DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
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DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


Introducing the artist Martin Soto, a Latino artist, who was one of our resident artists this year.  He is a Puerto Rican-American from Chicago, Ill.  He grew up in Chicago and Puerto Rico, he has much to share about his cultures and traditions.  Martin works in many media such as mural, sculpture and paint.  In his show, at the Latino Arts Gallery, he paints on large raw canvas, focusing on Bomba Dancing, telling stories and empowering people to have courage to “dance if they want to dance, with no judgment.” When Martin spoke with the students, they loved his charisma and excitement for art.  They feed off his excitement and ask a lot of questions, they were fully engaged and completely enjoyed his workshop.  In this unit, we learned about music and culture comparing and contrasting their own with Puerto Rican culture.  We watched a Bomba Dance performance & Bomba drum show.  We read, “Grandma’s Record’s” by Eric Velasquez and “Shake it Morena!” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand.   Students thought of their own cultural traditions and drew them into a mural accompanied with a persuasive letter to the principal about why their culture mural should be painted on the school wall.  Finally, we incorporated multiplication fact with African Drum beats from Phil Tulga’s “Multiplication with West Africa Rythems.”

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Project’s Big Idea: Culture

 Essential Questions:


Cultural References: Learning of the Latino artist Martin Soto and his heritage of Puerto Rico.  Students also watched a Bomba y Plena Dance show accompanied with a lesson from Edwin Cepeda, our very own “Bomba Master.”  Students learned many cultures & traditions of Puerto Rico, from food, games, music to religion. Multiplication fact with African Drum beats from Phil Tulga’s “Multiplication with West Africa Rythems.”


Objectives | Students will:


Language Arts:


  • After creating gesture drawings in art class, students will successfully fill out a narrative story visual organizer and write a narrative paragraph about their gesture drawing.
  • Given information about Puerto Rican culture from Martin Soto, “Shake It Morena!” and Puerto Rican history, students will be able to define what make up culture, fill out the visual organizer and relate Puerto Rican cultural aspects to their our Culture.
  • Given a mini-lesson about persuasive writing, students will successfully write a persuasive letter to administration, describing why their mural should be picked.



  • After a mini-demonstration about gesture drawing, students will create a scratch relief and oil pastels multi-media artwork.
  • Given a mini-lesson about murals, students will successfully compose a mural using elements from their “culture graphic organizer,  and successfully demonstrating overlapping and size.



·      While listening to the “Multiplication Tables with West African Rhythms" by Phil Tulga, students will practice their multiplication math facts while clapping along with the CD.




Learning Segment 1


The class read the book, “Grandma’s Records” and discussed why music is important to people’s lives, and how it can play a part of their culture and heritage.  The students were shown Martin Soto’s work and continued to do Looking and Talking about his pieces for the show, “Bomba Negra.”  They were also shown video and photos of Bomba presentations.  The students could easily connect the painting with the Puerto Rican tradition of Bomba y Plana.  To broaden the children’s idea of music they were shown photos and music of other countries, for example Irish, African, Country, Waltz etc.  They really enjoyed all the different kinds of music and quickly connected that music can be important to a person’s culture.   Last, they choose their favorite style of dance and drew it in their journal, and answered two questions, “Why is music important to culture? &   Do you have a favorite type of dance and a memory, what is & why?


Learning Segment 2


Students were very fortunate to watch a Bomba show put on by Bruce Guadalupe Bomba y Plena dance group.  The presentation was introduced with a short history of Bomba.  Following the dance show, a “Bomba Master” demonstrated how he plays the bomba drums.  The “Bomba Master,” Edwin Cepeda, works at the UCC, plays in a bomba band and grew up in Puerto Rico.   He told the students it is very important to learn your family’s culture and traditions no mater where you are from, which connects through all the 3rd grade units.   The kids thoroughly enjoyed everything they saw.


Learning Segment 3


Teachers read Martin Soto’s letter to the students.  They made connections to the presentations from the former week, to the book “Grandma’s Records,” and to the structure of a letter.  Then class brainstormed questions they would ask Martin Soto when he came to present to them.


Students went to the Latino Arts Gallery to meet Martin Soto and they were told to take their journals.  Once they arrived, Martin Soto told them to take notes and write down interesting things they saw and important topics he talked about. The kids thoroughly enjoyed talking with him about his work, they learned about layers, stories in artwork and using different items in a painting.


Learning Segment 4:


After the gallery talk, we went back to the art room and had a 1.5hr workshop with Martin Soto. 


First, we prepped 8 X 10 watercolor paper by painting it just yellow with acrylic paint.  We set those to dry.


Then he started the gesture lesson, we played Bomba music on Utube and Martin Soto demonstrated how to gesture draw with the inspiration of the music and visuals of the bomba dancer and drummers.    The desks were covered with large brown paper and students were shown to use crayons and draw gesture lines of a form on the section in front of them, then they were given black oil pastels to give shape and form to what they drew.  During Martin’s presentation, he focused on telling a story, so kids were encouraged to make up a story along with their drawing.


Finally, we took out the yellow prepped paper and painted a think layer of black acrylic paint on it.  We used a wood stylus tool to scratch a similar gesture drawing on to the paper.  They were given about 10-15 min to do this, so it was not over worked.    Students were still encouraged to draw freely and think about the people they were putting in the painting.  The inspiration for this art work was Martin Soto’s “Descarga de Jupiter.”



Learning Segment 5:


In the art room after Martin Soto left, we finished the gesture paintings he started.  Students used oil pastels to create another figure or important detail to their painting.   We focused on overlapping and adding something of importance, like Martin Soto’s “Descarga de Jupiter” painting, which added a woman in the background to support the main character in the front.  The second half of class they wrote the story elements for their drawing.  In their journal they made up a story about what is happening in their picture, they simply wrote: Where is it taking place? Who is in the picture? And what is going on?


Learning Segment 6:


In the classroom, students had a mini-lesson about narrative writing.  In art, they had already thought of  where (Setting,) who (characters) and what is going on (plot.), so the teacher introduced how to write a narrative story.  Start with the setting, introduce the character, talk about what is going on and then wrap it up with a conclusion.  We used a graphic organized that allowed them to draw out their ideas.  Before they drew their own graphic organizer, it was very important to do a demonstration.  Frist drawing the setting, then drawing detailed ideas of the story then sum up the last picture with a conclusion drawing.  Once completing the organizer, students were approved to write their rough draft, keeping in mind the proper way to write a narrative story with beginning, middle and end.   Once the rough drafts were completed and edited students wrote their final draft, which will accompany their painting.  To wrap up the day, we did multiplication math fact to African drum music.


Learning segment 7:


To start the second half of the unit about murals, we introduce culture using the book, “Shake It Morena!” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Teachers read the Authors note, which talked about what makes up someone’s culture: food, music, games, religion, art & language.  We read some excerpts from, “Shake it Morena!” & “Puerto Rico” by Davis Publishing and talked about Puerto Rican culture that Martin Soto’s talked about.  After reading and discussing, we fill out half a graphic organizer about all the information about Puerto Rican Culture such as: food, music, games, art, language.  Once completed, then the kids filled out the other half, which is all about their culture.  It was easy for the children to make connections to their own culture once we explored Puerto Rico and Martin Soto.  We discussed the activities they do with their families related to food, music, games, art & language.


Learning Segment 8:


In the art room we learned about Martin Soto’s murals.  We talked about composition of murals and showed examples of many murals to point out overlapping, size and placement of images. 


We circled 5-7 of their most special objects to things from their “my culture” worksheet from class.  We sketched a plan of their mural in their journal. The art teacher emphasized overlapping and large size should be used while drawing.  Once completing their sketch plan, they shared to with a friend and ask for some feedback.  After their sketch was approved, by the teacher, they could get an 8x10 photo paper picture of a blank wall from around the school.  They transferred their sketch plan to the wall photo, outlined it with sharpie and colored it with colored pencils.


Learning Segment 9:


To go along with the mural, teachers gave a mini-lesson about persuasive writing. Focusing on the topic they are trying to persuade, who it the audience, and supporting details.  They wrote a letter to the principal explaining why their “cultural mural” should go on the wall at school.  After the mini-lesson the students used their mural drawing and completed a graphic organizer to complete their persuasive letter.  Once they gathered all their information, students wrote their persuasive letter rough draft.  Students and teachers edited, and they wrote the final.



Summative Assessment

Students drew upon what they learned about Puerto Rican Culture and relate it to their own culture.

Students can thoroughly explain what make up culture and how music relates to culture.

Students can write an narrative story along with their artwork and write a persuasive letter to administration.

Students edit rough drafts.

Teachers check for understanding of overlapping, size and composition in their artwork.

Formative Assessment:

Classroom teacher used a six trait rubric for their narrative writing and persuasive letter.  

Rubric for final assessment final art pieces, gesture drawing and mural.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.