Thursday, December 20, 2012

Human Map

Social Studies 6

Social Studies 6 Teachers Michael and Kat Stein-Ross combined their classes and used movement to build "human maps" of the region surrounding Ancient Egypt and the Kingdom of Kush. Students played the roles of the geographical features that influenced human settlement (Mediterranean Sea, Nile River, various Deserts, Lebanon Mountains) as well as the roles of settlers who were choosing a spot to build their community. The geographical features had to act out certain attributes: the Deserts whispered "hot and dry, hot and dry" and the Nile students showed the flow of the river by moving their arms from South to North. Here is a snippet of the activity they caught on video:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Art Through a Microscope

Science 6

As part of their Cell Biology unit, sixth-grade students work with the microscope to study cells and microscopic organisms. Science Teachers Adam Fox, Abram Cosby, and I developed and taught a short lesson sequence that would teach the students observational drawing skills (which aids their ability to observe and record what they see in the microscope), and also help them to see that the relationship between art and science is a two-way street. Art does not only serve a functional purpose in the scientific process. The observations and understandings derived from the scientific process in turn become inspiration for artists and their work.

The slideshow below gives you a guided tour through the lesson sequence and examples of student work.

Creating Infographics: What is History?

Social Studies 8

Michael Stein-Ross, our Social Studies 8 Teacher, came to me with the idea of having his students create infographics. He was having them devise their own definition of history, and wanted them to be able to give visual form to these ideas. Infographics have become a natural outgrowth of both the information revolution and the increasingly visual nature of our ever-expanding media universe. They vary in quality and eloquence, but the act of creating one provided a nice vehicle for exploring how to communicate an idea or message visually.

 Below is a slideshow that walks you through our lesson sequence, and here are a couple of great resources we found along the way:

"Teaching with Infographics: Places to Start" from the New York Times Learning Network

"A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods" from

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Google Art Project

Google Art Project is like Google Earth for Art! Select one of the great museums around the world, move through the museum, select an artwork, and then zoom in so close you can see every last brushstroke.

Each day when you go to the site, you will be presented with a new work of art on your screen. It's a great way to really get lost in a painting, and nice tool for regular, brief "looking" sessions in class.

Art Babble

Art Babble is a web-based video site dedicated to all things art. Search and view videos by artist, or go to the many channels hosted by museums and other arts institutions. There are many great, educational videos here.

Timeline of Art History from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Helibrunn Timeline of Art History organizes the vast collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York into searchable thematic timelines. Search by time period, geographical region, medium, or thematic essay. View works as a slideshow, or select an individual piece for extensive background information and analysis. A great research tool for both student and teacher.

Art:21 - Art in the Twenty-first Century

Art:21 is a PBS TV program, now in its 6th season.  Each episode features segments on contemporary artists working around a particular theme.

The shows website has video clips from the program, artist bios, artwork galleries, and downloadable educators' guides to all the programs. A special section titled Using Art:21 Media in the Classroom has helpful tips for incorporating the material in your classes.

There is also an Art:21 Blog with up to date information on contemporary art and artists, as well as opportunities for educators to incorporate contemporary art into their curricula. The program also hosts professional development workshops for teachers. The ECA library has several of the Art:21season DVDs and companion books available.

School Transformation Through Arts Integration: Resources and information from Edutopia

By focusing on the shapes and sounds of Balinese musical instruments (above), Bates Middle School students learn about radius and diameter. Test scores show knowledge retention improving; students say they enjoy learning and feel connected socially. Credit: Zachary Fink

Edutopia is an educational resource network developed by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. In their School Transformation Through Arts Integration section, they have many resources, articles, videos, and lesson plans from Bates Middle School - an Arts Integration model school in Maryland. 

Artful Thinking

Artful Thinking is a method, designed by Harvard University's Project Zero, for developing six thinking dispositions through visual arts. Website includes a full description of the methodology, as well as resources for putting it into practice.

A Research-Based Approach to Arts Integration

At Bates Middle School in Annapolis, Maryland, arts integration has helped raise student achievement. Job-embedded professional development, differentiated arts instruction, and critical-thinking skills integrated into the curricula have been key to their success.

Read the full article from Edutopia...

Integrate the Arts, Deepen the Learning

The Outsiders Graffiti Wall

Language Arts 7

Students created a graffiti wall in the classroom of Language Arts Teacher Bill Kartechner, centered around their study of The Outsiders. The classes viewed clips from Style Wars, a documentary film that follows a group of graffiti artists in 1980's New York. There are uncanny parallels between the characters in The Outsiders and the artists portrayed in the film, which lead to rich discussions on group culture, loyalty, identity, slang, and conflict.

Students were shown examples of graffiti. They identified the characteristics of graffiti-style letterforms, and practiced creating their own. Further discussion on The Outsiders identified the key themes, ideas, images, and symbols from the book. After determining which words and ideas should be emphasized on the wall, students began working individually and in pairs on their final designs.

The project allowed students to make parallels between the world of the Outsiders characters, and that of other groups on the margins of society. It required them to recognize, analyze, and evaluate the importance of themes and ideas in the book, while coming to collaborative agreement on visual considerations, such as size, placement, color, and style.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Science Resources from the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago has a website dedicated to the links between science and art. The site is a little dated, but there are lecture videos and lesson ideas here worth checking out.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


ArtsEdge, from The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, is one of the leading Arts Integration resources. The online network is full of lessons, guides, and more.

Mural / Community Public Art Guide

The Community Public Art Guide, from the Chicago Public Art Group is a great resource for your large-scale group or community projects. It offers tips, lists, and guides for creating murals, mosaics, sculptures, and public spaces.

Art Lesson Ideas from Contemporary Artists

Hey, they stole my "Open Studio" trademark, but that's ok, because this looks like a cool resource from the Getty for thoughtful, truly contemporary perspectives on teaching art today.

Open Studio aims to make contemporary arts education accessible to teachers and classrooms across the nation and around the world. Mark Bradford explains his inspiration for the project: