Action Art: Inspiring Positive Change Through Art
Using AP- and CL-Sealed Art Materials

Grade Level(s)
Activity time: Six to eight 80-minute class periods
Student choice is involved in media decisions for the lesson. This materials list has possibilities that could be included and is not exhaustive.
  • Paint (tempera, acrylic)
  • Drawing media (pencils, oil pastels, markers, chalk)
  • Substrates (canvas, canvas board, paper, cardboard)
  • Adhesives (gloss and matte medium, glue, hot glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous (ephemera, wire, patterned or painted papers, found objects, stickers, stencils)
Download Lesson Plan

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
  • VA:Cr1.1.IIIa HS Advanced
    Visualize and hypothesize to generate plans for ideas and directions for creating art and design that can affect social change.
  • VA:Cr1.1.7a 7th
    Apply methods to overcome creative blocks.
Anchor Standard 6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work
  • VA:Pr6.1.IIa HS Accomplished
    Make, explain, and justify connections between artists or artwork and social, cultural, and political history.
  • VA:Pr6.1.8a 8th
    Analyze why and how an exhibition or collection may influence ideas, beliefs, and experiences.
Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work
  • VA:Re.7.1.Ia HS Proficient
    Hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.
  • VA:Pr6.1.8a 8th
    Analyze why and how an exhibition or collection may influence ideas, beliefs, and experiences.
Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art
  • VA:Cn10.1.Ia HS Proficient
    Document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.
Transfer Goal(s):
  • Ability to formulate questions in a variety of situations.
  • Communicate ideas, experiences, and stories through art.
Students will understand that:
  • Art can inspire change
  • Questions play an important role in investigations
Essential Question(s):
  • How can we use the arts to inspire positive action?
  • How does the presenting and sharing of artworks influence and shape ideas and beliefs?
Student Objectives (outcomes):
Students will be able to:
  • Formulate, categorize and prioritize questions
  • Create a work of art that addresses an issue of personal interest

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):
  • QFT activity
  • Creation of art
Other Evidence:
  • Hypothesis activity
  • Brainstorming session
  • Teacher designed graphic organizer
  • Mid-project peer critique
  • Self-reflection and assessment

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:
  • 1. Divide the students into groups of 4. Use the Question Formulation Technique
  • 2. The QFocus for the lesson “Positive action can be inspired by art”. The Question Formulation Technique includes the following steps:
  • Design a question focus.
  • Produce questions.
  • Categorize closed-ended and open-ended questions.
  • Prioritize next steps.
  • Plan next steps.
  • Reflect.
  • 3. There are numerous resources for art and artists that have brought about change. Below are five sites that you could use. As with any resources, preview each to determine if the topics and images are appropriate for your students.
  • 4. Using your chosen examples, facilitate a class discussion of the works and their impact. They should point out characteristics and approaches. Use Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Questions such as “How is this similar to…?”  “How would you have dealt with…?”  “Which is more important…?”
  • 5. Divide students into pairs. Pass out reproductions of art pieces that have addressed a social issue. They should work together to write a statement that speculates how someone’s perception of the issue could be changed from viewing and analyzing the work. Images and statements should be shared with the rest of the class.
  • 6. Facilitate a brainstorming session of ideas for possible issues to address through art.
  • 7. Students would select an issue that they are interested in creating art about. Using the graphic organizer, they should go through the process of developing their idea including research and revision.
  • 8. Students will make decisions about what media is needed to convey their idea. Conference individually with students to aid in the choices. Facilitate the shift in mindset from, for example, “I want to use watercolor” to “I am choosing to use watercolor because it will help show the fluidity of the issue”.
  • 9. Allow student time for students to work while providing feedback and support of skills. Encourage students to use a variety of mediums and supplies.
  • 10. A critique before the end of the project allows students time to make any revisions based on suggestions. Divide students into pairs and have them use the SIR method. One person provides strengths and improvements and the other responds with things they are going to do (revise or make no changes).
  • 11. Allow more studio time to work on their art piece.
  • 12. Students complete a reflection and self-assessment as well as prepare the work for presentation.
  • 13. Display the works along with textual information explaining the process.

About The Council for Art Education (CFAE)

The Council for Art Education, Inc. (CFAE) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created in 1984 through its primary sponsor, The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). CFAE's main number one priority is to promote quality school visual art education programs in grades K-12 across the U.S. Through the actions of its members, its partners, and the generous support it receives from national organizations and institutions like ACMI, CFAE actively encourages commitment to the visual arts in grades K-12.
Learn more about CFAE and Youth Art Month