Close Read

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Step 1

OBSERVATION: Details in the artwork that everyone can agree on. Ask students to look at the artwork for several minutes quietly. Ask students, "What do they see?" Students may struggle with wanting to infer meaning or make judgments. Limit the conversation to observation.

Example: "I see sharp lines, I see a face, I see bright red . . ."

Questions to Guide Observation:
(Use "I see" to preface any observations)

  • What do you see?
  • What objects are included?
  • What is the focal point of the image?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe the lines, colors, shapes?

Step 2

INFERENCE: An intelligent guess based upon visual clues and evidence.

Ask students to use the words "It looks like" to infer meaning. The students can predict and analyze what the artist is trying to say. Ask the students to give supporting evidence from their observations to back up their inferences.

Example: "It looks like an angry person because his face is red."

Questions to Guide Inference:

  • What do you think the artist wanted to communicate?
  • What is the overall mood of the artwork?
  • How does the artist show what is important?
  • Teacher: What region in the United States does this painting depict?
    Student: It's the Northeast.
    Teacher: How do you know it is the Northeast?
    Student: There are rolling mountains and all of the trees are cut down.

Step 3

CONTEXTUALIZE: Bringing together background historical, social, political and economic information to create further understanding of the artwork.

Teacher or student researches background information on the artist, the work of art, and the historical period in which the art work was created.

Questions to Guide Contextualizing Background Information:

  • Provide artist's name, when the artwork was made, title, medium, style of art.
  • A brief description of what was going on historically when this artwork was made.
  • Who was the art created for?
  • Who was the intended audience?
  • What is the historical significance of this piece of art?

Step 4

LESSON DEVELOPMENT: Conduct lessons in your content area that relate to the artwork.

Step 5

JUDGEMENT: Personal opinions about the artwork once students have gone through full Close Read strategy.

Students 6th -12th grade can use the Jigsaw Method found on the next page to research and analyze the life and times of the artist and their work.

STATE GOAL 27: Understand the role of the arts in civilizations, past and present.

Why This Goal Is Important: The arts are a record of civilizations, past and present. Artists are influenced by—and influence—the times and places in which they live and work. As students learn through the arts about people and civilizations, they learn about others and themselves. Also, students learn about careers related to this goal (e.g., animator, curator, art historian, sound technician).

Teaching Strategies