Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Mirror of Values
Lesson 3
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The purpose of this lesson will be for learners to advocate for tolerance through painting.  The learners  will create an aesthetic and thoughtful painting that reflects their personal beliefs and values following their exposure to and the examining of some of the positive results that have been inspired by acts of intolerance or violence.  They will share their talent and their interpretation of this assignment with the community through a planned and promoted public exhibition of their work .


Sixteen Fifty-Minute Class Periods (includes eleven days of studio time) and One Evening


The learner will:

  • explore and discuss how artists can influence society as being more good than evil and an artist's responsibility to contribute to the common good of a society.
  • will define the terms aesthetic art and civil society
  • critique paintings by analyzing the work, searching for meaning and determining how the work responds to an act of intolerance and /or violence while contributing to the common good in a civil society.
  • reflect and write about their own values and beliefs concerning the common good as it relates to acts of intolerance and/or violence. 
  • create an aesthetic painting that represents their interpretation of tolerance and non violence through the themes of Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity, Tranquility, Unity, and Love  
  • prepare their aesthetic piece artwork for display in a public setting.
  • plan and promote an art show that is a compilation of visual and language arts works interpreting the themes of Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity, Tranquility, Unity, and Love in response to the idea that in society there is more good than evil and that art can beautify a public space.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

In this lesson the learners will become familiar with some of the elements of service. The learners will be given clear expectations about the role of the visual arts and how it can be used to provide a service i.e. visual art can serve to articulate the common good and thereby contribute to a civil society.  The learners will be challenged to create a display/exhibit of a personal aesthetic painting they have composed and painted themselves that is intended to reveal many of the values and beliefs of a civil society. Based on the knowledge that they have gained, the learners will not only be able to better understand the role of the artist as well as their personal reaction to art, but through their display/exhibit  they will also be able to articulate and share their talent with the public. Reflection will provide the learners an opportunity to explore the impact of this lesson both on themselves as well as the public who views their work.


  • Computer, TV Monitor or Digital projector and screen.
  • Artists influence on civil society  - Power point presentation or Reproductions of paintings
  • Assignment sheet and Rubric for Painting
  • Assignment sheet and rubric for Service Learning Project
  • Acrylic Paints, Brushes, and palette.
  • Variety of stretcher frames, 8 oz duck, nails, glue, staples and staple gun.
Handout 1
Reflection Paper- Painting Theme
Handout 2

Instructional Procedure(s):

Day One:

Anticipatory Set :
Download a number of photos of paintings that depict how artists influence society by how they record historical facts, present opinions and encourage change through their work. Project these paintings by means of a Power point presentation (Live Internet, Video, Digital representation, etc.).

  • Have the learners share what they know about aesthetic art defined as art that is intended to share the beauty of effect and appearance; art intended to elicit sensitivity, serenity, and harmony.

  • Recall with the learners, that often positive reactions can come out of tragedy as evidenced in Lesson One's study of the terrorist attacks. 

  • Have the learners consider aesthetic artifacts that have come into being as a result of tragedy. Perhaps to stimulate their thinking suggest the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, The Shoes Memorial (Holocaust), Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Fireman (photo), the Flag Raising Ground Zero (photo), etc...

  • Share with the learners that aesthetic art is intended to offer the public a view of the world as being a place of beauty; having more good than evil, and that most artists who produce this type of art take seriously their responsibility to contribute to the common good of a civil society, not to take away from it.

  • Share with the learners that when artwork is displayed in a public setting, such as a government building, or in a park, or library for example, it may or may not be inspired by a tragedy, but it is all intended to help beautify the area and elicit aesthetic sensitivity. 

  • Present four paintings for students to critique. For each artwork ask open ended questions that encourage students to:
    • analyze the work through observation of the artists use of the elements and principles.
    • search for the meaning of the work. (Be prepared to explain the event that the artwork was a direct result of.)
    • determine how the artwork contributed to the common good? Does the artwork offer Hope? Beauty? Compassion? Tolerance? Diversity? Tranquility? Unity?and Love?

  • Have the learners discuss the influence of the artist in offering the public a view of the world as having more good than evil and that artists have a responsibility to contribute to the common good of a civil society.

  • Have the learners define service: help given to another; to repair; work performed by one that that repairs, helps, benefits another.

  • Challenge the learners to consider how artists, who produce aesthetic art, especially in response to tragic situations, provide a service to their community and world.

  • Explain the assignment: Each learner will create a painting that reflects their personal beliefs and values as a result of their exploring the positive results of acts of intolerance or violence and their viewing of aesthetic art intended to contribute to the common good by eliciting responses of Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity, Tranquility, Unity, and Love from its viewers. 

  •  Have students begin to think about/sketch possible ideas for their painting. 


Day Two:

  • Lead the learners in a class discussion around possible themes for a painting that reflects the values and beliefs of a civil society based on the information/knowledge they have gained.  These paintings should be reflection of common good that results from acts of intolerance or violence that they have personally experienced or that they have drawn on from a broader theme such as the OKC Bombing, the War in Iraq, etc.. 

  • Following the discussion, have the learners  write a one page reflective paper on their chosen theme to include an explanation of what their theme is, why they decided on the theme and the possible ways to represent the theme.  - Attachment One.

  • Give each learner an opportunity to read/summarize their Reflection to the class allowing other learners to offer constructive comment/suggestions.

  • Give the learners an opportunity to review and/or revise their Reflection based on peer input 

  •  At the end of the class period, collect the Reflection writing pieces from the learners.

  • As a Homework Assignment, have the learners create three possible studies in pastel of their idea. 


Day Thee:

  • Return the Reflection writing to the learners and review the the rubric for the painting assignment

  • In small groups conduct critiques of the pastel studies being considered by each student in that grouping.

  • Instruct students to prepare for painting  (Any canvas, board, gessoed paper) and begin Studio Time (Students will be given ten days to complete their painting.


Ten Days Later (or date set for the completion of the painting)


Day Thirteen:

  • Have the learners  write a one page  "Artist Statement " which explains the value and beliefs behind  their work.  (This can be a revised version of their Reflective paper- Attachment One. 

  • Conduct a whole class critique of each learner's work.


Day Fourteen:

  • Brainstorm with the class some of the possible sites for the display of their paintings and discuss why these sites may or may not be ones that provide the public exposure that they are seeking in an effort to promote the common good.

  • Decide on a number of different sites (4-6) and allow those learners who have strong feelings about where their painting is exhibited to express their desire for placement otherwise ask for volunteers to place their paintings in one of these sites in order to provide a equal number of exhibits at each site.

  • Brainstorm a list of things that the learners can and will do to announce and promote the viewing of their displays/exhibits and discuss the merits and do-ability of each task.

  • As a class decide which tasks they will do to announce and promote their displays/exhibits.

  • Divide up the tasks for announcement and promotion and equally assign, based on the effort required, them to small groups.

  • Give each small group the remainder of the class period for the them to work on their list and complete it. 

 Day Fifteen:

  • Have the small groups report their progress in completely their assigned tasks for announcement and promotion of the displays/exhibits and finalize the arrangements for the site where their display/exhibit will be located. 

  • Have the learners set display/exhibit their paints in their assigned areas.  ( Teacher Note: On the day that all of the displays/exhibits are to be in place, during this class period, and possibly other times during the week when a member(s) of a particular group might be available, have the learner(s) stand near their exhibit to respond to questions and comments by viewers.) 


Day Sixteen:

  • Take a few minutes to lead the learners in a discussion concerning how they felt the overall display/exhibit event went. Explore with them if it met their expectations and aspirations as an outcome for service and did it promote the common good as discussed at the very beginning of this lesson.  Assign the learners the Reflection paper concerning their overall work on this project -Attachment Two .


The learners will be assessed through observation of their participation in class discussions, critique and other group activities as well as the timeliness and completion of their  painting and the depth of thinking and understanding evidenced in their final reflection. (Teacher Note: The learners' painting and its display/exhibit could also be graded according to a teacher determined rubric.)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

A special invitation for a Evening Art Show featuring all of displays/exhibits along with the artists could be extended to the community and to the media. Refreshments could be served and special recognition and appreciation for the efforts of the artists could be expressed by school administration and other community leaders.

Lesson Developed By:

Danielle Benson-Fenell
Mona Shores Public Schools
Mona Shores High School
Muskegon, MI 49456

Ninette Verstraete
Mona Shores Public Schools
Mona Shores High School
Muskegon, MI 49456


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Reflection Paper- Painting Theme

In the composition of this one page reflection be sure to include the following information: Your chosen theme, an explanation of your chosen theme, reason for choosing this theme, some initial thoughts as to possible ways you might represent this theme, and finally, what values and beliefs of a civil society is it that you hope people will see in your painting. (Utilize appropriate grammar mechanics i.e. spelling , punctuation, sentence structure, noun/verb agreement, and flow.)


Handout 2Print Handout 2


Now that you have had a chance to catch your breath and listen to some of the experiences of some of your peers, it's your turn to reflect. Using Standard English Conventions (such as sentence structure, grammar and usage, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling), please share your thoughts and ideas relating to the following prompt.

PROMPT: As you consider all of the work that you have done to develop a painting for display/exhibit; an aesthetic piece of art intended to provide a service to your school/community, what feelings were produced in you as an individual. Reflect and share what service you hope your display/exhibit will ultimately provide for those who view it; how the beliefs and values of those who view it might be positively impacted.

Philanthropy Framework:

Submit a Comment

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.