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Creating a Caring Community in High School

Are we stressed at the High School?


Diana Whittington

Diana Whittington
Washington High School

Students will learn about the effects of stress, ways to bring awareness and will explore numerous ways to alleviate stress through the creation of two individual projects and then a collaborative group mural. These include learning how color affects stress and emotions (Project-Monochromatic Emotional Self-Portraits); how pet can provide mental and physical health benefits, in addition to relieving stress (Project-Expressive Pet Portraits); and how to help others be aware of stressors and ways to alleviate stress (Culminating Project-Group Mural).

Main Objectives

  • To use multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors.
  • To hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.
  • To collaboratively develop a proposal for an installation, artwork, or space design that transforms the perception and experience of a particular place.

Unit Lesson Plan

Unit Overview

Lesson 1: How are emotions and art connected?

This lesson is the entry event to introduce background information to students. Students will be participating and understanding the concepts presented. Visual observation of the art activity will provide instant assessment of understanding. Group discussion will help clarify exactly what and how much the students have mastered.

Key info:

  • Students will watch YouTube video on topic of teens and stress:
  • Students will use the jigsaw strategy to read, discuss and share articles about teens and stress. Stress is a serious problem for teens.
  • Students will illustrate various emotions and learn that the use of color and line can be used to show emotion.

Lesson 1 Resources

  1. Article: Why are Teens so Stressed & What can Break the Cycle
  2. Article: Stress Talk
  3. Article: Socioeconomic Differences in Adolescent Stress: The Role of Psychological Resources
  4. Article: Causes of Stress
  5. Article: Causes of Stress, Continued
  6. Article: Management of Teen Stress

Download Lesson 1 Plan

Lesson 2: Emotional Monochromatic Self-Portraits

Students will learn about the effects of stress and color on emotion. They will experiment will illustrate an emotion. They will understand and demonstrate using multiple values of one color to create contrast.

Key info:

  • Read, share and discuss articles on how color and stress affect us.
  • Take pictures of yourself looking stressed, happy, sad, mad, etc. Pick one to turn into a painting.
  • Draw and precise grid on canvas, use the grid drawing tool website to grid the photo. Sketch your portrait on the canvas.
  • Create a value scale with a minimum of 5 tints and shades.
  • Paint your portrait using the value scale in your choice of color.

Lesson 2 Resources

  1. Color Psychology: Does it affect how you feel?
  2. 7 relaxing colors and how they affect your mood!
  3. The effects of room color on stress perception: Red versus Green environments
  4. How do I eliminate stress with color?
  5. How color affects your mood
  6. Color Psychology: the emotional effects of colors
  7. Psychological properties of colours
  8. The psychology and meaning of colors

Download Lesson 2 Plan

Lesson 3: Expressive Pet Portraits

Students will develop skills at using color for expression. Students will also learn of the benefits of animals (pets) to out mental and physical health.

Key info:

  • Students will learn about the positive benefits of animals on our mental and physical health.
  • Students will learn how to project an image to be traced.
  • Students will learn how to mix colors effectively.
  • Students will learn how to use brush stroked to effectively create fur-like textures.
  • Students will experiment using color expressively.

Lesson 3 Resources

  1. American Royal Industry partners: Kristi Larson, Pet Partners- Julie Goodwin, Anita Metoyer—Academy Coordinator.

Download Lesson 3 Plan

Lesson 4: Our Caring Community Mural

Students will collaborate to generate ideas and directions for creating a mural to bring awareness to mental health issues. They will visualize what a caring community looks like and work to affect social change.

Key info:

  • Students have a voice/choice to create a space to bring awareness to an issue.
  • Students can help bring about social change with their artwork.
  • Students can collaborate to create something together that could not be accomplished individually.
  • Students can use various techniques to create a collaborative artwork.


Lesson 4 Resources

  1. Jose Faus - local mural artist
  2. Student advisory board
  3. Students in Ms. Bailey & Ms. Cabrera-Johnson classes
  4. Christine Green - Director of Alcott Arts Center
  5. Mattie Rhodes Art Center

Download Lesson 4 Plan

Lesson 5: Learning how to work together efficiently

Students need this lesson to learn what characteristics are necessary to work together efficiently.

Key info:

  • Students will learn that it is important to learn to work collaboratively because studies show that collaborative learning teams attain higher levels of achievement and retain information longer than individual learners.
  • Students will learn what it takes to be an efficient group.
  • Students will establish group goals and group norms.


Lesson 5 Resources

  1. Techniques of community murals
  2. Facilitating collaborative learning: 20 things you need to know from the pros

Download Lesson 5 Plan


University of Kansas Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160