The Art and Times of William Edmondson

Length: 6 class periods (50-minutes each)

The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission engaged two internationally-known artists, Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley, to create site-specific public art works for the newly revitalized Edmondson Park (overseen by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency). This project honors William Edmondson, a native of Davidson County and a self-taught sculptor. Edmondson was the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (1937). Like Edmondson, Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley are self-taught artists.

In this Social Studies Lesson, students will:

  • Students will be formatively assessed through discussion in whole group, small group, and pairs.
  • Students will complete facts on a graphic organizer as evidence of an understanding of two passages related to the life of William Edmondson.
  • Students will work in small groups to categorize facts that regarding the lives of free Blacks (William Edmondson) after the 13th Amendment.
  • Students will complete Venn Diagrams in small groups and as a class.
  • Students will write a letter to the Nashville Urban Planning Commission claiming how the land of the revitalized Edmondson Park should be used. 
  • Students will support their ideas for the land use with evidence from texts read in class and independent research.
  • As time permits, students will present various formative and summative assessments to the class.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Content Standards:

  • 8.73 Describe the influence of industrialization and technological developments of the regions, including human modification of the landscape and how physical geography shaped human actions.
  • 8.82 Explain the significance of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 
  • 8.85 Explain the effects of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen, including racial segregation and Jim Crow laws.
  • 8.90 Describe the major developments in Tennessee during the  deconstruction Era.

Clear Learning Targets:

  • I can explain the significance of the 13th Amendment within the context of the life and times of William Edmondson.
  • I can explain the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of free Blacks after the Civil war, within the context of the life and times of William Edmondson.
  • I can cite evidence to support analysis of informational texts.
  • I can support a claim with evidence from my research.

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

  • Students will complete graphic organizers.
  • Students will engage in meaningful discussion as a whole class.
  • Students will work to research facts to document evidence of the life experiences of free Blacks after the Civil War in Nashville, Tennessee using primary sources and secondary sources.
Essential and guiding questions: 

Questioning: Planning to Illuminate Student Thinking:
Assessing questions:

  • What do you know about William Edmondson, based on the information you read?
  • What is the main idea of the 13th Amendment?

Advancing questions:

  • How would Edmondson’s life have been different, had he lived in the 2000s? What evidence from your reading and research makes you think that?
  • How would the tone and/or format of your letter change if you were writing it to a different audience—such as a committee that could raise money for your cause?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding opportunities (to address learning challenges): 

  • PowerPoint to help scaffold background information
  • Activate Prior Knowledge (APK) techniques

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

  • Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model strategies for English Language Learner (ELL) Marzano (2005) vocabulary strategies: write new word, define word in own words, illustrate definitions.
  • Individual pacing 

Helpful Hints

Materials and Resources: 

  • Pictures of William Edmondson and tombstone sculptures
  • Maps of land during 1800’s- present (Google, Metro Arts Council)
  • Graphic organizers
  • Response cards
  • Computers
  • Handouts
  • Rubrics (letter, presentations)
  • Post It notes
  • Projector
  • Screen