Exploring the Art of Western Expansion


I displayed four paintings from the Picturing America grant that showed change over in time in the United States – A View From Mount Holyoak (Thomas Cole, 1836) , Looking Down Yosimite Valley (Albert Bierstadt, 1865) , House by the Railroad (Edward Hopper, 1925) and American Landscape (Charles Sheeler, 1930). Using the Visible Thinking techniques from Harvard University Project Zero, my students viewed, discussed and reflected on the paintings.


the influence of man on the environment from 1836—1930.Learning objective: Following this lesson students should be able to compare and contrast the influence of man on his environment from 1836-1930. Here are questions that were generated by this class activity: What was the purpose of \”progress?\” What if we knew how industrialization would totally change our environment back then? All of these paintings deal with change, hope appears less prevelant down the timeline.


I used the Ken Burns video on the National Parks (borrowed from the library) Picturing America grant pictures from the library (now that I have a Promethean Board, I would love to have these to show on that) Visible Thinking strategies from Harvard University Project Zero

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My students have enjoyed this lesson plan that uses art and US History. The painting do show the changing American landscape, and are thought provoking. I use it at the end of the year as a review.

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