Intro to Casting Concrete & Media as a Metaphor

Length: Two 1.5 hour class periods

To commemorate Nashville's role in the historic Civil Rights Movement, the Metro Arts Commission approved the selection of artist Walter Hood to create new public art.  His design for Witness Walls utilizes iconic photos of the Civil Rights movement in Nashville to honor the events and the people who created the blueprint for nonviolent protest.  The installation will be located on the west side of the historic Metro Nashville Courthouse, steps away from the historic April 19, 1960 student-led protest.

In this Visual Arts lesson, students will:

Artists will be asked to identify whether teacher is holding a mold or a cast.
This Assessment can be given as many times as needed throughout lesson.
Artists will informally assess peers regarding the proper consistency of their concrete mixture using rubric.
Soupy-too much water-resulting cast will be weakened
Oatmeal-Just right
Chunky-not enough water-resulting cast can 
have dry pockets of powder that will easily
Students will write about Walter Hood’s Witness Walls and the process he used to arrive at his final product.
Students will answer questions about Witness Walls using text from Metro Nashville Arts Commission website.


Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Content Standards:

  • 1.0 Media, Techniques and Processes: Students will understand and apply media, techniques, and processes.
  • 1.1 Demonstrate the use of knowledge and technical skills in at least one specific medium.

State Performance Indicators:

  • 1.1.1 Employ different types of media, techniques, and processes used to create various  art forms.

Clear Learning Targets:

  • I can (AWBAT) create a cast from the mold they chose to bring to class (or chose from selection of available molds)
  • I can (AWBAT) read and follow instructions on Quickcrete bag
  • I can (AWBAT) mix water with Quickrete powder to create concrete
  • I can better understand Walter Hood’s Witness Walls project by experimenting with  mixing, pouring, and writing about concrete.

Task Objectives (steps to reach mastery of clear learning targets):

  • Write about the use of concrete in Witness Walls Project
  • Read instructions on Quickrete bag
  • Discuss mold and cast definitions
  • Mix concrete with water
Essential and guiding questions: 

Assessing questions:

  • How did I make this (holding up a concrete cast object)?
  • How could I make more of these (relatively) quickly?
  • How does using concrete develop or refine Walter Hood’s ideas about the 1960 Civil Rights protest in Nashville?

Advancing questions:

  • How could you utilize this process outside of this classroom setting?
  • What objects do I own or use that utilize the mold making process?
  • How could I use concrete in a sculpture to say something meaningful to me and others?
  • How could we as a class create individual works that when put together create a “Witness Wall” for our school?
  • Where would it be located? Why would this be the best location?
  • Imagine that you are presenting your idea to the school board and would need evidence to support your argument for where you’d like the sculpture placed.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding opportunities (to address learning challenges):

  • Showing Quickrete video of concrete being mixed
  • Discuss idea of ice tray (mold) ice cubes (cast)
  • Project Quickrete instructions on projector
  • Examples of sentences that could be used when discussing concrete as a medium

Opportunities to Differentiate Learning (explain how you address particular student needs by differentiating process, content, or product):

  • If a student(s) would like/need to see the video again they can access it on their cell phone, laptop, or tablet
  • Students who might need additional assistance can work with a peer willing to help them with mixing/pouring process

Helpful Hints

Quickrete website, mold and cast, Quickrete, water, wheel barrow, hoe
IMPORTANT: Prior to the lesson, student homework is to bring in empty plastic packaging that might be interesting to cast. Teachers may want to give students 1-2 weeks to do this.