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15-A Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930
Olga Rozhkova


Lesson Plan Title: Urban Environment
Skills Covered: Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills

General Goal(s): The students will develop reading, speaking, listening and writing skills necessary for recognition, comprehension, interpretation, analysis, evaluation and appreciation of the work of art. They will also explore environmental issues and issues of industrial development.

Specific Objectives: The students will develop knowledge and ability to use a range of vocabulary items related to description of painting, landscape, environment and economy. Through class discussion and role play they will learn to characterize, think critically to evaluate the work of art (Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930). The students will also learn speech patterns (inviting to speak, asking to speak, interruptions, agreement, disagreement) essential for oral discussion.

Materials/ Visual Aids: Projector, computer (to present the reproduction of “American Landscape” (1930) by Charles Sheeler ) or slide projector and the slide with the reproduction of American Landscape (1930) by Charles Sheeler; paper, pens/pencils.

  • Warm-up activity

Activity # 1. Work in pairs. Put these words/phrases into groups 1-2.
Group 1 countryside landscape:
Group 2 city landscape:
smoky stack                     clouds of smoke                      fresh air
fantastic scenery              warehouses                            locomotive
green fields                       clouds of smoke                     covered goods vans
narrow country lane          enormous factory                bright blue sky
railroad tracks                    canal                                    haystacks
bridge over  pond              heaps of  loose goods            peace and quiet atmosphere

Tell the students that they are going to free write about typical city landscape that is familiar to them. (5 minutes)  The students will read their descriptions out loud to their peer in Activity #3.
Activity # 2. (Independent work)  Describe typical city landscape that is familiar to you. You may make use of the following expressions:
Composition: in the foreground/background you may see ….; there is a nice/terrible/enormous/huge/tiny shopping center in front of /behind …; you can easily notice  a factory stack against the landscape.
Coloring : predominate color is ..; primary colors include…; secondary colors include…; vibrant/saturated/cool/ restful/soft/hot/harsh/dull/light/dark colors set the mood of the sight; the colors in this painting are/are not unusual/bright/attractive/interesting; the combination of colors is ……
Activity  # 3. (Pair work) Work with your partner. Take turns to describe your city landscape.
Activity  #4. (Entire class activity) Look at the picture by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), American Landscape, 1930. You can find it if you go to http://picturingamerica.neh.gov (in the Gallery it is picture number 15a).  Discuss the following questions.

  1. What can you see in the foreground/background of the picture?
  2. What is the predominate color of the picture?
  3. What colors are secondary? What mood do they set?
  4. What is the brightest/gloomiest color?
  5. What impression does this picture make on the viewer? Why?
  6. Would you like to hang this picture in your room? Why?
  7. Is it a typical urbane landscape? Why?
  8. Where can you see similar scenery in your city?

Activity #5. Look at the picture by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), American Landscape, 1930 again. Think of the words that might fit into the gaps. Share your opinion with your partner. Giving examples may help you to illustrate what you want to say.

  1. Looking at the picture makes me feel ____________  because __________.
  2. What I most like about the picture is ______________.
  3. What I dislike about the picture is _________________.
  4. The message here is __________________.
  5. The artist has captured ______________________.


For the following activity the students are to be put into the groups of four. They are given the role of the owner of the factory, local resident, city manager and ecologist.

Activity  #6.  Role play activity. (Group work) You are going to role play a meeting between the owner of the factory presented in the picture, local resident, whose windows are facing the factory, ecologist and city manager.  The issues raised by the situation could be the following  but you are welcome to  provide your own views and ideas:

  • Factory  poses an enormous threat to the natural environment
  • Factory brings economic benefit to the area
  • Factory creates the risk of air pollution
  • There will be more housing estate to accommodate workers
  • Factory destroys the natural beauty of the landscape
  • Factory increases the industrial production and income
  • Factory poses the potential threat to human health

Choose your arguments to present discussion due to you roles. The city manager will start introducing the situation and will chair the meeting asking participants to express their opinion on the subject matter as well as giving final resolution.
While presenting the discussion make use of the following phrases:

Stating what the meeting is about

We are meeting today to talk about …
We’ll be discussing …
Our objective today is to discuss ….

Inviting people to speak

You have something you wanted to say.
What’s your opinion?
What do you think about it?
Do you agree?

Asking to speak

Sorry, do you mind if I interrupt?
Can I just say something here?
Could I make a point here?
Could I comment on that?

Dealing with interruptions

Sure, go ahead.
Yes, of course.
Yes, please.
Hold on, please.
Just a second, please.
Can I finish what I was saying, please?
Could I just finish making this point?

Ways of agreeing

That may be true.
Yes, I’d agree to that.
I think you are right.
Absolutely. I think it’s a fantastic idea.

Ways of disagreeing

That’s not true.
I’m afraid I can not agree with you here.
I think you are wrong.
I completely disagree.

When the role play is over the teacher will lead a feedback session discussing what happened in each group.


Extra-Class Work (Homework) The picture by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), American Landscape was painted in 1930. It was the period of the Great Depression in the Unites States. Make a report on the project “Industrialization and Great Depression in the USA”.  Find out important facts about this period in American history, create a timeline of key events, find pictures to illustrate your timeline.

List of References