Self-Portrait Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach students about the artistic selfie with this lesson plan. Students discern between a portrait and self-portrait, then take a look at mediums used by prominent artists. Finish up with application of skills.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'self-portrait'
  • explain the difference between a self-portrait and a portrait
  • discuss mediums used to create self-portraits


1 - 2 hours


  • Images of self-portraits by prominent artists, such as Degas, Van Gogh, or Picasso
  • Copies of the printable lesson quiz
  • Cameras
  • Canvas, one for each student
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint
  • Mirrors

Key Vocabulary

  • Self-portrait
  • Genre
  • Photorealism
  • Expressionism

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.


  • Engage students with the topic by asking showing images of self-portraits and allowing them to make observations. Discuss methods, mediums, and content.
  • Now start the lesson What is a Self-Portrait? - Definition, Artists & Examples.
  • Pause at 1:27 and ask:
    • How are mediums in paintings different from those in photography?
    • How does defining the differences between media aid in distinguishing formal practices and stylistic tendencies?
  • Have students discuss the difference between a portrait and a self-portrait with their seat-mates, then discuss as a class.
  • Resume the lesson and pause again at 3:10. List the three ways to discern a self-portrait together as a class, then show them images of portraits and self-portraits and allow them to determine which are which.
  • Restart the lesson and pause at 4:04. Discuss:
    • What did you notice about the Degas painting compared to the photograph? Which do you prefer?
    • Do you think a selfie is art? Why or why not?
  • Play the Lesson Summary and answer any remaining questions.
  • Check for student understanding by giving them the printable lesson quiz, then checking over as a group.

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