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Learning Activity Description: Jazz / Collage Unit of Lessons

this lesson format was supplied by
the curriculum library
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Jazz / Collage
an art lesson
about improvisition

students explore jazz through collage


Title: Jazz / Collage Unit of Lessons (please view this lesson on power point)


Author:Artist/Teacher Woody Duncan

Rosedale Middle School

3600 Springfield Kansas City, Kansas 66103


Email: wduncan@kc.rr.com

Web Site: http://www.taospaint.com



Time Frame: The complete unit of lessons took about three weeks to complete.

Class time available is 42 minutes per day, 4 to 5 days per week.

(this unit was taught in the Spring of 2001 to an 8th grade class)


Description / Summary: This lesson is designed to create connections in the studentís minds between music and art. Improvisation is a key element in both Jazz and Collage. Through the medium of Collage the students use improvisation to express their feelings about Jazz. Jazz is a uniquely American form of music growing out of African American culture. Collage as an art medium became famous after artists like Picasso began experiments with it, in Europe, in the early part of the 20th century. Both forms of art

utilize improvisation as an essential part of their nature. Through collages based on

drawings made of student musicians my students utilize the art form of collage to

make the music come to life. (Please view this lesson on power point to fully understand

this lesson and the learning process my students went through)

Standards and Benchmarks available at:

Middle School Visual Art Standards and Benchmarks available at:

SBI:Standard 4 - Culture and History

Examine and critique the visual arts as 

an essential part of culture and history.




Grade 8 Advance Visual Art - Art, Self-expression and Choice Benchmarks:

8.4.1Apply information from historical and cultural sources (e.g. themes, trends, styles, periods of art and artists) 

to their own visual art creations.

          Create an original product applying 

historical and cultural sources to enhance their own artistic expression.


Objectives:The student will create an original collage using improvisation to

show a student musician playing jazz.

Lessons in this unit will include:

Creating a realistic drawing of a musician playing.

Using watercolor techniques to contrast with the collage.

Creating a collage, which shows the feeling of music.

Creating a collage that shows a musician playing.

Utilizing contrasting elements within the composition.

Showing effective use of the collage technique.



Assessment in art production is both personal and ongoing for both the instructor and the student artist.
Students assess their own work and the creations of others as they progress.

A class critique should be held to discuss what worked and what didnít.

After completion of the collage, the students completed a written self-assessment.

The self-assessment form was as follows:


Self-Assessment in ARTěJAZZ and Collageî
putting an original American music form
and the history of art together


I completed my Jazz-Collage problem YESNO

If not, describe how far you got 

on the back of this paper

You can see a musician in my collage YESNO

You can sense the music in my collage YESNO

I used contrast effectively in my collage YESNO

My collage looks like my original drawingYESNO

I improvised as I added to my collage YESNO



circle one response below

5- this was one of the most successful pieces of art Iíve done

4- I am very satisfied with the way my collage turned out

3- It turned out OK, but it could have been more effective

2- Iím not very satisfied with the final look of my collage

1- Chalk this one up to another experience to learn from


Task prompts:

Students have a new ěArtist of the Weekî each Monday.

Three major artists were selected during this unit of lessons to reinforce

concepts while art production was proceeding.

The three artists were: 
Archibald Motley1891 - 1981ěBlues 1929î 

Pablo Picasso1881 - 1973ěThree Musiciansî 

Romare Bearden1912 - 1988ěThree Folk Musiciansî 


Performance Standard:

Due to the wide range of abilities of individual students and the desire for students to produce unique products it is difficult to set any rigid standard.

Experienced teachers of art will push all students to achieve at their highest level.


I am a strong believer that the only true assessment in art is

ěthe size of the smile on a students faceî.

Having said that I still use a rubric:

Mr. Duncanís Grade Rubric
or What those check marks in the grade book stand for


4 = WOW !!itís amazing

 you did something extra special

 or - you went beyond all expectations

 or - you broke the rules in a creative way

3 = All OK !!itís all I ask for

 you did everything I requested

 you met all expectations

 you did an excellent job

2 = Why Not !!itís not up to snuff

 you did just enough to get by

 you did not try very hard

 you must have thrown it together

1 = Woops !!itís not finished

 you forgot to finish it

 you canít expect much if you quit

 your grade is unfinished too ????????

0 = Big Fat O !!itís missing

 did you forget to put your name on it ?

 were you absent ? it's still part of your grade

 did you lose it or throw it away ?

????? !!itís amazing

 I saw you working on it ?

 I canít find it now ?

 did you forget to put your name on it ?


Student exemplars: (examples)

Examples of 15 exemplary student works are included in the power point. 
These are the student products from teaching this lesson in one class. 

First names of those students are listed below. 

Adrian, Angie, Vicenta, Antonio, Branden, Fleica, Brittany, Terry, 

Elida, Eric, Kongta, Marie, Lyndsy, Nikki, and Rahman 

No student creations were used to illustrate the steps in this unit of 

lessons other than the work of others students saw developing in class. 

I seldom use student work as examples out of concern for copying. 

Originality is a cherished concept in a well-developed art curriculum. 

In good art education practice (Exemplars) are the works created by recognized major artists from art history or exemplars from other cultures. 


Description: In art production there is an ongoing dialogue between the student/artist and their creations. Good teachers prod them to keep this dialogue
going. The teacher is also monitoring the learning process to insure each student
is on task and progressing. The teacher monitors and adjusts the lesson/activity as 
needed according to experienced observation.



Archibald Motley1891 - 1981ěBlues 1929î

Pablo Picasso1881 - 1973ěThree Musiciansî

Romare Bearden1912 - 1988ěThree Folk Musiciansî

I used photographic reproductions of the creations of these three artists as ěExemplarsî.

I used poster size reproductions, art books, magazines, and images from the internet.

I played Jazz CDís through out the production process.


Learning Activity

1 - Students attended a concert about the history of Jazz as an American art form

presented by the Harmon high school jazz band.

2 - Students did realistic drawings from photos of fellow students in music class.

3 -  Students enlarged their drawings onto large quality watercolor paper.

4 -  Students utilized a wet n wet watercolor technique for negative areas.

5 -  Students put salt into wet areas to create texture.

6 -  Students tore up old magazines for collage resources.

7 -  Students did pattern drawings to xerox for collage resources.

8 -  Students used Ross art paste to apply collage materials.

9 -  Students used Sharpie markers to detail finished collages.

10 - Students displayed finished work for a class critique.

11 - Students completed a final self-assessment over the finished process.


Authorís Reflection:

I am a strong believer in the ěprocessî being much more important than the finished product.
That is a major reason I believe that viewing my students
in the process of learning/creating (as shown in the power point) is the best
way to evaluate this or any good art lesson. Art is of course visual and does
not lend itself well to a written or oral description. Please take time to explore

the series of photos in the power point presentation so you can see my students

actively involved in learning by doing. Most importantly, please observe how

different their individual solutions are from each other. I am so proud of the

work that they did and how they did it that I have chosen to show it to you.


Content Knowledge

Iím not sure where to begin on content knowledge. Knowing the artists and their

Work is part of art history. Seeing the connection, ěimprovisationî, between art

and music is important. Learning that we each have the ability to interpret the

world around us differently is worth learning. Learning about new techniques can

be helpful in later artistic creations. But, most important is what we learn about

ourselves as we tackle new problems and develop solutions.


Strategy Description:

When I was in New York for the national art educatorís convention I saw a presentation about the power of collage to allow students to express emotions. The lesson was around death and loss. I took a lighter route but one that allowed my

students to express their feelings. It helped that we used photos of their classmates

as resources. Yes, I would do this sort of lesson again. I might even have the courage to take on a deeper more risky topic next time.

Thank you for taking the time to read through the description of

my lesson. (please take time to view this lesson on power point)

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