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Lesson Plan

Creative Communication Frames: Discovering Similarities between Writing and Art

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Creative Communication Frames: Discovering Similarities between Writing and Art

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Karen Eichler

Anacortes, Washington


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Modest Petrovitch Moussorgsky (1839-1881) wrote, "Art is a means of communicating with people, not an end in itself." In this lesson, students explore art as communication by first viewing and discussing a painting from various perspectives, and analyzing the painting's purpose, audience, form and function. During a real or virtual trip to an art gallery, students use a graphic organizer to record detailed observations about paintings they see, viewed from multiple perspectives. After discussing their observations, they identify a corresponding literary term for each of the terms used to analyze the art form. They then use an online tool to compare how the process of writing is similar to the process of creating art. Finally, they use their ideas to write a compare and contrast essay.

Though these activities were designed to compare writing with Impressionism, they could be adapted to any art form.

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Comparison and Contrast Guide: This online tool outlines the characteristics of the genre and provides direct instruction on the methods of organizing, gathering ideas, and writing comparison and contrast essays.

Compare & Contrast Map: This interactive graphic organizer enables students to organize and outline their ideas for different kinds of comparison essays.

Observation Guide: This handout prompts students to record detailed observations of an Impressionist painting.

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In her article describing a class project student poetry inspired by art, Honor Moorman describes her motivation: she had "become increasingly aware of the similarities between the visual and the verbal arts. William Blake said that poetry and art are "ways to converse with paradise" (Farrell 6). In the Phaedrus, Plato observes that when paintings and poems are put together, they "seem to talk to you as if they were intelligent" (qtd. in Foster and Prevallet xv). Indeed, both poetry and art speak to our imaginations through the power of images. Georgia Heard calls language "the poet's paint" (65), and many other writers and artists have commented on the parallels between these two modes of expression." (46-47) This lesson capitalizes on the natural connection between language and art, asking students to compare expression through language to expression through art.

Further Reading

Moorman, Honor. "Backing into Ekphrasis: Reading and Writing Poetry about Visual Art." English Journal 96.1 (September 2006): 46-53.

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