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at Moravian College


Cross-Curricular Lesson Plan Using Georgia O'Keeffe

Updated March 25, 2005


Lesson Overview


Don Shinton

Title (subject, theme, etc.):

Poetry In Color: A cross-curricular lesson using writing and art to depict the early 20th century.

Grade Level and Date:

5th Grade, date to be determined, 50 minute periods

Standards addressed and assessed:

  • Arts & Humanities 9.1.5.A – Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities.

  • Arts & Humanities 9.1.5.E – Know and demonstrate how arts can communicate experiences, stories or emotions through the production of works in the arts.
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening 1.5.5.A – Write with sharp, distinct focus identifying topic, task, and audience
  • History 8.1.6.C. – Explain this fundamentals of historical interpretation – multiple points of view.
  • Science & Technology 3.7.4.B – Select appropriate instruments to study materials.
  • Content

    The goal of this lesson is to have students connect the life and works of Georgia O’Keeffe to the period in American history that is depicted in the book, Out of the Dust, written by Karen Hesse. The students will understand the life of Georgia O’Keeffe and observe her works of art. The students will write a free-verse poem that depicts a visit by Billy Jo to one of O’Keeffe’s art displays in New York City. The student will learn how to express a favorite work of Georgia O’Keeffe’s using oil pastels. The free-verse poem will be connected to their interpretation of O’Keeffe’s work.


    The students will have just completed reading the 1998 Newbery Award winning book, Out of the Dust. They will have an understanding of events surrounding the period in United States history of the early 20th Century.

    Additionally, the student will have prior knowledge on a) the procedures for using oil pastels to produce a work of art, b) using technology to do research and investigation to gain a better understanding of a topic.


    To accommodate students with special needs, I will provide these students with larger oil pastels so they can work easier with the larger instruments. I will also provide these students with actual examples of oil pastels so they can touch them and feel the texture of the paper and the pastels. By providing the larger pastels, I hope that these students will be better able to apply the pigment to the paper.

    Instructional Objectives

  • The students will write a free verse poem.
  • The students will review their prior knowledge of investigating information using the World Wide Web to obtain an understanding of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe.
  • The students will interpret a Georgia O’Keeffe work and prepare a drawing which represents a center of interest.
  • The students will integrate their understanding of the early nineteenth century by writing a poem and drawing a picture that represent the time period.
  • Instructional Procedures

    Lesson 1

    In lesson 1, we will review the information discussed during our literature focus unit for Out of the Dust written by Karen Hesse. We will discuss the period of time in United States History relating to the draught of the 1920’s and the depression that followed. The student will be asked to respond to their feelings on how they can express themselves using Free Verse poetry. I will introduce artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, to the students. We will explore her works of art using samples that I will provide. The students will be assigned to use their computer time for the day to explore the life of Georgia O’Keeffe by reviewing two web-sites that provide background on the artist. These sites are: and 

    Lesson 2

    In lesson 2, I will engage the students in a grand conversation about the information that they read about the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. I will ask them to complete a character map for her. I will discuss that we will be creating a free-verse poem that depicts a day five years in the future when Billy Jo travels to New York with her step-mother, Louise, and they visit a gallery that is showing the works of Georgia O’Keeffe. The poem will be written from Billy-Jo’s point-of-view. I will instruct the students that they must choose one of O’Keefe’s works as the inspiration for their free-verse poem. We will brainstorm ideas on what we might include in the poem and the students will break up into their writing groups to do a pre-writing activity. The students will pick one of O’Keeffe’s works to use during their assignment.

    Lesson 3

    In lesson 3, we will devote most of the period to review how to work with oil pastels. I will provide oil pastels for each student and we will explore how to use the oil pastels to create a line, color and value in a piece of art. I will provide paper and ask students to investigate how color families can be used to create the value in their drawing. I will demonstrate the use of the color families on the easel in the room. During this review, we will also, continue our discussion of Georgia O’Keeffe. I will ask the student to predict what they think the center of interest is in the works that we review. Students will be asked to select a center of interest that will be used to create their own interpretation of O’Keeffe’s work that they chose. Students will be given time to create the lines for this assignment. The students will begin drafting their poem from the notes that they took during the brainstorming in Lesson 2.

    Lesson 4

    In lesson 4, the students will be allowed to choose what activity the will work on during class. As an opening activity, I will read a sample of my interpretation of the free-verse poem assignment and show them the O’Keeffe work that I chose. Then, the students will have the choice to continue drafting their free-verse poem or they can begin to work on their oil pastels pictures. Students must be prepared by the next lesson to be at the revise phase of writing. The must be prepared to share their interpretation of O’Keeffe’s work to make sure it coincides with what was written in the free-verse poem.

    Lesson 5

    In lesson 5, students will start in their writing groups. They will receive comments about their poems as well as how it relates to the picture they have chosen. Then, they will break up to work on their oil pastels for the remainder of the lesson. Students must be prepared by the next lesson to be at the editing phase of writing and they must also be prepared to share an almost completed picture.

    Lesson 6

    In lesson 6, students will start in their writing groups and provide editing comments. Next, students will be encouraged spend the remaining period of time completing their pictures. They must be prepared to exhibit a completed picture and share their poem by the next lesson.

    Lesson 7

    In lesson 7, students will present their completed poems and pictures. They will be on display in the schools exhibit area for the next week.

    Materials and Equipment

    Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse,
    Pencils and paper
    Oil pastels
    Construction paper
    T-sticks and pencil sharpeners
    Scrap paper

    Important Vocabulary

    Free Verse Poetry
    Point of View
    Dust Bowl
    Center of Interest
    Pigment pastels

    Assessment and Evaluation

    I will evaluate the student on the picture, poem and the work habits exhibited during the project time for this lesson.





    Representation of O’Keeffe’s work Lines were not clean and color families did not retained the color values. Lines are clean, but color families did not retain color values Lines are clean, and the use of color remains in families that retained the color values.
    Free-verse Poem Did not exhibit any understanding of free verse poetry Poem contains thoughts related to either the O’Keeffe work or the timeframe given. Poem contains thoughts about O’Keeffe’s work and represents the timeframe appropriately.
    Neatness Final work is messy or sloppy. It looks rushed. Either the drawing or the poem is messy or sloppy. Both assignments are completed neatly.
    Directions Had to be redirected more than 5 times Had to be redirected 3-5 times Had to be redirected 0-2 times.


    Follow-up Activities

    We will continue to reinforce the skills learned with oil pastels by linking it to our next literature focus unit, A View from Saturday,

    Self-Assessment / Reflection

    What were the strengths of the lesson?
    What were the weaknesses of the lesson?
    What additional accommodations can I make to reach all students?
    What additional modifications need to be made for this lesson?