Freedom to Create
In this lesson, students research foreign-born artists who came to America and the impact they and their artistic ability had on American society and culture. Using their research, students develop multimedia presentations highlighting these artists, focusing primarily on how their immigrating to the United States impacted their art, and how the artist impacted American society and culture.
Grade Level: 7-12
Subject Area(s): United States History; World History; Performing Arts; Fine Arts; Technology (Computers)
Time Needed for Lesson: Approximately one week
As a result of completing this lesson, students will be able to:
Materials needed: Computer(s) with Internet access, multimedia software (such as Microsoft Power Point), possibly a scanner to scan related images from books or magazines, and a copy of Destination America (Visit PBS Shop for ordering information.)
This lesson meets the following national content standards established by Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
United States History:
The teacher can begin the lesson with an overview of how cultural exchange has taken place over the course of American and world history, for example, how American musicians of the 1950s "rock era" such as Elvis Presley, influenced singers and songwriters in other countries, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and how in turn, Lennon, McCartney, and the Beatles influenced American performers of the 1960s and 1970s.
Allow time for students to view "The Art of Departure" focusing specifically on the segment on composer Arturo Toscanini. (The segment can be seen at (http://www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wy_05.html)
The teacher may also wish to have students investigate the various areas of the world where "creative immigrants" have left to come to the United States. The Destination America "Where Did They Come From" web page includes an interactive map that will demonstrate various patterns of immigration that students can view. (http://www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wn.html)
(The teacher may also elect to have students view the entire episode to get a flavor of how present-day immigrants also interact with American culture.) While the episode is playing, ask students to take notes on points made in the film, including Toscanini's relationship with Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini and Germany's Adolf Hitler. (Note: A sample information collection form is included in the lesson.)
Specific time cues for the segment on Toscanini 9:00-21:00 in the film.
At the conclusion of the film, tell students that they will be researching creating multimedia presentations highlighting the career of at least one of the artists listed in the Online Resources section of the lesson, and focusing on how they impacted American culture or life.
The teacher may wish to divide the class into groups in order to conduct the research and create the multimedia presentation, with the number of groups dependent on the size of the class. It's also recommended that the teacher distribute some sort of form with criteria for the presentation. Sample criteria and information collection sheets forms and rubric are provided, however, the teacher may wish to adapt the samples to fit their personal criteria for the lesson.
As a converse of this assignment, the teacher may wish to have students research instances where American culture and artistic talent affected artists and creators in other countries. Students could report this in another multimedia project, web page, or written report.
Have students write critical reviews on the work of the subject of their presentation, similar to what they might see in the "Arts" section of their local newspaper.
While the episode "The Art of Departure" focuses primarily on Arturo Toscanini as a historical example, and mentions John James Audubon, Anton Dvorak, and John Roebling as examples of foreign-born artists, many other examples are mentioned on the Destination America website as well as the companion book for the series. Representative examples of other artists and creators are included below, along with some web resources. Teachers may wish to have students do research on other persons that fit the assignment either by using a textbook or the companion book for Destination America as a guide.
Destination America "When Did They Come?" webpage