Written by Judi Moreillon for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) website readwritethink.org, this Common Core-aligned unit engages high school students in a study of the relationship between masks and cultures. Students research mask-making from various cultures, draw sketches of the masks, and take notes that highlight the connections between the masks and the cultural practices of the people who created them. They then recreate the cultural masks they've learned about and compose poetry to reveal their understanding and appreciation of these cultural artifacts. Students then analyze aspects of their own culture and create personal masks and poetry to reflect their culture and themselves. This unit can be completed in four to six weeks. For updates to this lesson plan and more resources for teachers, visit readwritethink.org.
Coordinate with a teacher–librarian during this segment to assist students in researching masks from various cultures. The teacher–librarian can be responsible for gathering print and electronic resources on cultural masks. He or she may also teach online research strategies, help facilitate students' note-taking, and share in the evaluation of students' work.
While students are creating their cultural masks in art class, they can be reading and responding to mask-themed poetry and reviewing literary elements in language arts class.
Creation of cultural masks should be completed before beginning this segment of the lesson.
During this segment, students will couple their understanding of the cultural meanings behind masks with their creativity to create personal masks reflecting their own cultures. The art teacher can facilitate mask making while the language arts teacher guides the composition and assessment of students' personal mask poems.
Students use the Mask Poem Rubric for self-evaluation, and must also justify their scores by citing specific examples from their poems. Teachers use the same rubric to assess students' understanding of the concepts and completion of the assignments.