Thursday, April 21, 2016

Historical Argumentation: Using Art as Historical Evidence

I've been meaning to post this for months now.  Members of the Test Development Committee are tasked with presenting for teachers at various key conferences through the year.  I had volunteered to do one at the World History Association Conference in Savannah in 2015, and was paired with Craig Benjamin.  All I could think is, "WHAT? I'm presenting with Craig Benjamin, who has the biggest personality in all of the circles of world history!"  Even worse, Craig wanted to go FIRST. How do I follow in Craig Benjamin's footsteps?


Below is our abstract -- at the time of writing it, I had NO idea what I was going to do.
"Historical Argumentation: Using Art as Historical Evidence" Craig Benjamin - Grand Valley State, MI - benjamic@gvsu.edu; Angela Lee - Weston High School, MA - leea@weston.org 

Education researcher Sam Wineburg has been working with the Stanford History Education Group on a project titled "Reading Like A Historian”. The group investigates why students, even top students who have done well on AP history exams, do not utilize the skills that seem to come naturally to historians. This is certainly true about the way students deal with primary written sources, but it is even more true about the way APWH students struggle to use visual sources. Given that the AP world history exam continues to use a range of visual sources to assess student learning and skills, there is clearly an expectation that students should be able to use these sources effectively. In this workshop titled Historical Argumentation: Using Art as Historical Evidence, AP World History Test Development Committee members Angela Lee and Craig Benjamin focus on how to help teachers and students more effectively utilize visual sources as historical evidence. Craig Benjamin will present an initial overview of how art is referenced throughout the APWH Curriculum Framework, and how professional historians utilize art as evidence to support historical argumentation. Angela Lee will follow with a workshop based on a small selection of the images from the initial presentation, and have teachers work through various interpretations of these selected artworks. The presenters will also suggest methods and strategies for teachers to use on interpreting visual sources.  The overall aim of the workshop is to help high school and college students become more skilled at analyzing and interpreting art, and using it as evidence to support historical argumentation.

Almost a month before the WHA Conference, Craig sent me his completed Powerpoint, which he has graciously allowed any of us to use: Craig Benjamin's AP World History Historical Argumentation: Using Art as Historical Evidence  It helped me focus down and formulate what I felt would be the most helpful to teachers.

So, I went the route of what I know best -- how do I capture all the work I do with art into lessons plans that could be used across different time periods?    I decided to focus on the syncretism that occurs with art as cultures interact, and the art that made sense to focus on was Buddhist art, Chinoiserie and then I tacked on impressionist artists at the end because I've been fascinated by Japanese and Asian art and it's impact on Western art movements.  (Eisen's Courtesan and Van Gogh's The Courtesan below).  To be truly global, I also wanted to add Picasso's integration of African art, but ran out of time, so if anyone wants to take that on, please do, and let me know!



So, the result was my presentation with these three mini-lesson plans which can be found on this Google Slide presentation:  Buddha's Journey Through Art, Chinoiserie Goes West and Japanese Art Meets Impressionism.  I also threw in some cool edtech using Google Cultural Institute's Art Project and set up "galleries" for students to walk through at their own pace.  Not all the images match that of the Google Slide presentation, however,  it was whatever is accessible in their project.  Still, most of my images came from Google's Cultural Institute:


Here is the overall presentation, with corresponding documentation, student handouts/worksheet, bibliography.

As with all things I put together, I would love to get feedback!

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