Now that we have spent time exploring different techniques for introducing inquiry and works of art into your teaching, let's talk about how you can make connections between artworks and classroom content in the structure of a lesson or unit of study. Often my problem is that there are so many things to choose from, that I have a hard time narrowing down all the possibilities. To help guide my thinking, I usually start by asking myself a series of questions. What big ideas do I want the students to learn/explore through works of art? It's critical that you are clear about what exactly you would like your students to gain from the experience. Once I have answered this question I then ask myself: What types of objects and information will I need and how will I frame them for the students? The way that we approach this process at MoMA is by teaching with a specific theme. Many of you probably already teach using themes, but for clarity, I want to share with you the way we will define theme in this course: A good theme is a broad concept that can be explored in depth and on many levels; a universal lens through which to view artworks; A GOOD theme is also: visually evident in the works of art; relevant to students' lives and classroom content; provokes deep thought and critical thinking. In our School Visit program at MoMA we work closely with teachers to develop lessons in the Museum that can be introduced and expanded upon in the classroom. The themes we use are designed to provide points of entry into the conversation and to allow for connections to be made between the artwork and students' personal experiences. These broad themes can then be refined and focused to a topic or essential question. Here are some examples of themes we use here at MoMA that were developed specifically to connect to K-12 classrooms. Characters Spaces & Places Everyday Objects Narrative in Art Identity Art Redefined Society & Politics When you refine your theme toward a topic or essential question, it will provide added focus to your inquiry. Once you have your established theme and topic, you can scaffold questions, information and activities to help support your student's exploration. Here are examples of the same themes with suggested topics and a sample activity: Elementary School (K--5) Characters: Explore the different decisions artists make when representing people. Students might explore portrait attributes, symbolism, identity, form, and narrative. Spaces & Places: Explore the different ways artists represent place. Students might discuss how artists create a sense of place, their environments, landscapes, or the different kinds of spaces we inhabit. Everyday Objects: Examine everyday objects used or depicted in works of art. Students will compare and contrast art and design objects, exploring the concepts of form and function. Narrative in Art: Discover visual stories in works of art. Students will explore the ways that artist depict characters and events in works of art. Middle and High School (6-12) Identity: Examine how art conveys identity through the lens of symbolism, context, and students' own perceptions of contemporary culture. Students might focus on individual and community identity, symbolism, personal environments, and memory. Art Redefined: Students may explore artists' conceptual processes, examine issues of artistic intention and interpretation and debate, and challenge different definitions of art. Society & Politics: Examine specific works of art in relation to the social and political contexts in which they were created. Students might be encouraged to reflect on how artists interpret and represent different experiences and events. Teaching Tip! When developing a theme, ask yourself these questions: Is the theme/topic/essential question central to the artworks? Is it relevant to classroom content? Does it spark interesting ideas? Incorporating contextual information about the artworks and artists is also a critical piece in developing your inquiry-based lessons. As we discussed in previous weeks, it is important to not give your students all the information up front, but instead, layer it in when it is appropriate. You should know the content well enough to answer questions, but you should also be comfortable saying "I don't know." The information you choose should: be folded into the discussion where it is relevant to the conversation; lead to a deeper understanding of the artwork; support your exploration of your theme and topic. Next I will show you how you can gather resources including information for your lessons from the MoMA Learning site. We designed MoMA Learning as a tool for teachers, students and lifelong learners to learn about modern and contemporary art. Although it is a site for anyone to use anywhere, we have developed some very specific resources for teachers. The site is a great place to go to gather supporting materials and also to get ideas about ways that you can integrate Modern and Contemporary art into your classroom. One option is to start here on the homepage and search by "themes." MoMA Learning content is framed by themes and topics that support links across objects in MoMA's collection. Any of the themes listed here could be explored on their own or combined with the themes we discussed earlier. For example, if I wanted to develop a lesson for younger students on the Theme of Spaces and Places, then I might want explore Landscapes: Real and Imagined. The content on the theme page provides you with an overview of big ideas that relate to the theme and to the works of art. You can scroll through a slideshow of images related to the theme and double click on any to get additional information. Further down on the page we have Questions and Activities that you can use with your students. You can copy and pasted this text or scroll up to the "Tools and Tips" section where we have all of the content in downloadable worksheets in addition to a PPT slideshow of all of the images that are included in the theme. If you scroll back down the page, below the questions and activities' we have provided links to online resources that also relate to each theme and artworks. Let's scroll back up and look at the object page for Starry Night. On the object page you will find what is called tombstone information. This information includes the title, artist, date, dimensions, and biographical information about the artist. Below the image we have some text that talks about the work of art. If you choose the EXPLORE OBJECT option you can see additional information that relates to specific visual details included in the work of art. We've included contextual images, audio and information about these details. Although I would not necessarily share all of this information, exploring it all helps me get a better understanding of the artwork. The highlighted terms are linked to a glossary, which allows you to also introduce vocabulary into your discussion. Also included on the object page is any multimedia content we have about the artwork. You could also choose to explore this artwork in greater detail on the Google Art Project. At any point you could choose "See this work in MoMA's online Collection." This will give you additional information and allow you to search for any other images by this artist. You can even create your own account and save images or web pages to our site. Starry Night is also included in Modern Landscapes under the What is Modern Art? What is a Modern Art is a great theme to work with, as it allows for many cross disciplinary connections. You can adjust your focus and content selection based on the age of your students. Now that we have spent some time looking at the various resources that you can choose from, let's outline some possible connections to the classroom. I think for most teachers they see works of art as a primary source in the art and art history classroom. But using a work of art as a central focus can be a great catalyst and connection to across disciplines. Here are just a few examples of some curricular connections. English/Language Arts: Poetry and Writing Elements of a Story Character, Mood, Plot and Setting Exploring Cultural narratives 19th and 20th Century Poetry/ Writing inspired by visual artists Modernism: Poetry/Writing that inspired works of art History and Social Studies: Environment Community Rural vs. Urban History Modern Innovation: 19th century, early 20th changing modern life Major events and their cultural significance The impact of world events on artistic thought You can also make connections to Math and Science. Math and Science: Math: Geometry, Pattern, Tessellations Science: Physics, Light and Color, Nature Math and Science: Motion Studies Whatever you're connecting to, your methods for guiding the inquiry won't change; you will just have more resources to engage your students with! Have faith in your experience and the rest will follow!