Paintings as Prompts


Choosing Images
Choosing which pieces of art to use in your curriculum is completely up to you. I tend to look for images which have the potential to be reused throughout the year and recycled from one grade level to another based on my curriculum. I try to show students the entire work at once but sometimes focus on only one section of a painting if that helps focus student attention on the task at hand.

Prompting Language
Trying to prompt students to produce language at a specific proficiency level is a difficult task since students will produce language at their own level, however, keeping in mind the language characteristics of each of the levels listed at the bottom of the Proficiency Primer, it is possible to write prompts that encourage language at a specific level. Below is a list of some verbs and words that can be included in prompts to encourage students to produce language at a specific level. I tend to write short prompts for my students since they are at lower proficiency levels, however as they progress in proficiency and grade level, the prompts can become longer.

Verbs and Language Prompts
..........Novice..........
.....Intermediate.....
........Advanced........
List
Describe
Narrate
Name
Detail
Describe
Identify
Characterize
Depict
Tell
Tell
Retell
Classify
Express
Tell a story
Write
Portray
Chronicle
Label
Retell
Report
Tag
Compare
Relate
State
Give examples
Before
Record
Narrate
After
Describe

Next

Describing at various levels
You will note that the verb "describe" is listed in each column of proficiency. This is because one of the first things learners are able to do is give adjectives and nouns to tell what they see in a painting. It's important to keep in mind the characteristics of each level and remember that "describing" at each level will look very different. I'll use the Velázquez painting, "Retrato de bufón con perro" as an example since it is an image that I recycle across several grade levels in my school. (Since the Prado no longer allows any photography in the museums, and in order to respect copyright laws, you'll have to click on the link to see the painting.)

Describing at Novice Low (Kinder)
Describing at Novice Mid (3rd Grade)
Describing at Novice High (5th Grade)
perro
blanco
negro
grande
perro grande
negro y blanco
cuatro patas
camina
Es un perro.
Es grande.
Es blanco y negro.
Camina y corre.
Tiene cuatro patas.
Come carne.

Note that the language students are producing in each of these grades is consistent with the characteristics of their proficiency level. Novice Low students are producing lists of isolated words. Novice Mid students are combining words but not yet using verbs to form sentences. "Camina" here is simply a memorized lexical term. Novice High students are creating short sentences and starting to use high-frequency verbs with more regularity.

Links and Resources
Bloom´s Taxonomy Verbs
Bloom´s Verbs and Assessment´Types