Lesson 2: They Say the World is Flat

Material Exploration

Art 3; Kaitlynn Mockett


Stage 1

BIG IDEA: In this lesson, my students will be creating a map that reflects the path they have followed through their life based on important people, places, things or events that have occurred. We will go through an initial sketching phase, make a prototype and then go on to complete a final map. With a little material exploration already under our belts, we will be shifting focus to the building of concept and finding ways to represent literal things in a visual way.

Established Goals (GPS):

Students will understand that literal ideas or objects can be translated and transcended into a visual image.
Students will understand the importance of their own journey and how small things can make a huge impact.
Students will understand how to hash out internal processes onto paper and to communicate and guide others in their life experiences.

Possible Misunderstandings:
A map tells you where to go next: this map gives little guidance or important information
Visually representing feelings, emotions, or experiences is arbitrary if you can do so through words and ‘easier’ forms of communication.

Essential Questions:
What purpose does a map serve?
Why are certain things more important to you than others?
What is a concept and how do you develop it?
How can abstraction help relay a feeling or an idea?
Sometimes people tell you, “Stay on the right path.” What does this mean to you, how does it make you feel and why do you think people say these things?
Why is it important to share your path with others?

Students will know:
Students will know how to create a mini-book
Students will know what a topographic map is
Students will know the basic parts of a map: compass, key and map

Students will be able to:
Students will be able to take a literal path and transcend it into a visual representation
Students will be able to re-assess their initial sketch, make decisions, and recreate their initial piece if desired
Students will be able to take a 2D object (map) and create a 3D object out of it (book).
Students will be able to start the process of pushing material boundaries

Stage 2

Performance tasks:
Bellringersevery day in visual journal, prompts will be based mostly on EQs.
In process critique of first preliminary sketch – we will have a class in process critique. Booklets will be placed on tables, in whichever form the student prefers, map or book. The class will circle, examine and then comment. One positive comment, one positive constructive comment.
“Second Chance” in process critique
students have the ability to rework their first sketch/preliminary work if desired.
Final project
preliminary sketch is to be scanned, then students are to transcend first work into a 3D work, either in book form, but carried out further, or sculptural form.
Students will be asked to reflect on their work in a mental, emotional or conceptual way.
Visual Journal check
bi-weekly VJ check falls during this lesson.
Artist Statement
based off the thoughts constructed in their self-assessments, students will take a stab at writing their first artist statement.
Final Critique/Exhibition
Students will share their work in class. A formal critique will be held in which we spend the full class period discussing all works of art. This project will be displayed in three parts: scan of initial sketch, map/booklet, and final piece.

Other evidence:
Weather check –daily conversation at the beginning of class “if you were the weather today, what would you be?”
One on one conversation – discuss assignment, understandings, misunderstandings, conceptual successes or areas of improvement, offer other options or ideas for direction of the piece.

Adaptations for diverse learners:

For gifted students: size requirement for final piece – must be equivalent to a 12×18 sheet of paper when “flattened” (or must start as that).
For students with additional needs, provide different materials if necessary, or allow teaching aid to assist or guide student, but encourage student to do their own work. If needed, complete cuts and folds WITH student (not for them) and provide ample suggestion/guidance and availability to answer questions for student. Encourage classmates to assist, offer suggestions, or “get the teacher” if a problem or a question needs immediate addressing.

Stage 3

Sequence of Instruction:

Day 1: Assemblage of VJ cover + Intro to Lesson 2

8:30-8:50 –
Assemblage of VJ based on demonstration given at the end of Lesson 1.
Bellringer: We all have people, places or things that have impacted us tremendously. List ten people, places or things that have changed your life in an important way.
Read my list of important places, people, things and then open up for discussion. Ask students if they would feel comfortable sharing their ten on their list.
“So, we have listed ten important things. Now, if it’s possible, think of them as a pathway of your growth. You can do this in several ways:”

  • You can think of it as growth in a literal sense: which of these things happened to you first/when you were youngest?
  • You can think of it in an emotional way. For instance, my mother was the literal first person in my life, but I did not appreciate her the way I do now until I was in college. Later she became very important to me.
  • You can think of it in an abstract way. Do some of the things on your list happen together? Are they more like a web than a path?

“Now take these words we have discussed and try to make them visual. If you feel as though your path is pretty straightforward, maybe it’s a straight line. But maybe you’ve had a couple of rough spots or wrong turns before you came back to your path. Take that into account. Or perhaps you have decided it’s more like a web and everything is entangled together and of equal importance.”

In your visual journal, draw out two thumbnail sketches of your “path.” They can be simple lines or can include more intricate drawings. We are going to make a map that represents the things we find most important to us. Things you can consider in designing your thumbnails: what do you usually find on a map and how can these objects assist in the creation of your composition?

Symbols on a map –
What symbols can you make to represent certain parts of your journey?
Types of line –
Play with the qualities of your line and what they can convey.
Color –
Which colors do you want to use for your path? For your symbols? For other lines or ‘pit stops’?

Students will sketch out their “paths” on supplied basic computer paper.
I will give a demo on how to fold and cut to create a tiny “zine” or map booklet.
Students will continue to work on maps – adding keys, color, etc. During this time, we will open up for discussion. Students will be encouraged to discuss what a “path” can mean, how they interpret it and how other people’s conversations make them feel about it. (Address EQs: Sometimes people tell you, “Stay on the right path.” What does this mean to you, how does it make you feel and why do you think people say these things? Why is it important to share your path with others?)
9:55-10:00 –
Share project timeline with class. Let them note they have 5 days total for this project. Clean up tables, put materials back in their proper storage area, store map in cubby.

Day 2: In-process Critique + Revamp + Next Step

Bellringer/Weather Check: After sleeping on it, do you have any other thoughts you want to share on maps, paths, journeys, or maybe something else?
8:45 – 9:00
Post-it note in process critique. Each student gets two post-its, each a different color. One color will represent “things that are working well” and the other “constructive suggestions.” Students will have the option after in process crit to either submit their initial ‘sketch’ as is, or to rework it based on suggestions by their classmates.
Introduction to the “next step”, or transcending a flat work into something with volume. Show students different works of art by artists who specifically modify or alter maps. Also touch on traditional maps vs. topographic maps and the ideas of abstraction. Show images of alternative methods such as wax resist (to mark off a certain “path” or area on your map), the stacking of paper or cardboard to create height, stitching pathways or events, the building up of gel mediums to create texture, other methods of book binding, etc. to get creative juices flowing. Ask students what they would like to see demos of for next class period.
For students who wish to rework their initial sketch, they have this time to do so.
For students who are satisfied with the initial sketch, the map will be scanned into the computer, saved, and then either traced on a light table or via projector. The idea is to preserve the first step as it is part of the process and will be exhibited as such. If students wish to make their map larger, they can opt to use the projector. Students will trace their maps onto a new ground (paper, cardboard, fabric) and begin the modification process. During this time, I will be having one-on-one chats with the students, checking in with their progress, ideas and offering suggestions or answering questions.
Clean up! Announce that we need “alternative materials” in class – leave it vague, but make it seem fun or like a challenge. The idea is to bring in the most diverse materials or found objects they can find.

Day 3 Demo Day + Work Day

8:30 – 8:45
Bellringer/Weather Check: What does appropriation mean to you?
8:45-8:55 –
Students who reworked their initial sketches get another small critique
Examination and discussion of materials brought in by class, if any. If not, move to demo.
Short demo on mediums of choice by students.
Work time
9:55 -10:00
Clean up materials, store in process work, submit initial sketches, as everyone has scanned and enlarged their map by this point. Remind students that they will have to submit their VJ two days from now.

Day 4 Work Day

Bellringer/Weather Check: To appropriate something is to use it in a way it was not originally intended. List 7-10 materials you think we could begin to appropriate in this classroom.
8:40 – 8:50 –
Open the floor up for questions, comments or concerns from students. If a discussion begins, flow with it. If students seem eager to work, allow them to begin.
Work time. Answer questions, engage in conversation, observe. Announce that tomorrow by 9:30, students work must be completed.
Clean up, answer any lingering questions, remind students to begin thinking about their artist statements and give them sample handout.

Day 5 – Wrap Up

Bellringer/Weather Check: Project up 8 macro thumbnails or 5 mixed media works of art. Ask students to list what the thumbnails are, or what materials are in the mixed media works.
8:35 – 9:30
Complete 3D maps
Casual critique – circle up and have a casual conversation about the works of art and how the materials changed the feeling and original meaning of the initial sketches they created.

Clean up, submission of 3D map, submission of VJ for bi-weekly check.

Day 6 – Crit

Self-Assessment – How did this assignment make you feel? Did you accomplish or discover something you did not know about before? Did you feel challenged? Do you think you are starting to see materials in a new way? What did you get from this assignment?
8:50-8:55 –
submit artist statements
8:55 – 10:00
Critique three steps: original map, original/reworked booklet, final 2D made 3D work.

Resources –

Artists that transform maps:

Intro to Lesson 2:

Materials – computer paper, pencil, x-acto knives, rulers/straight edge, prismacolors, markers, wax crayons, watercolors, gesso, rubber cement/adhesive, cardboard, embroidery thread, found objects, needles, fabric, small plastic bags, Styrofoam, egg cartons, aluminum foil, cling wrap, acrylic paint, brushes, water cups, palette paper/paint palettes


Topographic – a topographic map is a type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines
cartography – the study and practice of making maps
appropriation –in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them.

Exemplar artists: Mya Lin, Chris Kenny, Shannon Rankin, Matthew Cusick, Nikki Rosato


Keep scraps of materials (for use in Lesson 3).


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