Ann Alexander
Instructional Design
EDTC 6321 Spring 2006
Project IU5

Using OPTIC for Visual Analysis



This lesson will start off with students and a facilitator discussing the various literary devices writers use to convey meaning.  Since the intended audience is made up of Pre-AP Eng. II students, it can be assumed that they are familiar with literary devices.  A brief review is included to be used with this discussion.  Included in this list should be symbolism, imagery, figurative language (simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification, etc.), irony, foreshadowing, etc.  Students will then be asked what strategies they think an artist could use to convey meaning in paintings, photographs, screen prints, etc.  The instructor should now project an image of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Launching Chains of the “Great Eastern” and students should be given 5 minutes to specifically verbalize their first impression of this visual.  The instructor or a student recorder will keep track of these impressions by recording them on a whiteboard or piece of paper. After students have had 5 minutes to voice their observations, students should be told that future AP English exams might include a visual for analysis and that we are going to learn a strategy that can assist them in that analysis. 


Content Presentation:

The facilitator should introduce the acronym OPTIC and the components that make it up (using the discussion outline) by handing out a paper copy of the discussion outline and going through each component, visually comparing the steps to the photograph, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Launching Chains of the “Great Eastern”, by Robert Howlett (displayed through handed out copies, through a transparency, or digitally displayed with the use of a data projector). This will be done by having the facilitator guide the students through an analysis of Howlett’s photograph and the step-by-step process of the OPTIC strategy, using the key (in the form of a handout) while concurrently discussing responses to the corresponding components of the OPTIC acronym strategies.



For the next analysis, it is imperative that students have a copy of all the materials used up to this point as a resource and model for responses. Make sure all students have printed copies of the discussion outline, Howlett photograph, key for its OPTIC analysis, and a copy of the assessment rubric for reference.  Students will complete another OPTIC analysis as an exercise and then will be assessed on their ability to successfully analyze a third visual using the OPTIC method (both to be completed with a partner).  Students will read the assessment rubric prior to their exercise analysis.  After reading the rubric, give students a color copy of (or display to the class) Double Portrait of the Artist in Time, by Helen Lundeberg, and have them analyze it with their partners.  Students should present their responses in the same format as the key from the Howlett photograph.  Students will need at least 10-15 minutes to complete the exercise.  After all students have had a chance to complete this analysis, give them the key for the Lundeberg painting and have them assess their competency through the rubric.  Remind students that the key represents suggested responses and that their answers may be similar, but not exact.  Students with questions as to the acceptability of their responses should refer to their grading rubrics.  Following is a brief synopsis for acceptable answers at each step of the OPTIC analysis:

Overview:  The student’s statement should be a complete sentence that describes the visual with enough detail so that someone not looking at the visual would have a general idea of what is contained in the visual.
Parts: The student should have written down 60 – 100% of the parts listed on the key for the visual and written down details for each part according to color, placement, attitude, size, and orientation.
Title: The student should have written down the title of the visual and the name of the artist.
Images: The student should have written down a list showing relationships of at least 60 – 100% of the parts they cited.  The key represents possible responses.
Conclusion:  The student should have written down at least 2 phrases showing a relationship between the image phrases and the title of the visuals and should have written one to two complete sentences expressing this summation of relationships.



Give students a color copy (or display) of The Death of the Gravedigger, by Carlos Schwabe.  They will complete an assessment of their ability to analyze a visual using the OPTIC method through their analysis of this painting.  They may use all notes and keys that they have been given up to this point and will complete their assessment with their partner.  Students should refer to the assessment rubric prior to beginning their analysis and should strive for 80% proficiency.  Students should be given 15 to 20 minutes to complete their assessment.  Students should present their responses in the same format as illustrated in the keys.


Visuals & Keys

Literary Device review

OPTIC Discussion Outline

Sample visual and key
Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Launching Chains of the “Great Eastern”, by Robert Howlett
Sample Key

Visual for exercise and key
Double Portrait of the Artist in Time, by Helen Lundeberg
Exercise Key

Visual for assessment and key
The Death of the Gravedigger, by Carlos Schwabe
Assessment Key

Assessment Rubric


Note:  Students will not be provided with a pre-formatted chart as it may limit their responses.