Lesson Plan

If These Walls Could Talk . . .

The stories behind the works of the Musée d'Orsay
Jon Z.
Classroom teacher
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts
  • Students will draw connections between an artwork and the artist who created it.
  • Students will articulate historical and cultural factors that may have influenced an artwork.
  • Students will create a multimedia representation of the artist and the creation of the chosen artwork.


English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 6 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook

Students explore the galleries of the Musée d'Orsay through the Google Art Project.  They are searching for a work that piques their curiosity, and whose story they would like to investigate.  The Art Project UI allows one to zoom in on minute details of a painting or sculpture, with far more precision than viewing a simple photo of the work.


2 Researching The Artist And Artwork

Students investigate the artist's background, along with the history of the epoch, on Wikipedia.  Some individual artworks also have Wikipedia pages that give some insight into their creation and reception by the public.  For French Language classes (my subject area), the students can use the French version of the site: http://wikipedia.fr/index.php.  Only fourth- or fifth-year language students will have the background to handle its complexity of language, in my opinion.

3 Making The Walls Talk

For this step, students create a depiction of the life of the artist and the making of the artwork.  I try not to be too rigid with guidelines here.  It’s okay if students take some creative liberties with history, as long as the main points are accurate.  They have the option of doing their own iMovie, a comic on Comic Life, a VoiceThread presentation, or a multi-media glog (must include video) on Glogster.  Teachers can adapt the project to fit their own objectives.  For instance, it’s ideal for highlighting the narrative past in a World Language class.  Create a quick project rubric on a platform like Rubistar and you are good to go!