Ansel Adams Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Who was Ansel Adams and how did he make his mark in the art world? This lesson plan uses an informative text lesson to summarize the artist's life and work for students. An activity will help to solidify students' understanding.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize the life and work of Ansel Adams
  • highlight key features of Ansel Adams' work


1.5 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.


Follow precisely a complex multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.


Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).


Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.


Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.


  • Several images of Ansel Adams' work
  • Paper copies of the text lesson Who is Ansel Adams? - Biography, Facts & Photography
  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated text lesson
  • Assorted items from nature (e.g. leaf, pine cone, rock, and so on)
  • Digital cameras
  • Access to computers with basic photo editing software
  • Printer


  • Begin by displaying the example images of the work of Ansel Adams for the class.
    • What stands out to you in these images?
    • Can anyone name the artist who took these photographs?
  • Pass out the paper copies of the text lesson to the class now, one copy per student.
  • Instruct the class to read the introduction and 'Artistic Style' sections of the text lesson now.
    • Did anyone correctly identify the artist as Ansel Adams?
    • How did Ansel Adams' early life influence his career?
    • Can you identify the elements of contrast and sharpness in the examples on display in the classroom?
    • Why do you think Ansel Adams primarily used black and white photography over color?
  • Have the class read the remainder of the text lesson now.
    • How are Ansel Adams' conservationist ideals reflected in his work?
  • What is the lasting legacy of Ansel Adams?
  • Review key points from the text lesson with the class as you allow students to ask and answer any questions they may have.
  • Pass out the worksheet to the class, one copy per student.
  • Ask the students to work independently to complete the worksheet.
  • When all students have completed the worksheet, review each question and answer as they self-grade their papers.

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