10471215_659584390776448_4613437530719761506_o

Connecting Collections: Integrating Modern and Contemporary Art into the Classroom

This summer Museum School headed to New York for some intensive learning.  We participated in the program,”Connecting Collections: Integrating Modern and Contemporary Art into the Classroom“.  It was organized by the education staffs of MoMA, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Before we left for New York, each participant was given two artworks to research.  This gave us the opportunity to explore the abundant online resources for teachers on each of the museum’s websites.  (MoMa, Guggenheim, Whitney, Met)  This is often an overlooked resource – art museums have a lot of art and content about art!  You will find artist and curator videos, art reproductions, lesson plans and much more.

When we arrived on our first morning, we broke into two groups looking for story connection and history/social study connections.  MoMA is a massive, crowded, overwhelming space filled with mind blowing art.  Somehow, our educators carved out space for us to work and discover how ‘theme’ can be developed and woven through carefully chosen works of art.

Picasso tableau

At the Whitney we were treated to a Jeff Koon retrospective and challenged with finding good questions to dig deep into the world of Koons!  How can you tell if you have created an open ended question?  It doesn’t have a correct answer. (That question, ironically, wasn’t open ended.)

Jeff Koons, "Play Doh"

At the Guggenheim we explored when, what and how much content do we give students when we teach.  This is the heart of inquiry based learning.  Without fail, the curiosity should come first.  We remember content when it was something we desire to know. 

10454084_659529920781895_8011016031439030104_o

10494312_659529930781894_6975039000178054125_o

We went rooftop at the Met. Definitely my favourite view of New York.  Spectacular.  Three different educators with three different approaches involved us in a multidimensional, sensory and argumentative look at modern art.  We used drawing, debating and our senses to experience art. Great day!

10546987_659530830781804_9185343724158663494_o

10498668_659530850781802_3826436456573040213_o

To wrap our week, author and educator, Laurel Schmidt, talked about learning, inquiry and the greatness that can be achieved in the classroom.  Inspiring stuff.  How do we learn? Novelty.  How do we make that learning indelible? In a number of ways:

10562904_10152597910968980_477547358_o

The week wrapped with a ‘Share Fair’.  Putting our learning into Practice.  It felt a bit like what I imagine speed dating would feel like except it had the energy of a bee hive.  Great ideas, great energy, great week.

10551593_660584254009795_2057964218137188703_o

(Photo credit to Connecting Collections Teacher Institute Facebook page – check it out!)

photo-3

This Week in Museum School: May 2014

May 16, 2014

When students come to Glenbow we often see a remarkable transition.  Ideally, by day three of their week, the students have left the “Look! Look! Look!” of their initial distracted excitement behind and become true explorers; slowing down and looking and thinking deeply.  This week, we were constantly amazed at how much we learned from a group of grade 4 students!

On Wednesday, we looked at objects and learned what it was to be a Curator.  The students, in groups, are given a tray of 7-10 objects pulled from a variety of our collections, intentionally put together to make it difficult to find connections between the objects.  Their task, after studying an exhibit and thinking about what types of connections objects could have, is to choose three that connect, add a historical photo, and present their mini museum.  Frustration is common but so is the “Aha!” moment!  This group embraced the challenge – and one group gave me goose bumps!  This  group had placed a book, a bell and a pen and had come up with the connection of ‘School’.  “True, but not very interesting” I told them and then left them to think more deeply. photo (3)

When they presented their story, the objects were the bell, a telegraph machine, a pen and a photo of an avalanche shed over a railroad.  Their title was Communication: tools for disaster.

photo (4)

The bell was to communicate to all around about the danger.  The telegraph, to communicate to those down the rail line and far away and the pen was to communicate to your loved ones and tell them you were safe.  Wow.  Interesting, connected and a great story starter!

 

School Programs 2013-007656

Collaboration is key.

School Programs 2013-007656I have been doing a bit of reading about the interaction between classroom teachers and museum educators when designing school programs.  Turns out there isn’t any, or at least, there is very little.  So, what can be done?  To me, it seems like a no-brainer.  Ask the people who use the museum what they want from the museum.

The Noguchi Museum in New York has a really interesting take on this.  They formed a Think Tank made up of teachers and museum educators to explore the  the question, “What does success look like for a school tour at an art museum?”  The group met five times over the 2012/2013 school year and published their findings which were in the form of suggestions for those “booking, participating in, offering, and leading art museum tours for school groups.”(Noguchi Museum, 2012/13 Teacher Think Tank).

This is where it gets really interesting.  When I looked at the document and then looked at the way school programs are offered and presented in 2013/14  it turns out the museum acted on all of the suggestions.  They immediately changed old policy.  Cool.

What do you think?

 

IMG_2674

Welcome!

Jeff de Boer, 'Cyclone', 2006

Jeff de Boer, ‘Cyclone’, 2006

 

We have lift off!  Originally, we were going to create a simple blog where we could share articles we were reading, ideas that inspired us and pictures we liked.  But, like most things, what started as a simple idea morphed into a space where ideas could be shared and discussed, pictures and journal entries could be posted, objects could be studied and people and could be introduced. We hope this space becomes a virtual meeting place where you can share your successes, ask for assistance and see some of the awesome things going on @Glenbow!

Posts, like this one, show up at the bottom third of the page. Click on any to read.  Please comment! All comments and content are moderated so if you comment it won’t show up immediately.  If you want to narrow your search, check the very bottom of the page where you will see a group of words titled, ‘Categories’.  Click on any of those headings to narrow your content to only those posts that have something to do with that word.  If you have something you would like to share, contact us at mmccormack@glenbow.org and become a ‘Guest Poster’!

Just above the ‘Posts’ is a carousel of pictures.  This is where you will find mystery objects to click on and discover as well as articles about some of the amazing people that we work with at Glenbow.  Click on the beautiful turquoise case in this section for an article about our Cultural History Technician, Marcia Slater. This carousel of pictures will be constantly added to and if you want to narrow your search in this section, check the bottom of the home page, and next to ‘Categories’ you will see a group of words called ‘Projects’.  This will narrow your search in this field.

Above the Carousel are the big pictures.  These can also be clicked on for a description or possibly a story!

Also on the bottom left of the Home page, you will see our Museum School Twitter feed.  Please follow us @museumschoolYYC.

We also realized there was a need to simplify our questionnaire process.  You can now access the questionnaire for teachers and adults and submit it online.  In the Menu at the top of the page is a ‘Teacher’ category.  In the drop down menu you will see a title for Forms. In this drop down menu you will see both a ‘Teacher’ and ‘Adult’ questionnaire.  At the bottom of the ‘Teacher Questionnaire’ there is a place to drag and drop files, allowing you to share some of the wonderful photos and journal entries from your week with us.  The ‘Your Ideas’ menu item in this category is set up as a forum and you will have to create a password protected log in  identity.  Sign up just below the ‘Log in” button where you see the word, ‘Register’.  This is another opportunity to share museum school ideas, techniques and queries.

This web page would not exist without the wonderful, continued support of Chevron Canada Resources, our incredible, talented tech wizard Natasha Ivanco and Chris Heazell, Manager, Information Systems at Glenbow, who found us this space to play! Thank you all!

IMG_2113

My Summer Holiday

IMG_2113I went to New York for the first time in my life this summer. It was everything I had imagined. Loud, exhilarating, overwhelming and wonderful! We at Museum School had the amazing good fortune of participating in the Lincoln Center Institute International Educator’s Workshop. This was an immersive week of arts education that challenged your thinking and opened your mind to new ways of engaging students with art through aesthetic education and imaginative learning. The framework that all of this connects to and jumps from are the Capacities for Imaginative Learning.

As the name suggests, the workshop took place at the Lincoln Center in the Julliard School. The Lincoln Center is comprised of three theatres, including the Metropolitan Opera, a museum and performing space, reflecting pool with a massive Henry Moore sculpture and the Julliard School. The workshop was facilitated by three Teaching Artists, an actor, a dancer and a visual artist. Fundamentally important to the Lincoln Center’s methodology is that students need to be involved with ‘live’ art – be that a performance or a visual piece. This is where our situation at Glenbow is ideal!

Embodying the Capacities

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1965

Though the workshop is primarily aimed at classroom teachers and school administrators, the concept of using art for imaginative learning is also ideally suited to museum education.  The Lincoln Center’s philosopher in residence, Maxine Greene, sums it up with one of her many fantastic quotes, “Without imagination, you live in a small room with the windows closed. Imagination opens the windows and shows us landscapes, horizons that we would not otherwise perceive…I want education to empower people to see possibility.”

Dancers

IMG_2234

Student bloggers – more stuff in the crowded day?

IMG_2234Neil Gaimon in his lecture, “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.” argues that it isn’t so much what our children read, it is the opening up of space so they have time to read and read whatever they want.  That is the way to create readers and critical thinkers.  So, where does a blog fit into this?  I think writing has to be  part of  this discussion.  A critical thinker must also be able to illustrate their ideas and writing is where this happens.  This is the era of self publishing and thousands of blogs hit cyberspace everyday. In my own life, I reluctantly admit, I read more blogs than books now and if getting kids to read more means getting them to read anything, this might be one answer.  Blogs can be fiction, poetry,  art, music, science, current events – and they can be accessed by parents and students. In this blog post, Bill Ferriter offers some simple, straight forward methods for publishing classroom blogs.

IMG_2673

Art Museum Education

I took a workshop from Mike Murawski while at a Project Zero Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was focussed on multidisciplinary viewing of art – movement, sound, journaling, etc. We worked with a Jackson Pollock work for over an hour – and we could have doubled that! I think the blog that he moderates really addresses the style of learning we love – slow down, look deeply, form your own meaning. It is aimed at museum educators but really, we are all in the same boat.

IMG_2673
Art Museum Teaching
www.artmuseumteaching.com