Minorpieces of the Renaissance

6th graders are studying the Renaissance and Italy. All subjects have integrated bits and pieces to this central topic. In Science, they studies anatomy, biology and Da Vinci’s sketches. In English, they read “Romeo and Juliet,” and in Social Studies, they created a Google Presentation about a famous Renaissance-era figure. In music, they are exploring Renaissance music, and today in Art, I asked the kids to visit http://artstor.org and locate a Renaissance painting of their choice.

Artstor is an amazing resource of crazy-high resolution images of priceless art and artifacts curated lovingly by Columbia University.

When you go to save an image, a pop-up window asks if you agree to their terms of use.  I had pretty great discussions in each of the 3 classes about what it means to click “I agree.” We downloaded and skimmed The K-12 Terms and Conditions of Use together, and recognized that we were agreeing to use the images for a school project and not for any commercial purposes.


At the next step, when you actually choose the location where you are going to place the file, another popup alerts that library.artstor.org would like to install an applet on your computer. I listed the sort of information Artstor could gather from us: make and model of computer, web browser, IP address, network address, location, time of download, etc. This begat a conversation about how every time you click your mouse on a website, information is gathered and stored about your visit. I constantly reinforce that everything we do online is public, permanent, and traceable. One day it will fully sink in. Until then, my students will just have to bear with me repeating myself daily.

After answering tons of questions, I reinforced one last time that Columbia University and Artstor were worthy of our trust and we should confidently click “I agree” and “OK” and “Bring it.” The kids located an image to use. They took a photo of themselves at an appropriate angle for their chosen image (either with PhotoBooth or a digital camera), and imported the painting and their self-portrait into Photoshop. I then taught them how to use the magic wand, magnetic lasso, and eraser tools, adjust the tolerance and point size, and layer the cut-out of themselves into their chosen painting. Some of the results made me laugh out loud.

Here’s a photo of the process:


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