Tolerance Through My Eyes

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is that the learners will advocate for tolerance through art, particularly photography.  They will create aesthetic and thoughtful art that portrays beauty in diversity, celebrates differences, and shows hope and serenity. They will share their art talent with others.

Lesson Rating 
PrintSeven Fifty-Minute Class Periods (Add Two additional class periods if film is to be developed in class)

The learner will:

  • define the terms aesthetic art and service
  • view artwork that advocates tolerance and celebrates differences
  • become aware of aesthetic art that advocates Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity, Tranquility, Unity, and Love
  • take and develop a roll of black and white or color film (download and print digital pictures)
  • create an artist statement in the form of a display/exhibit that reflects aesthetic art
  • understand how public art can provide a service: promote common good and maintain a civil society
  • share their talent with others by developing and promoting a public exhibit of their artwork that provides a school/community service
  • a disposal camera, or digital camera- one per learner
  • matte board or foam core (approx. 3'x3' and one per every 3-4 learners)
  • computers
  • printer
  • writing paper
  • pencils
  • rulers
  • stenciling knives (i.e Exacto, Excel, etc.)
  • Display/Exhibit Requirements- Handout One
  • Display/Exhibit Site Rationale: Announcement and Promotion- Handout Two
  • Reflection- Handout Three
Home Connection 




  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display 15-20 numbered (for easier reference) pictures(taken from old photos, magazines, photo portfolios, newspapers, the Internet, etc.) around the classroom. As the learners enter the room give each of them a copy of "Aesthetic Feelings"- Handout One. Instruct them to cut-out these words into strips, each strip bearing one of the words: Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity,Tranquility, Unity,and Love. Using pieces of tape have the learners walk about the classroom and tape their word strip to the picture that they personally decide most corresponds with the feeling that picture creates in them. Each learner should continue this process until all his/her word slips are posted beneath their corresponding pictures. Once completed, addresssome of the"more obvious" and some of the "more unusual"word strip /picture combinations asking those learners,who chose the word slip/picture combination that they did, to explain why and how they made their decision to do so.

  2. 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.

  3. Recall with the learners, that often positive reactions can come out of tragedy as evidenced in Lesson One's study of the Oklahoma City (OKC) bombing in 1995.

  4. 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...

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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

  8. 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.

  9. Share with the learners that through the use of photography, capturingthe concepts of Hope, Beauty, Compassion, Tolerance, Diversity, Tranquility, Unity, and Love, they will be involved in providing an aesthetic art display that will be of service/benefit to their community.

  10. Day Two

  11. Review with the learners what it is that they will be doing as shared in Day One.

  12. Place the learners in small groups (3-4 learners per group) and assign each group 2 of the eight concepts making sure that all the concepts have been assigned to at least one of the groups. (Recommended groupings: Diversity and Tolerance; Unity and Hope; Compassion and Love; Beauty and Tranquility.)

  13. Have the groups brainstorm what kind of subject matter might fit into these concepts, for example, children and parents, family, friends, landscapes, portraits, neighborhoods, schools, downtowns, etc. and what might the images look like?

  14. Have the groups share and begin to sketch out their ideas for photographs.

  15. Have the groups share their initial thoughts and plans with the rest of the class for input and feedback

  16. At this point in the lesson, the groups are on their own, given two weeks to complete their photo shoot and have their photos printed and brought into class.

  17. Teacher Note: District policy should be followed regarding permission forms if photos of students will be used in the creation of the exhibit.

    Day Three (Two Weeks Later)

  18. As a total class briefly review Days One and Two.

  19. Have the learners return to their assigned small groups and begin the process of photo selection for their display/exhibit.

  20. Provide each group with a matte board/foam core (approximately 3' x 3' ) or similar rigid display board for them to begin the arrangement of their display for the exhibit.

  21. Provide each group with the Display/Exhibit Requirements - Handout One and time to begin their work.

  22. Day Four

  23. The learners are to complete the mounting of their photos on the matte board/core board as outlined in the Display/Exhibit Requirements- Handout One.

  24. As groups finish the mounting of their photos and display, have them begin to discuss/decide where their exhibit should be placed in order to provide the school/community with the best opportunity for viewing.

  25. When each group has completed the mounting of their photos and display, reconvene the entire class giving each small group an opportunity to share their work and obtain feedback from their peers. Have each small group also share their initial thinking about where they might display their exhibit and obtain feedback to assist them in this decision.

  26. Day Five

  27. Reconvene the small groups and have them make any 'last minute' changes to their display and finalize the decision as to where it might best be displayed/exhibited to maximize it's aesthetic impact.

  28. Instruct each small group to write a brief 50-75 word rationale for why they have chosen to display/exhibit their work in the area that they did and how by doing so it will provide a service to the school /community/etc... Have them also list three things they will do to announce and promote the viewing of their display/exhibit in the area where they have chosen to place it- Handout Two.

  29. Allow each small group time to share their plans for the announcement and promotion of their display/exhibit and to obtain feedback from their peers .Give each small group the remainder of the class period for the them to work on their list and complete it.

  30. Day Six

  31. Have the small groups finalize the list representing their plans for the announcement and promotion of their display/exhibit and assign areas of responsibility to group members as well as make final arrangements for thesite where their display/exhibit will be located.

  32. Have each learner complete their assigned task for the announcement and promotion of the display/exhibit. ( 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.)

  33. Day Seven

  34. Take a few minutes at the start of this class period to allow learners an opportunity to reflecton their experiences concerning this project. Assign the learners the Reflection paper concerning their overall work on this project, their feelings not only about what they produced as a group but what feelings were arroused in them as individuals. Have them reflect on what service they hope their display/exhibit will ultimately provide for those who view it -how the beliefs and values of those who view it might be impacted- Handout Three.


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

Cross Curriculum 

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. For example, 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 aesthetic art made up of photos they have taken themselves 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.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced national or world history.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.