Recipe for a Great Learning Curve


Note-taking or Listening Exercise

Based on Diego Riveraís Mural of Pan American Unity

1. Give students the pre-test questions.

2. Explain that the pre-test wonít count towards their grade, but it will help them focus on what youíre going to tell them.

3. Collect their pre-test answers. (This is very important to make sure that they donít add information on the pre-lecture test after youíve spoken.)

4. Give a short talk appropriate to your course focus and including the points given on the Pre-Lecture/Post-Lecture Test Answer Sheet.

Sample Lecture to be Adapted by YOU

City College has a mural by a very famous painter. What is a mural? Thatís right. It comes from the Latin word murus, which means wall, and itís a painting done directly on a wall, not just hung like a framed picture. Murals often show the concerns, hopes, values, etc. of the community of people where the murals are painted. Well, back in 1940, as part of Art in Action at the Golden Gate International Exposition, the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera painted a mural called Pan American Unity. People at the GGIE got to watch him painting it. After the fair he gave it to City College for a new library that Timothy Pflueger had designed. Timothy Pflueger was an architect who helped design the Bay Bridge and also designed the Castro Theatre and other famous buildings in San Francisco. He appears in the mural. Anyway, Timothy Pflueger died before the library was built, and the mural was put into storage and kept in storage until Rivera died in 1957. City College was planning a new theatre, and the drawings for that theatre were changed somewhat for the mural. In 1961 the ten panels of the mural were finally lined up, welded together, once again a wall, and a protective wall was built around it. Now people from all over the world are coming to see it. Diego Riveraís Mural of Pan American Unity is valued at more than fourteen million dollars. (Apologies for putting a price tag on art, but itís an attention-getter!) Some people say itís the most important work of art ever created in the Bay Area. There are many important themes in the mural: The Native American (from king to cigar store Indian), Womenís roles (in the Tehuantepec society where women had a superior position as craftwomen, actress, painter, pioneer mother, seamstress)Technology (machines, inventors), Liberators and tyrants (Morelos, Hidalgo, Bolivar, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, John Brown versus Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini), geological phenomena/natural resources (Mt. Popocatepetl and Mt. Ixtaccihuatl/Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen, mining for gold), mythology and science (Quetzalcoatl/Coatlicue and Netzahualcoatl, Ford, Edison, Morse).

So City College is really lucky to have this treasure. You can see it in the Diego Rivera Theatre on the Phelan Campus. Thereís also a copy at the Mission Campus and online at

5. Ask for and answer any questions.

6. Then give them the same questions they tried to answer earlier.

7. Collect the results and compare.

8. Find an encouraging increase in their knowledge!

9. Contact Tina Martin or L233, 50 Phelan, about the results and win praises and prizes, like a free brochure of the mural!

Recipe for a Dictocomp

(A dictocomp is a short summary students write of a short lecture.)

1. Before you lecture, ask the students to write everything they know about Diego Riveraís Mural of Pan American Unity.

2. Collect their compositions.

3. Give a brief "lecture" like the one above while they take notes.

4. Ask them to summarize what youíve said.

5. Collect the results and compare them with the earlier papers.

6. Find an encouraging increase in their knowledge.

7. Contact Tina Martin or L233, 50 Phelan, about the results and win praises and prizes, like a free brochure of the mural!

Docent tours of the mural and a carousel of slides are available to enhance your lesson!


Please feel free to adapt this anyway you like-letting students take a pre-test and then share knowledge, do a jigsaw, read an article in print, research online, take a tour, or whatever will increase their knowledge before they take the test again.