George Washington Crossing The Delaware

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Students explore and describe Emmanuel Leutze's painting, "George Washington Crossing the Delaware," and research the artist, the Revolutionary war at the time depicted, and the work itself. They then write and perform a one-act play dramatizing the events and action leading up to the crossing.

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George Washington Crossing The Delaware

  1. 1. George Washington Crossing the Delaware: A Study of Setting and Character Intended Grade Level: Middle School Lesson Purpose: Students will explore and describe, in detail, the painting, “George Washington Crossing the Delaware,” and research the artist, the Revolutionary war at the time depicted, and the work itself. Students will write and perform a one act play illustrating the events and action leading up to Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, the first step in the surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey. Lesson Objectives: • Students will analyze a painting in order to re-enact the Revolutionary War events that led to the crossing of the Delaware River. National Standards: NSS-USH.5-12.3 ERA 3: REVOLUTION AND THE NEW NATION (1754-1820s) • Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory • Understands the impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society • Understands the institutions and practices of government created during the Revolution and how they were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights NL-ENG.K-12.5 COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes. NL-ENG.K-12.8 DEVELOPING RESEARCH SKILLS Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge. NL-ENG.K-12.12 APPLYING LANGUAGE SKILLS Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information). NA-VA.5-8 MAKING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN VISUAL ARTS AND OTHER DISCIPLINES
  2. 2. • Students compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject matter, historical periods, or cultural context • Students describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts Timeframe: Approximately five class sessions Materials: • Overhead transparency of the painting, “George Washington Crossing the Deleware” (Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1851) and one laminated color copy of the same for each student (one class set) http://www.metmuseum.org/explore/gw/el_gw.htm • Overhead transparency of the painting, “George Washington Crossing the Deleware” with each man in the boat identified with a number • Folders in which students will keep their work • White butcher paper and felt tip markers Procedure: 1. Display the painting for the class and give students two minutes of silence to examine it in detail. At the conclusion of two minutes, ask, “What do you see?” List their responses on butcher paper. When answers seem to slow, ask about clothes, weather, other boats, and animals. 2. Use a tape measure and masking tape to draw a rectangle on the floor that is the size of the actual painting (approximately 12 feet high and 21 feet long). This allows students to see the huge size of the work, which reflects the enormity of the Revolutionary War. 3. Students complete, either in groups or individually, the handout Details of ‘George Washington Crossing the Delaware’ (included below). 4. Have students use the Internet and library to research the painting, the artist and the history and culture of the time, December, 1776. Students will complete the handout, Research Guide to ‘George Washington Crossing the Delaware” (included below) and review the answers as a class. 5. Display the painting again but with all twelve people in the boat assigned a number over their head (write this on the painting itself). This is how the student will know which character they will sketch and portray in the play.
  3. 3. Each student will receive a number assignment from 1-12, since there are twelve characters, or people, in the boat. The teacher decides how to assign each student a number. 6. Pass out the “Character Profile” handout (included below). Students are to complete this worksheet based upon their character. If there are multiple students with the same character number, have them work on the worksheet together. Teacher makes copies of each “Character Profile” and places them in file folders marked with the character’s number on the outside of the folder. 7. Form teams of four, making sure that each person in the group is a different character. Groups will need to find out which characters are “missing” from their group and obtain written character sketches from the numbered folders in order to “know” the other eight characters which they will write into their plays. Only the four characters physically part of each group will have speaking parts in the play they write. 8. Explain that their plays must include three different scenes with the ending scene being that of the painting “George Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Pass out copies of the handouts, “Scene 1,” “Scene 2,” “Scene 3,” and “Story Plot Construction” (included below). Recommend that they begin with scene 3, then do their “Story Plot Construction” and work backwards to complete their scenes. 9. After students have completed their scene construction, they will write the script for each scene. Remind students that less is more in theater. Go for historical accuracy, action and conveying the plot. If they would like to have any of the other eight characters as “extras” in their play (especially the crossing scene), they will need to arrange for the student who developed the other character profiles be in their play. 10. Play scripts are submitted to the teacher and copied so that each cast member and the teacher have a copy. Most students will likely perform in more than one play. Students will need practice time either in class or as homework. Each play is then performed for the rest of the class.   Adapted from a lesson submitted by Sandra Gonnerman, George Washington Teachers’ Institute
  4. 4. George Washington Teachers’ Institute 2008
  5. 5. Details of “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” NAME ___________________________________ PERIOD___ DATE_______________________ Instructions: Use this sheet to place the details we listed in class in categories. Some you might use are: clothes, tools, animals, land features, geography, colors, articles, “odd things,” confusing things and more… make your categories and list, in each, the items we picked out of the painting… some things might be in more than one category. You may use the back of this sheet.
  6. 6. Research Guide to “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” NAME ___________________________________ PERIOD___ DATE_______________________ 1. Who is the artist? Where is he from? When and where did he live? How old was he when he painted this piece? __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ 2. What details did you learn about the painting? Who are the people? What kind of boat is it? Where are they going? What time is it? Where are they? What are they about to do? What else did you find out about the painting? __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ 3. What was happening in this country in 1776? What event does this painting depict? What was going on culturally in 1776? In what ways would the people in the boat be different? In what ways would the people in the boat be alike? __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________
  7. 7. Character Profile Character #___ Student Names:____________________ Character Name Age Family Career Hometown
  8. 8. Scene 1 Time: (month, day of week, season, time of day and more) Place: (at the park, in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a field, in a tavern, on a slide in the playground, color of the grass, color of walls, accessories in room- be detailed!) At Rise: (When the curtain rises, what does the audience see? What is the image as we begin to watch what is happening here?)
  9. 9. Scene 2 Time: (month, day of week, season, time of day and more) Place: (at the park, in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a field, in a tavern, on a slide in the playground, color of the grass, color of walls, room accessories- be detailed!) At Rise: (When the curtain rises, what does the audience see? What is the image as we begin to watch what is happening here?)
  10. 10. Scene 3 Time: (month, day of week, season, time of day and more) Place: (at the park, in Williamsburg, Virginia, in a field, in a tavern, on a slide in the playground, color of the grass, color of walls, room accessories- be detailed!) At Rise: (When the curtain rises, what does the audience see? What is the image as we begin to watch what is happening here?)
  11. 11. Story Plot Construction What happens in SCENE 1? What happens in SCENE 2 (a different setting)? What happens in SCENE 3 that ends as everyone is in the boat moving towards the opposite shore on the Delaware River?

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