After a whirlwind week, Connecting Collections 2009 came to a close—though we hope what the participants took away will last much longer! A collaborative endeavor organized by the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the week-long program helps third- to tweflth-grade teachers develop techniques for integrating art into their classroom curricula. Forty-three amazing teachers came to visit us in New York City from all over the world (some from as close as Brooklyn and others from as far as Angola!) to explore the museums and take new teaching skills back to their students.
Stressed throughout the week was the idea of thematic-based lessons and the importance of inquiry-based learning—a practice that we as museum educators use in our teaching in the galleries. Each day, we all met at one of the four museums and jumped right into a thematic, inquiry-based tour. An educator from the museum led us through group discussions, questioning strategies, and activities that helped us to further engage with the works of art that we were viewing. The teachers learned new ways to discuss art in their classrooms, and we learned new teaching techniques to bring back to our museums! Every afternoon, we divided into groups by grade level, and worked to develop a thematic lesson plan using a collection of artwork from all four museums. And let me just say, the high school group (led by Whitney educators) totally rocked it! Along with every other group, of course.
We had an amazing week and we think the teachers did too. One wrote, “I am bursting with excitement to incorporate what we learned this week into my classroom!” and another said that she’s “going home with a full bag of ideas.”
Thanks again to all who participated—we can’t wait to meet a whole new group next summer!
By Liz Gillroy