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Lesson Plan

Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture Through Art and Poetry

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Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Approximately 46 weeks
Lesson Author

Judi Moreillon

Judi Moreillon

Tucson, Arizona

Diane Roderick

Tucson, Arizona


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This unit engages high school students in a study of the relationship between masks and cultures. Students research mask-making from various cultures, draw sketches of the masks, and take notes that highlight the connections between the masks and the cultural practices of the people who created them. Using this information, students recreate the cultural masks and compose poetry to reveal their understanding and appreciation of these cultural artifacts. Students then analyze aspects of their own culture and create personal masks and poetry to reflect their culture and themselves.

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Cultural Mask Research Graphic Organizer: Students will use this handout to record notes about the culture of their masks in order to write a poem.

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Kane, S., & Rule, A.C. (2004). Poetry connections can enhance content area learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(8), 658669.

  • Preservice and in-service teachers, and by extension K12 students, can achieve a deeper understanding in the content areas through reading and writing poetry related to curriculum subjects and ideas.

  • Students can create verse that celebrates the academic discipline and shows their engagement with the curriculum topic.


Judith Rowe Michaels. 1999. Risking Intensity: Reading and Writing Poetry with High School Students. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

  • Poetry is about "our capacities for dreaming, remembering, and play" (p. 3).

  • Authoring and sharing poetry requires risk-taking because it exposes the poet's emotions.

  • Composing poetry can help students enter their own psyches and can build an empathetic learning community.

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