, and curate artifacts and/or artworks for presentation and preservation.


Analyze, select, and critique personal artwork for a collection or portfolio presentation.


Critique, justify, and present choices in the process of analyzing, selecting, curating, and presenting artwork for a specific exhibit or event.

Visual Arts/Presenting


Anchor Standard: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Enduring Understanding: Artists, curators and others consider a variety of factors and methods including evolving technologies when preparing and refining artwork for display and or when deciding if and how to preserve and protect it.

Essential Question: What methods and processes are considered when preparing artwork for presentation or preservation? How does refining artwork affect its meaning to the viewer? What criteria are considered when selecting work for presentation, a portfolio, or a collection?


Analyze and evaluate the reasons and ways an exhibition is presented.


Evaluate, select, and apply methods or processes appropriate to display artwork in a specific place.


Investigate, compare, and contrast methods for preserving and protecting art.

Visual Arts/Presenting


Anchor Standard: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: Objects, artifacts, and artworks collected, preserved, or presented either by artists, museums, or other venues communicate meaning and a record of social, cultural, and political experiences resulting in the cultivating of appreciation and understanding.

Essential Question: What is an art museum? How does the presenting & sharing of objects, artifacts, & artworks influence & shape ideas, beliefs, & experiences? How do objects, artifacts, & artworks collected, preserved, or presented, cultivate appreciation & understanding?


Analyze and describe the impact that an exhibition or collection has on personal awareness of social, cultural, or political beliefs and understandings.


Make, explain, and justify connections between artists or artwork and social, cultural, and political history.


Curate a collection of objects, artifacts, or artwork to impact the viewer’s understanding of social, cultural, and/or political experiences.

Visual Arts/Responding


Anchor Standard: Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: Individual aesthetic and empathetic awareness developed through engagement with art can lead to understanding and appreciation of self, others, the natural world, and constructed environments.

Essential Question: How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art? How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world? What can we learn from our responses to art?


Hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.


Recognize and describe personal aesthetic and empathetic responses to the natural world and constructed environments.


Analyze how responses to art develop over time based on knowledge of and experience with art and life.

Visual Arts/Responding


Anchor Standard: Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: Visual imagery influences understanding of and responses to the world.

Essential Question: What is an image? Where and how do we encounter images in our world? How do images influence our views of the world?


Analyze how one’s understanding of the world is affected by experiencing visual imagery.


Evaluate the effectiveness of an image or images to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of specific audiences.


Determine the commonalities within a group of artists or visual images attributed to a particular type of art, timeframe, or culture.

Visual Arts/Responding


Anchor Standard: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: People gain insights into meanings of artworks by engaging in the process of art criticism.

Essential Question: What is the value of engaging in the process of art criticism? How can the viewer “read” a work of art as text? How does knowing and using visual art vocabularies help us understand and interpret works of art?


Interpret an artwork or collection of works, supported by relevant and sufficient evidence found in the work and its various contexts.


Identify types of contextual information useful in the process of constructing interpretations of an artwork or collection of works.


Analyze differing interpretations of an artwork or collection of works in order to select and defend a plausible critical analysis.

Visual Arts/Responding


Anchor Standard: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: People evaluate art based on various criteria.

Essential Question: How does one determine criteria to evaluate a work of art? How and why might criteria vary? How is a personal preference different from an evaluation?


Establish relevant criteria in order to evaluate a work of art or collection of works.


Determine the relevance of criteria used by others to evaluate a work of art or collection of works.


Construct evaluations of a work of art or collection of works based on differing sets of criteria.

Appendix II – Classroom Debate Formats

(Adapting from ESL Debates Blog)

Full Class Debate

  • Divide the class into two debate teams.
  • 10 minutes: Preparation
  • 4 minutes: Opening Statement (Side A)
  • 4 minutes: Opening Statement (Side B)
  • 2 minutes: Rebuttal (Side A)
  • 2 minutes: Rebuttal (Side B)
  • 1 minutes: Closing Statement (Side A)
  • 1 minutes: Closing Statement (Side B)

Three Question Debate

  • Three questions related to a single topic.
  • Divide the class into two debate teams.
  • Alternate which team delivers main points first.
  • 10 minutes: Preparation
  • 5 minutes: Team 1 Main Points (Q1, Q2, Q3)
  • 5 minutes: Team 2 Main Points (Q1, Q2, Q3)
  • 3 minutes: Team 1 Rebuttal (Q1, Q2, Q3)
  • 3 minutes: Team 2 Rebuttal (Q1, Q2, Q3)

Small Group Debate

  • Generate two debate teams of 2-5 students.
  • Often done multiple times per semester until each student has debated.
  • 5 minutes: Prep
  • 5 minutes: Opening Statement (Side A)
  • 5 minutes: Opening Statement (Side B)
  • 5 minutes: Rebuttal (Side A)
  • 5 minutes: Rebuttal (Side B)
  • 15 minutes: Audience questions both teams

Town Hall

  • Assign students roles to represent.
  • Introduce topic
  • 2-minute persuasive speeches
  • Council/presider deliberates
  • “Citizens” vote