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Yvonne Troxell
Robert Lamothe
Joan Syms

Teacher Bio
Yvonne Troxell teaches Art at South Boston Odyssey, Excel, and Monument High Schools. She has also taught elementary Art for a number of years. A strong advocate for experiential learning and student directed curriculum, she finds service learning to be valuable for both students and teachers. Yvonne is a Lead Teacher for the Boston Public Schools and a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent through Young Adult Visual Art.

Currently a Technology Teacher at Young Achievers, a BPS Pilot School, Robert Lamothe taught Instructional Technology at South Boston's Excel High where he and his students enthusiastically contributed to this project.

Joan Syms, Art Teacher at Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA), a School to Career School, has been a Boston Public School teacher for 20 years. She has taught Reading, Special Education classes and Art at all levels. Graduating from Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University and with a MEd from UMass Boston, Yvonne incorporates technology, photography, and computer visualizations into her multi-cultural arts curricula.

Subject Areas
Visual Arts, Web Design and Advanced Multi-Media Presentations, English Language Arts, Social Studies

Grade Levels
9 - 12



Artists Act Against Homelessness


Key Question How can art students understand the causes of homelessness and help homeless families?

Overview Homelessness in the big city. Do young people see it as a curse or a cause to be addressed? Three high school classes, in the fields of visual arts and instructional technology, vow to do something. Collaborating on ways to understand homelessness, they research and discuss issues. The young artists identify university and community partnerships that provide opportunities to use their art and media skills. Making murals for a homeless children's party, organizing a conference on homelessness, and working at an after school program for homeless children allow them to explore causes and solutions. Determined that their messages will be seen and heard, students produce and exhibit a web site, videos, and graphic arts confirming that artists can successfully act against homelessness.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Agree to collaborate with 3 classes on homelessness.
Read articles & view teacher produced slide show on homelessness.
Discuss service options.
Work with children at after-school program for homeless children.
Work with Mass College of Art students to create murals & jewelry for a Christmas in the City party.
Plan homelessness conference at UMass Boston.
Produce web site, art, creative writing & video to document project.
Make quilt for homeless shelter.
Prepare display boards for school art exhibit.
Arrange dates & visits to homeless shelter.
Work with children on original play & books about life in a shelter.
Install murals at party for homeless children & photograph participants.
Spend day at UMass Boston homeless conference.
Screen student produced video at Mass College of Art.
Donate quilt to homeless shelter.
Exhibit boards, art & creative writing at exhibit.
Show video & explain activities to students, staff, parents & administrators during exhibit.
Reflect & plan to continue making art as a conveyor of messages about homelessness.
Interview media teacher about experience as Web Developer.
Discuss requirements leading to National Board Certification with Visual Arts teacher.
View videos of artists as social activists.
View how successful documentary filmmaking can influence public opinion.
Investigate opportunities in multi media field.
Understand how social programs help homeless families.
Research how Youth Opportunity Grants can prepare young people for lifelong learning & employment.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Use agreed-upon rules for informal and formal discussions in small and large groups.
Actively listen, respond to, and build on ideas generated during group discussions.
Use information to inform or change their perspectives.
Summarize and evaluate what they have learned from the discussion.
Conduct interviews for research projects and writing.
Facilitate discussion groups independent from the teacher.
Ask for clarification when others' responses are unclear.


Identify visual or aural techniques used in a media message for a particular audience.
Create media presentations that effectively use graphics, images, and/or sound to present a distinct point of view on a topic.
Apply established criteria for assessing effectiveness of presentation, style, and content of films and other forms of electronic communication.

Social Studies

Be familiar with the historical key people, places, events, documents, movements, and other details.
Order events and construct timelines.
Demonstrate an understanding of cause and effect, and the relations between events.
Make connections between key people and events.
Compare and contrast ideas, rituals, customs, and concerns.


Connect visual art making to other curriculum areas.
Select appropriate materials to express ideas.
Understand and applying the elements of art and design.
Use self-assessment as a learning tool.
Show craftsmanship and responsibility to one's work.
Cooperate and collaborate during group projects.

School to Career Competencies

Demonstrate Communication and Literacy Skills.
Organize and Analyze Information.
Identify and solve problems.
Use technology.
Interact with others.
Act professionally.
Complete Entire Activities.


Students respond to questionnaires before and after events. Web Site development and video are regularly discussed during weekly conferences with technology instructor. Art teachers and students use rubric to self evaluate graphic arts and creative writing portfolios. Guidelines outline expectations for reflections. Homeless shelter workers give anecdotal summaries of students' mentoring during after school program.

Software or Materials Used For technology: see web page. For videos on artists: Jacob Lawrence, The Glory of Expression 1999: L & S Videos; Faith Ringgold, The Last Story Quilt 1999: L & S Videos; Diego Rivera, Portrait of an Artist: The Frescos of Diego Rivera 2002: Home Vision Entertainment. For literature on homelessness: articles from newspapers and periodicals and from the Internet; for literature on art: To Conserve a Legacy, American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities catalogue of exhibition 1999: Addison Gallery of American Art & The Studio Museum in Harlem; Spirits of the Cloth: Contemporary African American Quilts by Carolyn Mazloomi, 1998: Clarkson N. Potter

Teacher Developed Materials Guidelines and Questionnaires, Computer Slide Show, Collaboration on Web Site, Rubric for Art Self Assessment

Student Developed Materials Video on Homelessness, Photography, Art Work, Quilt, Web Site, Books with children at shelter, Reflections

Web Sites See list on Artists Act Against Homelessness

Final Words Students learn to value and respect the lives and experiences of other people through observation, communication, and self-expression. Using technology and the arts as expressive tools, students gain insight into themselves and their society, and develop a desire to impact change.

Teacher Tip We have learned so much as educators and artists about our own students and the way learning happens. This project will be ongoing because there are always more questions and new ways to look for answers. After a screening of our students' video, one student turned to us and said, "I have more work to do."

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