#1 Graffiti lesson plan. Educators’ resource to teach modern art at school.

graffiti 2020

According to the Global Teacher Prize, educators who go beyond limits help children become value-based citizens. In order to do that, different members of the educational community use arts for best practices. For instance, graffiti is a great tool to do it!

That’s the case of Javier Garcia, former bilingual teacher in Odessa, TX and Madrid (Spain). He created a graffiti art project with which students would learn how to analyze and interpret this modern style.

Here you’ll find information on how to create a lesson plan that could be used either with middle or high school students. There are several questioning levels, and scaffolded activities according to students’ needs.

What steps are required before the graffiti lesson plan starts?

Lesson plan from ESL Brains

Before watching this Youtube video about graffiti, students will work with basic vocabulary words that could help them understand the speakers from the clip. These are the questions that teachers will use on the smartboard.

  • What’s your favourite type of art? Be as expressive as possible. Give reasons and examples if possible.
  • Have you ever tried tagging? The term refers to writing your name on walls and facades with spray paint or markers.
  • When was the last time you visited a museum or an art gallery? Explain how the experience was. If you’ve never been at one, please write how you imagine them.
  • Why do you think that art is an important part of history?
  • Imagine you are an artist, how would you sell your works?
  • Is graffiti art or vandalism? What’s your opinion? Why/why not?

After students complete this work in their journals, they will share their opinion with other classmates. Please make sure that you choose a student to write on index cards the following vocabulary words: graffiti, tag, vandalism & art.

Excercise 2. Complete the sentences below with the correct forms of the words given in brackets.

SECTA (Blanes, Gerona)
Graffiti letters observed in an abandoned building

a) For safety reasons, the businessman who bought a painting wants to become ………………. (ANONYMITY)

b) Sarah is a talented teenage ………………. with a passion for spray paint and hip hop. (MURAL)

c) When you talk about graffiti with grandma, you might ………………. your opinion about street art. (SOFT)

d) There is an ………………. of paintings by Pablo Picasso in New York. (EXHIBIT)

e) He is the museum’s …………………………….. and will give you an interview about contemporary art. (CURATE)

f) The many cave paintings in France and Spain show the artistic ………………. of the modern human in Europe. (CREATE)

g) An art ………………. is a piece of modern art which can include objects, light, sound, etc. (INSTALL)

h) Graffiti has become an art ………………. ,which is hard to stop. (MOVE)

Engage your students in a conversation about graffiti

graffiti style
Wildstyle graffiti with black and green colors

Once the class has watched the video, it will be the perfect moment to practice an A/B sort of activity. In this exercise, students will group in pairs. The first student will summarize in 1 minute a speech about the video. After that, the second student will add any extra details missing from the first speaker. Plan it for other 60 seconds.

Next, they will switch partners. Students will agree or disagree with the following statements. Furthermore, they’ll have to elaborate a critical thinking attitude.

  • Graffiti is just vandalism and it doesn’t have any artistic value.
  • Street artists should stick to painting on legal graffiti walls and not committing a crime.
  • When graffiti ends up in galleries, it stops being graffiti.
  • Thanks to graffiti and street art, cities are colourful, lively and look more interesting.
  • Graffiti is an effective way of spreading political messages.

Which activities will students develop?

One of the most common educational approaches is to apply locally what they have learnt in a global way. Taking into consideration that graffiti is a worldwide movement, they will be able to observe it wherever they go.

Fourth activity will make students investigate about their surroundings. Ask them to record any form of graffiti or street art found in their daily commutes. For instance, on the way to school or from home to their nearest metro station.

Investigating about Madrid graffiti

Cooltourspain is a street art project based in Madrid. Our cultural, educational and social experiences aim to make students aware of the graffiti movement in their local setting. That’s why you should know that the city could change, but the idea about this lesson plan would still remain the same if developed at any other region.

Ask students the following questions:

  • What are the city’s graffiti origins? Who were the pioneers?
  • Recall some information about the cultural & historical developments by that time.
  • What are the most important cultural centers in town?

Getting hands on, their favourite part

The graffiti workshop is our most popular activity among students. Not only because they will be able to spray paint on their own, but also because they will create a collaborative wall with their classmates. Teachers have a great time too!

Firstly, the whole group will be divided into two or more teams (appropriate rate 1:15). While one part uses box cutters and hard paper to develop stencils, the others will start painting the graffiti walls’ background colors.

Taking into consideration that the experience takes 2 hours to be completed, they will switch workstations in the middle of the time. Students will get hands on at both parts, participating in a collaborative activity that demands teamwork!

Closing the activity. Achievements.

Abandoned building
Several graffiti elements observed over a building’s wall

This is the last but not least opportunity that students will receive to learn about graffiti. It’s actually a role play that involves two students working as a pair. Student A will imagine that he/she is Banksy, the world’s most famous graffiti artist. You are a very private person who hardly ever gives interviews. Prepare to answer the journalist’s questions.

On the other hand, student B will play the interviewer’s role. The magazine where you work sends you for an interview. You have the chance to meet Banksy, the world’s greatest graffiti artist. Prepare some questions. Remember that Banksy is a very private person who hardly ever gives interviews.

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