Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 9: Art and Poetry - English Language Arts and Visual Arts

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  1. In order to access this unit from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, you will need to register with the site; there is no charge for access to these materials. Use the above link to register.
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Common Core Standards

Reading Literature

RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

RL.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden's " Musée des Beaux Arts" and Breughel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).


W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Speaking & Listening

SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Description of Unit

This Grade 9 unit titled “Art and Poetry—English Language and Visual Arts” from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is intended to be completed in 15 forty-five minute sessions of ELA/Literacy instruction.  Additional time may be necessary, depending on the needs of students.  In this inquiry-based unit, students focus on writing prose and poetry in response to works of visual art. Throughout the unit, students read several poems closely to learn how to interpret and analyze a poem, including how a poet uses figurative language and other poetic devices to evoke emotional responses in a reader.  As a culminating performance assessment, students select a painting, drawing, photograph, or sculpture that shows at least one person and that represents a universal human experience. They complete three pieces of writing: an analysis of what they observe in the work, a poem written from the point of view of a character that is depicted in the work of art, and an analytical essay that compares their poem and the work of art. They share their writing in response to art during an exhibition at their school.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the Teacher Notes and Preparation Materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. In addition, the General Notes and Resources section contains important, worthwhile information about: the goals of the unit, pacing, instruction, unit assessment and the scoring rubric. If a museum experience is out of the question, teachers should arrange to borrow a variety of art books or magazines from the town or school library, use reproductions (prints) of artworks, or give students time to search websites of museums. Selected museum websites are listed in Resources for the unit.  In addition, some explicit pre-teaching may be required for students who are unfamiliar with literary terms including some understanding of poetic devices. Teachers should consider the variability of learners in their class and make adaptations as necessary.

Rationale for Selection

This unit is an exemplary example of how to integrate the teaching of writing prose and poetry in response to works of visual art.  It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills deepen over time.  Instruction gradually removes supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities.  The unit provides for authentic learning, application of literacy skills, student-directed inquiry, analysis, evaluation, and/or reflection. All materials needed for instruction and assessment are included or cited in the unit. The summative assessment includes an aligned rubric that provides guidance for interpreting student performance.