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High [9th-12th] Unit Plan

Ceramics of World Cultures

Created on October 04, 2011 by Astabeth

This is a six-week long unit where the students will research the art of different cultures around the world and create several ceramic items, culminating in one large ceramic piece that combines elements from the ceramic art of a particular culture with elements that define the student.

36 Keeps, 11 Likes, 2 Comments

10+ sessions; 60 minutes per session

1. SWBAT recognize stylistic differences between the ceramic art of different cultures.
2. SWBAT construct a ceramic item using the pinch / modeling method.
3. SWBAT construct a ceramic item using the coil method.
4. SWBAT construct a ceramic item using the slab method.
5. SWBAT join ceramic pieces using the score and slip method.
6. SWBAT problem solve when constructing a ceramic work (repairing cracks, etc.).
7. SWBAT use a variety of finishing / decorating techniques for ceramic art.
8. SWBAT use research to inform their own ceramic creations.
9. SWBAT create an artwork that features elements of their personality or personal iconography.
10. SWBAT create an artwork that reflects the style of another culture.

1. Student access to the internet.
2. Student access to a presentation program, such as PowerPoint.
3. Clay
4. Kiln
5. Glazes, slips, underglazes, etc.
6. Tools for working with clay.
7. Space for storage of works in progress.

Need these materials? Visit Blick!

1. Students are to examine art of various cultures, using the internet. The Met's website ( is recommended.
2. Students choose three cultures whose art they like. After evaluating each culture's ceramic items (with an emphasis on utilitarian objects), the student will create a PowerPoint that tells a little about each culture and their ceramic art. Each presentation should cover 3 cultures, with at least 5 ceramic items from each culture. Students must cite sources.
3. From each culture, the student should choose from the five images the work they think best represents the ceramic art of that culture, based on skill, functionality, and stylistic traits. This work should be highlighted in the student's presentation.
4. From the three works that are highlighted, the student should choose one and create a slide with an explanation of how they think it was created, step-by-step.
5. The student will write an art critique of the piece using the four steps of art criticism.
6. The student will create three different designs for original artworks based on this culture. The designs must also reflect the student's personality, with elements that represent him/her. One of these sketches will be made as the final project, after steps 7-10 are complete.
7. While the student is researching and working on their presentation, they will also design 3 pinch pots in their sketchbook, with decoration and measurements. After consulting with the instructor, the student will choose and create one of these.
8. While the student is researching and working on their presentation, they will also design 3 coil pots in their sketchbook, with decoration and measurements. These may contain pinched elements. After consulting with the instructor, the student will choose and create one of these.
9. While the student is researching and working on their presentation, they will also design 3 slab pots in their sketchbook, with decoration and measurements. These may contain pinched and/or coiled elements. After consulting with the instructor, the student will choose and create one of these.
10. While the student is researching and working on their presentation, they will also design 3 combination pots in their sketchbook, with decoration and measurements. These are pieces that contain pinched, coiled, and slabbed elements (such as a slab-built teapot with a coiled spout and a pinched lid). The sketches for this piece should show that the piece represents the student in some way. After consulting with the instructor, the student will choose and create one of these.
11. After all of the above steps are completed, the student will meet with the instructor and discuss their final project designs. The student will create an original work based on one of the sketches. The student should keep in mind how the artwork will represent him/her while still reflecting the chosen culture.
12. After the artwork is fired, glazed, and completed, the student will use the rubric provided by the instructor to evaluate the work.
13. The student will write a critique (using the four steps of art criticism) of his/her work and the work of another student.
14. The student will write a reflection of the work discussing what he/she learned, what he/she would do differently, how this project will help in future projects, etc.

Students will be assessed based on the attached rubric. Points will be deducted for incompleteness, lack of complexity, or craftsmanship issues.

Guiding question: How does culture influence art?

This is set up as an IB MYP unit.

I teach this over the course of an entire six weeks, with a couple of additional lessons - safety, demonstrations of techniques, decoration and surface finishing - thrown in.

The students had due dates attached to the presentation and each of the ceramic items. They presented their presentation to the class.

Last year was the first time I used this project, and the results were far beyond what any of my prior students had even attempted. None of these students had worked with clay - and check out the images!

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.


Visual Arts Standard 1:
Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

[9-12 Advanced] Students communicate ideas regularly at a high level of effectiveness in at least one visual arts medium
[9-12 Advanced] Students initiate, define, and solve challenging visual arts problems independently using intellectual skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
[9-12 Proficient] Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks
[9-12 Proficient] Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Visual Arts Standard 2:
Using knowledge of structures and functions

[9-12 Proficient] Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art
[9-12 Proficient] Students create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems
[9-12 Proficient] Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions

Visual Arts Standard 3:
Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

[9-12 Advanced] Students describe the origins of specific images and ideas and explain why they are of value in their artwork and in the work of others
[9-12 Proficient] Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life
[9-12 Advanced] Students evaluate and defend the validity of sources for content and the manner in which subject matter, symbols, and images are used in the students' works and in significant works by others
[9-12 Proficient] Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture

Visual Arts Standard 4:
Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

[9-12 Advanced] Students analyze common characteristics of visual arts evident across time and among cultural/ethnic groups to formulate analyses, evaluations, and interpretations of meaning
[9-12 Proficient] Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making
[9-12 Proficient] Students differentiate among a variety of historical and cultural contexts in terms of characteristics and purposes of works of art
[9-12 Proficient] Students describe the function and explore the meaning of specific art objects within varied cultures, times, and places

Visual Arts Standard 5:
Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

[9-12 Proficient] Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works
[9-12 Proficient] Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art
[9-12 Proficient] Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts

Visual Arts Standard 6:
Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

[9-12 Proficient] Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences

Pre-Columbian, Orientalism, Oceanic Art, Mesopotamia, Islamic Art, Indigenous American Art, Asian Art, Ancient Near Eastern Art, African Art, Ancient Egypt

Balance, Form, Proportion/Size, Space, Texture

Ceramics, Drawing

Multicultural Studies

  • Shamsa 03/28/2012 at 12:21am
    Thank you! Your ceramics unit will be a great help. Made my day!

  • AmyHall 04/02/2012 at 06:40am
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! We are in the process of applying for IB, so I'm in need of some MYP units!