1 BRIDGING THE GAP: TEACHER VOICES, THE WRITING PROCESS THROUGH ART,

1 BRIDGING THE GAP: TEACHER VOICES, THE WRITING PROCESS THROUGH ART,
1
BRIDGING THE GAP: TEACHER VOICES, THE WRITING PROCESS THROUGH ART,
AND CREATING AN ART MUSEUM WEBSITE
by
Chelsea Farrar
_____________________________
A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the
DEPARTMENT OF ART
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
WITH A MAJOR IN ART EDUCATION
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
2013
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STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This thesis has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced
degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library to be made
available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this thesis are allowable without special permission, provided
that an accurate acknowledgement of the source is made. Requests for permission for extended
quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be granted by the head
of the major department or the Dean of the Graduate College when in his or her judgment the
proposed use of the material is in the interests of scholarship. In all other instances, however,
permission must be obtained from the author.
SIGNED: Chelsea Farrar
APPROVAL BY THESIS DIRECTOR
This thesis has been approved on the date shown below:
Dr. Elizabeth Garber
Professor, Art and Visual Culture Education
12/6/2013
Date
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ACKOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to sincerely thank my committee members Dr. Elizabeth Garber, Dr. Ryan
Shin and Dr. Barbara McKean. Their words of support, patience, and willingness to serve on my
committee are greatly appreciated. I would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Garber,
my mentor and advisor, who has modeled what a true scholar should be. Her encouragement,
suggestions, and careful edits made this thesis project possible. Dr. Barbara McKean gave great
advice, sharing her own experiences and perspectives in teacher research. Dr. Ryan Shin gave
early support to this little project idea I had two years ago and continued to encourage me when
it seemed impossible.
I am especially grateful to the educators who participated in this research study. Without
their voices, this project never would have happened. Thank you for sharing your experiences,
knowledge, and expertise so that this project could be what it is.
Finally, thank you to Jay Stephens, Olivia Miller, Lauren Rabb, John Kelly, and Heidi
Herboldsheimer. This amazing group of professionals were incredibly supportive of this project.
Each of them donated their time in one way or another, making this project possible.
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DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my family who gave up so much so that I might return and pursue
my graduate studies. To my wife, Molly, your unwavering support is appreciated beyond words.
And to my kids, your jokes, dances, and dress-up antics made me smile at the times I needed it
the most. It is only with your love and support that I was able to succeed in my academic
endeavors.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES………………………………………………………………………………8
LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………………………..9
ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………………………..10
CHAPTER ONE-INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………11
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………...11
Pilot Survey……………………………………………………………………………...20
Research Questions……………………………………………………………………...20
Methodology .…………………………………………………………………………...21
Strengths and Limitations ..……………………………………………………………..23
Layout of Chapters...…………………………………………………………………….24
CHAPTER TWO- LITERATURE REVIEW...…………………………………………………26
Introduction...……………………………………………………………………………26
Definitions
Art Integration…………………………………………………………………...27
Aesthetic Experience...…………………………………………………………..29
Critical Thinking...………………………………………………………………30
Literacy...………………………………………………………………………..34
Arts Integration as Pedagogy...………………………………………………………….37
Interpretive Strategies...…………………………………………………………………46
Art Museums and the Web...……………………………………………………………50
Summary…………...……………………………………………………………………55
CHAPTER THREE- METHODOLOGY...……………………………………………………..57
Introduction……………………...………………………………………………………57
Research Questions………………...……………………………………………………57
Theoretical and Historical Background…...…………………………………………….58
Qualitative Interview……………...…………………………………………….58
Case Study……………………………………………………………………….60
Research Participants……………………...…………………………………………….60
Pilot Study...........................................................................................................61
Classroom Educators……………………………………………………………61
School Site……………………………………………………………………….64
Museum Educators………………………………………………………………67
Museum Site……………………………………………………………………..67
Process and Structure of the Study……………………………………………………...68
Classroom Teacher Interviews………………………………………………….68
Website Development……………………………………….…………………...72
Museum Educator Interviews………………………………….………………...73
Reliability and Validity of Data………………………………………………………….75
Data Analysis…………………………………………………………………………….76
Data Presentation………………………………………………………………………...78
Summary………………………………………………………………………………....78
CHAPTER FOUR- DATA ANALYSIS OF CLASSROOM AND MUSEUM EDUCATOR
INTERVIEWS…………………………………………………………………………………...79
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………...79
Pre-art/write Interviews: Classroom Educators…………………………………………79
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Educator Profiles………………………………………………………………..80
Perceived Value in Visual Arts and of Museums………………………………..84
Benefits and Limitations to Using an Art Museum Website...…………………..86
Best Practices for Websites, a Wish List...……………………………………...89
Critical Thinking Skills …………………………………………………………91
Writing Genres and Required Skills ...………………………………………….94
Works of Art ..…………………………………………………………………...97
Post-art/write Interviews: Classroom Educators...…………………………………….101
Teacher’s Use of the Website…………………………………………………..102
Scaffolding of Thinking………………………………………………………...106
Critical Thinking……………………………………………………………….107
Student Responses……………………………………………………………...112
Common Core Standards………………………………………………………113
Teachers Suggestions…………………………………………………………..115
Museum Educator Interviews.…………………………………………………………117
Pre- art/write…………………………………………………………………...118
Visual Art and Student’s Writing………………………………………………118
Art Museums and Critical Thinking……………………………………………119
Limitations and Benefits of Art Museum Websites……………………………..121
Post- art/write………………………………………………………………….……….122
The Website as Resource…………………………………………………….…122
Museum Literacy: Responding to Art……………………………………….….123
Critical Thinking……………………………………………………………….125
Common Core Standards…………………………………………………........126
Suggestions……………………………………………………………………..128
Summary……………………………………………………………………………….129
CHAPTER FIVE-ANALYSIS AND IMPLICATION OF FINDINGS……………………….130
Introduction…………………………………………………………………………….130
Research Questions…………………………………………………………………….130
What value do high school teachers see in using art via the art museum website to
teach the processes of writing?.............................................................131
What are the benefits of a museum website to the general education high school
teacher?.................................................................................................135
How can teachers of other content areas successfully incorporate visual art into
teaching processes of writing in their content areas using web-based museum
collections?.......................................................................................................139
Mining the Further Findings from Interviews………………………………………....143
21st Century Thinking Skills………………………………………………...….143
Writing Skills- Common Core Standards…………………………………...….145
Further Reflections………………………………………………………….....147
Further Implication………………………………………………………………….....150
APPENDIX A- Pilot survey results……………………………………………………………152
APPENDIX B- art/write Home page content and page view…………………………….……156
APPENDIX C- art/write viewing strategies content and page view…………………………..157
APPENDIX D- art/write works of art list and page view…………………………………..…160
APPENDIX E- art/write artists’ biographies, context essays, writing assignments…………..162
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APPENDIX F- art/write writing activities and page view…………………………………….232
APPENDIX G- art/write worksheets…………………………………………………………..235
APPENDIX H- Classroom educator interview questions……………………………………..242
APPENDIX I- Work of art list from teacher interview two…………………………………...245
APPENDIX J- Museum educator interview questions………………………………………...262
REFRENCES…………………………………………………………………………………..263
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LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE 1- Homepage Page View……..……………………………………………………...156
FIGURE 2- Viewing Strategies Page View……….…………………………………………...159
FIGURE 3- Works of Art Page View……..…………………………………………………...161
FIGURE 4- Alexander Calder Page View...…………………………………………………...165
FIGURE 5- Audrey Flack Page View…………………………………………………………169
FIGURE 6.1- William Hogarth Page View (Top of page)…………………………………….175
FIGURE 6.2- William Hogarth Page View (Bottom of page) ………………………………..176
FIGURE 7- Alexandre Hogue Page View……………………………………………………..180
FIGURE 8- Edward Hopper Page View……………………………………………………….184
FIGURE 9- George Innes Page View………………………………………………………….188
FIGURE10- Luis Jiménez Page View………………………………………………………….191
FIGURE 11- Käthe Kollwitz Page View………………………………………………………199
FIGURE12- Jacob Lawrence Page View……………………………………………………...202
FIGURE13- Mignon and Gillig Page View…………………………………………………...206
FIGURE14- Thomas Moran Page View……………………………………………………….210
FIGURE15.1- Jaune Quick-to-See Smith Page View (Top of page)………………………….214
FIGURE 15.2- Jaune Quick-to-See Smith Page View (Bottom of page) …………………….215
FIGURE 16- Anton Refregier Page View……………………………………………………..219
FIGURE17- Thomas Hart Benton Page View…………………………………………………223
FIGURE18- Horace Vernet Page View………………………………………………………..227
FIGURE 19- WPA Prints Page View………………………………………………………….231
FIGURE 20- Writing Activities Page View…………………………………………………...234
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LIST OF TABLES
TABLE 4.1- 21st Century Skills by Content Area………………………………………………93
TABLE 4.2- Writing Styles by Content Area…………………………………………………...94
TABLE 4.3- Skills Required for Writing in Content Area……………………………………...97
TABLE 4.4- Works of Art Selected by Classroom Educators………………………………….98
TABLE 4.5- 21st Century Thinking Skills Sorted by Classroom Educators…………………..110
TABLE 4.6- English Language Arts Common Core Standards Sorted by Classroom
Educators……………………………………………………………………….114
TABLE 4.7- 21st Century Thinking Skills Sorted by Museum Educators……………………..125
TABLE 4.8- English Language Arts Common Core Standards Sorted by Museum
Educators ………………………………………………………………………127
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ABSTRACT
Through a qualitative case study this research examines the needs of three generalist high
school teachers in relation to arts integration, writing, critical thinking, and the art museum
website. The study also examines the perspectives of art museum educators in relation to how
museum websites can be used to support teaching the writing process in the school classroom.
Arts integration and the museum website are analyzed in depth through literature review and indepth semi structured interviews. This research aims to present a model for collaborative website
design where the museum website is designed around classroom teachers’ curricular needs.
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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
As a high school studio art teacher who was required to “write across the curriculum” I
became very interested in finding new ways to engage my students with writing through the
visual arts. I believed that viewing and creating art were authentic experiences that encouraged
thoughtful and critical writing. For the most part, while teaching in the high school classroom,
this is what I experienced with my students’ writing. Students, when asked to respond to a work
of art, either orally or in written format, were motivated more than through any other writing
prompt I assigned. The last year of my teaching in the public school, I began to take notice of the
new demands placed upon public education with the new transition to the Common Core
Standards, the inclusion of 21st Century Thinking Skills, and “high stakes” tests for students as
well as the evaluation of teachers being tied to students’ performance. I have been motivated to
counterbalance this new academic rigor and test taking culture with art-based interdisciplinary
writing inspired by personal aesthetic responses. While studying museum education as a
graduate student, I saw a potential partner in this effort. My research therefore has explored the
ways in which teachers of language-based curriculums, such as English and history, could best
employ the visual arts, specifically the university art museum’s collection, to practice writing
while also engaging critical thinking skills.
This southwestern state has, with forty-five other states, adopted a new set of national
and internationally aligned standards for teaching literacy, known as the Common Core. Key
ideas stressed in the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts are the need for
students to carefully read a text and develop the ability to cite specific evidence when writing or
speaking their opinion or conclusions about the text. In addition, this state along with sixteen
others have demonstrated their commitment to critical thinking within the curriculum by uniting
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with the Partnership for 21st Thinking (P21), an advocacy organization which focuses on infusing
these thinking skills into classroom education. Some of these skills, described by P21 include
creativity, collaboration, problem solving, reasoning, making judgments and decisions. An artbased approach to writing, or writing through the arts, does not neglect these educational
mandates, in fact, it can support them. Writing through art requires students to organize thoughts,
look for details, analyze the parts, support opinions with visual evidence and communicate their
ideas (Walsh-Piper, 2002; Jester, 2003; Housen, 2001-02; Hillocks, 2010). Looking at and
talking about art also requires the use of these similar critical thinking skills (Burchenal &
Grohe, 2007; and Housen, 2001-02).
While my research and the project that follows it are aligned with the state’s adoption
of the Common Core Standards for the teaching of English and Language Arts, the educational
goal for this project is also influenced by critical theory. I believe that education is a public,
political activity where the educator has an intellectual and social responsibility. Educators such
as Maxine Greene ask, “What sort of pedagogy is called for in what some would call exceptional
times?” (2010, p. 28). In her analysis of The Plague by Albert Camus, she describes the
blindness of the people of Camus’ fictional city of Oran to the plague. The people of Oran
refused to think, to examine or to resist boredom and therefore the plague was allowed to spread.
Greene advocates a pedagogy of thoughtfulness where students are encouraged to avoid the
“final solution” and thus remain open to multiple universes. Critical thinking therefore becomes
more than simple problem solving, it is student thinking that creates imagination, thoughtfulness
and allows for possibilities (2010). An educational curriculum that encourages multiple answers,
or multiple possibilities, I believe can inspire democratically engaged critical thinking in
students.
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An educator’s job is more than just teaching students how to draw, to write or to read.
John Dewey argued that public schools were places where students should learn skills that
encourage democracy (Schultz, Baricovich & McSurley, 2010). We must teach our students how
to think critically about their world in order to create future possibilities of justice. One might
even argue that this form of “critical” pedagogy is not so critical or radical in that it simply raises
the expectations of students. As Maxine Greene argues, we should, “confront learners with a
demand to choose in a fundamental way between a desire for harmony with its easy answers and
a commitment to the risky search for alternative possibilities” (1995, p. 381).
As I researched art-based writing activities and curriculums, I realized that not only
were many such as Mary Ehnworth’s lessons not about learning to recreate what students saw
but were more about learning how to analyze and critically think about what they see.
Ehrenworth describes how she asks students to respond to visual works of art through poetry,
descriptive, and fictional narrative writing. While doing so, her students also examine themes
such as war and manifest destiny. Rather than art-based interdisciplinary lessons which asked
students to learn to see though drawing, I am more interested in the model that asks students to
learn to see and think critically through looking. Writing inspired and prompted by the act of
looking and critical inquiry, in the examples such as Ehnworth, as well as Walsh-Piper (2002)
greatly influenced the development of this research project.
While still researching English and art educators who were using art to teach writing, I
also began to search the internet for art museums that were using their vast collections of
inspirational visual images to inspire direct aesthetic engagement, critical thinking and writing
with students. Many museums nationally and internationally have transformed and updated their
lesson methods, formats and content to meet some of these educational demands. An example is
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the Philadelphia’s Museum of Art (PMA) which has two “Teacher Kits” available on-line that
provide lessons for looking and talking about art with students as well as genre-based writing
activities inspired by works from their collection. The PMA’s online “Teacher Kits” have been
praised by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (2009) for incorporating critical
thinking skills within the lessons and activities. It is noted that these lessons were written to meet
state (Philadelphia) curriculum standards, but not the national Common Core.
Looking for local examples from art museum websites in my state I found little. At the
start of my research in 2012 no art museums in the state had lessons that addressed the Common
Core available online. From the art museum on my university campus’ own website, I found no
online educational materials, let alone ones that addressed current Common Core Standards or
critical thinking. The University Museum of Art’s educational program consists mainly of
docent-led tours. Docents create tours based on the specific directions of each teacher or tour
group, with tours being mainly lectured-based in format. No online materials were made
available on the museum’s website and only a select few works of art were available to view on
the website. The website went under major renovation and redesign during my research project,
and currently the entire collection is available online, with basic information such as artist name,
title, and medium. It became apparent to me that the development of a web-based education
program created for this university museum could bridge a gap, a gap of updated viewing and
educational strategies for the museum that mutually benefited the curricular demands of the
state’s high school teachers and The Museum’s role of teaching and outreach to the public.
I found support for an educational program that addressed critical thinking skills at the
museum from the 2009 publication by The Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS),
Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills, which begins its findings with a bold introduction
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stating a recognition that every individual requires these critical thinking skills in order to
succeed in 21st century life and work. This recognition has become the rational for The Institute
to call on museums and libraries to integrate 21st century skills into not only their educational
programs, but their institutional missions as well. They make clear, “All libraries and museums
have a stake in re-imagining their future roles as learning institutions” (p. 8).
Blume, Henning, Merman and Richer (2008) posed the question of whether the
aesthetic and pragmatic roles of art museums were mutually exclusive. Maxine Greene has long
advocated for an interdisciplinary approach to art and writing, arguing that writing through the
arts is unique to other types of writing in that it is itself an aesthetic experience. Writing becomes
a way to engage the imagination and participate with the artwork (cited in Ehrenworth, 2003, p.
4). The arts provide students with the chance to have an aesthetic response thus giving them
something meaningful to write about. Through my research, I aim to show how the visual arts
can mutually benefit the academic demands of teachers and students as well as show how writing
through the arts can benefit the aesthetic roles of museums as well.
Art Museums can remain places of aesthetic education but need also be places of
“pragmatic” education (Blume et al, 2008). The aesthetic role of museum education teaches how
to look and what to value, and prepares students to interact with the aesthetic world. But visual
art’s role in society, history, economics, and education, as well as its relation to literature and of
course its visual nature allows it to also have a more pragmatic role in the art museum, teaching
critical thinking skills, and improving literacy (Blume et al, p. 85). Accordingly, the questions
we ask of viewers when they view art need to also include the broader, opened-ended ones,
where viewers are encouraged to think critically about the big ideas that art museums and the
visual arts inspire. Questions from the Walker Art Center’s teacher website, Art Today: Living in
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Our Time, provide some excellent examples, such as, “How can art change society? How can art
help us live in our time?” (Walker Art Center). Bolin (1996) proposed of art educators that, “We
are what we ask”. The types of questions we ask as an institution define the museum. Museums
can be more than places of dogmatic aesthetic education, but can also be places, described by
Hamblen, as spaces “Conducive to discovery learning and open inquiry” (Hamblen, 1984, pg.
12).
Art museum websites have become a popular and effective way to not only serve as
outreach to teachers but to increase their comfort level with looking at art with their students and
with visiting the art museum. Studies show that the museum website has become an expected
tool when planning lessons or when planning to visit a museum. Results from a study by P.F.
Marty (2008) found that 72% of respondents preferred or strongly preferred the museum’s
website when preparing to visit a current or future exhibit. A recent study by The Getty asked its
website users, “How are teachers currently using the internet and other technologies to view and
teach art?” (Sotto, 2012, p. 8). The top two reasons teachers gave for using the museum site was
to access information regarding an artwork and artists, and to access printable and enlargeable
images for use in teaching (p. 18). What The Getty study does not reveal is how teachers use
these materials in their classes. For example, questions remain, such as what do they teach, what
content, what educational objectives are met through the use of these online resources? What
The Getty study does say, however, is that teachers expect art museum websites to provide
educational resources and images to be used and viewed in the classroom by their students.
One potential obstacle warned by writing teachers such as Childers (1998) is
summarized in her statement, “We fear since we are not masters of the visual arts or visual
artists, we shouldn’t be using the visual arts in teaching writing” (p. 16). Studies show that pre-
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visit activities can decrease anxiety and increase a person’s chances of visiting art and other
cultural institutions (Falk & Dierkling, 2000). Pre-visit strategies made available online, such as
those in the Art Speaks! kit available at Philadelphia Museum of Art’s website can help to reduce
the fear expressed by Childers and increase comfort with looking at art. The “Teacher Kit” Art
Speaks!, for example, encourages students and teachers to address questions such as, “What can
art be? Who makes art? What is an art museum? How can I respond to art?” Before many core
content teachers will use the art museum’s collection as part of their teaching, they have to feel
competent to use the arts. The museum’s education website can be the means to accomplish this
goal. Providing the tools, prompts, and activities on a free and open platform like the web creates
a stress-free and democratic space where teachers can investigate the visual arts. Pre-visit
activities must not be solely understood as activities used to educate students or younger visitors,
as they can also work to increase comfort and experience with art for a teacher unfamiliar with
the arts.
The project I created is grounded in an art-based interdisciplinary approach to teaching,
where the visual artwork from the museum becomes the central element, the inspiration for
student thinking, discussion, and writing. Elliot Eisner (1998) has critically examined many of
the studies that claim the arts have transferable skills in academics and is quite wary of the data
results. His analysis of the results found that there was no convincing evidence of transfer of the
skills learned in the arts to other subject areas such as math, writing or reading. A later
comprehensive study by Hetland and Winner (2010) also suggests that readers should be wary of
correlational studies between the arts and academic achievement. In their review of 275 articles,
books, conference presentations and more from 1950-1999, they summarize that, “No evidence
was found that studying the arts causes academic indicators to improve” (p. 5). In Eisner’s
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(1998) review of the literature he did notice that the most notable achievements were seen in
programs that were designed to teach reading and writing through the arts. Hetland and Winner
(2010) also note in their review that some schools who have a strong arts programs do report
increased academic achievement. The authors propose that these types of schools that make the
arts important, academic subjects “Are often taught through the arts. The arts are used as entry
points into academic subjects” (p.6). Correctly, Eisner (1998) warns of looking to the arts as the
subject with outside benefits. It cheapens and undermines the arts and the art educators. He
describes several different ways of thinking about what the arts teach. Eisner advocates teaching
the arts with several student outcomes as the goal. His dispositional outcomes for art education
include:

A willingness to imagine possibilities that are not now, but which might become

A desire to explore ambiguity, to be willing to forestall premature closure in pursuing
resolutions

The ability to recognize multiple perspectives and resolutions that work in the arts
celebrate (p. 14-15)
As a public school art teacher for six years, I agree with Eisner. The arts should not be
manipulated for the will of standardized testing or other academic gains. We must not want to
use the arts because they may possess superficial powers outside the realm of reality. As Eisner
discovered, there is not much to profit from in this way of teaching anyway. I believe classroom
and museum educators should teach the arts with these student outcomes as the goal: to think
critically about the visual world they live in, to be willing to look deeper for answers, even when
none seem possible, and to seek better relations with their peers and be willing to hear what they
have to say, even when they disagree. These learning goals also match the learning objectives
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described in the Common Core and are 21st Century Learning Skills. A program that writes
through art, designed with these goals in mind, is what I have aimed to create. As some writing
teachers have discovered, there are strong connections to be made between writing and thinking
about art (Maxwell, 1996; Hillocks, 2010). Inquiry, discovery and meaning making are critical
elements of the visual arts, writing, and life beyond the school and museum walls.
I contacted The Museum’s Curator of Education about creating an online program with
an emphasis in literacy and critical thinking skills, using The Museum’s permanent art
collection. The Curator of Education, new to The Museum the previous school year and
motivated to update and enlarge The Museum’s educational offerings, was welcoming of such an
educational program, new looking strategies and learning objectives, and supported my
development of the project at The Museum. Coincidently, The Museum was redesigning its
current website the same year and was willing to include my proposed project within the
redesign, illustrating an institutional level of support for this new educational program and the
use of the web.
Through a joint effort between the University Museum of Art and three teachers from a
local high school, a museum web-based program called “art/write” will be created. Teachers
were sought out who expressed an interest in using the visual arts in their classroom to teach
writing and who were also familiar through experience with teaching to the new Common Core
Standards for Language Arts as well as the 21st Century Thinking Skills, such as critical
thinking. Their insights, experience, and needs were used to create lessons and activities that
used the museum’s objects as inspirational starting points for practicing the skills required in the
Common Core Standards. These lessons also had to require students to use the 21st Century
Thinking Skills, which fundamentally support the looking and writing process. Through my own
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research and collaboration with these classroom educators, I developed looking and writing
activities that may be used by teachers in the high school classroom where an emphasis on
writing is a core requirement.
Pilot Survey
Before conducting an in-depth literary research, I wanted to know: Do teachers really
want this resource? Are teachers interested in using the arts in their classrooms? More
importantly, are they using the arts already? What kinds of curriculum do they want or need in a
museum? Next, I wanted to know: What web-based art museum resources were available, and
did the teachers value these examples enough to use them. I sent surveys to teachers at a local
urban high school in a mid-sized southwestern city and chose teachers based on content area
(non- visual arts). I surveyed ten teachers and received six responses (See Appendix A). Four out
of six stated that the arts were “very valuable” or “extremely valuable” in teaching writing. Half
of respondents had used visual arts in a lesson in their content area more than ten times in the
past year. While the pilot survey population was small, feedback was clear and almost
unanimous: core content teachers wanted to use the arts in their classrooms. I acknowledge the
limitations of these pilot survey’s findings, as they are specific to this population and not to all
teachers.
Research Questions
The objective of this research is to better address curriculum models and methodologies
that museum educators and schools can use to teach writing through art. From this goal I will
address the following questions:
 What value do high school teachers see in using art via the art museum website to teach
the writing process?
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 What are the benefits of an art museum website to teachers of other content areas?
 How can teachers of other content areas successfully incorporate visual art into
teaching processes of writing in their content areas using web-based museum
collections?
For this research study I developed a web-based project at a university art museum by
implementing these practices and models through a writing/art website housed on The Museum’s
education webpage. This site would address a lack of local art resources for content area teachers
in the southwest region, potentially bridging the gap between the school and the museum, and
ideally prepare students to experience art in the museum setting. Findings from the teachers’
utilization of the web-site and its teaching activities will be reported and were used in the final
published art/write website (Appendices B-F).
Methodology
My methodology for this research project is a qualitative case study. Besides researching
best practices for writing and art inquiry, I have interviewed multiple sources on the topic of the
use of art and art museums to effectively teach writing. I interviewed three high school teachers
and two art museum educators. High school teachers were chosen based on professional
reputation and personal interest in the visual arts being used as an interdisciplinary subject.
Writing or language use was the main method of assessment in each teacher’s curriculum.
Museum educators were chosen based on professional experience and proximity to the project
site, the university museum. All of these sources were based in the same mid-sized urban city,
which allowed me to concentrate issues in student writing on local educational needs as well as
address potential issues related to visiting The University Art Museum with students.
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Classroom teachers were interviewed on three separate occasions, museum educators
twice. Over two interview sessions, questions for classroom teachers investigated their
experience with using the visual arts in their content area, what museum art works could be used
in a classroom lesson, how they could be used as a classroom lesson, as well as teachers’ interest
in using the art museum and its website in their writing content area. Interview questions focused
on my research questions in order to gain information to inform design of an art and writing
website for The University Art Museum. The third interview for classroom educators served as a
post- project assessment of the website.
The primary method of data collection in this study was the audio recordings from these
interviews. The recordings were transcribed and analyzed to determine themes in attitudes of
classroom teachers towards the arts, museums, the art museum website, and the curricular
requirements between different content areas. Notes were also made during the interviews
documenting keywords and phrases to assist in the correlation of themes that developed over the
course of the interviews between teachers as well as between museum educators. The recordings
of the museum educators were also transcribed and analyzed by looking for themes, color coding
and placing themes into a spread sheet.
The final interview for both sets of educators was performed after the creation and
launching of the art/write website. Classroom teachers were asked prior to this third and last
interview to implement some of the lessons and activities from the art/write website in their
classes. The student discussions and performance on activities reflected upon by the teachers
during and directly after each lesson provided an assessment of the website’s content and design.
In the third interview, teachers shared their overall perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses
of the web-based lessons. Modifications to the web-based lessons will be made based on teacher
23
feedback. Responses helped to evaluate the success of the art/write website and provided
direction for refinements and improvements. The two museum educators also reviewed the
website after its launch and evaluated the website and its educational content. Further
suggestions and modifications to the website were based on this data as well. These suggestions
and modifications are reflected in the lessons provided in the appendices (Appendices B-G).
Strengths and Limitations
A strength of this research project is its collaborative format, involving museum
education staff and local high school teachers. Since this project aims to be used as a source for
teachers in the classroom, it was critical that the voices of current classroom educators form the
foundation of the project. This methodology also matched the critical theory philosophy of the
overall project in that I did not take the position of speaking to the community this project aimed
to serve (i.e. high school teachers) but rather I desired to speak with them. In other words, this
project would not have occurred without the participation and collaboration of these classroom
educators. Schools and museums can become insulated and estranged and therefore opportunities
for partnerships should not be overlooked in order to bridge this divide. The classroom teachers’
direct involvement and collaboration with this project provides a level of authenticity. This type
of collaborative research approach does not privilege one’s knowledge over another’s and thus
aims to transfer the wealth of knowledge from the cultural institution of the museum as well as
the experience and knowledge of classroom teachers back and forth and finally to everyone via
the democratic platform of the web. Combining classroom and museum educator voices within
the study allowed for me to compare themes between the two groups.
The limitations of this research study and project are in the small data set used. Only
three classroom educators and two art museum educators were identified and used in the study.
24
A larger data set as well as teachers teaching at multiple school sites would have broadened the
curriculum, content, and teaching methods being used in the region. While a small participation
group made planning for interviews relatively easier (aligning the schedules of only a few was
required), it limited the size of data collected. While planning meetings of a limited number of
teachers was possibly easier than a larger group, difficulties were had. Had a larger group been
used at the beginning, it would have allowed me as the researcher some flexibility when a
limited number of participating educators could not arrive for group interviews. This group of
teachers limited what could be inferred from data collection since all the teachers were interested
in integrating the arts into their curriculum.
A further limitation is the nature of the study in that this is a qualitative case study that is
only analyzing the collaborative design, creation, and educational benefits of a web project from
the perspective of classroom and museum educators. I hope that this study will inspire others at
The University Art Museum to further investigate and evaluate the literacy-based benefits of the
art/write project through a complete pre/post quantitative study of students’ writing.
Layout of Chapters
Chapter Two expands on the literature review that supports and influenced the design of
this museum educational program. The literature review defines the key concepts and terms
which are divided into the following categories: art-based integration education for writing, 21st
century thinking skills, collaborative programming, interpretative strategies, and art museums
and the web. Chapter three clarifies and provides rational for the research methodologies used.
Data collection procedures and method of data analysis are clarified in this chapter as well. This
chapter also describes the participants of the study and the research sites (local public high
school and the university art museum). In addition, the process and structure of this research
25
study will be discussed in chapter three. Chapter four presents the qualitative data from the
classroom teacher and museum educator interviews. In depth profiles for each participant is
expanded upon in this chapter. Data is categorized by key themes that emerged and presented in
narrative format. Tables in this chapter are used to visually summarize and organize the
interview narratives. . Findings and conclusions from this study are discussed in chapter five.
This chapter will also discuss the implications of these findings and the limitations of this study.
26
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction
art/write is a web-based education program that uses works of art from The University
Art Museum’s permanent collection to inspire writing with high school aged students. art/write
was conceived as a museum educational program that could be delivered online, housed on The
University Art Museum’s website. Writing requires careful observation, critical thinking,
analysis of ideas and events, and of course creative thinking. When engaged with a work of art,
students must also utilize the skills of sustained observation, imagination and interpretation. The
concepts of art integration, aesthetic experience (or act of engagement), and critical thinking
were central to the development of this education project. Each of these will be defined and
examined in this chapter.
Integration or interdisciplinary education is the educational practice through which this
program was approached. Using the arts in classroom settings other than the studio arts expanded
the outreach of the art education and the educational mission of The University Art Museum.
Literature that examines the teaching of art for secondary outcomes was examined and is
described in this chapter. Reading or de-coding a work of art requires individuals to learn how to
interpret. Research for this project therefore examines several interpretative strategies that
supported the educational objectives of the program: literacy and critical thinking. Research for
this project also examines art museums and the application of the web. Literature in this area
includes examples of art museum websites and research on the users of museum websites, and
case studies of art museums who have built educational websites.
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This chapter is divided into four sections. The first section defines the key concepts that
impacted this study- art integration, critical thinking, literacy and aesthetic experience. The
second section examines the research of art integration as a pedagogy, specifically how art has
been used in museum and classroom settings to teach literacy. The third section describes the
interpretative strategies used in the art/write program. And the final section explores the
literature on art museums and the web.
Definitions
Art Integration
Defining arts integration can be troubling since this type of curriculum can mean many
different things to different teachers and authors (Russel & Zembylas, 2007). To create a
pedagogical foundation for the art/write program at the university’s art museum, it was
important to review these various definitions. At the most basic level, according to Russel and
Zembylas, integration involves the employment of two or more content disciplines in ways that
are mutually beneficial and stress an innate unity between the disciplines. But other authors
make further distinctions. Marshall (2005) argues that there is a distinction between the
curricular approaches of interdisciplinary versus integration. “A truly integrated curriculum is
organized to show the connectedness of things, while an interdisciplinary curriculum is
organized in ways that reinforce the separate and discrete character of academic disciplines”
(Clark, cited in Marshall, 2005, p. 228). Interdisciplinary education stresses the differences in
subjects, but a “substantive integration,” argues Marshall is a “pedagogy that goes deeper and
broader…it involves making conceptual connections that underlie art and other disciplines” (p.
228). Meaning-making for Marshall is the central theme that unites the separate disciplines. For
Marshall, this is “teaching art in a postmodern way” (p. 227).
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Stokrocki (2005) describes integrative education and interdisciplinary as two interrelated
elements, when she states that “Integration is a process of creating relationships and a way to
connect ideas across disciplines making them interdisciplinary” (p. 6). In a review of authors
advocating interdisciplinary/integrated pedagogy, Stokrocki summarizes the general definition
applied by Jacobs (1989) and Beane (1997), as an “Educational approach where students and
teachers work together to understand fundamental ideas, concepts, themes, and experiences
through multiple perspectives” (p. 6). This definition and the examples provided in the text,
Interdisciplinary Art Education: Building Bridges to Connect Disciplines and Cultures
(Stokrocki, 2005), emphasize a collaborative approach to the development and delivery of an
interdisciplinary/integrative curriculum.
The art/write educational project at The University Art Museum closely follows the
definitions described by Marshall (2005) and Stokrocki (2005) stressing aesthetic experience and
critical thinking as unifying themes or ideas that unite the visual arts and writing. Each of these
concepts will be defined and examined in more detail and the connections will be further
explained in this chapter. The experience of looking, or rather the engaged act of looking, is the
foundational activity of the art/write curriculum. Looking is an act that can have significant
impact on student learning such as critical thinking, and is demonstrated through their verbal and
written skills. Learning to look leads to learning to write well. It serves as the interdisciplinary
activity that links the visual arts to verbal and written literacy. For the art/write educational
website, it was important to stress the interconnection of the two disciplines of looking and
writing. Therefore, in addition to images of artwork, viewing strategies and writing activities are
the core content of the website.
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Aesthetic Experience
As declared earlier in this chapter, aesthetic experience is viewed as integral and
connected to the process of viewing and writing about art. Aesthetic experience and its role in
integrated learning can be traced back to progressive education and John Dewey at the beginning
of the twentieth century (Russels & Zembylas, 2007; Ulbricht, 1998). Dewey’s philosophies on
education were revolutionary in their impact on childhood education and that influence is still
evident today (Efland, 1990). Dewey’s writing on experience and education argued that the two
should not be seen as mutually exclusive, and in fact knowledge was incomplete until students
experienced ideas in actual situations. (Dewey, 1934). For Dewey, experiences had organic
connections, where one part flowed to the next. I will further explain what “aesthetic
experience” means here and how it is organically connected to writing and critical thinking.
Maxine Greene (1986) calls this educational experience “aesthetic literacy” where
“informed encounters” with works of art create possibilities for experiences in which students
learn new perspectives of seeing, thinking and feeling (p. 57). The objective of aesthetic
education, according to Greene, is to “stimulate reflectiveness” with art objects in an actively
engaged manner (p. 60). Similarly, Stockrocki (2005) states that the act of interpretation
“requires an act of imagination” (p.188). Being engaged with a work of art is a unique event,
unlike most other educational experiences students have in their day-to-day school experience.
The engaged act of looking at a work of art can be an aesthetic experience for some viewers if
the engaged act offers the possibility for viewers to experience new perspectives, thinking, or
feeling. It can become an opening for rich educational possibilities. According to Hamblen
(1993), teaching for aesthetic inquiry is rigorous, it lacks easy answers to questions, and requires
students to reflect on systems of value and conclusions of meanings. Inquiry, active engagement
30
and the ability to see and hear other perspectives or interpretations of an artwork acted as big
ideas in the development of the art/write lesson materials, as will be described in more detail
later in this chapter.
The aesthetic experience also involves critical thinking, another key skill integral to the
art/write’s learning objectives. Walsh-Piper (1994) defines aesthetics as an experience. She
characterizes it as, “A reflective and self-conscious activity aimed fundamentally at enriching
human existence by clarifying our thinking about such matters” (p 106). Ehrenworth (2003)
describes the aesthetic experience as expanding the students’ ways of knowing and seeing. The
aesthetic experience is therefore more than looking at a pretty picture and enjoying it. An
aesthetic experience compels us to think deeply about what we are seeing and how we are
responding. Works of art for art/write were carefully chosen with input from museum educators
and classroom teachers that were more likely to engage students, fully aware however that an
aesthetic experience could not be guaranteed. As suggested by Ehrenworth, interpretive prompts
and questions had to be written to encourage thoughtful engagement or, ideally, aesthetic
experiences, so that the students’ written responses themselves might inspire an aesthetic
response. Writing about this process, Ehrenworth explains that when a student makes meaning,
they create another “Aesthetic object, which is also significant” (p. 5).
Critical Thinking
Critical thinking, explained earlier, was the second key connection between the arts and
writing that makes this museum education project truly integrated. Critical thinking must take
place before quality writing can occur. The visual arts in this museum program were intended to
be the cause for engaged looking, with prompts that encourage critical thinking and aesthetic
31
experiences with the artwork, leading to good writing. In this section I will further explicate what
critical thinking is and its relationship to writing.
Critical thinking can be defined as the “mental habit or condition” of examination or
testing of propositions (Sumner, 1940, p. 632). Scriven and Paul (n.d.) define critical thinking in
broader terms as the “The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully
conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from,
or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to
belief and action” (n.p). Sumner (1940) advocated that individuals need training in critical
thinking. Becoming critical thinkers is a lifelong goal that greatly benefits students (Maxwell,
1996).
Participants of this study have been asked by their school district over the past four years
to identify sections of their lessons that address what are called “21st Century Skills.” The state
where this project occurs is one of sixteen states that has partnered with The Partnership for 21st
Thinking [P21], an advocacy organization which focuses on infusing these thinking skills into
classroom education. Some of these skills, described by P21 include creativity, collaboration,
problem solving, reasoning, making judgments and decisions. P21 advocates for teaching that
supports “Twenty-first century outcomes” (”Partnership for 21st Century Skills”, n.d.).
Outcome skills are categorized into four areas according to P21: life and career skills;
learning and innovation skills; information, media, and technology skills; and skills in the core
subjects [according to P21 these subjects are: English, reading, world languages, mathematics,
economics, science, geography, history, government and civics] (“Partnership for 21st Century
Skills”). For this project, I examined the learning and innovational skills as it applied to the
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art/write teaching activities. The learning and innovational skills were defined as critical
thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The P21 website explains:
Learning and innovation skills increasingly are being recognized as the skills that
separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments
in the 21st century, and those who are not. A focus on creativity, critical thinking,
communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future
(“Partnership for 21st Century Skills”).
Activities on the website were designed and beta tested according to the P 21 model of
21st Century Thinking Skills.
In 2008, the Institute for Museum and Library Services [IMLS] vetted the 21st century
skills from P21 and published a report, Museum, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills (IMLS,
2009). The report calls on museums and libraries to analyze their institutions, missions, and
services to determine how they can better address 21st century skills in their services to the public
(2009). Semmel (2011) cites new technologies, a mismatch between new jobs and current skills,
a recognition of lifelong learning, and a new DIY culture of creative makers as reasons why
museums and libraries need to address 21st century skills with their public (p. 4). Semmel also
notes that because the needs, interests and skills of learners has changed so greatly, the
requirements of what effective teaching looks like has changed as well. “This can pose enormous
challenges for classroom teachers” (p. 12). I saw The ILMS’s call on museums to address 21st
century skills and the school district’s coinciding push for the inclusion of these skills into the
curriculum as a coherent justification for integrating critical thinking skills into the art/write
curriculum.
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Critical thinking is also a necessary component of writing. George Hillock Jr. (2010)
examined the connection of looking, writing and critical thinking in his essay “Teaching
Argument for Critical Thinking and Writing: An Introduction”. Hillock argues that, “Argument
is at the heart of critical thinking and academic discourse, the kind of writing students need to
know for success in college” and in their career (p. 25). When formulating an argument, students
must provide a claim based on evidence, and use a warrant that explains how the evidence
supports the claim (Hillock, 2010, p. 26). At the heart of Hillock’s essay on critical thinking and
writing is this: “Students will not learn how to develop strong arguments on their own. To learn
that, they will have to become engaged in a highly interesting activity that is both simple and
challenging, for which feedback is immediate and clear, that allows for success and inspires
further effort” (p. 27). For example, students being asked to discuss the meanings and
implications of an engaging visual work of art can appear easy at first for students. When they
are required by a facilitator to support their opinions with visual evidence the activity becomes
more challenging, inspiring more effort from the students.
Hillock (2010) used the act of engaged looking to help students write strong arguments.
Students looked at a staged crime scene photo to engage the students in formulate a claim of a
crime. Students had to provide evidence from the crime scene photo to support their claim, and
explain why this evidence was important. Hillock notes how engaged the students were with the
image and the exercise of looking at the image for evidence. Hillock (2010) explained, “I
encourage students to be specific about the scene, asking questions to produce more specific
details” (p. 30).
This case study of Hillock also describes the strong connection, or rather the
entanglement between looking at art, critical thinking and writing. Writing requires critical
34
thinking and the process of writing aids in the development of critical thinking (Maxwell, 1996).
Like the teaching of writing, critical thinking is content based. “Writing helps develop critical
thinking, and both are learned through content material” (p. 4).
Literacy
The concept of literacy for this project followed the educational standards described in
the Common Core for English Language Arts for students in grades nine through twelve. The
state in which this study occurred has adopted the Common Core Standards and the high school
where the teacher participants were employed had recently begun implementation of the
Standards across all subject areas. In other words, all teachers were required to implement the
English Language Arts Standards into their curriculum. Partnership for Assessment of Reading
for College and Careers (PARCC) will be rolling out a new assessment to replace the current
state tests in reading, writing, and math of which tenth grade students must pass in order to
graduate. When writing the art/write educational content, I used the State’s adaptation of the
Common Core Standards in English and Language Arts (ELA) which are closely aligned with
the National Common Core Standards. I also used these standards as part of key questions for
teachers and in the final evaluation of the website.
The State’s Common Core Standards:
Lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century.
Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at
the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually
perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of
information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and
thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds
35
knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate
the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and
responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. In short, students who meet the
Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the
foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language (Department of
Education, 2012, p. iii).
The ELA standards of the Common Core are divided into four key categories, or strands:
Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, and Language. The State’s Common Core Standards
define what a literate individual looks like, synthesizing these four key features into a portrait of
what students are able to do. For example, according to the Standards, students who meet the
standards can “Comprehend complex texts...establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of
subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance…comprehend as well as
critique….understand other perspectives and cultures” (Department of Education, 2012a, p. viii).
Because these four features were the core elements of defining literacy as approached by the
state and more specifically by the participating teachers in my study, these were the standards
and definitions of literacy used for this study and the educational project.
A key requirement of the Common Core Standards for Reading is that students be able to
understand complex texts. At graduation, students should be able to comprehend the types of
complex texts found in college and careers (Department of Education, 2012b). The Common
Core also defines two types of reading that students must demonstrate comprehension in:
literature and informational texts. A sample anchor standard, or definite skill of literacy in
reading provides a good summary of what the Standards require student to do.“Read closely to
determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific
36
textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text”
(Department of Education, 2012a, p. 11).
The ELA Common Core Standards highlight three types of writing: argument, writing
informative/explanatory texts, and narratives (Department of Education [DOE], 2012b, p. 23).
The Common Core also identifies the skills specific to quality writing in each of these writing
types. While there is a clear anchor standard for each writing type, The Common Core places
more emphasis on writing arguments. It is assumed by the Standards that this writing type is a
“Particularly important form of college and career-ready writing” (DOE, p. 24). The anchor
standard describes that students should be able to “Write arguments to support claims in an
analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient
evidence” (DOE, 2012a, p. 16). A correlation between reading, writing and critical thinking can
clearly be seen in the reading and writing anchor standard’s requirement of students’ ability to
make conclusions based on textual evidence. As cited earlier, Hillock (2010) believes that
argument writing is fundamental to critical thinking. The Common Core argues the ability to
alter one’s perspective, take seriously the views of others, and make good decisions. It states
these “Are broadly important for the literate, educated person living in the diverse, informationrich environment of the twenty-first century” (DOE, 2012b. p. 25).
Speaking and listening are the third strand of the English Language Arts Standards of the
Common Core. Speaking and listening, commonly referred to as oral language, are viewed as
foundational to written language development. “In other words, oral language is primary and
written language builds on it” (p. 26). While the Standards address a higher need for speaking
and listening among the grades kindergarten through fifth, where written language is still
developing, they do state, “The focus on oral language is of greatest importance for children
37
most at risk- children [for] whom English is a second language and children who have not been
exposed at home to the kind of language found in written texts” (p. 27). These types of at-risk
students compose a high percentage of the student body at the high school site used in this study.
Acquiring vocabulary is one of the anchor standards under the strand of Language.
Possessing a rich and varied vocabulary is seen as critical to student success in high school,
college, and careers. The Common Core cites research from Baumann and Kameenui (1991),
Becker (1977) and Stanovich (1986) to support the statement, “It is widely accepted among
researchers that the difference in students’ vocabulary levels is a key factor in disparities in
academic achievement” (DOE, 2012b, p. 32).
Arts Integration as Pedagogy
The integrated disciplines of the art/write project are the visual arts and language-based
literacy. The central skill that connects the two is critical thinking. The activity that students
ideally experience through the art/write curriculum that engages their critical thinking and
encourages skills in literacy is an aesthetic experience (Stokrocki, 2005). art/write, it should be
made clear, is not a studio based curriculum project, but rather intended to be a curriculum that
uses the visual arts to encourage and inspire rigorous reading and writing. A review of literature
supported the connection, or entanglement, of art and literacy. The review of the literature was
conducted before, during and after the development of the project and informed what works of
art were chosen, questioning techniques, writing prompts as well as writing styles to teach to.
Literature cited in this chapter was pulled from the fields of art education, museum education and
English education.
Central to Dewey’s philosophy on education is the concept of experience. This theme
was so vital to his philosophy that it appears in the title of three of his books: Experience and
38
Nature, Art as Experience, Experience in Education (Hein, 2004). “He preached that ideas are
incomplete until they are applied and tested by being used in actual situations” (n.p.). Dewey put
his theory to test when he opened the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago in 1896.
Dewey believed that learning occurred contextually, and argued that subjects should not be
taught in isolation (Efland, 1990). At his Laboratory School, education was organized around
interesting and practical occupations rather than formal subjects. Dewey explained his pedagogy
in his own writing, “What the child learns in the school is carried back and applied in everyday
life, making the school an organic whose [sic], instead of a composite of isolated parts. The
isolation of studies as well as of parts of the school system disappears” (Dewey, 1900, p. 91).
Dewey’s ideal school would allow for authentic experiences through the inclusion of libraries
and museums where students could apply academic experiences such as reading and writing
(Hein, 2004).
As an increased emphasis on content-specific teaching across the curriculum arose during
the 1960’s, school based learning became increasingly compartmentalized (Ulbricht, 1998). This
fragmented manner of teaching was viewed as unnatural to the way individuals think and learn
(Sanders, 2010, p. 114) and forms the pedagogical inspiration for interdisciplinary and integrated
education which gained more attention during the 1970’s (Russell & Zembylas, 2007; Ulbricht,
1998).
Elliot Eisner’s (1998) critical review of research literature in the area of academic
benefits of the arts serves as a caveat for art-based integrated curriculums. Eisner is cautious of
wide and sweeping claims of the transferability of these academic skills from the arts, and warns
that basing arguments for art education solely on these claims is a substantial risk, as we all
jeopardize losing focus on what benefits the arts really provide students. Russell and Zembylas
39
(2007) explain, “At the heart of these questions lie philosophical issues: the nature and value of
arts in education” (p. 288).
Eisner, a strong advocate of arts-based integrated learning cautions us all to question the
motives of art-based integrated curriculums and those who advocate for them. Of concern to
Eisner, beyond his belief that studies on the transfer of skills (also known as instrumental
outcomes) in the arts are inconclusive, is whether or not this type of argument weakens the case
for why we teach the arts. “The core problem with such rationales for arts education is that they
leave the arts vulnerable to any other field or educational practice that claims that it can achieve
the same aims faster and better” (p. 12). Hamblen (1993) echoes this warning as well in her
summary of the research on instrumental outcomes and art education. “In general, the case for
instrumental outcomes has been weakened and flawed by overstated, unsubstantiated, and
politically motivated assumptions” (p.192). This issue is fundamentally important to my study,
and I agree that the arts should not be taught because they provide a service to other subjects that
are tested and scored by public schools, states and entrance exams. This caveat has weighed
heavily in how I approach this art-based writing project.
There are contributions to be found through teaching the arts, contributions that are
distinctive to the arts and Eisner supports this conclusion. The inherent demands that a visual arts
education should have, Elliot (1998) argues, are the following key outcomes, “A willingness to
imagine possibilities that are not now, but which might become. A desire to explore ambiguity,
to be willing to forestall premature closure in pursuing resolutions. The ability to recognize
multiple perspectives and resolutions that work in the arts celebrate” (Eisner, p. 14-15).
In Literacies, the Arts &Multimodality (2010), Albers and Sanders use the term
multimodality to argue for a curriculum that teaches through all literacies. Multimodal
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communication consists of these multiple modes of “language” (digital, visual, spatial, musical,
written, etc.) (p. 8). A multimodal curriculum, according to the authors, is a more complete
curriculum and is therefore more capable of serving all students. Albers and Sanders contend
that English language educators must acknowledge that, “Literacy is not simply a separation of
language systems that can be tested or skilled to death. Literacy is entangled, unable and
unwilling to be separated from other modes, media, and language systems that constitute the very
messages that are sent, read, and/or interpreted” (2010, p. 4).
Harste (2010) further examines this idea of “entanglement.” “Any literacy is multimodal,
meaning that it typically involves more than one literacy” (p. 27). In other words, for one to be
able to read or de-code any one sign system, one must often require another language de-coding
skill, or literacy, as well. For example, to de-code an advertisement, one must read the text and
must also simultaneously be also able to “read” the images or pictures within the ad,
demonstrating skills in both reading and visual literacy (p. 27). For Harste, Albers and Sanders,
viewing literacy as a multimodality recognizes the interconnectedness of separate literacies and
how they interact and support one another.
The practice of looking as a related skill in art is also significant to the art/write project.
The action of looking, according to Sturken and Cartwright (2001) is a complex activity that
involves the act of choice and should have a sense of purpose. “Looking is a practice much like
speaking, writing, or signing. Looking involves learning to interpret” (p. 10). The concept of
“visual learning,” say Albers and Sanders (2010), deserves much more attention by English
teachers (p.136). But the skill of seeing is not inborn, it must be learned and practiced
(Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson, 1990). One problem is the act of looking has become a passive
one, which leads to less aesthetic experiences and prevents the ideal “informed experience”
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(1990, p 152). Key to developing this skill is devoting time to its practice. As one respondent
explained in The Art of Seeing (2010), “It takes time to actually see a painting” (p. 147).
Ehrenworth believes that educators cannot teach aesthetic experiences, but they can integrate one
art form with another (visual art with writing) in ways that make the writing itself an aesthetic
experience (2003, p. 44). And Walsh-Piper (1994) specifically suggests the activity of writing
and sharing of ideas with peers as a method that museums can use to help create the aesthetic
experience with visitors.
Albers and Sanders (2010) state that the subject of art and writing inform one another in
that, “One must see in order to have something to say” (p. 136). While the case study that Albers
and Sanders write about in “Seeing, Writing, and Drawing the Intangible: Teaching with
Multiple Literacies” involves a studio-based art integration methodology, conclusions about the
act of looking and its connectivity to the act of writing are still made clear. The authors conclude
that it was the involved performance of looking at an object that led to the students’ higher level
of detailed and developed writing (p. 149).
While the integration of the arts can complement the act of writing, writing also supports
the act of looking, according to Walsh-Piper (2002). Using visual works of art such as famous
paintings from history in her English classroom, she found that the writing process helped
students look longer and more carefully. The integration of writing about art, she claims,
encouraged students to look and think more about what they saw. Walsh-Piper explains in her
book Image to Word: Art and Creative Writing (2002) that several factors are at play when a
student is asked to look at a work of art and then talk about it. Students must slow down their
thinking in order to take in the picture and become more aware of what they see.
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When engaged with a work of art, the students engage observation, imagination and
interpretation (Ehrenworth, 2003). Ehrenworth states what might seem obvious to many teachers,
that these are skill sets that are applicable to all subject areas, not just the arts. Not only are these
useful skills for students to have, but the arts also help “students find meaningful things to write
about and lucid ways to write” (p.1). She also seems to support Walsh-Piper’s conclusion that
writing about art teaches students to become careful observers. She describes her experience
with teaching writing through the visual arts, “It shows me that looking at paintings stimulates
children to imagine visual and emotional landscapes. It shows that writing through the visual arts
can help children write in evocative ways” (p 41).
Joseph F. Trimmer, a college composition teacher, had his students look at postcards of
works of art and offers writing assignments that vary from the simple to the more complex: freewrite, narrate, observe, respond, investigate, analyze, evaluate, document and/or argue. Trimmer
explains how he was impressed not only by the quality of the student responses to the artwork,
but the quantity of the writing (Childers, Hobson & Mullin, 1998, p. 22). Joan Mullin explains,
“When students become the class expert on a subject, motivation runs high…they begin to
understand the concept of lifelong learning” (Childers, et al., p. 34).
Mc Donald (2013) expounds on the integrated qualities of visual objects and writing.
She describes her practice as an elementary teacher in using found objects to act as “inspirational
catalysts” to inspire and encourage creative writing with her elementary students (p. 5). Students
were encouraged to imagine who previously owned the object, like a found shoe, take a new
position from the object’s perspective, or make a case about how the object arrived at its found
location. Her interpretative prompts about the objects invite the students to think artistically,
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fostering risk taking and creative thinking (p. 8). McDonald described these writing activities as
“Integrated, cross-curricular, inquiry-process learning prompts” (p. 11).
An important aspect of teaching literacy in the twenty first century classroom is teaching
students whose native language is other than English. Walsh-Piper (1994) states that visual
works of art helps English language learners make connections from words to pictures and can
improve vocabulary. Shoemaker (1998) writes about using the art museum as a resource and
curricular object to be used for teaching English skills such as word choice and communication
as well as critical thinking. The museum visit program ART/ESOL at the Philadelphia Museum
of Art, addressed the learning styles of English language learners (ELL) who are often shy and
hesitant to use English skills (Shoemaker, 1998). The museum visit program proved that art
objects could become powerful motivators for using English skills. Student responses to
paintings at the art museum such as Peale’s dramatic painting from 1772, Rachel Weeping,
inspired the students to ask critical interpretive questions such as, “What is happening? Why is
the baby dead? Who are the people?” (p. 41). The visual artwork encouraged curiosity and
motivation, a key element in having an “informed experience” (Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson,
1990).
ART/ESOL used the teaching method “Content Based Instruction”, the recommended
method of teaching English tied to a content area. Langer and Applebee both state that skills
related to writing “Are best taught when related to a content area (as cited in Maxwell, 1996, p.
4). Research supports the claim that better learning occurs when students use writing to think
about the learning they are experiencing inside the content area (Maxwell, 1998). Writing,
according to Hillocks (1995), remains at the “heart of education” (p. xvii), our chief means of
creating meaning and sharing that meaning with others. Because of this, Hillocks argues,
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“Writing cannot be disconnected from its sources, the process of observation, interpretation,
imagination, and inquiry” (p. xvii). When students commit ideas to paper, they must reflect on
their own thoughts and conclusions, an act of critical thinking (Barnes, 2009; Maxwell, 1996).
Writing, observes Maxwell, acts as a process and product that students can reflect on.
art/write is an educational project housed on The University Art Museum’s web site. It is
intended to be used by high school teachers whose primary means of student assessment is in the
practice of writing. Students create meaning when they are engaged with the work of art, or as
John Dewey might say when they experience the art. As described earlier, Dewey was one of the
original educational philosophers to see the value of an integrated approach to teaching and
learning where students might visit a museum and connect the visit to reading or writing in a
content area. “Dewey consistently described the ideal school as an institution that includes
libraries and museums in an organic whole in which life-experiences and specialized experiences
such as reading and museum visits are unified” (Hein, 2004, n.p.).
Art museums have been shown to have the potential of establishing extraordinary
relationships with schools and students. Museum educators in some instances have reevaluated
their relationship with schools and how they can have a greater impact on the education of
children. In fact Blume, Henning, Herman & Richner (2008) declare that the art museum
educator has a dual purpose: 1) to teach critical thinking skills and improve literacy and 2) teach
“habits for aesthetic encounters” (p. 85). These museum educators aim to support schools
through teaching transferable skills rather than just art history or aesthetics (Burchenal & Grohe,
2007). Rather than being told what the meaning of a work is or why it is significant, students are
being asked to develop their own interpretations and to provide evidence for their opinions.
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Studies of museum school programs demonstrate the academic impacts of students looking at art
through well designed inquiry-based schemas.
In a three-year quasi-experimental study at the Isabella Gardner Museum, researchers
analyzed how students developed critical thinking skills through looking at art in their school
partnership program. Gardner’s school program applied the Visual Thinking Strategies, or VTS,
designed specifically to develop aesthetic understanding and critical thinking skills (Housen,
2001-02). The program was applied in the museum setting and in the classroom. “Looking
skills” were seen as critical to the museum experience in order for the experience to be
meaningful (Burchenal & Grohe, 2007). “The skills involved in ‘learning to look’-observation,
inference, speculation, etc.- are the kinds of critical thinking skills that are essential to success in
subjects across the curriculum” (p. 112). Findings from the study demonstrated that students who
participated in the art-viewing program using VTS developed critical-thinking skills. Students
showed significant growth in the thinking areas of: associating, comparing, and flexible thinking,
and in observing and interpreting (Burchenal & Grohe, 2007). Not only did the students who
experienced the VTS program at the museum show more instances of critical thinking, they also
had more to say about the art and were able to provide evidence for their thinking (p. 120).
The study conducted at the Guggenheim Museum school program, Learning Through Art
(LTA), examined more precisely what in the museum-school program directly impacted
students’ academic performance and critical thinking (Downey, Delamarte & Jones, 2007). After
participating in the LTA program, students were asked to talk about a work of art and an excerpt
from a teen novel. According to Downing, et al, results from the research study indicated that
students who participated in LTA scored higher than the control group in critical thinking areas
of: extended focus, hypothesizing, multiple interpretations and evidential reasoning. These skills
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were seen when applied to interpreting a visual artwork and a written text, demonstrating that
there was evidence of transfer of skills (Downey, et al., 2007). Downy et al. believed that one of
the critical factors in the success of academic impact of LTA is the teaching strategies employed
in the program. Museum educators guide the students through looking and talking about the
artwork in a way that is not entirely open-ended. Students are required to support their opinions
and ideas with evidence from the work. “Through inquiry with art, LTA strives to teach students,
first, how they can analyze artwork in order to understand media and themes that they will use in
their own art-making; and second, how to apply critical-thinking skills to both art and text” (p.
183).
Interpretative Strategies
For the art/write project, students are asked to write about or respond to works of art
from the collection. It was important to provide students multiple opportunities to practice
interpreting a work of art. Interpretative strategies obviously had to support the learning
objectives of the art/write education program, critical thinking and literacy (specifically reading
and writing). The literature presented here will explicate the connections of learning to interpret
a work of art, the development of critical thinking and the support of teaching verbal and written
literacy.
The similarities between reading a work of art and the skill of reading written texts are
easy to see (Adams & Sibille, 2005; Klein & Stuart, 2013). “It seems logical that if a student can
recognize the thought processes in reading a work of art, this recognition can transfer to a
reading of texts” (Adams & Sibille, p. 11). In both the written and the visual, we use what the
artist and author “gives us and think on our own to create meaning” (Klein & Stuart, p. 2). More
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specifically, Klein and Stuart suggest that the strategies of “making connections, questioning,
visualizing, determining importance, inferring and synthesizing” cannot only be taught through
visual works of art, but that these strategies can transfer to reading written texts (p. 2).
The Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) curriculum was designed to develop both aesthetic
understanding and critical thinking skills (Housen, 2001-2002). The curriculum involves a set of
three questions, “What is going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?” (Housen, 2007). The first question, “What is going on in this picture?”
encourages students to tell a story and supports the key skill of looking. “Everyone starts looking
longer and more intently, discovering new details, and listening to multiple points of view” (p.
176). The second question, ‘What do you see that makes you say that?” requires viewers to
support their interpretive comments with visual evidence from the work of art. “Viewers learn to
reason by citing evidence found in the image” (p.176). And the third question, “What more can
we find?” asks viewers to look again, to look longer, and to look more intently. The question
helps to demonstrate, Housen explains, that “The more they look, the more they see and that
there can be more than one right answer” (p. 176).
A five year longitudinal study of VTS in the classroom found that the questioning
strategy accelerates aesthetic growth and critical thinking (Housen, 2001-2002). More
significantly, the report states that there was strong evidence of transfer of these skills to other
contexts and subjects. The study found that the VTS questions and strategies used by the
classroom teachers promoted students to look longer and use more evidentiary reasoning. While
no direct correlation was evidenced or described by Housen, the principle of the school, teachers
and school board all stated a belief, according to Housen, that the VTS curriculum greatly
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contributed to academic school improvement as demonstrated in the rise of reading scores on
state standardized tests.
The VTS curriculum as part of the art/write educational project at the art museum can
support classroom teachers by teaching transferable skills rather than content such as dates and
names (Burchenal & Grohe, 2007). When students read a written text, they are not told what the
meaning is, rather they must apply reading and interpretative strategies to decode the author’s
intended message. Similarly, VTS requires students to use rigorous looking and thinking skills to
decode the meaning or story within. Rather than have someone tell them the meaning or
significance for a work of art, notes Burchenal & Grohe, students must make meaning on their
own as well as provide evidence for their ideas demonstrating critical thinking. Because the VTS
curriculum does not require classroom teachers to be art history experts and its strong evidence
of transfer of thinking skills, this interpretive model was shared with participating teachers in the
study.
Klein and Stuart’s text Using Art to Teach Reading Comprehension Strategies (2013)
provided another art interpretative method that supports the development of literacy strategies.
These teaching strategies were also adopted for the art/write program. Klein and Stuart argue
that connecting the text to the student helps them “gain a deeper understanding of the text, of
authors, and of community/world issues” (p. 9). Klein and Stuart cite Keene and Zimmerman’s
three types of connections that developing readers make when reading a text: “Text to self
connections, text to text connections, and text to world connections” (p. 9). Making connections
is a basic skill in understanding a text because it engages students with the text, allows them to
apply prior knowledge, and supports active learning.
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In “text to text connections” students apply what they learn from one text to make
connections to another text and “deepen comprehension” (2013, p. 19). By using a work of art as
a piece of “text” students construct meaning through a visual prompt that is easier to respond to.
Klein and Stuart state plainly, ”Many children are able to respond easily to what they see in
pictures” (2013, p. 11). While Eisner (1998) may take offense to the sense of ease at which Klein
and Stuart claim students are able to make meaning from visual art, it does seem true that today’s
youth are more at ease about responding to visual images (Sandell, 2011) and visual works of art
can be powerful motivators for communication (Shoemaker, 1998). Barry and Villeneuve (1998)
also concludes that visual images do encourage the use of prior knowledge and can also be used
as curriculum bridges or ice breakers to help students make predictions.
An inquiry-based model of interpretation was also applied to the art/write program.
Open-ended questions that required a high level of thinking were modeled off of “Learning to
Look,” and interpretative guide written by Cass Fey from the Center of Creative Photography as
well as Terry Barrett’s (2003) method for interpreting artwork. Description comes before the
interpretation and as Barrett states, each are “interdependent” because, “What we describe as
relevant in the painting is dependent on our interpretation of the painting” (p. 53). Inquiry-based
questions help students make inferences from the details, or facts, that they describe in the work
of art (Sadler, Brobbel & Sharp, 2002). Starting with “What do you see?” leads to “What is it
about?” and finally to “How do you know?” (Fey citing Barrett, 2002, p. 159). These simple
questions encourage description, interpretation and most importantly, sound reasoning for a
conclusion (p. 159). Similar to the VTS approach, students are required to look to the work of art
for “facts,” thus citing textual evidence in their conclusion and decisions about the artwork.
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Art Museums and the Web
Museums are special in that they house cultural and aesthetic objects unique in their
ability to invite interpretation, inspiration and most importantly wonder. In 1984, The Museum
Commission on Museums for New Century Goals stated, “Learning in museums is based on
objects and involves not only developing the ability to synthesize ideas and form opinions but
also shaping an aesthetic and cultural sensibility” (as cited in Blume, Henning, Herman &
Richner, 2008, p. 84). The object is the central ingredient of the educational mix. But many art
museums are discovering that through the web, the object, seen virtually, can still generate
engagement and learning. “It is clear that the most valuable on-line assets from museums are the
collections themselves. This is, perhaps, not a huge surprise given that the objects have always
been the “‘unique selling point’ of museums” (Leftwich, Bazley, n.d, n.p.). Museums have
feared any new technology that has been integrated into the museum setting, says Erin Coburn of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But these technologies, she points out, ultimately allow
museums to meet their stated missions of outreach and education (Proctor, 2011, n.p.).
The 1999 National Museum Director’s Conference declared that virtual museums are the
future (Prosser & Eddisford, 2004, p. 294). The aesthetic, educational and social mission of art
museum education has not changed, just the method of delivery (Blume, et al., 2008). When
effectively designed, technology used via the museum website is in fact beneficial to the
museum experience. Engaging, compelling and enjoyable web-based activities can provide
another dimension to the museum experience, one not available in the physical setting of the
museum (Prosser & Eddisford, 2004).
Results from a study performed by P.F. Marty (2008) demonstrate the strong
relationships and expectations that the public has of museum websites. 69% of respondents
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surveyed stated that it was “very important” for a museum to have a website (p.88). 49% were
either likely or very likely to use online educational materials provided by museum website (p.
89). 72% preferred or strongly preferred the museum’s website when preparing to visit a current
or future exhibit (p. 92). Bowen (2000) states that three quarters of internet users expect to find
virtual exhibitions on the museum website and 87% expect to find images (p.5). Leftwich and
Bazley (n.d) note that 67% of surveyed history teachers indicated that they used museum
websites with their students (n.p.). Leftwich and Bazley also cite The National Archives survey
which found that 80% of surveyed teachers use museum websites to prepare for a lesson (n.p.).
One major benefit of the website is the greater amount of control it avails to the visitor.
The web-museum visitor has control over choices such as depth of study, length of study, choice
of artwork, theme, time period, sequence, etc (Blume, et al., 2008; Proctor, 2011; Marty, 2007).
The virtual viewing also allows one to avoid crowds, museum-fatigue and “self-consciousness”
(Proctor, 2011, n.p.). In this case study, a web-based project replaced the spending cost of a field
trip off campus, a factor impacting schools nationwide (Williams, Howell & Desciose, 2007).
Online exhibits and museum websites like art/write provide access and outreach to
visitors who cannot access museums (Crow & Din, 2009). In the actual museum, the visitors’
choices are essentially controlled by the curator and limited by the physical building itself.
Prosser and Eddisford (2004) argue that virtual museum experiences can extend learning in ways
not possible in the physical museum, giving objects more contextual dimension and meaning,
which can lead to a greater appreciation of the object (p. 292).
With all the benefits of the virtual museum aside, it is important to avoid a dualism of
real versus virtual; the virtual museum and the actual museum are not mutually exclusive entities
and should not be compared (Crow & Din, 2009). No virtual experience can replicate the
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museum experience (Bowen, 2000). This is why the secondary goal for the art/write web-based
museum project was to prepare students to visit and directly interact with the original object
when museum field trips were possible or when students choose to visit the art museum on their
own. It is a given that the in-person viewing of an object is unique and special and cannot be
replicated online. But, as Crow and Din (2009) argue, “We should not neglect the fact that there
is a world of experiences integral to the experience of the object- its context and history,
biography about the maker or owner, its relationship to the world and to our visitors. All of these
factors can be explored online” (p. 18).
The Plimoth Plantation website provides a brilliant case study for how the museum
website can be utilized to prepare future visitors or act as a “tour guide.” The Plimoth Plantation
is a living and breathing museum, providing visitors a chance to experience 17th century New
England. Museum staff observed that visitors asked “bad questions” while visiting; questions
that hindered deeper learning and critical thought (Kalev, 2004, n.p). A solution to this problem
resided in the redesign of the museum’s website as. Kalev reflects that “On-site orientation is
often marred by time and space constraints, noisy surroundings, impatient children, or ‘museum
fatigue.’ Offsite orientation allows people to learn about the museum on their own terms, in their
own time before they arrive at the museum” (n.p). The new museum website provides a section
on “What you will see/Who you will meet,” content and facts that address many common myths
and misconceptions, as well as pre-visit strategies for educators and family visitors that
encourage good questioning skills (n.p).
The implications of this particular case study are clear when considering that 60% of
surveyed Plimoth Plantation museum visitors said the new website helped prepare them for their
visit. Anecdotal evidence from volunteers also supports that visitors have asked better questions
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since the new website has been launched. Visitors not only expect pre-visit strategies to be made
available to them (Marty, 2007, 2008) but also notice that their visits are enhanced through the
use of them. A virtual museum tour is more than just a way to visit the museum without leaving
the classroom, it “provides visual stimulation that enhances students’ cognitive out-comes and
nurtures positive attitudes about learning” (Cox-Peterson & Melber, 2001, p.20).
It was also considered in the conceptual design of the art/write website that educators not
familiar with teaching art would be using the content. Therefore examples of art museum
websites with mini-lessons on how to look at visual art and how to create “good” interpretations
were also a part of this literature review. The pre- and post-visit strategies available on the
Philadelphia Museum of Art [PMA] website is another case study in web-based museum
orientation. Overall the museum’s website is well organized and logical, allowing teachers and
students to easily find necessary information and content. This is no small issue, as “A poorly
planned and badly designed museum website can undermine the museum’s ability to connect
with its visitors, before and after museum visits” (Marty, 2007, p. 356).
“Art Speaks” is a museum visit program at the PMA that includes pre-, during and postvisit activities focusing on art discussion and literacy skills. Some ideas that the museum website
hopes students will address through the program are: “What can art be? Who makes art? What is
an art museum? How can I respond to art?” (“Welcome to Art Speaks,” n.d.). Pre-visit activities
available online include high-quality sample images and worksheets that allow students to
develop ideas and expectations before their visit to the museum and what they may see. In
addition, “Guidelines for Good Museum Visitors” outlines museum etiquette and safe behavior
while in the museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has utilized its website to not just
promote the institution, but to prepare future visitors for interacting within the environment as
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well as the artwork. The Institute of Museum and Library Services [ILMS] report Museum,
Libraries, and 21st Century Skills (IMLS, 2009) references the PMA’s “Art Speaks” website as a
high quality example of museums integrating critical thinking skills into education planning.
Marty (2007) proposes that museums consider the results of research on use of museum
websites and stresses the importance of offering resources to a growing number of museum
visitors using museum websites to enhance the museum visit. Leftwich & Bazley (n.d.) state that
classroom teachers are using museum websites for reference, context and background material,
rather than the high levels of interaction often expected from a website. “This means that
teachers are potentially more willing to use a high quality image of a Roman pot than an
expensive interactive game that contains the same Roman pot” (Leftwich & Bazley, n.p.)
My literature review provided me with guidelines in the design and presentation of the
art/write website. As mentioned earlier, teachers are the primary users of educational content on
the museum website (Leftwich & Bazley, n.d.; Howell, DeSciose, 2007). Web resources, say
Williams, Howell & DeSciose should be written for use in the classroom or for teacher
preparation. Assuming that classroom teachers rather than students would be the users of
art/write, the content was therefore organized according to teachers’ needs.
Two sources provided suggestions that helped with the initial design of the art/write
website. Howell and DeSciose (2007) provide a detailed account of what teachers want in a
web-based museum resource. They list images, contextual information about the object, and
open-ended lesson ideas.
The Denver Art Museum’s (DAM) The Story of Putting Together an Online Teacher
Resource (2009) provides a best practice guide for art museums building their own education
web pages. The DAM report suggests starting small and building over time. Art museums,
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according to the DAM’s report, should also focus on using their permanent collections so they
can make resources that can be used over a long period of time. The DAM report stresses that
when writing content for teachers, one should use concrete language, less abstract words and
shorter sentences, like one would for a general audience (p. 20). The teachers predicted to use the
art/write were generalist classroom educators, i.e. not art teachers, so language needed to be
clear and accessible. Lastly, The DAM stresses that museums need to provide teachers with what
they want: images that kids respond to and images that are integral to the teachers’ related
curriculum and educational standards. Incorporating the standards into The DAM’s online
curriculum was seen as very important by the teachers who reviewed and beta-tested their
website. “Because assessing achievement in art can be so subjective, and because art can be
perceived by some as peripheral to the overall core mission of schools to teach students basic
reading, writing and math skills, the need to connect art education to standards is a pressing
concern” (DAM, 2009, p. 23).
Summary
The literature reviewed and discussed in this chapter helps to clarify terms used and
applied through-out this study. The web-based project, art/write is grounded in an art-based
interdisciplinary approach to teaching, where the visual artwork from the museum becomes the
central element, the inspiration for students’ thinking, discussion, and writing. art/write is
intended to be a curricular resource that increases the chances for aesthetic experiences with
students, encouraging critical thinking and developing language-based literacy in high school
aged students. Literature in the fields of English education, art, and museum education support
this type of curriculum, where art museum objects are used to inspire and develop student
writing.
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The development of this website involved educators, both art museum and classroom
based. It was important to me, while knowing this type of curriculum had theoretical support
from the literature, that I involve in the development the same type of teachers most likely to use
such a resource. In the next chapter I will explore the methods used to create this web-based
teaching resource.
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CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
Introduction
This chapter includes a review of the research methods and their appropriateness to meet
the goals of the research study questions. The chapter will review the process of identifying
participants for the study, and describe the research participants. The school site where the
classroom teachers were employed will be briefly described as it supports the need for such a
research project. The university art museum where this project occurred will also be described in
brief. The data collection methods for this qualitative study are explored in this chapter as well.
The methods used in part of the qualitative case study will be discussed as they relate to this
specific study. In addition, I discuss the methods used to collect indentify, categorize and analyze
data.
Research Questions
This study evolved from my own personal experience as a high school classroom art
teacher and as a graduate student studying education in the art museum setting. As a classroom
teacher, I happily collaborated with many generalist teachers on our campus as we employed
action-based research to evaluate the effectiveness of our own teaching. This experience of
collaboration inspired me to seek a collaborative-based approach to study best practices and
methods of teaching. Being a recent classroom educator in the public school setting, I was
familiar with current educational issues that teachers were facing. As stated earlier in this paper,
the objective of this study is to better address curriculum models and methodologies that
museum educators and public schools can use to best teach writing through art. From this, the
following research questions evolved:
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 What value do high school teachers see in using art via the art museum website to teach
the process of writing?
 What are the benefits of an art museum website to teachers of other content areas?
 How can teachers of other content areas successfully incorporate visual art into
teaching processes of writing in their content areas using web-based museum
collections?
Theoretical and Historical Background
Historically, empirical quantitative research in art education was the norm (Freedman,
2004). Today, Freedman explains, research questions are more complex and thus this singular
focus and methodology is not always appropriate. During the 1950’s and the decades that
followed, research in art education matched the methods used and favored in academia, primarily
quantifiably based and concerned with the psychological aspect of children’s art making
(Hamblen, 1989). But following the 1970’s, the trend in art education research began to accept
more qualitative methods as aesthetic, phenomenological, theoretical, and analytical research
became more common (p. 39). These qualitative methods, or non-empirical methods, allow
researchers to analyze “underlying assumptions” related to educational practices (Freedman,
2004, p. 187).
Qualitative Interview
An interview is defined by as a conversation between two people (deMarrais, 2004 citing
Dexter, 1970; Merriam, 1998). Conversational interview, focused interview, the group in-depth
interview, and intensive interview all fall under the category of qualitative interview study
according to de Marrais, 2004. Interviews allow researchers to capture the unique perspectives of
the participants associated with a project (National Science Foundation, n.d.). The interview
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method also allows for clarification and follow-up questions to ensure data is meaningful and
purposeful in addressing the research questions (deMarrais, 2004; Marshall, Rossman, 2006).
Using a qualitative data collection rather than quantitative was important for this research study
in order to allow the authentic experiences and perspectives of classroom and museum educators
to shape the art/write program development. In qualitative interviews, the participants’
perspectives should unfold rather than the researcher’s (Marshall, Rossman p 101). It was critical
to the theoretical design of the study that the art/write project reflect the necessities of current
classroom teachers. The most important aspect of the qualitative interview approach is that the
participant’s views are seen as valuable and useful (p.101). deMarrais describes the interview as
a “unique form of discourse between two people where one is an informed learner who is there
to learn more about another’s experiences or series of experiences, views, or perspectives, or
reactions to a particular phenomenon or event” (p. 55). While an intensive literature review
supports the educational approach of art/write, classroom teacher perspective’s and opinions
were the reason and purpose of this study.
Data collected from in-depth interviews can provide rich data, details and new insights
(National Science Foundation, n.d.). deMarrais (2004) states that interviews are used when
researchers require in-depth knowledge from participants about an experience or particular
phenomena (p. 52). In a short amount of time, interviews for this study provided a breadth and
depth of information and personal perspectives on current topics in teaching literacy at the high
school level.
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Case Study
Case study research can involve the close examination of people, topics, or programs.
Case studies aim to answer focused research questions in a contemporary setting through an indepth interpretation of data collected over a short period of time (Hays, 2004). In addition, Hays
also notes that case studies can be used for decision making purposes and in-depth interviews
can be used at any point in an evaluation process (National Science Foundation, n.d). For this
research study, in-depth interviews with four classroom educators were used before, during and
after the development of the art/write website.
Case studies avoid generalizations, striving to understand the unique qualities of the case
under study (Hays, 2004). For this research study, a case study approach utilizing in-depth
qualitative interviews for data collection provided a focused approach to studying the success of
the art/write website. The success of the website was determined directly by the interviews of the
classroom and museum educators interviewed. Because classroom educators were the targeted
audience for the art/write website, more emphasis was placed on the classroom teacher
responses, thus why they were interviewed one more time than the museum educators. Museum
educators’ interviews are used to provide another perspective, a second source of data to
compare experiences and corroborate user experiences. Corroboration is viewed as a critical
component to interview case studies (Yin, as cited in Hays, 2004).
Research Participants
As mentioned earlier in this chapter, two groups of participants were interviewed: high
school classroom educators and museum educators. High school educators were selected from
the same school site in the same city as The University Art Museum. Two museum educators
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were also selected from the campus of The University Art Museum. One educator in fact was
employed at The University Art Museum. All of the participants being based in the same
southwest urban city allowed me to concentrate issues in student writing on local educational
needs as well as address potential issues related to visiting The University Art Museum with
students. The two groups of interviewees also allowed for cross checking of participant
experiences of the art/write website from two different yet highly valued professional
perspectives.
Pilot Study
Before beginning the interview-based case study, I wanted to investigate whether there
was support for an art museum-based literacy curriculum. I created a short survey using an
online survey creation website. The survey link was emailed to ten teachers on the same high
school campus, with six teachers responding (See Appendix A). Teachers were asked, “How
much value do you place on using visual arts to teach writing in the classroom?” Four teachers
responded that is was “Very” or “Extremely Worthwhile”. The survey also asked, “How often
have you used the visual arts in a lesson in your content area during the last two years?” Three
teachers stated “more than ten times”. The pilot study informed me that there were in fact
generalist high school teachers who greatly valued the arts and were integrating them regularly
within their curriculum.
Classroom Educators
The pilot survey helped to not only give support to my belief that some core content
teachers wanted to use the arts in their classrooms, but also helped identify potential participants
for the study. The fourth teacher was recruited after the interview process had begun, and was
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referred by the teacher participants still involved in the study. This teacher was recruited when
one of the three original teachers had to drop out of the study because of a family issue. After
identifying three initial potential participants for this study, teachers were contacted via email.
After confirming an interest in participating, teachers were provided with consent forms granting
them anonymity. Each teacher was also assigned a pseudonym used in this thesis.
Four educators were selected from an urban high school located five miles from The
University Art Museum. I had recently taught art at this school site and was familiar with the
teaching styles, methods and high expectations of the individual research participants. Each
participant also had over ten years of teaching experience, providing this research project with a
wealth of teaching experience. These teachers were recruited because of their content areas,
where an emphasis on language (writing/speaking) was the primary assessment used in their
curriculum. Teachers were sought out who were familiar with teaching to the new Common
Core Standards for Language Arts (Department of Education, 2012) as well as the 21st Century
Thinking Skills (Partnership for 21st century skills, n.d.), such as critical thinking. In addition,
these teachers were recruited based on professional reputation at the school site and a personal
interest in the visual arts being used as an interdisciplinary subject.
All teachers were familiar with each other from staff meetings, past collaborative
teaching practices, as well as district professional development trainings. This familiarity and
respect provided a comfortable and relaxed setting for the group interview, theoretically ensuring
that teachers felt comfortable sharing their teaching expertise as well as feelings of incompetence
in the area of interdisciplinary art education. It is important to note that I was no longer
employed at this school site at the time of this study, so my relationship to these participants
while familiar, was one strictly of researcher and participant.
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Bruce Martin has been teaching English for fifteen years, all of it at this high school.
Bruce has a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching and Teacher Education and at the time of this study
was pursuing a Masters in Education Leadership. Bruce also has an additional certification in
Secondary English Instruction and is a certified instructor for Cambridge International English
First Language. Bruce could be described as a natural leader, being the school’s head swim
coach and English department chair. With his Masters degree, he is hoping to take on more
leadership responsibilities and take an assistant principle position in the school district in the near
future.
Daniel Reynolds has been teaching Social Studies for twelve years. He has a Bachelor’s
degree in American Studies and is also pursuing a Master’s in Education Leadership. In his
interviews, this teacher expressed a genuine love of learning, especially through the humanities.
It was a humanities-based approached to learning history, in fact, that got him interested in
teaching history while in college. Daniel has a certification in Secondary English Instruction and
is the World History instructor for the Cambridge curriculum on the campus.
Deana Hopper teaches English as a Second Language at the High School, with nineteen
years of experience as a public school teacher. Deana’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in
History with a minor in Art History, and a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of
Other Languages (TESOL). Deana expressed a genuine love of language and of teaching
language, which is further demonstrated in her experience as a teacher of English as a Foreign
Language in Pusan, Korea, as well as her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central
African Republic.
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Carmela Gonzalez teaches English as a second language at the High School. She has over
ten years experience teaching at the school, all of it in the ESL department. Carmela has no
formal education or training in art, but has experience and interest in teaching language
development through visual literacy. Carmela is an active leader on the school campus, engaged
with school improvement efforts to improve student vocabulary.
School Site
Because all teachers are employed at the same high school site, a brief description of the
school site is important to give theoretical background for why these teachers teach the way they
do. Education is a public, political activity where the educator has intellectual and social
responsibility. Therefore, it stands to reason that current issues in school, teacher and student
evaluation, as well as student demographics, are all factors in research involving public
educators. During the interviews with classroom teachers, issues concerning student
demographics and educational needs came up often in response to their choices in curriculum
content and teaching methods.
The school site has a 66 percent four year graduation rate and a 72 percent five year
graduation rate (School Report Card 2013, 2013). According to the state’s Department of
Education school report card, the school site also has a 4.2 percent dropout rate. The high school
is not large comparatively in student population, with only 1,169 students enrolled as of October
1st 2012. The demographics for the school are diverse, with the district reporting that within the
entire school district 38 percent of students are Hispanic, 52 percent are White, 4 percent are
Asian, and 5 percent are Black (District Facts, 2013). No public data was available to cite
specific racial demographics for the high school itself, but these percentages reflect what is seen
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on the school campus and in classrooms. The school is also registered as a “Title I” school,
indicating that at least 40 percent of enrolled students are from low-income families.
Currently in this southwestern state, all public schools are evaluated based on student
performance on the state’s Instrument to Measure Standards. According to the state’s department
of education home page, this standards-based assessment, required by state and federal law,
measures students’ competence in the areas of reading, writing, math and science (State
Assessment Standards, 2013). Currently, this state has adopted the Common Core Standards
which involves a new assessment tool, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for
College and Careers (PARCC), yet to be implemented. At the time of this study, the school site
was still being evaluated and rated based on student performance on the State’s Instrument to
Measure Standards exam, given to tenth grade students every spring.
The school site had gone from a “C” rating in 2012 to a “D” rating in 2013 (State Report
Card 2013, 2013). According to the state’s department of education, this indicated that fewer
students were passing the Standards exam and the school saw less overall academic growth
(State Report Card Guide 2013, 2013).
Museum Educators
Two museum educators were recruited to participate in this research study. Each educator
was employed at an art museum on the university campus. One educator was employed at The
University Art Museum where the art/write project was performed. Each educator was recruited
for reasons of personal experience in working with students, teaching in museums, and
experience in interdisciplinary education in museums. The museum sites of each educator also
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provided them an understanding or awareness of issues in education in this state and within the
local school districts.
Cathy Faulk is the Curator of Education at the university’s Gallery of Photography. Cathy
originally studied to become a classroom art teacher, getting a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art
and a Master’s degree in Teaching Art with a minor in Art History. Cathy taught for one year in
the classroom before becoming the Education Director at a small art museum in this
southwestern state. She has been working as a museum educator in this city since 1981,
providing her a great collection of experiences and knowledge in the museum education field and
local teaching issues. For several years, Cathy had been collaborating with an English instructor
at the university in developing programs for freshman English students to use photographs from
the Gallery’s collection to teach writing. Cathy has also written a chapter for the university’s
English department handbook on using works of art to teach writing.
Ophelia Mathews is local to the area, growing up and attending school in the city. She
received a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Studio Art and Art History. She also has a
Masters in Art History and is currently pursuing a PhD at the university in Art History. Ophelia
is younger than Cathy, but still possesses a great deal of experience in relation to classroom
teaching and museum education. She has worked at two art museums and one children’s
museum. At art museums she has curated shows, taught at youth summer camps and worked as a
docent. At the children’s museum she performed tours and also worked with membership and
development directors. Ophelia taught art history for a local arts magnet high school which
operated inside an art museum. At the time of the study she was also an adjunct instructor at the
community college, teaching art history and art appreciation. She had recently been hired as The
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University Art Museum’s Curator of Education, with one year on the job when this study began,
and had plans to expand the educational programs of the museum.
Museum Site
The University Art Museum where the art/write research project was created is an art
museum on the campus of a southwestern state university. It holds about 6,000 works with major
collections in American modern art, paintings and prints from the Works Progress
Administration- Federal Art Project, and European paintings and sculptures from the 14th
through the 19th century, including a small group of artworks from the Kress collection. The
museum itself is small and able to display only 2-3% of its collection at any one time. People
associated with the university make up almost 40 percent of annual attendance, according to their
2010/2011 Annual Report. Its educational outreach was greatly dimensioned in 2009 when the
legislature drastically cut funding to the state University system and the school outreach
programs were eliminated. In the 2008/2009 school year, the last year of the school outreach
programming, the education department reported visiting 125 classrooms and having contact
with over 2500 students from the local school districts. If these numbers are combined with
museum site visitors, 7500 individuals accessed the University Art Museum that year. In the
2010/2011 school year, this number decreased to only 4700 individuals, including all visitors to
special events and programs at The University Art Museum. Given that website visitorship had
increased by almost 23,000 unique visitors in the same time span, a web-based educational
program like art/write was viewed as a welcome addition to the museum’s educational
programming.
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Process and Structure of the Study
Classroom educators were interviewed three times over the course of seven months.
Museum educators were interviewed twice during the same time period. The structure, interview
protocol, and method for interviews with both groups (museum and classroom teachers) was the
same except classroom educators were asked to respond to a possible list of works of art and
how they would be used in their curriculum. Because classroom educators were the target
audience for this museum education program, their perspective was determined to be more
reliable to what high school teachers would desire and use in an online museum education
program. The first two interviews for classroom teachers were in a group. The last and third
interview for these teachers was an individual interview. Both interviews for museum educators
were individual. All interviews were recorded and transcribed.
Classroom Teacher Interviews
Seidman (2006) recommends a three-interview series for qualitative interview case
studies. The first interview “establishes the participants’ experiences” (p. 17); the second
interview allows participants to give more detail of their experiences within the context that it
occurs, and a third interview encourages the participants to “reflect on the meaning their
experiences hold for them” (p.17). The author asserts that this series designed by Dolbeare and
Schuman (Schuman, 1982, as cited in Seidman, 2006), “allows the interviewer and participant to
plumb the experience and to place it in context” (p. 17). My series of interviews for classroom
educators loosely followed this three-interview series.
Group interviews were the chosen format for the first two interviews in order to allow
teachers to hear others’ responses and to develop ideas based on each others’ ideas. Hearing
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another teachers’ response often reminded one of some experience or issue. Being a more
informal conversational format (Merriam, 1998), the group interview allowed for answers to be
examined in depth and from multiple perspectives at one time.
Classroom educators were interviewed for the first time in early December, 2012. The
three teachers were interviewed as a group and the interview was audio recorded, while I also
wrote notes during the interview. Using an interview protocol prepared in advance (Appendix
H), teachers were interviewed regarding the types of writing they use in their courses, their
comfort level with teaching art, how they have used visual art in their content areas, and what
Common Core Standards and 21st century thinking skills were most important to their content
areas. Questions probed the teachers’ experiences within the context of the study- teaching
literacy and using the arts within their content areas. Teachers were asked to describe how they
came to teach their subject areas, thus reconstructing their life events within the context of their
profession (Seidman, 2006). The structure of this first interview was informal, or semistructured (Merriam, 1998) and in depth. I was prepared with a list of questions and topics I
wanted to cover. But as questions were answered by each teacher, I allowed teachers to talk
naturally and conversationally. Not every teacher discussed every question in the same level of
detail. Sometimes they added onto an idea, or sometimes a teacher would just assert their
agreement with an answer with one or two words. Questions from the protocol were meant to
ascertain what subjects the teachers were responsible for, what genres of writing they taught,
curricular teaching objectives, and their experience with art-based interdisciplinary teaching.
“Data collection and analysis is a simultaneous activity in qualitative research” (Merriam,
1998, p. 151). After the first teacher interview, I transcribed and analyzed the interview, looking
for emerging themes and key words related to the research study. I then researched work from
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The University Art Museum’s collection using their internal cataloging software, PastPerfect.
Drawing on keywords, themes and teaching objectives from the first teacher interview, I
compiled a list of fifty-six works of art that could potentially be used in the writing curriculum
for art/write.
The second interview with classroom teachers occurred in early February of 2013. This
interview was originally planned to be another group interview with all three teacher
participants. However, due to a family issue, one teacher was interviewed independently at a
separate time and location. This participant was replaced for the third interview, because due to a
family issue, it would not be possible for her to return to the classroom that year. Merriam (1998)
acknowledges that qualitative studies are “emergent,” in that no matter how much a researchers
plans in advance, one never knows every person that might be interviewed (p. 158).
The procedure for both interview sets (group and individual) was the same. An interview
protocol was prepared in advance, which included questions, visual examples of works of art
from the museum and handouts about interpretative techniques. All teachers were emailed the
questions and materials a week in advance so they could review and prepare in advance of the
interview. Following Seidman’s (2006) model for the three-interview series, the second
interview surveyed for more specific details about what teachers taught and how they
accomplished this, thus attempting to “reconstruct the myriad details of our participants’
experiences in the area we are studying” (p. 18).
At this second interview, teachers were shown the selection of forty works of art from
the UAMA collection (Appendix I). Teachers choose 5-10 works from the list, described how
they would use each in their courses, and what standards and critical thinking skills they believed
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could be targeted through the work of art. Teachers were also shown three types of interpretative
strategies (or looking strategies) that are commonly used in art and visual culture education.
Teachers were asked to describe which strategy they would use with their students and what
Common Core Standards and critical thinking skills it aligned with.
Like the first interview, the interviews from both the group and individual teacher
interview were recorded while I also took written notes. The transcription from the interview was
analyzed to follow emerging themes and to track additional key words. These emerging themes
were used to select a final list of artworks, and writing activities, and to determine what
additional content was needed to support each art work on the website. A final list of eighteen
artists and twenty-five works of art were selected.
Following the completion of the art/write website, classroom teachers were contacted via
email and were asked to visit the unpublished url. They were also asked to explore the website
on their own and to employ some of the teaching strategies and activities with their students.
Teachers were given a four-week time period to complete this task before being interviewed for
the third and final time in May, coinciding with the end of their semesters. The nature of the
questions used in this final interview were evaluative in nature. Merriam (1998) suggests that
evaluating can be a strength of case studies (p. 31). Questions on the interview protocol asked
teachers to describe how they used the website and what benefits, if any, they found in using the
website with their students (Appendix H). It is in the third interview that Seidman (2006) states
interviewees should be prompted to reflect on the meaning of the process. Asking the
participating teachers to tell stories of their experience in using the art/write site, they put
experience to language, a meaning-making process (Vygotsky, 1987, as cited in Seidman, 2006,
p. 19).
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Additionally, at the final interview, each teacher was asked to rank, through sorting, what
Common Core Standards and 21st century thinking skills were most strongly addressed within
art/write’s lessons, content and activities. Each teacher was first given four Common Core
standards on separate pieces of paper and was asked to rank them in order. The same strategy
was used for the 21st century thinking skills. This interview method was used to compare
teachers’ statements in the first interview. Were the standards and skills that they found most
significant to their teaching being addressed with similar significance in the website?
Website Development
It was revealed in the second interview that all the classroom teachers required a brief
introduction to the artist (i.e. a biography) and a description of the historical context the artist
was working in. It was therefore determined that a biographical and historical context essay
should be included as available content on the art/write website. I completed research on each
artist, time period, and work of art after works of art were selected, following the second
classroom teacher and first museum educator interviews. Research material was found in The
University’s and Museum’s library, internet sources as well as in The Museum’s artist file
archives. Research on artworks and artists concentrated on historical context and biographies. I
applied a social art historian approach to researching each work of art (Hatt and Klonk 2006;
Fernie, 1995).
Following the writing styles that the participating teachers said they most commonly use,
as well as matching learning goals with the Common Core standards, three writing prompts were
written for each artist. Because each teacher in the study taught students at various learning
levels (from emerging English speaking skills and freshman composition, to advanced placement
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literature), it was determined that each artist should have writing prompts designed to target
various levels of learning (emerging to advanced). Writing prompts were also specifically
written for all artworks in the areas of expository, persuasive, descriptive, narrative, and poetic
writing. These styles were the genres of writing each classroom instructor mentioned using in
class. The website itself was designed with assistance from the web master at The University Art
Museum. All content and images were uploaded to the website by mid-Spring, 2013.
Museum Educator Interviews
As I mentioned earlier, the process and structure of museum educator interviews was
almost identical to that of classroom educators to allow for cross-group comparison or a constant
comparative analysis (Merriam, 1998). Similar to the classroom teacher interviews, these
interviews were semi-structured and in-depth. An interview protocol was prepared in advance of
each interview. One variation of the interview structure between the two groups was that
museum educators were interviewed twice, not three times. As I explained earlier in this chapter,
classroom teacher voices were sought out as a leading voice in the design of the website and its
content. So, more time was allotted for classroom teacher interviews. Additionally, museum
educators were interviewed separately on both occasions. They were not interviewed directly
about their knowledge of 21st century skills or the Common Core, nor were they asked to select
works of art. Again, this is because museum educators were not recognized as the target
audience for the art/write site, but were instead valued as having professional experiences and
perspectives that would be beneficial to developing the art-based literacy curriculum and website
for art/write.
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The first interview with each museum educator occurred early in the study, prior to
interviewing classroom educators. Each was asked to describe how her life path led to working
in their current capacity as a museum educator. Questions also mined these educators for their
experience in using art to teach writing. As with the classroom educators’ interviews, these two
interviews were audio recorded and transcribed shortly after in order to look for emerging
themes and key words.
The second interview occurred at the end of this study, after the art/write site had been
completed. Museum educators were asked, via email, to review the art/write website prior to the
interview. Questions during this interview were more evaluative in design. As Merriam (1998)
states, this can be a strength of the case study methodology. Questions for museum educators
were similar to those asked of classroom educators, allowing for a constant comparative analysis,
grouping answers to the similar questions and analyzing the various responses (Merriam, 1998).
Similarly to the final classroom teacher interview, each museum educator was asked to
rank through sorting, what Common Core Standards and 21st century thinking skills were most
strongly addressed within art/write’s lessons, content and activities. Each educator was given
four Common Core standards on separate pieces of paper and was asked to rank them in order.
The same strategy was used for the 21st century thinking skills. This interview strategy was used
to more directly assess how the website was meeting its educational objectives. These rankings
were compared to the classroom educators’ sorting/ranking for comparison analysis (Merriam,
1998). By comparing these two groups of interviewees’ responses, I hoped to substantiate the
educational value of the website.
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Reliability and Validity of Data
The reliability of qualitative interview case studies is a debated amongst researchers
(deMarris and Lapan, 2004; Merriam, 1998; Seidman, 2006). Lapan (2004) stresses that trusting
results from qualitative case studies used for program evaluation can be a serious issue. Since
some individuals reading a report may not value or be familiar with qualitative information, he
continues, serious considerations should be made to make results valid and to project objectivity.
One method employed in this qualitative interview case study to ensure validity and reliability in
the collection and analysis of data was triangulation. Triangulation refers to the collection of data
from two or more sources or the use of more than one method (Lapan, 2004; Merriam, 1998).
The strength of case studies lies in the data being pulled from multiple sources (Yin, 1994 as
cited in Hays, 2004).
Triangulation was achieved in this case study by interviewing multiple sources:
classroom and museum educators. Each group provided a different perspective to the study.
Classroom educators were able to provide an “in the trenches” perspective. These teachers could
apply a practice-based assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of an art-based approach to
teaching literacy and finally to the art/write site. Museum educators’ perspectives were museum
or gallery-based. Their perspectives and experiences granted them the authority to comment on
the benefits or limitations to a literacy-based curriculum in the art museum. Museum educators
possessed expertise in interpreting visual works of art, where the classroom educators’ expertise
was in teaching language. I believe that their differing perspectives provided not only an
opportunity to compare data but their responses complimented one another and added depth to
the data.
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A separate source providing triangulation of data was in the sorting activity each educator
was asked to perform during the final interview. Museum and classroom educators, as described
earlier, ranked-through sorting pieces of paper with the Common Core standards and 21st century
thinking skills-the standards and skills they deemed most relevant to the website. This ranking
provided an excellent source of data to compare and corroborate data sources across similar
groups (comparing classroom educator to classroom educator) and between groups (museum to
classroom educator) (Lapan, 2004).
Data Analysis
Data from interviews was analyzed adopting a constant comparative analysis and a
content analysis. Constant comparative analysis is described by Merriam (1998) as an analysis
method that “constantly compares” an incident or utterance from an interview to data within that
set or to another source of data. This comparison, Merriam explains, leads to the creation of
categories that are themselves compared with the sets of data (1998, p. 159). Content analysis,
another method of data analysis applied in this study, is more quantitative in nature according to
Merriam. Where the content being analyzed in this case study are the interviews, “The units of
measurement in this form of content analysis center on communication, especially the frequency
and variety of messages” (p. 160). In other words, key words or phrases are noted in the text and
counted for frequency.
Constant comparative analysis was used throughout this case study (Merriam, 1998).
Initial phases of this method were used just after transcribing each interview. During a careful
reading of each written transcription, passages or chunks or of the interview that seemed
important or significant were highlighted or bracketed. Seidman (2006) calls this process
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“winnowing” (p. 117). Seidman asserts that the interviewer must “affirm their own ability to
recognize” text that is meaningful (p. 118). These chunks of text were then grouped into
categories or emerging themes, which were noted in my field journal and then compared across
groups and within groups of interviewees. This designation of categories and themes is referred
to as coding in qualitative research and provides the data source for comparison (Seidman, 2006;
Merriam, 1998). Conflicts and corroborations were then noted in my research journal.
Content analysis was applied more directly after the second teacher interview was
transcribed. During a careful reading of the transcript, themes and keywords were noted that
occurred repeatedly, again applying the initial intuitive winnowing, described by Seidman
(2006). These keywords and themes were noted in my research journal before returning to the
transcript. Coding of themes were also categorized by the teaching content area of the speaker. A
second read through of the transcript counted the occurrences of these keywords/phrases. The
results from this analysis were used to determine the design of the writing activities and lessons.
Content analysis and constant comparison analysis were jointly applied in the analysis of
the sorting activity from interview three. The results were compared across groups and within
groups, and in addition was compared to earlier statements by classroom teachers in regards to
what standards and skills were important to their curriculum. Organizing which standard or skill
most commonly ranked higher employed a content analysis approach to data analysis.
Data Presentation
Analysis of data is presented in two formats in chapter four. Data is presented in the form
of detailed profiles of each case study participant which are grouped into separate categories
museum educators and classroom educators. Seidman explains that, “We interview in order to
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come to know the experience of the participants through their stories” (2006, p. 119). By
allowing the words of the interviewees to take center stage in the case study, he continues, the
findings can better reflect each participants’ consciousness. Presenting the data in narrative
format is akin to storytelling, the foremost way that humans use to make sense of our world (p.
120).
Data is also presented in the form of tables, visually presenting a summary of the key
themes and statements from the educators’ interviews. This data will also be described in
narrative format, with supporting evidence and narratives from participants to help contextualize
the data.
Summary
Through a qualitative interview case study I have been able to address my research
questions in regards to teachers’ value of an arts-based literacy curriculum at The University Art
Museum while also applying their professional perspectives into the design of a new web-based
literacy curriculum. By triangulating my data collection through multiple data sources and
methods, I believe I have added reliability to the data I will present. And by employing two data
analysis methods, I again believe that I have provided validity to the findings I present in the
next chapter.
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CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS OF CLASSROOM AND MUSEUM EDUCATOR
INTERVIEWS
Introduction
Chapter four presents data gathered from each interview with classroom and museum
educators. These interviews took place over an eight month period. A series of three interviews
with class room teachers took place where each interview lasted on average for one hour.
Museum educators were each interviewed twice for about one hour. These interviews resulted in
a great amount of qualitative data. Presentation of this data will take the form of profiles of each
participant, and is categorized by educator type, generalist classroom and art museum educator.
Interviews in each educator category are also organized into pre- art/write and post – art/write
data. This categorization aims to better evaluate the art/write site and to compare and contrast
educator responses to interview questions. Data will be presented in narrative format as well as
in visual data tables. Narratives will describe specific answers educators provided during the
interviews.
Pre- art/write Interviews: Classroom Educators
A series of two interviews occurred prior to the development of the art/write website.
The first interview was conducted with educators as a group in order to get to know each
participant, their background in education and their appreciation as well as experience with arts
integration. The second interview was another group interview that aimed to have teachers
expand on ideas introduced in the first interview and speak directly about works of art from The
University Art Museum. An interview protocol was prepared in advance of both interviews and
was shared with educators prior to each interview (Appendix H). The data from these first two
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interviews is combined here for data analysis purpose. All interviews were audio recorded then
transcribed. Transcriptions were analyzed through close readings, where key themes emerged.
The key themes that emerged were: The perceived value of the arts and museums; benefits and
limitations of using the museum website; best practices for art museums on curricular websites;
critical thinking skills; and writing genres and student required skills.
Classroom Educators’ Profiles
Deana Hopper has been teaching public school for nineteen years. At the time of this
study, Deana taught Intermediate Reading/Writing and Basic Writing in structured English
immersion (SEI). SEI is a model of teaching English to English language learners. Her
appreciation for other languages and cultures is further demonstrated through her teaching
experience in Pusan, Korea as well as her experience as a Peace Corp volunteer in the Central
African Republic In the recent past at the high school, she has also taught emergent level
language acquisition classes. Deanna expressed genuine passion for teaching the English
language, a passion that was clearly embedded with a personal connection. Asked why she
taught the subject she teaches, Deanna responded that she was
fascinated with language. A more personal answer, my mom came to the US as a
refuge. I saw how important English was to her and to my grandmother. They came from
Slovenia. I think they were called ‘displaced persons’ at the time, not a refuge. English
was her third language. I think she had an American mentor in high school, an American
teacher that kind of showed her the ropes, in a sense. She became very successful from
that.
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Daniel Reynolds has been teaching social studies for twelve years. Daniel has a
Bachelor’s in American Studies and was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership.
At the time of this study, Daniel taught Advanced Placement United States History and
Cambridge Honors World History. Daniel described the Cambridge curriculum as, “Basically an
international relations in the twentieth century. Very Euro-centric, very traditional.” Daniel also
has experience teaching government, economics, traditional U.S. history and what he called,
“state standard based-world history”.
Daniel mentioned that social studies was not his first major.
I was originally interested in English, and was an English major and then I dropped out
of college. And when I came back, I think I had more focus than when I was in school.
Originally I was not interested in being a teacher. And when I was interested in being a
teacher, I sort of reflected on the classes I was interested in the most. I had a cluster, like
Bruce and I teach together, it was English and history together. It was co-taught. Both
teachers were in the room, all the time. A little different than what we do. And I loved
that class and sort of the approach to learning, and the work load in that class. It really
taught me how to handle big workloads, significant workloads. So when I realized I
wanted to teach high school, that was the direction I went in.
Bruce Martin has been teaching at the high school for fifteen years. Bruce’s connection to
the school site runs deep as he student-taught at the school and met his wife, an art teacher, while
teaching at the school. His familiarity with the arts was often connected to his marriage to an art
teacher. Bruce taught Advanced Placement Language and Composition and Cambridge English.
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In the past, he has also taught American literature, world literature, and freshman level English
courses. When asked why he decided to teach English, Bruce stated,
I liked stories, I liked reading and writing. When I was in college I wasn’t really sure
what I wanted to do, freshman, sophomore year. And I was always pretty good at reading
and I liked stories and I liked writing. But then I starting taking some education classes, I
realized that I would like to teach writing, because I had really good writing teachers, and
I like the idea of communication through writing.
As evidenced in the above narratives, a common thread uniting these teachers is an
appreciation and interest in the English language. Bruce pursued his teaching degree because he
loved stories, Deanna’s family had been personally impacted by their acquisition of the English
language and Daniel originally intended on getting a degree in English in college.
While their feelings regarding language and the language arts was a common thread that
united these teachers in their motivations to teach, their attitude towards the visual arts was also
similar. Bruce Martin for example stated that about teaching the visual arts that he felt,
Super comfortable. I am probably more comfortable than I should be, because I don’t
know enough. But I am really comfortable with it. You know, I wish I had more
knowledge, more recall and exposure with it. I have a high affinity for the visual arts.…It
was making me think of why I became an English teacher is because I like language and
how it expresses the human condition. And I think art is just another style of writing,
style of communication of the human condition. I think that it’s such a great hub for all
of humanities, you know learning and education.
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Daniel was comparable in his response to the arts, saying that he “loved the visual arts”,
and saw art as a valuable tool for teaching broader concepts in other subject. He explained,
I wish I knew more about the history of art and how art ties into the more general
history. So, I guess that speaks to the idea of it being an interdisciplinary subject too. I
think it really gives a great opportunity to involving [sic] literature and involving [sic]
history and to contextualize the art helps with the understanding of those subjects. I think
it’s a great tool for learning. I personally enjoy them.
Compared to Bruce, he appeared to be more reserved about his current ability to teach
with the visual arts. In direct answer to the question about his comfort level with teaching the
visual arts, Daniel stated, “I don’t feel intimidated, but I feel intimidated by the idea of trying to
teach with art unless I am really prepared and really in the zone. I don’t feel like any given day
of a history lesson, I can say ‘boom, here look at this’, it’s more limiting.”
Deanna, like Bruce, exhibited a deeper comfort level with the arts, but explained
that her comfort level came with experience. She declared that,
I am a black sheep in a family full of artists. My older sister is an artist in New York City.
I love the visual arts, I have a minor in art history. I feel like it’s the place where all the
subjects come together, like English, history. There is such a reflection of everything in
the visual arts.
Interview one occurred at the high school site, inside one of the participating teacher’s
classroom. All teachers were familiar with the site and the interview location. This interview
took place in the afternoon, directly after the end of school. All three teachers, Bruce Martin,
Deanna Hopper, and Daniel Reynolds, as well as the interviewer sat together at a small table.
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Because of the time of day, I provided snacks to help make teachers feel welcome and
appreciated as well as energized for the length of the interview. Prior to the formal interview,
light banter between teachers demonstrated a great level of openness and easiness amongst the
small group.
Prior to the second interview, Deanna Hopper had a family issue occur that prevented her
from participating in the group interview. She had made the choice to also take a leave of
absence from teaching the remainder of the school year but, Deanna remained part of the study,
participating in the second interview and was replaced only for the third (post) interview. Bruce
Martin and Daniel Reynolds were interviewed together two months after the first interview at
Daniel’s home. Bruce and Daniel have been collaborating teachers for a few years and their
children attended the same pre-school. Bruce was familiar with Daniel’s home, having attended
birthday and holiday parties there before. So, the space was familiar and relaxing for both
participating interviewees. Deanna’s interview occurred two weeks later at a local coffee shop
that Deanna chose. Her interview involved just the two of us. At both interview sessions, I was
prepared with the same interview protocol (Appendix H), which included a list of
questions/topics to be covered, list of artworks, and interpretative strategies. All teachers were
emailed these items in advance to review before the interview.
Educator’s Perceived Value in the Visual Arts and of Museums
The educators’ perceived value in using the arts within their curriculums was evidenced
in repeated examples of their past use of the visual arts in their respective curriculums. Daniel,
who teaches history explained how he often shows his students Picasso’s Guernica in class. He
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explained that he uses this image to show students the emotional state of mind that people were
in a certain time period and event. He explained,
What was happening at the time? Why was it made then? What about that artist, and what
about the time, what were the circumstances of that time that inspired the artist to write
that? Artists are coming at us from an emotional place, so what about the world, the
world that they live in, put them in that emotional place?
The other visual art form that Daniel referred to using often in his class is political
cartoons. Explaining that these often show up on the Advanced Placement exams, “It’s very
much the idea of contextualization, the test is going to get at why was that created in [the] 17th
century, why not the 14th century?”
Bruce Martin, who teaches English and AP Literature, also referenced Picasso as an artist
he uses in his class. He described how just a few days before this interview, he had shown his
classes Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, a work from the artist’s blue period. He wanted to show his
students, he said, a visual example of mood. Bruce further supported his use of Picasso’s
paintings by stating,
Just getting out of the Common Core training this morning…they kept using the word,
“rigor.” And really that word translated to complex feelings, and complex language and
complex arguments. And really, art works on those levels. You know we talked about the
Picasso work not just being “sad,” that is really a shallow term to describe it. So I would
suggest that it lends itself to the rigor of the Common Core.
Deanna Hopper, who teaches structured English immersion, described how she has used
the arts and museums to benefit her student’s developing language skills. She explained how
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when living and teaching in the Bronx she took her students on field trips to the museum. She
described a treasure hunt-like activity students would perform inside the museum. She explained
that students,
were looking for specific types of African art, and then responding to the works that I
would lead them to in the museum. It was just an amazing experience for the students. I
felt like it was something that just having the art there, the visual there, they wanted to
write about something. They felt compelled to put their ideas and thoughts down on
paper.
Deanna stated that because she no longer teaches in New York, getting to an art museum
is not as easy. But she still uses art in her class to teach the English language to her students. She
described a lesson she uses to teach basic grammar:
I showed them Seurat’s La Grande Jatte. I had students look at the picture and
describe what is happening to another student, orally. So they are using the present
continuous. “She is walking, she is holding her umbrella.” And then I remove the image
[and ask them] “now write about it in the past continuous. What was happening in the
picture?” So they have all these ideas from looking at that visual.
Benefits and Limitations to Using an Art Museum Website
All teachers stated direct examples of how they currently use the visual arts within their
curriculum to teach either content-related thinking skills or writing specifically. However, it was
noted that all teachers did not use art museum websites. Images used in class, projected using
smartboards or projectors onto a large screen, were not found on art museum websites. Nor did
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any teacher mention using web-based museum curriculum or content. High quality images were
stated as being the overall goal of web-based searches, not content or teaching strategies.
Bruce stated, “I don’t usually use museum websites. Because if I am just getting the
image I can usually get a better image off of another search engine.” Daniel agreed with this
statement, and Deanna elaborated, “That’s what I do as well. I don’t know if I have ever gone to
a museum website to use in my class. I just Google what I want and ‘bing’” [indicating that the
search engine brings up her desired search quickly].
Daniel explained his experience with museums and museum websites,
They [art museum websites] put the art up there, they don’t put the author, at least
the ones I’ve looked at, and they don’t really tell you much about the author. They
don’t, they very rarely describe the work and make a judgment, don’t tell you about the
artist, don’t describe, make a judgment…contextualize the work. Like I have felt in the
past very much on my own when trying to make those connections for students. I feel
like, again this is just my impression, that the museums don’t quite do that for us. Not
like they do on the wall in their own museum…They always seem, when I am in a
museum I am impressed. When I’m in a museum website I am disappointed.
The teachers all agreed that there was a different experience for viewing works on the
website versus in the museum. Daniel again argued, “There is something different. Like online
you can’t see brush strokes. I just got to get close to the Matisse at the MOMA in San Francisco.
To think that Matisse laid that paint on there, and I can see the individual horse hair. There is a
connection there that you can’t quite get online.”
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Deanna Hopper agreed with this statement saying, “I feel like when you bring students
there, they have that experience. The museum is very quiet, it’s like a sacred space. And this
painting is very sacred in a sense. And there’s a real sense that kids…” Bruce finished her
sentence with, “Like reverence.” Deanna finished saying, “You don’t get that in the classroom.
Like, ‘DUDE, look at that!’”, Deanna imitated a student pointing excitedly at a work of art.
Daniel further explained, “I don’t think any picture on a computer screen is going to force
[me] with all my might to point and to not reach out and touch it. Which is pretty much what I do
in the museum is want to touch it. I just wanna touch it, feel the texture that was left behind. That
is not to say that that makes the computer experience valueless, it’s just a little bit limiting and a
little bit less personal.”
While Bruce and Deanna were clear in their perception of the limited nature of art
museum websites in the classroom, another common theme emerged in their conversation,
accessibility. This was seen as very important to all three teachers. Bruce suggested,
If I pull up something from The University Art Museum website, I can be like “That is
ten minutes away. You can hop on the city bus and you go see this yourself. It is here
in town.” And that plays with our kids, I think. You know the
non-reality, big deal. But, it’s here in my town! And just
idea that it’s online,
accessibility, I think that’s
what the value of the website for me is.
Bruce however has not used The University Art Museum website with his class, even when
planning a trip to The Museum in years past. Bruce did not account for why he did not use the
website to plan the trip, only stating that his wife, the high school’s art teacher, looked at the
website before the field trip.
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Daniel also stated,
Until there was the inter-web, I could have a picture of Guernica in a book, but the class
couldn’t see it all at one time. I couldn’t point out one little corner and have the whole
class attend to it at once. I would have to be passing around a book and that really limits
the impact. So, I think the accessibility is huge.
Deanna agreed with these statements by Bruce and Daniel, saying for her, “The
immediacy of being able to access it [the museum] is huge. For a lot of my kids, they can’t
afford to go to the art museum. Whether it’s getting on a bus to go down there, or admission,
which is real money for a lot of my kids. Access via the museum website is beneficial.” Bruce
added, “I think for, especially our kids, there’s got to be the introduction to it, cause they are not
going to go on their own to The University Art Museum.“ Daniel seemed to be further moved by
this conservation to summarize his perspective, “I don’t mean to knock art websites. I don’t want
to give the general impression that they stink, cause they [are] better than nothing, for sure. I
can’t bring our kids to The Met. It’s just that simple. If there is something in there I want to see
and its online, that’s a great start.”
Best Practices for Websites, a Wish List
Teachers expressed similar attitudes to the museum website, such as lack of use, and a
stronger interest in using internet search engines to find visual images. Teachers were asked,
“Is there value in using the art museum website to teach writing?” and the follow up question,
“What do you need provided on the website?” Teachers did provide suggestions for art museum
websites. Daniel, the History teacher, suggested,
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If I can put up a visual real quick on the board with a small blurb. The website’s got a
picture and it’s got something about the author, something about the time, and the
reasoning for the work and the emphasis of it that directly translate to mood or tone or
simile or metaphor or figurative language. That works really well. My experience with
the art museum websites is that they don’t have enough of that.
Bruce was very specific in that the image was his major objective. “I definitely want to
be able to see a big clear image of the art.” Interactive features and content were important for
Bruce as well. It appeared that some suggestions reflected his experience with other websites
such as the desire to click on a section of a work of art and “see what experts have to say about
that part.” Bruce also suggested a structure to the website, “It would be cool if you could like
click on something and a question would come up, like what do you notice? And it maybe takes
you through some of these things. And then after you talk about it with the kids, you might click
on it and it would give you some of the information, so it’s a couple steps so that you could teach
in-between the question to answer.”
Deanna’s suggestions reflected her issues in working with students who are just learning
the English language. These students, she suggested would need opportunities to practice basic
writing skills, such as describing, using adjectives, nouns, and just “getting them to respond to
something that they see.”
Choice was a common theme expressed in the suggestions of all three teachers. Daniel
mentioned what he would like to see, “The option to see some context, some historical context,
here is the option to see more information about the author.” Bruce mentioned it would be nice to
have optional writing ideas provided in case teachers need help coming up with writing prompts
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in relation to the works of art. Deanna stated emphatically that she would not use scripted lesson
plans provided by a museum website. She stated, “I don’t like super-disruptive things because it
ends my creative thought.”
Critical Thinking Skills
In the review of literature it was evidenced that there could be a link between effective
writing and critical thinking skills. Therefore, all three classroom educators were asked to
describe what 21st century thinking skills were important to their teaching. At the second
interview, they were provided a descriptive list from the P21 website, the web resource for
critical thinking skills used in their school district.
Bruce and Deanna both mentioned communication as a critical skill for students to write
in their content areas. Bruce stated firmly, “There are so many, but the communication one is a
big one, ‘cause you have to communicate, you have to do that to express what’s understood.”
Deanna elaborated more on what it means for her classroom specifically, “I really focus on the
communication and collaboration. Just articulating thoughts and ideas and communicating for a
range of purposes.“
Communication, Deanna further explained, is critical for her students because it comes
before learning to write, “When you are learning a second language, the speaking, the listening
skills, they always come first. Reading and writing skills are a lot more difficult.” Deanna
expanded on how collaboration plays a critical role in her curriculum, adding,
Another part of the 21st century skills is the whole idea of collaboration and
working with diverse teams, diverse populations. That‘s basically the definition of
a ELD classroom. They have to learn to work with each other. The Somali kids just can’t
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work with the Somali kids. They have to mingle with each other, and learn to respect
differences and go beyond those.
Daniel and Bruce also stated that critical thinking and problem solving are important to
their curriculums. Daniel further explained what this means for him and his classes, “So for me,
its starts with description. Explanation is really that art of analysis, that relationship between the
parts and how they enhance one another, or they detract from one another. And the evaluation
then is, “is it good, could it be better? Which is better?”’
Bruce agreed that he uses these same skills, critical thinking and problem solving, in his
classes as well and also added media literacy to the list of skills. He saw a connection between
the skill sets described by Daniel to what his students do in his English classes. He further
explained how he saw that this critical thinking skill relates to visual works of art too. He
explained,
For kids to be able to do the same skills with something visual, to pick apart pieces and
make the connections. And that’s the idea of looking at something some text, an image,
whatever it may be as a construct in and of itself, rather than here’s truth on the page.
Daniel further elaborated about how analyzing and critical thinking skill relate to his
curriculum in World History. He explained how the new freshman World History Cambridge
curriculum stresses analyzing the sources, stating that, “There is a real distinction between what
is the message and what is the author’s message and point of view and perspective and purpose
and agenda and really getting at that. What’s the voice behind this comment or this piece?”
Bruce added to this list of 21st century thinking skills global awareness, stating ,
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It’s really a cultural awareness, I’d say, which the kids always lack, and that hurts them.
And the kids that have a better cultural awareness and better global awareness always do
better... They just know more. They make more connections. They’re familiar with
things. And it’s kids who have been to museums, it’s kids who have been places and
have experiences that they can tie it to.
Table 4.1 lists the 21st century thinking skills that each classroom educator stated
as being important to their teaching.
Table 4.1
21st Century Skills by Content Area
DH- ESL
BM- English
DR- Social
Studies/History
Communication
Communication
Critical thinking
Collaboration
Critical thinking
Problem Solving
Global Awareness
Problem Solving
Analysis
Creativity
Media/Information Literacy
Brainstorming
Global Awareness
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Writing Genres and Required Skills
All three teachers were asked to describe what writing styles they teach in their content
areas. Table 4.2 organizes these writing styles instructed by teacher and content areas. All the
teachers mentioned that the standard styles of narrative, expository, functional, literary analysis,
and research writing were required in their curriculum. Bruce and Daniel, however, explained
that they stress the writing styles descriptive writing, expository, and analysis in their respective
content areas. These writing styles, used in Bruce and Daniels’s classes, are highlighted in grey
in Table 4.2.
Table 4.2
Writing Styles by Content Area
DH- ESL
*BM- English
*DR- Social Studies/History
Narrative
Narrative
Narrative
 Descriptive
Expository
 Descriptive
Expository/Discursive
 Descriptive
Expository/Compare-Contrast
Persuasive
Persuasive
Persuasive
Functional
Functional
Functional
Literary Analysis
Literary Analysis
Analysis
Research
Research
Research
Grammar
Written Response
In the second interview, teachers elaborated on these genres, describing what skills
students needed to learn and apply to do well when writing in these genres. Deanna Hopper
stressed more basic skills with her English language learners, referring to the six traits of writing
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as her guide in developing good writers. Working with students at mid-level language
acquisition, she explains,
I really focus on generating ideas and supporting details, organizing a piece of writing
and then conventions. I look at conventions. Can they get their basic ideas across with
minimal errors? With basic students, I want to see them present an idea and then support
it, with supporting ideas and organize it. At the higher levels, we are looking more at
working with sentence fluency.... and also working with word choice. Knowing when to
leave behind those very basic words- nice, pretty….like, “that’s a pretty painting.”
Specifically chosen vocabulary.
Daniel asserted in his response that,
I think to be good writers kids need to be able to obviously organize what they’re talking
about and I think that’s one of the last things. One of the first things is they need to be
able to use good adjectives or descriptive language to say what they see. Because I notice
a lot of the students who don’t do as well are kids who don’t have the words…. When
kids have that language, it helps build the meaning. If they don’t have the words they
have a hard time explaining the meaning.
Bruce agreed with this statement by Daniel, adding,
And you know just the basic writing skill that we want to develop is that developing your
word choice, so you can choose the right word to develop your meaning. That’s one
[word choice] that obviously divides students from writing really well and from not
writing really well. I think the other is putting all those ideas together [organizing].
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Bruce explained that before organizing students need to know what they are writing
about. Connecting the writing to visual art, he explained, “I think that if you’re looking at an
image, ‘What’s going on in this picture?’ you as the student or teacher have to take it all in and
then pick out what you want to talk about first and then support that idea. So I think that
organization is a biggie after you do all the noticing. For writing, a big part would be the
brainstorming, or getting your ideas down, prewriting.”
Again tying into an art-based interdisciplinary approach to teaching writing, Bruce
elaborated even further on how the arts support writing skills,
I also think that for one of the more difficult essays that teachers complain that
students have a hard time with is the literary analysis, because they have to analyze it.
And I think that the idea of breaking something into small parts and explaining the parts,
that analysis is tough to start or tough to make really concrete when it comes to different
works of literature. But with art, you can practice those steps with an image that you can
take in all at once, and then you can break it into parts. I think that if you do the same
with a text, it helps. Because then kids see a story or a poem as the same idea. It’s like a
work of art, things are intentional, it wasn’t accidental, they used these words or these
images…and then once you break them all apart and you put them back together you
have a better analysis of the literature.
Table 4.3 displays the writing skills required by students to write effectively with
in each content area as described by these classroom educators.
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Table 4.3
Skills Required for Writing in Content Area
DH- ESL
DR- Social
BM- English
Studies/History
Brainstorming
Word Choice
Organizing
Supporting details
(Evidence)
Organizing
Word Choice
Organizing
Supporting Evidence
Conventions
Brainstorming
Word Choice
Background Knowledge
Take Risks
Cultural Awareness
Ability to Analyze
Supporting Evidence
Ability to Analyze
Works of Art
During the second interview, teachers were asked to review a list of sixty works of art
(Appendix I) from The University Art Museum’s collection. Teachers were to discuss what
curricular connection, if any, the works had for them in their content areas, and make possible
connections to writing standards or 21st century thinking skills. Teachers shared their responses
and initialed works of art on the list that they would choose to use in their classes. Their
responses were coded according to works of art, content area, writing connection and critical
thinking connection. Table 4.4 shows the works that were chosen by educators, key themes and
comments regarding the work, and what teacher voted for the work of art.
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Table 4.4
Works of Art Selected by Classroom Educators
Work of art
Avalanche By Wind, Alexandre Hougue, 1944
Votes
Comments
Daniel
“Context, style, richness”
Bruce
“Story, predictions,
connections, context, analysis”
Diners (also, Café Scene), Jacob Lawrence, 1942 Daniel
“Context”
Broken Life (Greif), Anton Refregier, 1942
“Theme, story, analysis,
predictions, collect evidence”
Bruce
Daniel
Deanna
“Context, inquiry, global
awareness, critical thinking”
“Brainstorming, conversation,
symbolic, narrative”
Man’s Boudoir No.1(Realism), Man’s Boudoir
No. 2 (Abstraction), Hananiah Harari, 1940
Deanna
Bruce
“Compare and contrast,
grammar”
“Symbolic, stereotypes”
The Guard of the Whiskey Trader, Frederick S.
Remington, 1906
Daniel
“Perspective”
Bruce
“Mood”
Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegada Misciattelli
with Her Infant Son and His Nurse. Horace
Vernet, 1830
Daniel
“Intentionality”
Bruce
“What’s a mother?”
Locomotive, Pinto Salvatore, c. 1935-1943
Daniel
“Scale, contrast, connection,
industrialization, Great
Depression, New Deal”
Breakdown, Paul Weller, c. 1935-1943
Daniel
“Great Depression, Okies,
evidence, intentionality”
Bruce
“Accessible, analysis, text”
Men Digging, Marion Simpson, c. 1935-1943
Daniel
“ Humanity bent to the task,
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Bruce
evidence, text”
“Connections, industrialism,
differences in class within the
U.S.”
Zertretene (The Dwontrodden), Käthe Kollwitz,
1900
Daniel
“Despair, context”
Woodchopper, Thomas Hart Benton, 1936
Bruce
“Pastoral life gone by, nature,
contrast to Romanticism”
Daniel
“Nature, symbolize,
oppressive, portrayal of the
West”
Letter from Overseas, Thomas Hart Benton,
1943
Bruce
“Narrative”
Daniel
“Depression era feel, World
War II”
Deanna
“Symbolism, connotations,
critical thinking”
Downtown, Angela Strater, c. 1935-1943
Fourth of July Still Life, Audrey Flack, 1976
Daniel
“WPA”
Bruce
“Graphic, scale”
Bruce
“What is America, what is an
American, theme of American
literature, myths and realities,
American Dream”
Daniel
“Constructed, intentionality,
Mason Weems, America is
constructed”
Die Freiwilligen (The Volunteers), Käthe
Kollwitz, 1923
Daniel
“Death, Germany 1923, Nazis,
created an entire generation
that felt like this, and felt put
upon by the world”
Marriage A-La-Mode, William Hogarth, 1745
Bruce
“Not your typical view of these
people, aristocracy, story”
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Sirens’ Song, Romare Bearden, c. 1950
Bruce
“One of my favorites, Greek
myths. mixing of cultures,
modern”
Pepper Jelly Lady, Romare Bearden, 1980
Bruce
“Interesting combination of
pastoral and rural, Greek and
Roman, diverse, multiple
perspectives”
Daniel
Deanna
“Connection to America, flag
motif”
“Discussion leading to writing,
personal connection,
adjectives, describe,”
Spam, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, 1995
Bruce
Daniel
“Contemporary portrayal of
Native Americans”
“Portrayal of Native
Americans, Native American
students, subject vs. producer
of images”
Most comments made by educators reflected either their personal reactions to the works
of art, such as, “One of my favorites” [Bruce] or content based connections to the theme of the
work, as in “World War II” [Daniel]. Deanna’s chose fewer works of art, as her interview was
shorter. Her choices seemed more influenced by what works could inspire discussion or writing
in her students.
After reviewing and discussing the visual images, teachers mentioned a general sense that
they were excited about teaching with art, seemingly inspired by the creativity of the
conversation. “You could throw any painting at me and I could come up with something”, said
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Deanna. “I’m pretty sure I could use all of those”, laughed Bruce, indicating that after looking at
the works of art, he wanted to use all of them in his class.
During the conversation about the works of art, teachers occasionally asked me questions
about the works or the artists. When I had the information, I shared what I knew. Teachers later
commented on how having background information changed the significance of the image to
them. Daniel mentioned, “I was excited when I first looked at this [the images].To see just a lot
of things that I could connect with. A lot. And then you [the interviewer] came over and then
probably at least half of the ones that I didn’t necessarily feel a heck of a lot of connection with
you throw in some context and that in my mind comes alive”. Bruce added, “Because when you
gave us background on the artist and when you told us the story, boom!” His statement suggested
that the content helped make the artwork more exciting and relevant to his classes.
Post-art/write: Classroom Educator Interview
The data from teacher and museum interviews were used in the development of the
art/write website. Following the set of second teacher interviews, works of art from The
University Art Museum were selected and content for artists’ biographies and historical context
essays were written (Appendix E). Writing activities were also created (Appendix F).
Supplementary worksheets were created and published on the website as well (Appendix
G).With assistance from The University Art Museum web master, this content was uploaded to
the art/write website. After the completion of the site, classroom educators were interviewed for
the final time. Teachers were sent, via email, the unpublished url for the website four weeks in
advance of the scheduled interview. They were asked to review the website’s contents and to try
and apply an activity from the website in their classroom. Each interview was individual, taking
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place inside each teacher’s classroom. During the interview teachers used my laptop to access
the art/write website.
Deanna Hopper was replaced at this time by another structured English immersion
educator from the same high school site. Carmela Gonzalez was referred to me during my second
interview with Bruce Martin and Daniel Reynolds as well as a Career Ladder coach from the
school district. Carmela was viewed by all parties as a highly qualified and respected educator
who would be open to using the visual arts in her classroom-thus having a similar position of
Deanna Hopper. Carmela expressed that she did not have a background in art, but had been
introduced to using art to teach language through journals that discussed the educational theory
of visual literacy. With a Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education and a Master’s in
Education Administration and Supervision, Carmela has been teaching SEI for twenty years.
Teacher interviews were audio recorded and transcribed for coding purposes. The major
themes that emerged during the coding were: Teacher use of the website; scaffolding of thinking;
critical thinking; student responses; Common Core Standards; and teacher suggestions for the
website. Each of these themes will be discussed in the following sections.
Teachers’ Use of the Website
The most significant theme that emerged from the interviews was how the individual
teachers used the website, either by themselves or with their students. A noteworthy finding in
this category was that two out of three teachers used the website and its content in a lesson with
their students. One educator did not use the site with his students, but instead used the website
and its content to plan lessons for the following school year. Of the two that did use the site, they
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did not strictly follow the suggested lessons or activities from the website, rather they adapted
lessons or simply appropriated images for their own lessons.
Carmela and Bruce both described detailed accounts of how they used the art/write
website in their classrooms. Carmela used the website with her basic level reading English
Language Development class. She used the two images by Thomas Hart Benton (Woodchopper,
1936,and Letter from Overseas, 1943) to compare and contrast, a suggested activity from the
website. Carmela mentioned that she chose these two 1930’s images because she was preparing
her students to read a novel about World War II. Carmela did say that she looked at the writing
activities that were with these works of art, but did not use the Venn diagram provided. Carmela
explained, “In my research of compare and contrast, if you focus on one variable at a time,
especially [with] my English language learners, just the one picture, it works better. And then we
compare them. So I used my own graphic organizer for that.” Carmela stated that she did use the
suggested questions from the website to help guide students’ looking when describing each work
of art.
Bruce Martin used an image from the art/write website to prepare his students for their
next year of the Cambridge English curriculum, or as a “bridge for the freshman to sophomore
year”. Bruce explained that this freshman class was part of the AVID (Advancement Via
Individual Determination) program at the high school. This program has identified students who
would be first generation college graduates in their families and provides targeted support to
prepare students for Cambridge honors and advanced placement level course work. He did not
use any suggested writing activities or looking strategies from art/write with his classes. Rather
he showed the WPA lithograph print Breakdown by Paul Weller to his freshman AVID English
classes to have them experience the theme of “The Depression” that they will be looking at next
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year in literature. He also explained that he chose this print because it was a black and white
image which was similar to a previous black and white photo that students had been asked to
analyze in their Cambridge Academy curriculum. Bruce said he explained to his students,
Three things that you will probably do next year is you will describe what you see, you
will probably talk about the mood, or a theme, and next year you will talk about ‘what’s
the story?’, because next year is going to be a lot of literature.
Using a think/pair/share discussion strategy (not a provided strategy on the website),
Bruce led his students through an analysis of the image, beginning with, what do you see,
followed by what’s the mood of the image, and lastly what’s the story? Bruce also used The
University Art Museum website’s collection search tool to search for another work with the same
theme, searching with the keyword “Depression”. This search took him away from the art/write
site and into The University Art Museum‘s collection database. The Depression by Clay Edgar
Spohn (1938) was the image that he found, which became the subject of another classroom
discussion using the same questions that Bruce used with Breakdown. Bruce said during his
interview that he stated plainly to his students that there was a connection to the critical thinking
they performed while looking and talking about the images to what they will do next year with
literature.
It was also noted that both Carmela and Bruce used the website directly in their lessons.
Neither created a presentation such as PowerPoint to show images. Rather each teacher chose to
show images directly from the website.
Bruce and Carmela mentioned different reasons for choosing the content they did from
the website. Carmela stated,
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I did the questions that you had on the writing activities. Those were phenomenal. That’s
what guided my choosing to want to do that one [artwork]. I picked the ones that I
thought would work the best. “List five colors. List five shapes.” That’s what we do. That
is exactly what we do [in an SEI classroom].
While the suggested questions that went with the artwork inspired Carmela, Bruce’s
choices were more student-based. Students had recently reflected in Bruce’s class that they were
not prepared for the portion of the Cambridge exam where they had to identify descriptive words
used to create mood in a written text. Bruce saw this as a possible connection to using images
from the art/write site to teach the concept “mood”. He mentioned that during their classroom
conversation, students brought up a black and white photograph of a shoe that they had to
analyze earlier in the year. He said he chose the WPA print, knowing that it was not in color,
because he believed the black and white image would be an easier “entry in discussing mood”.
Daniel Reynolds stated that the end of the school year was not a good time of the year to
use the art/write material. He further explained, however, that based on the thirty minutes he had
spent looking at the site, he was “Looking forward to this. I want to start pouring through and
figuring out whose [i.e. which artists] when and when are they going to fit in.” Daniel expressed
clear enthusiasm for the website’s content and explained that he plans to integrate many images
into his curriculum throughout the year the following school year, asserting, “Visual stuff, it
gives kids, some kids, it really gives them something to hang other knowledge onto, a
framework. So, I see two or three of these [images] every unit would be great!” With the works
of art acting as a “touchstone,” Daniel claimed that he believes it helps students remember big
ideas from class.
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About the art/write site, Daniel stated, “This to me looks like something that I would
want to use next year. And could very well facilitate me using art.” While viewing the Jacob
Lawrence writing activities, he added, “I can see how these would slip very easily into my
curriculum next year. I imagine this fitting in really well, because we do this anyway. It is almost
startling to me how well they’ll fit, actually. Because you’re [in the art/write site] asking the
exact same questions we ask of all sources.” Daniel cited specifically the questions from the
Jacob Lawrence writing activities, “What is the time and place of this piece? What is the
purpose?” as questions he uses in his curriculum to get students to analyze historical documents
and sources.
Scaffolding of Thinking
Scaffolding is “a supportive framework that enhances inquiry and intellectual growth”
(Arends, 2004, p. 391). All three teachers mentioned the concept of scaffolding during their
interviews in relation to their use of the website. Bruce mentioned scaffolding when talking
about the skills of his freshman students that school year. Explaining that the transition of
thinking from basic to complex, or from identifying to analysis, proved to be very challenging
for his freshman students this year. He mentioned that his lower-skilled students struggled with
the critical thinking aspects of his curriculum. His use of the image from the art/write site, he
explained, was used as an end of the year “post-year reflection” or assessment of their use of
these critical thinking skills.
The idea of scaffolding occurred in Daniel’s explanation of how he will use the art/write
content next year. He stated that he would choose a “less complicated work for the early part of
the curriculum and then when we are reviewing at the end, pick the more complicated one. So
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you’re scaffolding to build up to that point.” Defining complexity, Daniel said that some works
of art are easier to read, and some are more subtle and challenging. “Something with more subtle
elements would be for later.” He stressed that it takes training to see these subtleties.
When discussing the applicability of the 21st century thinking skills to the art/write
website and its lessons, Carmela mentioned the scaffolding of skills that she saw evidenced.
“There was some good scaffolding, such as on the poems, when you’re asking kids to ‘Tell me
five colors you see, five textures.’ For us [ELD teachers] that’s all scaffolding, leading up to
something higher.”
Critical Thinking
It was observed during the interview with Bruce that his students were asking each other
similar questions to the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) used on the art/write website, most
notably, “How can you tell?” This question that Bruce said was asked by students regularly
during their discussion about the images is very similar to the VTS question “What do you see
that makes you say that?” Asked about this, Bruce said that he has modeled that type of
evidence-based questioning with his students all year. One surprise he mentioned regarding this
lesson was that it was his lower skilled students who were asking the clarifying question of their
peers, an act, he said, that they would not do at the beginning of the year. During this activity,
these students demonstrated a great deal of “risk taking”, according to Bruce. These questions
also “made us dig deeper,” explained Bruce.
Bruce also explained that he has looked at other artworks this year such as Picasso’s
Guernica and The Old Guitarist. At the beginning of the year he said it was “like pulling teeth”
to get them to talk about the images. But at his post reflection using the images from art/write
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and The University Art Museum’s collection, he noted that “he could not get them to be quiet”.
He noted that when students were discussing the image Breakdown, he noticed that students
were applying the skills such as “creative and critical thinking” that they really lacked
throughout the year. He reflected on how much they had grown.
The questioning strategies and integration of art-based prompts within Bruce’s lessons
described here reflect his own teaching and not the curriculum of the art/write website. The
outcomes- the students’ questions, evidenced-based reasoning, and depth of engagement noted
by Bruce, should not be taken as outcomes solely from the website. Rather they are outcomes of
Bruce’s art-based teaching style, one of which the website was closely modeled from.
Daniel noted with his classes, which is the same group as Bruce’s, that he was surprised
how well his students had taken to “reading cartoons” in his history class. “I thought that those
things would throw them for a loop. I’m not sure if they are just good or if I got lucky. But I was
surprised by that. I thought it would take a lot more training. I think with art it will take more. A
political cartoon is produced for a purpose, it’s kind of clear. For art you have dig a little deeper,
thinking a little bit more.”
Daniel further detailed what he assesses his students on in his class, adding that beyond
describe, explain, and evaluate he has added interpretation to his objectives. “What is the
message?” addresses the addition of analyzing primary sources to his curriculum. Daniel noted
that this connects to art, since art can be a primary source for history. Using the Edward Hopper
painting The City as an example, he explained how he would have students compare the message
of this painting to another written source that describes urban life in early twentieth century
America, comparing points of view. Daniel gave examples of the thinking skills he assess on,
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“Trying to see in the art a point of view and how you go about viewing other things as a result of
that. Trying to explain a piece based on its purpose. Trying to compare purposes. Trying to
account for differences through a purpose. Reliability, for example. Looking at The Diners
(Jacob Lawrence), we would want to say, how accurate a view of southern life is this?”
Compare and contrast was also the critical thinking skill that was evidenced in Carmela’s
lesson in her SEI classes. The objective of her lesson is to have students practice with language
and to practice better word choice (sentence transitions). But it was observed that the critical
thinking of compare and contrast was clearly an expectation in her lessons as well. While she
had stated that she is not looking for a sophisticated analysis of the art works, Carmela reflected,
“The more I do this, it does lead to a more sophisticated comparison. So maybe what I can do is
revisit these same pieces and give it another go. And see what progress is shown. I can easily do
that. That would be a great pre and post assessment!”
All classroom educators were asked to sort eight 21st century thinking skills in order from
highest to lowest applicability to the art/write website. These skills were gathered from the
second classroom interview as ones that are important to teachers (Table 4.5). These were the
same skills from the Partnership for 21st Century Thinking (P21) that teachers in this school
district are asked to apply to their lessons. The table below shows their responses, with the first
skill listed being seen as the most relevant skill to the website and the last skill being the least
relevant. The grouping and numbering shown below was carried out by the teachers.
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Table 4.5
21st Century Thinking Skills Sorted by Classroom Educators
CG- ELD
1a-Examine how individuals
interpret messages differently,
how values and points of view
are included or excluded, and
how media can influence
beliefs and behaviors.
BM- English
DR- History
1- Interpret information and
draw conclusions based on the
best analysis.
1a- Create new and
worthwhile ideas.
2- Examine how individuals
interpret messages differently,
how values and points of view
are included or excluded, and
how media can influence
beliefs and behaviors.
2a- Understand both how and
why media messages are
constructed, and for what
purposes.
1b- Be open to and responsive
to new and diverse
perspectives.
1b- Understand both how and
why media messages are
constructed, and for what
purposes.
2- Interpret information and
draw conclusions based on the
best analysis.
2-Effectively analyze and
evaluate evidence, arguments,
claims and beliefs.
3- Effectively analyze and
evaluate evidence, arguments,
claims and beliefs.
3- Understand both how and
why media messages are
constructed, and for what
purposes.
2b- Effectively analyze and
evaluate evidence, arguments,
claims and beliefs.
2c- Interpret information and
draw conclusions based on the
best analysis.
3a- Examine how individuals
interpret messages differently,
how values and points of view
are included or excluded, and
how media can influence
beliefs and behaviors.
3b- Elaborate, refine, analyze
and evaluate their own ideas
in order to improve and
maximize creative efforts.
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3c- Develop, implement and
communicate new ideas with
others effectively.
4- Develop, implement and
communicate new ideas with
others effectively.
4a- Develop, implement and
communicate new ideas with
others effectively.
4b- Be open to and responsive
to new and diverse
perspectives.
4c- Create new and
worthwhile ideas.
5- Elaborate, refine, analyze
and evaluate their own ideas
in order to improve and
maximize creative efforts.
5- Elaborate, refine, analyze
and evaluate their own ideas
in order to improve and
maximize creative efforts.
6- Be open to and responsive
to new and diverse
perspectives.
7- Create new and worthwhile
ideas.
As shown in Table 4.5 all three teachers sorted the skills in a slightly different order.
There was some similarity in grouping in that Carmela listed the skill “Understand both how and
why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes” as 1b (second on her sort list) and
Daniel sorted this same skill as “2a” (third on his sort list). “Interpret information and draw
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conclusions based on the best analysis” was sorted as number one for Bruce and as number two
on Carmela’s (third on her sort list). It is interpreted that these slight variations reflect on how
the educators used the website and what activities they visited or used with their students.
A critical finding for this study is in comparing the pre- and post-responses regarding
these thinking skills. Post- art/write responses by classroom teachers list the skill communication
(Develop, implement and communicate new ideas with others effectively) as fourth on the list of
applicability to the website. While Deanna and Bruce stated this skill was very important to their
classes pre art/write (see Table 4.1), Carmela and Bruce, as evidenced in the sorting activity, did
not appear to witness it as being strongly addressed by the art/write site. There was some
alignment of skills valued by teachers to those that were evidenced in the art/write site. Most
notably, pre-art/write Bruce and Daniel stated that critical thinking was important to their
curriculum. Post-art/write, the skills interpret, analyze, and examine were sorted in the top two
as skills most applicable to the website by all three educators.
Student Responses
Bruce and Carmela both spoke to the responses that students had during their lessons
while using the art/write site. Bruce mentioned that, “Just the simple use of one or two images
yielded just a wonderful depth of skill” with his students. He also stated that he was surprised by
the level of personal connection his students made in their interpretations of the artworks. Some
of his students, he explained, gave very detailed stories where they made personal connections to
the images.
Carmela noted that her students struggled with the novelty of the format and found
comparing visual works of art “intimidating” and “daunting.” She explained that for many of her
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refugee students, “Everything is new,” and many students were therefore not used to looking at
paintings.
Refugees, immigrants to the country and new speakers of the language have to jump that
hoop of looking at anything and reading anything and put it in a context that they are
familiar with. They have to jump that hoop and say “This is brand new, I have no
background connection to what I am going to read, to what I’m viewing because I am in a
new country, I’m learning a new language, and everything is new!” So I did anticipate
that. And that was their reaction….So using art is very new and it’s going to require
repeated use so that kids can become comfortable.
Common Core Standards
All three teachers were asked to sort from a list of English Language Arts standards from
the Common Core in this state. These four standards were selected as they are the Core’s main
benchmark standards in reading and writing. These standards would be learning objectives,
therefore, for all three teachers. Carmela stated in her interview that the learning proficiency
standards in ELD have been aligned to the National Common Core standards as well. Teachers
were asked to sort the standards from highest to lowest according to the highest relevancy to the
art/write site. Each teacher’s list is below, shown in Table 4.6. Again, the grouping and
numbering shown in the table were carried out by the teachers.
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Table 4.6
English Language Arts Common Core Standards Sorted by Classroom Educators
CG- ELD
BM- English
DR- History
1- Read closely to determine
what the text says explicitly
and to make logical inferences
from it; cite specific textual
evidence when writing or
speaking to support
conclusions drawn from the
text
1a- Read closely to determine
what the text says explicitly
and to make logical inferences
from it; 1b- cite specific
textual evidence when writing
or speaking to support
conclusions drawn from the
text
1- Determine central idea or
themes and analyze their
development; summarize the
key supporting details and
ideas. 1b- cite specific textual
evidence when writing or
speaking to support
conclusions drawn from the
text
2- Determine central idea or
themes and analyze their
development; summarize the
key supporting details and
ideas.
2-Write arguments to support
claims in an analysis of
substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and
sufficient evidence.
2- Read closely to determine
what the text says explicitly
and to make logical inferences
from it;
3- Write arguments to support
claims in an analysis of
substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and
sufficient evidence.
3-Determine central idea or
themes and analyze their
development; summarize the
key supporting details and
ideas.
3- Write arguments to support
claims in an analysis of
substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and
sufficient evidence.
4- Write
informative/explanatory texts
to examine and convey
complex ideas and
information clearly and
accurately through the
effective selection,
organization, and analysis of
content.
4-Write
informative/explanatory texts
to examine and convey
complex ideas and
information clearly and
accurately through the
effective selection,
organization, and analysis of
content.
4- Write
informative/explanatory texts
to examine and convey
complex ideas and
information clearly and
accurately through the
effective selection,
organization, and analysis of
content.
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Pre-art/write, the classroom educators described what writing skills were critical for
students to have in order to be good writers in their content areas (Table 4.3). All three teachers
mentioned the ability to use supporting evidence as an important skill when writing in their
content areas. As shown in Table 4.6 above, post- art/write the benchmark standard “Cite
specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text”
was sorted as number one by two teachers and number two by the third. It was interpreted from
these findings that the website strongly supported the teachers in teaching this writing skill.
Pre- art/write, Bruce and Daniel also stated that the ability to analyze was a key skill
required by students in their content areas (see Table 4.3) Post art/write Bruce sorted the
standard, “Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence” as number two on his list. And Daniel sorted
“Determine central idea or themes and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting
details and ideas” as number one on his list of what standards were most applicable to the
art/write website (see Table 4.6). Again, this finding was interpreted as the website was meeting
their curricular needs in the area of literacy development.
Teacher Suggestions
All classroom educators provided suggestions to improve the website. The most common
suggestions were larger images, thumbnail images on the list of artworks, and clarification
questions and terms for works of art.
All three teachers commented that they would prefer larger images available on the
website. Carmela mentioned that students complained during the lesson that they could not see
the images and she had to zoom in on the image using her projector. Daniel was only viewing the
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images on a computer screen, but also observed that he could not see details, details he thought
might be important. For example, while viewing The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of
Colorado by Thomas Moran (1875), he reflected, “There is so much to see…there’s like a guy
with a horse. It’s hard to see. There is something, for me, about seeing art full size. So bigger
would be good.”
Bruce’s perspective of changes to the site was more student-based. Besides having larger
images, he thought more familiar artists or more “popular artists” might further motivate the
students if they were using the website. He also mentioned that thumbnails next to images might
hook students who were using the website. Carmela also mentioned thumbnails next to images,
suggesting that teachers of other content areas other than the arts would not be familiar with
these artists’ names and pictures of the art would help them navigate the choices available on
art/write.
Carmela, who was least familiar with the visual arts, was unsure of why or how to use
questions provided on art/write’s “Viewing Strategies” page. “I don’t know why I would be
asking some of these questions. Like, ‘What’s further away from you?’ Why, for what reason? I
think, skip that, because I have no idea what I would be after with that.” She further explained
that the wording of questions may assume “nuances” that some teachers would be unfamiliar
with. After an explanation of why this specific question would be asked about a work of art,
Carmela went on to say,
In “close reading”, the buzz word for the Common Core, there are on some of the
assessments, like the PARC assessment, questions like “Does the setting matter? Is it a
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universal setting or is germane to the story?” So I link that in with this. I think that
question is along the lines of the “close reading.”
Daniel suggested another question that was not offered on the website, “How the art
accomplished the message?” He further explained that in his class he teaches his students that a
source will make a claim, it will provide evidence, and it should explain how the evidence
supports the claim. “A question that gets to that point, of how do the elements of the image
contribute to the tone, or creates the tone then you are helping students along the road to improve
and maximize their creative efforts.” He emphasized that he wanted his students to see the
intentionality behind the work, that it was not created by accident. It was pointed out during the
interview that maybe these types of questions, such as “Based on what you see, what do you
think this work of art is about? What visual evidence supports this opinion?” were listed on the
“Viewing Strategies” page, and Daniel said that he did not look there. It was noted that Carmela
was the only teacher who viewed this section of the website.
Museum Educator Interviews
Ophelia Mathews is the Curator of Education at The University Art Museum, where this
case study occurred. art/write is an educational program developed for this university art
museum and housed on its website. Her first interview took place outside of The Museum only
because she does not have a private office and foot traffic by her desk is common. To reduce the
chance for work-based distractions and for more anonymity, Ophelia chose to perform the
interview at a café nearby. For her second interview, Olivia chose to be interviewed in The
Museum’s board room, a small meeting room next to The Museum’s main gallery. This room
had not been available during out first interview. Cathy Faulk is the Curator of Education at the
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University’s Gallery of Photography. The Gallery is located on campus near The University Art
Museum. Cathy’s interview took place in her office at The Gallery.
Pre-art/write
Like the teacher interviews, a protocol was used for the interviews, they were audio
recorded, and I made notes in my field journal during the interviews. Questions for museum
educators were not identical to classroom teacher questions, but were similar in theme (Appendix
J). The same protocol was used for museum educator interviews for cross comparison of
responses. Interviews were transcribed and then carefully read looking for emerging themes
between museum educators as well as between classroom teachers. The common themes that
emerged are: visual art and student’s writing; art museums and critical thinking; and the
limitations and benefits of art museum websites
Visual Art and Students’ Writing
Both museum educators stated a firm belief that the arts have great value in teaching
writing to students. Museum educator responses seemed to reflect their personal experiences
with using the arts to teach writing. Ophelia’s responses reflected her experience with younger
students, working in early childhood education. She explained that the arts can help support a
more differentiated approach to teaching writing when some students are more challenged to
“Hear the words first. When I think of students approaching a writing assignment, I see it where
they can approach the image first, and then tell the story from that.”
Currently at Ophelia’s museum, there are no official programs that incorporate writing
into a museum visit. She did mention that occasionally teachers will request a tour with that
curricular goal in mind.
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Cathy’s value in using the arts to teach writing, like the classroom educators’, was
immediately evidenced in her work at the gallery. Preparing and presenting orientations on
upcoming exhibitions for faculty in the English department every year, presenting
interdisciplinary tours for campus faculty and students, collaborating with college faculty as well
as high school educators, and developing multiple exhibition guides that include suggested
writing lessons for teachers, Cathy appeared to have embraced the interdisciplinary elements of
teaching with visual images.
She explained that in museum education,
You teach art, you teach people how to make art, you teach people about the history of
art, and you teach people how to respond to art. And I think that third one gets shorted, a
lot in art teaching. But I think the museum is the place where that can really shine and be
the center of the learning experience. But, the average student doesn’t know how to
respond necessarily to a work of art. That’s why you give them [students] strategies,
methods. And my methods go from the very intuitive, kind of a gut reaction, the one
word response to a very formal analysis. All of those lend themselves to writing.
Cathy also mentioned that she has had an English faculty member comment to her that his
students have experienced serious breakthroughs in their writing after coming to the gallery and
working on their writing. She states that, “It just kick-starts something.”
Art Museums and Critical Thinking
Ophelia responded that there is a connection to interpreting a work of art and interpreting,
or analyzing, a written text. The two processes, she believes, use the same critical thinking skills.
By looking at works of art in the museum or on the museum’s website, students can be asked to
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“Clarify what it is they see and by using these observations they can come up with some kind of
conclusion, the same way they would with any written text, where they would pick out the main
points of a story to come up with a sequence of events or a conclusion or whatever the message
might be.”
Ophelia described a lesson she performed at another art museum where students were
required to make higher level connections, comparing a contemporary Latin American artist to
other Pre-Columbian art objects displayed in the museum. She has also had students at the
museum create their own treasure hunt guides. This act required them to understand their art
objects in great detail, providing hints, “And they had to describe them. But how are you going
to describe it without giving it away?” She explained how this was one of the hardest
assignments she ever gave at the museum because it required student to re-conceptualize the art
object from a new perspective.
Cathy responded that for her, the experience of looking at art must include an opportunity
to respond to the artwork. “I think anytime that you are asking the viewer to form an opinion
based on what their seeing, you’re helping to… you’re encouraging the development of critical
thinking. And so the more assistance you can give for that endeavor the better.” Cathy stresses
that one’s conclusion about a work of art must be supported by what one sees in the work,
requiring responses to use evidentiary reasoning, because as she warns,
If you [the viewer] don’t then you are straying too far afield and that gets away from the
importance of the object. But you’re welcome to interject things from your own
experience that inform your overall response. But it has to be prompted by the work. And
that’s what it means to learn from objects.
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Limitations and Benefits of Art Museum Websites
Cathy Faulk has used the gallery website to house her viewing and interpretive guides for
years. These are not interactive websites, but text-based pages with images. Some images on
these pages allow you to view an enlarged image. She mentioned that in the 1990’s she got a
great deal of recognition for making these guides available online. While she was an early
supporter and user of the museum website, she sees its limits, stating,
We [museums] do hold the treasures. The web holds the view, but we hold the
treasures! And there is something very powerful about experiencing the original object.
I mean don’t you remember the first time you saw an original Van Gogh? Or man, the
first time I walked into Notre Dame I burst into tears! It was overwhelming.
Seeing that learning starts with the object, Cathy added that learning should occur first in the
gallery, or the museum, “but can spread outward if we have the resources to put it online.”
Ophelia recognizes the 21st century understanding of technology and its integration into
society and learning. She states, “I think we need to accept that we are in a digital age and
students are attracted to screens and are attracted to technology and if we can create harmony
between art and technology, I think that they [teachers and students] will embrace it.”
Resonating with the theme expressed by classroom educators, Ophelia also stated, “I
think that the idea of just having the accessibility is something that we all want now. And we
want this information quickly.” Ophelia also mentioned how the website can act as a form of
outreach for museums, commenting that,
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We have heard over and over again that schools are going through budget cuts. But even
budget cuts aside, there are other places that teachers want to bring their students. Some
years they may want to visit a museum, other years they may want to switch gears and go
visit someplace else. But the idea that they can still constantly have access to an art
experience, it’s a form of outreach. And it’s a form that teachers no matter where they are
at in the state or country they can incorporate our collection into their curriculum. And
they can do it at their convenience, which I think is the nicest part. Being able to access
materials on our website is just easier in cases.
Post- art/write
Like classroom educators, museum educators were interviewed individually after the
completion of the art/write website. These educators were also emailed the url address for the
website and asked to review it prior to the scheduled interview. The interviews were recorded
and analyzed for emerging themes. The common themes that occurred between these two
interviews were: the website as a resource; museum literacy or responding to art; critical thinking
skills; Common Core standards; and general suggestions for improvement.
The Website as Resource
Both museum educators are charged with the task of creating programs and tours for
generalist educators and their students. So, both had valuable perspectives to speak from when
assessing the value of the website as a teacher resource. While each spoke to this aspect of the
website, each spoke to the issue differently.
Cathy Falk from the University Photography Gallery suggested many changes to the
vocabulary used throughout the website. In general, she noted that a generalist teacher might not
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be familiar with some phrases or terminology. One example she provided was from the “Form,
Theme, Context Map,” which was adapted from the FTC Palette by Dr. Renee Sandell (2011).
Cathy suggested that some teachers might be confused by the question “describe the visual
balance of the image.” She suggested creating a glossary for the website for teachers who do not
have a strong art background. She referred to words such as “medium, scale, focal point,
balance” as subject-specific “jargon.”
Ophelia, the museum educator from The University Art Museum stated that from her
perspective the art/write site could be successful as a resource for teachers because it offers
multiple ways to teach from one work of art. This differentiated approach to teaching was
evidenced for her in that multiple writing prompt activities are available for every work of art.
The curriculum was designed so that each work of art would have two or three writing exercises
or responses. She explained,
It acknowledges that not everybody learns the same way both for the teacher, in terms of
just accessing the materials and then for students as well…It gives them numerous ways
to approach the work of art and to talk about it. I think the writing activities are really
varied. It’s nice because the same work of art you can approach through the narrative
point of view or the poetry point of view.
Museum Literacy: Responding to Art
A common theme with the museum educators in the first interview was the issue of
museum literacy. Both Cathy and Ophelia questioned,, does the art museum website neglect
teaching visitors museum literacy? Museum literacy was defined by both educators as teaching
students how to respond to art. This appeared to be more important than learning how to behave
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in a museum. Ophelia’s response was similar to her earlier pragmatic answer in her first
interview,
We are in the 21st century and this is just the way it’s going. A classroom is where
students are more comfortable talking about things. They know their teacher, they know
that space…If anything, they might be more comfortable talking about art in that context.
And that might actually set up a good foundation, if they’ve never been to a museum
before, once they come to a museum, they will already have experience with talking
about art. So I don’t think that it [the web] detracts from it.
Ophelia did follow up with what seemed to be the second part of what museum literacy
means for her. She stressed that museums should encourage teachers to bring their students to the
museum, since seeing the real thing in person is vastly different than seeing a work on a screen.
“The museum is a public space, it is a learning space, but it is a different type of learning space...
So it’s important to encourage them to come. But I think it’s okay to start it out in a school with
technology.”
Cathy Faulk responded that the website is using museum objects, so therefore it is
teaching museum literacy. Cathy added the concept of revealing to students that the artist is an
author, “With a point of view about our world. These works of art are reflective of society or
someone’s view of society. And therefore through interpreting them, we not only learn about
creative expression, but we learn about the time and the conditions that they were made.” She
stated that these ideas might have been in the website’s content but that she did not see it
explicitly stated. “Why are bios important? It situates the work of art. Studying them explains a
lot about the world in which they were made”, she further explained.
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Cathy also noted that the list of art works was listed as text. She stated that since the
website is supposed to be about art and responding to art in writing, images should be
emphasized, i.e. less text and more pictures.
Critical Thinking
Just as the classroom teachers, these educators were asked to perform the task of sorting a
list of critical thinking skills. They were asked to arrange the list in order from highest to lowest
applicability to the art/write website. These were the same set of skills given to classroom
educators and are skills from the Partnership for 21st Century Thinking that teachers in this
school district are asked to apply to their lessons. Table 4.7 shows their responses, with the first
skill listed being seen as the most applicable skill to the website and the last skill being the least
relevant. The grouping and numbering shown below was performed by the museum educators.
Table 4.7
21st Century Thinking Skills Sorted by Museum Educators
CF
1- Interpret information and draw conclusions
based on the best analysis.
OM
1a- Interpret information and draw conclusions
based on the best analysis.
1b- Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence,
arguments, claims and beliefs.
2- Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence,
arguments, claims and beliefs.
2a- Examine how individuals interpret
messages differently, how values and points of
view are included or excluded, and how media
can influence beliefs and behaviors.
2b- Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate
their own ideas in order to improve and
maximize creative efforts.
3- Develop, implement and communicate new
3a- Be open to and responsive to new and
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ideas with others effectively.
diverse perspectives.
3b- Create new and worthwhile ideas.
4- Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their
own ideas in order to improve and maximize
creative efforts.
4- Understand both how and why media
messages are constructed, and for what
purposes.
5- Be open to and responsive to new and
diverse perspectives.
5- Develop, implement and communicate new
ideas with others effectively.
6- Create new and worthwhile ideas.
7- Understand both how and why media
messages are constructed, and for what
purposes.
8- Examine how individuals interpret messages
differently, how values and points of view are
included or excluded, and how media can
influence beliefs and behaviors.
Museum educators’ responses to the sort activity showed a strong alignment between
what thinking skills were perceived as most applicable to the website between these two
educators. For example, both museum educators listed “Interpret information and draw
conclusions based on the best analysis” as first in their sort list and “Effectively analyze and
evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs” as second. This also resembled both Bruce
and Daniel’s sorting of this same skill (see Table 4.5). Between museum educators and
classroom teachers, there was a good level of agreement on what 21st century thinking skills the
website seemed to address.
Common Core Standards
Like the classroom educator, both museum educators were asked to sort from a list of
English Language Arts standards from the Common Core in this state. These four standards were
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selected as they are the main benchmark standards in reading and writing according to the
Common Core. The educators were asked to sort the standards from highest to lowest according
to the highest relevancy to the art/write site. Table 4.8 shows each museum educators’ sorting of
the standards.
Table 4.8
English Language Arts Common Core Standards Sorted by Museum Educators
CF
OM
1- Read closely to determine what the text says
explicitly and to make logical inferences from
it; cite specific textual evidence when writing
or speaking to support conclusions drawn from
the text.
1- Write arguments to support claims in an
analysis of substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2-Determine central idea or themes and
analyze their development; summarize the key
supporting details and ideas.
2- Write informative/explanatory texts to
examine and convey complex ideas and
information clearly and accurately through the
effective selection, organization, and analysis
of content.
3-Write arguments to support claims in an
analysis of substantive texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
3- Determine central idea or themes and
analyze their development; summarize the key
supporting details and ideas.
4- Write informative/explanatory texts to
examine and convey complex ideas and
information clearly and accurately through the
effective selection, organization, and analysis
of content.
4- Read closely to determine what the text says
explicitly and to make logical inferences from
it; 1b- cite specific textual evidence when
writing or speaking to support conclusions
drawn from the text.
Ophelia and Cathy’s responses regarding the writing standards that were most evident in
the art/write site were not aligned and were in fact in almost reverse order of each other. For
example, Cathy sorted “Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make
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logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support
conclusions drawn from the text” as number one on her list where Ophelia listed that same
standard as last, or number four in her arrangement. Cathy’s arrangement of the standards did
parallel Daniel and Carmela’s sorting (see Table 4.6), where all three arranged the reading
standards as the first two and the writing standards in spots three and four. This shows some
similarities between the classroom and museum educators’ perception of what writing standards
are addressed within art/write’s content. This study reflects the voices of these five educators
and therefore the findings described here are limited.
Suggestions
Both museum educators shared their personal perspective on their experience with the
website and suggestions they have after navigating through the pages and the content. Cathy’s
suggestions concentrated on the use of language throughout the website. As mentioned earlier,
vocabulary, or “nuances,” she explained might be intimidating or confusing for generalist
educators with little or no art background. The main examples from the website she provided
were the terms “focal point, scale, point of view, balance and medium,” which were found on the
“Form, Theme, Context Map”. This map is a worksheet available on the art/write website which
is meant to help students deconstruct how a work of art’s meaning is created. Cathy suggested
creating another resource for teachers on the website in the form of a glossary of terms. She also
suggested that where possible, the terminology be generalized for the average teacher.
Cathy, as mentioned earlier, also suggested adding thumbnail images of the artwork to
the list of artworks on the website. “It gets it back to the images and away from the text,” she
explained.
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Ophelia’s suggestions were also in regards to what else could be added to the website.
She talked about expanding the website to act as a forum for teachers and students so that
various high schools could see how others were responding to a work of art. She explained that
she would like to see, “Something to connect teachers and students from different high schools.”
Connecting to her previous comments about museum literacy, Ophelia also suggested adding a
passage of text to the home page of art/write that invites teachers to bring their classes to The
University Art Museum for a tour.
Summary
The pre- and post- art/write interviews of classroom and museum educators provided
insight into what content today’s teachers may require when teaching language literacy and
critical thinking. Data from interviews was used to develop the website and to refine the website
after teachers used the website with their students, and museum educators evaluated the layout
and content as well. While most of the teachers expressed great satisfaction with the art/write
website and its alignment with their teaching goals, changes were made to the website based on
these interviews. In the chapter five I will analyze these finding from chapter four in an attempt
to answer my research questions. Implications from this research will also be addressed as will
suggestions for further research.
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CHAPTER FIVE: ANALYSIS AND IMPLICATIONS OF FINDINGS
Introduction
Through this study I hoped to discover what value some classroom and museum educators
saw in an art-based interdisciplinary curriculum that was available online. Through a series of
interviews with both high school educators and art museum educators, a website called art/write
was developed and piloted with this same group of educators. It was intended that the website be
aligned with the curricular goals of the high school educators. Based on their limited use of the
art/write website, the research questions were reexamined with each educator, verifying if there
was in fact value seen in using this online art-based interdisciplinary resource from an art
museum. A central component of this study was to evaluate the success of the design of the
website: did art/write match the curricular goals of the classroom educators in relation to
thinking and skills used in writing? It was then significant to be able to determine if teachers did
see practical use of such a resource rather than stating a theoretical value in such art-based
resources.
In this chapter I will present an analysis of the major findings from this qualitative case
study and describe the implications for these findings. I will also present my personal reflections
on the limitations of the art/write website and suggestions for what else the website could offer
educators such as Carmela, Daniel, Bruce, and Deanna. Limitations of the case study, such as its
limitations to the participants in the study, will also be discussed and suggestions for further
research will be suggested at the end of the chapter.
Research Questions
As stated in chapter one, the objective of this study was to better address the curriculum
models and methodologies that museum educators and schools can use to best teach writing
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through art. Building from the literature that supports such an interdisciplinary approach to
learning, this case study piloted a literacy-based art museum website with three local high school
teachers. Through the interviews with classroom and museum educators I believe that several
implications can be gained from looking at the data presented in chapter four, answering the
following research questions:

What value do high school teachers see in using art via the art museum website to
teach the process of writing?

What are the benefits of an art museum website to teachers of other content areas?

How can teachers of other content areas successfully incorporate visual art into
teaching processes of writing in their content areas using web-based museum
collections?
The analysis and implications of these findings are presented in the following sections, organized
by the research question being examined.
What value do high school teachers see in using art via the art museum website to teach the
process of writing?
The ideas expressed by the teachers in this study are not meant to be taken as
representative of all generalist high school teachers. However, their perspectives, while not
representative, still offer a glimpse into how the arts and the art museum website are appreciated
by some classroom educators. All of the classroom educators who participated in this study
expressed a strong endorsement for integrating the visual arts within their teaching practices.
Several, such as Deanna and Bruce, had a long history of using the visual arts to teach writing
skills. Daniel also mentioned using images such as cartoons and Picasso’s Guernica to teach
concepts from his history curriculum. Carmela was the least experienced with the practice of
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using the arts in an interdisciplinary approach, but had become impressed with its possibilities
through recent literature on visual literacy.
The educators stated varying objectives for their use of the visual arts in their classrooms.
These uses express a variety of reasons why each educator values using the arts in their content
areas. Daniel explained that he uses political cartoons to teach contextual analysis in History,
asking questions to stimulate critical thinking such as, “Why was that created in [the] 17th
century, why not the 14th century?” Bruce described how the literary concept of mood, while
vague in the context of a written text, can be taught much more easily in visual form, citing
Picasso’s blue period The Guitarist as an example he often uses in class. And Deanna’s use of
Georges Seurat’s La Grande Jatte to teach verb tense also showed how some classroom teachers
have creatively integrated the arts into their curriculums. There was no doubt that these educators
saw great value in the visual arts to teach skills required to write well in their content areas.
These integrated approaches are approximate to Russel and Zembylas’ (2007) definition of arts
integration as one that involves the employment of two or more content disciplines in ways that
are mutually beneficial and stress an innate unity between the disciplines.
Regarding art being an interdisciplinary subject, Daniel described why he personally
values the arts,
I wish I knew more about the history of art and how art ties into the more general
history. So, I guess that speaks to the idea of it being an interdisciplinary subject too. I
think it really gives a great opportunity to involving [sic] literature and involving [sic]
history and to contextualize the art helps with the understanding of those subjects. I think
it’s a great tool for learning.
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Deanna added to this interdisciplinary aspect of the arts when she commented, “I feel like it’s the
place where all the subjects come together, like English, history. There is such a reflection of
everything in the visual arts.”
Looking at possible images to be used in the art/write website also elicited responses that
demonstrated the value that these educators see in using the arts. Daniel, when viewing the
artworks by the early twentieth century artist Käthe Kollwitz, exclaimed regarding the tormented
figures and expressions in her graphic prints, “This is what happens when you have Nazism!”
Using the visual arts to elicit these types of experiences with students supports what Maxine
Greene (1986) calls teaching for “aesthetic literacy” where “informed encounters” with works of
art create possibilities for experiences in which students learn new perspectives of seeing,
thinking and feeling ( p. 57).
The arts were also valued for the depth of thinking that the participating teachers believed
the visual arts can inspire. Bruce, for example, expressed his belief that the demands of the new
Common Core English and Language Arts standards could be met through using some works of
art. Speaking of his use of Picasso’s painting to demonstrate the construction of mood, Bruce
stated, “We talked about the Picasso work not just being ‘sad,’ that is really a shallow term to
describe it. So I would suggest that it [the visual arts] lends itself to the rigor of the Common
Core.”
Bruce indicated other valuable applications of the visual arts in the English curriculum.
He stated in regards to the difficult writing style of literary analysis,
I think that the idea of breaking something into small parts and explaining the parts, that
analysis is tough to start or tough to make really concrete when it comes to different
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works of literature. But with art, you can practice those steps with an image that you can
take in all at once, and then you can break it into parts. I think that if you do the same
with a text, it helps. Because then kids see a story or a poem as the same idea.
This integrated example of teaching is comparable to Hillock’s (2010) teaching case study of
engaging students with a staged crime scene photo. Bruce’s and Hillock’s examples illustrate the
connection, or rather the entanglement between looking at art, critical thinking, and writing.
The arts were also valued for their power to inspire. Deanna described her experience
with taking her students, who were just learning the English language, to an art museum in the
Bronx. Speaking to the effect the museum had on her students, Deanna said,
It was just an amazing experience for the students. I felt like it was something that
just having the art there, the visual there, they wanted to write about something. They felt
compelled to put their ideas and thoughts down on paper.
Walsh-Piper (2002) claims that writing about art encourages students to look and think more
about what they see. Ehrenworth (2003) similarly proposes that the arts help “students find
meaningful things to write about and lucid ways to write” (p.1). Deanna’s experiences in
working with developing writers supports the views of Ehrenworth and Walsh-Piper (2002).
The implications of these findings offer a teacher-based corroboration to the literature on
art-based integration. The experiences of these teachers support the literature, which says there is
immense value in teaching through the arts (Albers & Sanders, 2010; Barry & Villeneuve, 1998;
Burchenal & Grohe, 2007; Ehrenworth, 2003; Foster & Prevallet, 2002; Shoemaker, 1998;
Walsh-Piper, 2002). Deanna’s use of the arts, for example, to compel her students to write
echoes the writing of Shoemaker (1998) who states that the arts can be powerful motivators for
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English language learners to use in developing English skills. Bruce’s perspective that teaching
through art can transfer thinking skills is corroborated by the findings in numerous studies
(Burchenal & Grohe, 2007; Downey, Delamarte & Jones, 2007; Hillock, 2010; Housen, 20012002). Obviously, the encounters that these four educators have had with the arts in their
classrooms does not represent all teachers. But it does speak to the success that generalist
teachers can potentially have when they integrate the arts into their curriculums.
What are the benefits of an art museum website to teachers of other content areas?
Seeing that all the classroom educators who were interviewed for this study saw great
value in using the arts to teach content and writing with their students, it was not surprising that
many of them used digital sources to locate art examples. However, several teachers spoke to the
fact that they did not search for art examples on art museum websites, rather they sought out
examples using search engines like Google. Teachers expressed that they had examples in mind
before-hand, and they were only interested in finding high quality images online, regardless of
the web-page source.
Bruce stated, “I don’t usually use museum websites. Because if I am just getting the
image I can usually get a better image off of another search engine.” Daniel agreed with this
statement, and Deanna elaborated, “That’s what I do as well. I don’t know if I have ever gone to
a museum website to use in my class. I just Google what I want and ‘bing’” [indicating that the
search engine brings up her desired search quickly].
Daniel further detailed his experience with museums and compared this to his experience
with museum websites,
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They [art museum websites] put the art up there, they don’t put the author, at least
the ones I’ve looked at, and they don’t really tell you much about the author. They
don’t, they very rarely describe the work and make a judgment, don’t tell you about the
artist, don’t describe, make a judgment…contextualize the work. Like I have felt in the
past very much on my own when trying to make those connections for students. I feel
like, again this is just my impression, that the museums don’t quite do that for us. Not
like they do on the wall in their own museum…They always seem, when I am in a
museum I am impressed. When I’m in a museum website I am disappointed.
Daniel expressed an opinion that museum websites were not just limiting, but were
“disappointing.” He also added that the experience of viewing the real object was distinct to the
view online. “There is something different. Like online you can’t see brush strokes. There is a
connection there that you can’t quite get online.” This opinion was shared by Deanna, who
commented that students themselves have a different experience online versus in the real
museum. “I feel like when you bring students there [the museum], they have that experience. The
museum is very quiet, it’s like a sacred space. And this painting is very sacred in a sense.”
These views expressed by teachers were corroborated by the museum educators, Cathy
and Ophelia. It was expected that museum-based educators whose work is centered around the
object would hold the physical object as supreme. Cathy’s statement that museums, “Hold the
treasures. The web holds the view, but we [the museum] hold the treasures!”, reaffirms the
modern perception of many museum professionals (Roberts, 1997). Object-based learning is,
after all, the goal of museums as stated in 1984 by The Museum Commission on Museums for
New Century Goals (as cited in Blume, Henning, Herman & Richner, 2008). This common
belief champions the idea that there is a fundamental difference between the real and the
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reproduction (Roberts, 1997, p. 85). Implications of this attitude are not evidenced in the atypical
fashion however in the work of the museum educators in this study. Cathy, who holds the real
object as supreme, has been putting her gallery’s images and educational materials online since
the 1990’s. And Ophelia was incredibly supportive of putting part of The University Art
Museum’s collection online for the art/write website. While both Ophelia and Cathy stated
emphatically that the goal should be to have visitors experience the real object, both museum
educators also expressed strong support for art museum websites.
Ophelia saw great value in the use of the website in an economic and educational climate
where fewer schools are taking field trips. Cathy demonstrated that she values the arts and the
web by the fact that she was an early pioneer of putting the gallery’s images online with
educational material. She stated several times that she knows teachers use them and ask for them.
A common theme found between both classroom and museum educators was the attitude that
museum websites provide greater access to the visual arts. Ophelia stated that a museum’s
website is
a form of outreach. And it’s a form that teachers no matter where they are at in the state
or country . . . can incorporate our collection into their curriculum. And they can do it at
their convenience, which I think is the nicest part. Being able to access materials on our
website is just easier in cases.
Her comment supported the creation of the art/write website, which could potentially
provide access to teachers, students, and other visitors who cannot access the museum
(Crow & Din, 2009).
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The classroom teachers Deanna, Bruce, and Daniel stressed that while museum
websites were often limiting or disappointing, they all agreed that a museum website
could be valued for its accessibility. Stating his opinion on the value of using The
University Art Museum website with his students, Bruce explained, “You know the idea
that it’s online, non-reality, big deal. But, it’s here in my town! And just accessibility, I
think that’s what the value of the website for me is.” He added, “I think, for especially
our kids, there’s got to be the introduction to it [the art museum], ‘cause they are not
going to go on their own to The University Art Museum.”
Access was also a theme in Deanna’s comments, “For a lot of my kids, they can’t afford
to go to the art museum. Whether it’s getting on a bus to go down there, or admission, which is
real money for a lot of my kids. Access via the museum website is beneficial.” In fact, the cost
of field trips and the increased pressures of standardized testing have impacted many schools’
ability to facilitate student visits to museums (Williams, Howell & DeSciose, 2007). And Daniel,
the biggest critic of art museum websites in this study, admitted potential value with this
comment, “I can’t bring our kids to The Met. It’s just that simple. If there is something in there I
want to see and it’s online, that’s a great start.” Daniel emphasized his personal wish list for art
museum websites, “The option to see some context, some historical context, here is the option to
see more information about the author.” And Bruce also commented that choice was a factor in
what he valued on a museum website. He explained that it would be nice to have optional writing
ideas provided in case teachers need help coming up with writing prompts in relation to the
works of art. Providing increased choices and options for visitors like Daniel and Bruce are a
potential benefit of the art/write website and other art museum websites (Blume, et al., 2008;
Proctor, 2011; Marty, 2007).
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How can teachers of other content areas successfully incorporate visual art into teaching
processes of writing in their content areas using web-based museum collections?
I was interested in hearing how teachers used the art, the content, and/or the suggested
activities within their own curriculums. While each teacher from the study expressed a teaching
philosophy that deeply valued and appreciated the visual arts, each teacher had not only different
content areas, but different learning levels of students, and therefore different learning
objectives. So, how each teacher applied the website within their teaching could potentially
reveal experiences of great interest to the study of museum education and art-based
interdisciplinary learning.
Two classroom teachers used the website with their students, Carmela, the ESL teacher,
and Bruce, who teachers honors level freshman English. Interviews with each teacher revealed
that they both found meaningful applications of the website within their teaching, but each used
the art/write site in different ways. Carmela, teaching a lesson to her basic level English
Language Development class, used the painting The Woodchopper (1936) and the print Letter
from Overseas (1946), both by Thomas Hart Benton, to prepare students for reading a novel on
World War II. Students performed a compare and contrast exercise based on what they could
see, then were required to present their findings about the two works to the whole class.
Bruce used the WPA print Breakdown by Paul Weller from the site as an end of the year
wrap-up and to bridge to the next year’s curriculum. He initially chose the image in order to have
students experience the theme of “The Depression,” but instead allowed students to guide the
discussion as they analyzed the work using an inquiry-based strategy. In a class discussion
format, students interpreted the artwork and discussed what mood described the scene. Bruce
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also used The University Art Museum’s collection search tool to look for another image under
the keyword search “Depression.”
Carmela and Bruce’s use of the images on the website reveal different teaching
objectives for their curriculums. While both used the art images to have students describe what
they see and practice with language, the level at which students used language was very
different. Bruce’s students are freshman honors level students who are preparing for Advanced
Placement courses in History and Literature. The skills these students need in these classes,
described by Bruce and Daniel, are evidenced-based reasoning, word choice, and analysis. The
types of writing they will perform will mostly be descriptive-based narratives, and expository
and document analysis essays. Bruce used the images with his students to practice the thinking
skills of description and analysis with his class to prepare them for what the next school year will
be like. He summarized what he told his classes,
Three things that you will probably do next year is you will describe what you see, you
will probably talk about the mood, or a theme, and next year you will talk about “what’s
the story?” because next year is going to be a lot of literature.
Carmela’s ELD classes, however, are in their first stages of acquiring English vocabulary
and learning how to apply this new language through basic sentence construction. The goals for
these classes, as described by Deanna, are to get students to use and practice the language. The
skills these students are expected to apply in class are communication, collaboration, word
choice, conventions, and the use of supporting details. In writing, Deanna explained that she
focuses on “generating ideas and supporting details, organizing a piece of writing and then
conventions…. Can they get their basic ideas across with minimal errors?” Carmela’s use of the
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art images from art/write was therefore for the purpose of having her students practice much
more basic English skills, such and vocabulary development, organizing ideas, and
demonstrating speaking and listening skills.
The two distinct uses of the website and the images provided on the site suggest several
implications. First is that choice must be considered a fundamental part of a museum’s
educational website for teachers. These teachers, teaching towards different goals in the
development of the English language arts, required different images and different strategies to
integrate the art within their lesson. Carmela and Bruce had to choose works that authentically
aligned with their teaching objectives. Choosing works of art that naturally fit likely made the
planning of the activity easier, and the learning more genuine for the students.
Second, each educator used familiar ways to integrate into their curriculums the activity
of looking at an image. Carmela used her own Venn diagram, Bruce used a question and
discussion strategy that he uses all year. Both Carmela and Bruce found self-evident ways to
integrate the art images into their planning. The works by Benton were used to introduce the
theme of World War II, a typical unit in Carmela’s curriculum. And Bruce seamlessly integrated
the act of looking to introduce the steps of analysis that students will likely perform their next
year in high school. Staying true to their teaching objectives, philosophies, and planned
curriculums, Bruce and Carmela’s use of the arts to teach writing in their content areas was
straightforward.
The third conclusion that can be drawn from their use of the website is in the direct use of
the site within their lessons. Both Bruce and Carmela used images directly from the website
(neither chose to download the image or to create a PowerPoint presentation). Carmela did print
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out some background information on the artworks, providing herself with some reference and
context for the images. She primarily used the site to prepare for the teaching of the lesson and
used it during class only as a ready source for the display of images. Her use of the web-based
resource closely matches Leftwich & Bazley’s (n.d.) description of teachers’ uses of museum
websites. Teachers, they claim, are more likely to use these resources for reference, context, and
background material, rather than the high levels of interaction often expected from a website.
Bruce, however, actually navigated through the site with his classes, showing them other parts of
The University Art Museum website, such as their interactive map of the campus’ public
sculptures and the museum collection search tool. Bruce’s second teaching goal, it would appear,
was to demonstrate to his students that The Museum and The Museum’s website was a resource
for them as students, not just one for him as a teacher.
Neither of the teachers who used the website directly with their classes employed the
website for direct writing exercises or activities. Bruce and Deanna used the website’s content,
its images and its looking activities with the students as part of the process of writing. Analyzing,
comparing and contrasting, or breaking a visual work apart, is a critical thinking skill that all
three content areas stated that students must use in their classes. According to the Common Core
ELA standards, it is also a thinking skill required for students to be literate as well as college or
career ready. It is less important that a student can read a complex text than what they can do
with that text (Department of Education, 2012b). In other words, high order thinking skills, such
as analysis, give students greater things to say in response to a work of art. As the two teachers
demonstrated in this study, that process of writing, i.e. the thinking, was why teachers used the
art and the website. This use of the art/write website supports the conclusions of Greene (1986),
Hamblen (1993), and Walsh-Piper (1994), who have argued that aesthetic experiences are unique
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events that not only are openings for rich educational possibilities, but can compel students to
think deeply about what they are seeing. The engaged act of looking, used in both the English
and ESL classrooms in this study, was used to encourage critical thinking, a skill required to
prepare students to write (Hillocks, 2010; Maxwell, 1990). As stated earlier, I argue that
aesthetic experiences, critical thinking, and writing are entangled. Dewey (1934) states that “real
experiences” have no separate parts, no boundaries, but are whole experiences where successive
parts flow freely to the next. Looking, experiencing the art, thinking critically about what one is
seeing: these are crucial elements that are not separate from the act of writing, they are the
processes of writing.
Mining Further the Findings from Interviews
As I stated in my introduction to this chapter, it was important to me as a researcher and
as the primary developer of the website art/write that the site align with the practical teaching
goals of the classroom educators Bruce, Daniel, Carmela, and Deanna. Because the Common
Core English Language Arts standards have been adopted and are being implemented in this
state, it was apparent that the website should align its learning goals with those described in the
standards. And not only because this state’s education department had partnered with the
Partnership for 21st Thinking, but also because critical thinking is deeply involved with writing
well (Hillock, 2010; Maxwell, 1996), the writing prompts and activities were intended to
promote critical thinking skills amongst learners.
21st Century Thinking Skills
The classroom teachers’ assessment of what standards and skills seemed most applicable
to the content provided on the site illustrated where the website was meeting its goals and where
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possible disconnects to teachers’ curricular goals may exist. Comparing Bruce and Daniel’s preand post- responses regarding 21st century thinking skills (see Tables 4.1 and 4.5) the website
seems to have met their teaching goals. For example, Bruce evaluated the art/write site during
his final interview, sorting the 21st century skill “Interpret information and draw conclusions
based on the best analysis” as number one on the list and “Effectively analyze and evaluate
evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs” as number two of skills most applicable to the
website’s content. These skills would seem to align with his stated goal of teaching students to
be critical thinkers. As he explained it, “The idea of looking at something—some text, an image,
whatever it may be—as a construct”, and then teaching students how to deconstruct the text to
determine how and why it communicates meaning. Daniel, in his post-art/write response, sorted
these same skills as near the top of his list. “Effectively analyze” he sorted as third on his list and
“Interpret information” as fourth on his list. These thinking skills also seem to be in alignment
with his goal, similar to Bruce’s, of getting his students to be critical thinkers in regards to what
they read and what they see. He explained in regards to his curricular expectation, “There is a
real distinction between what is the message and what is the author’s message and point of view
and perspective and purpose and agenda and really getting at that. What’s the voice behind this
comment or this piece?”
Carmela’s response regarding 21st century thinking skills did not seem to match the stated
objectives of Deanna’s. I base this comparison off the assumption that these teachers teach the
same subject, and operate under the same departmental teaching objectives for English Language
Learners. Carmela ranked the thinking skill “Develop, implement and communicate new ideas
with others effectively” as number four out of eight and “Be open to and responsive to new and
diverse perspectives” as sixth While these skills were at the bottom of the list in Carmela’s
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perspective of what skills the website was teaching, Deanna stressed in her pre-art/write
interview that these same thinking skills were enormously important to her teaching. She plainly
described that 21st century thinking is,
the whole idea of collaboration and working with diverse teams, diverse populations.
That’s basically the definition of a ELD classroom. They have to learn to work with each
other. The Somali kids just can’t work with the Somali kids. They have to mingle with
each other, and learn to respect differences and go beyond those.
It appears that while discussion and collaboration was an intended aspect of the
art/write site, and is advocated for on the home page (Appendix B) of the website as well
as the “Viewing Strategies” page (Appendix C), this objective is not explicit enough on
the website. A possible change to the content could place heavier emphasis on suggested
discussion questions and collaborative activities by locating these next to the images of
the artwork, or with the writing activities. It is also possible that Carmela simply
overlooked these communication-based activities in her use of the site and, given more
time to explore the website, would witness these skills within the website’s content.
Writing Skills: Common Core Standards
Comparing the writing skills required by students in each teacher’s content area to the
ELA Common Core standards that were apparent within the website’s content proved somewhat
helpful in assessing how the website meets the needs of these three educators. In the sorting
activity, only the standards from the areas of the Common Core in Reading and Writing and not
from Language were provided to teachers. However, Deanna expressed that conventions, word
choice, and organization were major skills that she teaches her students in regards to writing.
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Because the Common Core ELA standards under the Language domain “Demonstrate command
of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking” and
“Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are
appropriate to task, purpose, and audience” were not provided to Carmela, nor Bruce or Daniel,
it is not possible to ascertain whether these objectives are being met through the website. This is
a major limitation of this study’s findings.
However, the writing objectives that Bruce and Daniel described using in their classes,
analysis and use of supporting evidence, were clearly evidenced in the website’s content, as
indicated in the sorting of the standards in the post- art/write assessment interview. Bruce listed
“Cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the
text” as second out of the four standard and Daniel ranked this standard as the second most
applicable standard that the website addresses. In addition, the standard “Determine central idea
or themes and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas” was
viewed by Daniel as the most applicable standard. These rankings or sorting of the ELA
Common Core standards showed a strong alignment of both Bruce and Daniel’s stated teaching
goals to available content and activities on the website.
The conclusions to be drawn for how well the site aligns with Carmela’s or Deanna’s
teaching goals are inconclusive because of incomplete data from the post-art/write assessment.
But the sorting activity performed by Daniel and Bruce implies that the website does meet the
curricular demands of Daniel and Bruce, whose teaching objectives were similar to each other’s
but differed from Carmela’s. Further research should be performed to conclude whether or not
this website does meet the teaching objectives of Carmela or other English Language
Development educators. What this also evidences is that by collaborating with these teachers in
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the development of the website, asking them what their needs were, I was able to design a
website that in fact did meet the curricular needs of these educators. It cannot be stated based on
this study that the website meets the requirements of all high school teachers, yet the findings
can illustrate how if a website is built for teachers and with teachers, based on their needs,
teachers will find the content relevant to their teaching.
Further Reflections
Collaborating with teachers in the development of teacher resources is not a novel
concept, and is advocated for in much of the literature (Burchenal & Grohe, 2007; DAM, 2009,
Howell, DeSciose, 2007; Leftwich & Bazley, n.d.). I must acknowledge that while I involved
teachers in the development of this project, and I see the creation of this site as a collaborative
process, not every teacher can participate in this process. Admittedly, this is a project of just four
teachers, two museum educators, and one researcher. Teachers during the interviews were asked
to consider the needs of other teachers, thinking beyond their classroom experiences. And while
each of these educators was a department head at their school, giving them even greater insight
into the issues affecting teachers at their school sites in their content areas, it would be vastly
inappropriate for me to claim that the opinions and experiences of these four educators speaks
for all teachers. Considering this implication, I have linked a web-based survey onto the art/write
website in hopes of gathering more teacher perspectives on the website and how well it meets
their current needs as educators. I see this website as a continuous project with no end date for
completion. As the site hopefully gathers users, feedback, and evaluation, I intend to apply these
insights to the website, fine-tuning it to most closely match the needs of today’s classroom
educators.
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This study suggests that museums should involve teachers from various content areas in
the development of the museum website. Teachers from this study provided content specific
perspectives which helped to extend the reach of the art/write website. This has potentially made
the website valuable for many teachers who use writing or the process of writing deliberately in
their curriculums. For example, the History teacher suggested using artworks that span a period
of time so that the artworks could be integrated throughout the school year. This also has
implications for high school literature or English teachers as well. And the English as Second
Language educator requested that looking and writing activities should also address students who
are in the early stages of developing literacy skills in English. With a variety of content area
classroom teachers involved in the processes of planning, choosing works of art, and evaluating a
museum’s educational website, the website can more likely meet the needs of other high school
History, ESL, and English educators.
A concern that I have after creating this website, informed by my experience as a public
school educator, is the potential short lifespan of the Common Core national standards. These
standards are only in the second year of adoption and have already been met with extreme
opinions by politicians, researchers, parents and educators, with some strongly in support and
others who critique the implementation and testing of the new standards. If these standards are
not valued by teachers, will the website lose favor with its intended audience? Or, if the
standards are no longer incorporated into the state or national curriculum, will the website’s
objectives become outdated? While the Common Core standards may change or disappear
altogether, I firmly believe that the teaching of literacy, broadly defined, is the core mission of
our schools (Tombari, Bennett & Lichtenstein, 2009) and should be a shared concern of the
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entire community. I believe that the art/write website is positioned to become a core educational
resource within The University Art Museum.
As a core element of the educational department, I would like to see the goals of the
curriculum expanded beyond the website. This past summer I developed a pre-school summer
museum visit program at The University Art Museum. The program was literacy-based, with
story time being a central element of the one-hour program. Children ages 2-5 were guided to
make connections from a children’s story to a painting in the museum and explored themes from
the story through dance, movement, and art-making. The summer program Art Sprouts was very
successful and has plans to continue this coming summer. Literacy-based programming, I hope,
will continue to grow and develop becoming a central curricular theme of educational
programming at The University Art Museum.
To make the benefits of the website apparent to other educators beyond the four involved
with this study, I have been working to promote the site within the state. This past summer, after
the public launch of the site, I presented a hands-on workshop to twenty-five kindergarten
through twelfth grade educators in a local school district. Teachers were introduced to the
website and performed some of the viewing strategies and writing exercises. Responses from the
educators was very positive. The website was also promoted by an arts integration organization
in the state through their monthly email listserv. And this fall I will be presenting the website at
the state level art education conference. In addition, the art/write website has been linked to one
of the city schools district’s literacy resources webpage. I am continuing to develop relationships
with literacy specialists in the school districts around the city in an effort to have the museum’s
website promoted as a resource for teaching literacy. Part of this effort includes creating teachertraining workshops at the museum in the Spring of 2014. These efforts continue the goal of the
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art/write website, to bridge the physical gap, or accessibility, as well as the educational service
of the art museum to local and national schools.
Further Implications
A majority of the classroom educators saw immense value within the art/write website to
compliment their curriculum in teaching critical thinking skills and the writing process. Value,
from the classroom and museum educators’ perspectives, was also measured in how accessible
the museum website was. Access to the museum was seen as a serious barrier by classroom
teachers and was admitted to be a major obstacle by museum education staff as well. While the
museum website art/write may not provide access to all works within the museum’s curriculum,
it may act as an entry point to the museum’s online database of its collection. The idea of
accessibility bridges one of the many gaps between the university art museum and the
community schools. These teachers spoke earnestly about how museum websites and more
specifically art/write can help bridge the gap of student and teacher access to art museums.
Not all teacher curricular objectives were met or evaluated on in this case study. But
teachers stated clearly through the interviews that the website was very closely aligned with
many of their teaching goals in student thinking skills and the process of writing. It was also
evident through the interviews that museum educators saw great benefit to having such an
educational resource be available on an art museum’s website. Teacher use of the website
demonstrated that the website was valuable to both Carmela, who taught students just learning
the English language, and to Bruce, who teaches honors level freshman English students. These
findings imply that website materials should be made available to a wide variety of student
learners and educational needs.
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What has not been performed is a study to further evaluate the website based on the
recent changes to the layout and the additional artwork and content. Further studies could follow
whether or not the teachers participating in this study have in fact been using the website in their
classes this year and, if so, how they have been using it with their students. An additional
quantitative study could also be performed to evaluate students’ writing pre- and post- use of the
website materials. A separate study could also evaluate the students’ thinking skills pre- and
post- implementation of the art/write website. While the focus of this qualitative study was not
on the students’ responses to the content and was more attentive to the classroom teachers’
experiences with the website, the next steps should include gathering data on how those who are
being asked to perform the website’s tasks are being impacted by art/write’s content.
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APPENDIX A
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APPENDIX B
HOME PAGE
art/write uses seventeen inspiring works from the University of Arizona Museum of Art’s permanent
collection to inspire writing with high school aged students. This site is organized to provide teachers
with resources to encourage looking, prompt in-depth discussions and engaged written responses about
the works of art. These activities have been designed with the collaboration of high school English and
History teachers, as well as teachers of English Language Learners to ensure alignment with state
standards and current language-based curriculums.
Writing requires careful observation, critical thinking, analysis of ideas and events, and of course
creative thinking. When engaged with a work of art, students must also utilize the skills of sustained
observation, imagination and interpretation. This web resource provides looking and writing activities
that allow students to develop strong looking skills that in turn foster effective writing.
These activities were written and designed to meet the Common Core State Standards of writing,
reading and speaking/listening. Using visual works of art as “texts”, the looking and writing strategies on
art/write encourage students to analyze complex works of art, communicate ideas effectively, and
support conclusions with evidence. Explore, discover, think critically and imagine the possibilities!
Figure 1: Homepage Page View
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APPENDIX C
VIEWING STRATEGIES
“Why look at art with my students?”
Learning to look comes first and students need to be encouraged to look longer, spending time
analyzing, inferring and questioning what they see. Extended and close encounters with art can help
students see better and have more thoughtful things to say. Before beginning any writing assignment,
students must look closely to discover details, themes, make connections and develop questions. Visual
arts can be a great catalyst to inspire careful observation and richly detailed writing. Learning to look
therefore leads to learning to write well.
The viewing strategies on the UAMA art/write website require students to use the following 21st
Century Thinking Skills:
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Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Communication and Collaboration
Media Literacy
Global Awareness
“What if I do not know art history?”
One does not require an art history or studio background in order to look at and talk about art, just the
desire to look, look again, and then look even closer. Learning to look does take practice; it requires
slowing down to take the time to see and to think critically about what is before us.
Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS):
This type of viewing activity asks students/viewers three basic questions which require a careful analysis
of not only what is seen in the work, but also a reflection on the students’ thinking. This format is an
inquiry-based approach that creates dialogue and discussion. The questions are designed to require
students’ interpretations and ideas to be based on what is evidenced in the visual artwork. The
questions to guide class discussion are:
1) What’s going on in this picture?
2) What do you see that makes you say that?
3) What more can we find?
Inquiry-Based Looking:
This type of looking activity is question based and can be done individually with students but works best
as a class discussion. Students should be informed that there are no single, correct answers, only
personal responses to what “I see”. Not all questions need to be asked about a single work of art.
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Describe the colors, shapes and textures you see?
What stands out the most in this image? What makes it stand out to you?
What is the subject? Does the image depict people, a place or an event?
What visual clues help you understand who the people are, what the time period or setting is?
Read the label. Does this give you any more clues?
Describe the motion in the image. Is there a lot of energy, or does it feel still? What visual clues
support this feeling?
Describe the framing of the image. What is included in your view, what might the artist have left
out?
What is closest to you, furthest away?
Describe the style, is it realistic, abstract, expressive, etc.
What words would you use to describe this image? Why?
Based on what you see, what do you think this work of art is about? What visual evidence
supports this opinion?
What do you think the image communicates? Based on what you see, how do you know this?
Connotations and Denotations
Careful looking creates informed experiences with visual works of art. This strategy helps students look
longer, gathering evidence that leads to an informed interpretation of the image. Students first list all
they see (denotations) and secondly what these visuals mean (connotations). This type of interpretive
approach requires the students’ interpretations to be based on what they see. Use the “What I seeWhat it Means” worksheet to document the looking process. Students may begin working individually
and then share their experiences with the class.
Conversational Interpretation
Once you feel students have begun to feel comfortable looking and talking about art, they may be ready
to work more independently. A community of learning must be established for students to feel
comfortable sharing their interpretations, as their ideas are meant to develop through the conversation.
They may change, modify or solidify their interpretations based on the conversation. The main objective
is that the interpretation is a collaborative endeavor, based on careful looking and that opinions are
based on the visual evidence in the work of art.
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Students may use some of the questions from the list under Inquiry-Based Looking to prepare
before a discussion. Conversations should not be scripted, but some students may prefer to plan
out ideas ahead of time.
Have a small group of students talk for a defined amount of time (5-10 minutes) about one work
of art. Print out an image from the UAMA art/write site and give it to the group, informing them
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that they must all contribute to an interpretation. Assign one student as the record keeper, one
as the time keeper, and one the moderator.
Have students record their conversations using a digital tape recorder, video camera or audio
recording software on a computer. These can be used as final assessments.
Figure 2: Viewing Strategies Page View
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APPENDIX D
WORKS OF ART
Artworks on art/write
Thomas Hart Benton, Letter from Overseas, 1943, Woodchopper, 1936
Alexander Calder, Blue Moon over the Steeple, 1965
Audrey Flack, Fourth of July Still Life, 1976
William Hogarth, Marriage a-la-mode series, 1745
Alexandre Hogue, Avalanche By Wind, 1944
Edward Hopper, The City, 1927
George Inness, End of the Rain (also After the Rain), 1891
Luis Jimenez, Man on Fire, 1969
Käthe Kollwitz, The Volunteers (Die Freiwilligen), 1923; Weavers on the March, (Weberzug), 1897
Jacob Lawrence, Diners, 1942
Abraham Mignon and Jakob Gillig, Still Life of Fish and Tackle, 1670
Thomas Moran, The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, 1875
Anton Refregier, Broken Life, 1942
Juane Quick-To-See-Smith, Spam, 1995
Horace Vernet, Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant Son and His Nurse, 1830
WPA Prints, Locomotive, Men Digging, Breakdown, 1935-1943
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Figure 3: Works of Art Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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APPENDIX E
Alexander Calder (American b. 1898- 1976)
Biography
“To most people who look at a mobile, it's no more than a series of flat objects that move. To a few,
though, it may be poetry.”
-Alexander Calder
Alexander Calder was born to artist parents who influenced and encouraged his early artistic
explorations. At an early age, Calder demonstrated a curiosity and a sense of inventiveness with tools
and found materials by making toys and wire jewelry for his sister’s dolls. His early ability to create and
invent originally inspired Calder to study engineering, but after completing school in 1922, he worked
odd jobs before enrolling in the Arts Students League in New York City.
In 1930 Calder traveled to Paris where he came in contact with members of the Dada and Surrealist art
groups. On a visit to the abstract artist Piet Mondrian’s studio, he became interested in the rectangles of
colored paper that Mondrian had tacked up on the studio walls. Calder, inspired by this visit, desired to
make these shapes move or “oscillate” in space, and to see the shapes interacting in three dimensions.
His result was the mobile, where individual parts float, spin and travel in response to free moving air
currents. Calder’s invention of the mobile revolutionized sculpture by integrating the concept of
movement into what was once a stationary art form.
Calder’s early childhood sense of playfulness is evidenced in his adult work in that he was most
interested in chance movements as well as the viewer’s own imagination. While his work at first seems
like pure abstraction, his titles, such as Blue Moon over the Steeple invite our imagination to try and find
the moon near the top and the church-like steeple form in the base. Blue Moon is an example of
Calder’s standing mobiles, which differed from his hanging mobiles in that these standing works were
generally much smaller and obviously had a base that sat on the ground.
Bibliography
Alexander Calder: 1898-1976. Retrieved from http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/calder/realsp/room8a7.htm
Calder, A. (1951). What abstract art means to me. Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, 18(3). Retrieved from
http://www.calder.org/system/downloads/texts/1951-What-Abstract-Art-Means-P0343.pdf
Stokstad, M. (2000). Art: A brief history. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
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Alexander Calder
Historical Context
Immediately after WW I, the United States began a period of isolationism that lasted until the start of
WW II in 1941. This attitude had a direct impact on American artists. A greater amount of American
artists, like Thomas Hart Benton, referred back to realism in order to document and pay tribute to
American life and sought to define a truly American art. Other American artists like Alexander Calder,
who were interested in contemporary art had to go to Europe to take part in the modern abstract art
movement.
Historically, sculpture was a static, stable form of solid mass that rested on a base, connecting it to the
ground and setting it apart as something special. In that fertile period between the two world wars, the
European art world was being challenged on many fronts. Artists like Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Joan
Miró, and others rebelled against the status quo and created art from simple shapes and lines, and
made abstract compositions that defied convention. Some of these artists also chose to display their
works in unusual ways. Calder assimilated this artistic rebellion into his own unique style, creating
sculpture that moved and was removed from the base, hanging his works from the air.
Alexander Calder’s works have become familiar visual works of sculpture, found in public squares,
buildings and museums around the globe. His invention, the mobile, can be seen above almost every
child’s crib in any household. Because of their seeming familiarity today, it is often difficult to
understand just how revolutionary his sculptures were in the context of the early twentieth century.
Bibliography
About This Artist: Alexander Calder. Retrieved from http://whitney.org/Collection/AlexanderCalder
Stokstad, M. (2000). Art: A brief history. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
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Alexander Calder (American b. 1898- 1976)
Writing Activities
Analysis
Describe the shapes and forms you see. What might they suggest?
Describe the colors you see. What might they suggest?
What words describe the sense of balance you see?
How do you imagine the sculpture moves? Describe this sense of motion with two words.
Description- Circle Description
This activity works best with students arranged in small groups. One person starts by writing down a
brief description of what they see. A second student contributes to the first observation by using a
different word or by describing the observation in more detail. The description is added onto again until
the entire group has contributed or around until the map is complete. Use the “Descriptive Map”
worksheet to document descriptions.
Poetry- Poetry in Motion
Calder’s sculpture was greatly inspired by the Dada art movement. Dadaism was a European-based
movement that rejected the tradition of reason and order of classical art and favored the element of
chance as the inspiration for art. Use words cut from magazines or newspapers pulled from a word bank
(envelope or box) and use to write a poem that describes Calder’s sculpture Blue Moon over Steeple.
You can expand from these “chance words” if you need to.
Expository- Visual Art Analysis
Artists, like writers make careful choices about their compositions and are impacted by the time and
place in which they work. These factors work together to create meaning in a work of art. Analyze
Calder’s sculpture using the Form, Theme, Context Map to uncover what the meaning is and what gives
it that meaning.
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Figure 4: Alexander Calder Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Audrey Flack (b. 1931)
Biography
Born in New York City, Audrey Flack graduated from Cooper Union in 1951. While enrolled at Yale
University, she studied with Josef Albers, the abstract artist most famous for his series Homage to the
Square (ca. 1949). Her early oil paintings of this era were primarily large scale abstract compositions
with bold shapes, lines and dark colors. In the 1960’s Flack’s work became more expressive and involved
political subject matter, based on news media photographs.
These photo-based works evolved in the 1970’s to photorealist works, paintings that looked like
photographs. Working from slides projected directly onto the canvas, Flack’s paintings focused more on
the color, light and space of a composition. The dominance of line from her earlier work was eliminated
as forms became more realistic.
In the 1970’s Flack began to use airbrushed acrylic paint in addition to oil paint in order to render
realistic effects of color and light on three-dimensional forms. In her well known series of still-lifes from
the 1970’s, Flack’s paintings depict close up compositions of personal, feminine, small objects. Her large
scale photorealistic works such as Fourth of July Still Life, 1976 and Marilyn (Vanitas), 1977 (both in the
UAMA collection) were quite revolutionary for their feminine subject matter and high realism.
Flack was an early forerunner in the Photorealist movement of the 1970’s. In 1966, she was the first
Photorealist painter to have her work in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Bibliography
Audrey Flack: Biography. Retrieved from http://www.audreyflack.com/af/index.php?name=bio
Gouma-Peterson, T. (1992). Breaking the rules: Audrey Flack; A retrospective 1950-1990. New York:
Harry N. Abrams. Inc.
167
Audrey Flack (b. 1931)
Historical Context
“As the only woman artist in the groundbreaking Photorealist movement, I broke the unwritten code of
acceptable subject matter. Photorealists painted cars, motorcycles and empty street scenes. Cool,
unemotional and banal were the terms used to describe the movement. My work, however, was
humanist, emotional and filled with referential symbolic imagery.” -Audrey Flack
In the 1960’s as Flack’s work began to take on a Photorealist style, the movement itself was derided in
the art world. While working from photos was viewed as acceptable, placing the emphasis on the
photographic reproduction and making one’s work look like a photo was not. Her subject of the realistic
still-life was actually well grounded in art history. The Dutch still-life genre (see Jakob Gillig and Abraham
Mignon) used a rich vocabulary of symbolism and iconography in its highly detailed depictions of food,
glass ware and other objects.
As Flack’s statement above explains, her Photorealist works were revolutionary for their subject matter.
While her contemporary male counterparts painted masculine scenes, Flack concentrated on intimate
close-ups of still-lifes with personal objects full of symbolic meaning. Her painting Marilyn (Vanitas),
exemplifies this aspect of her work in its subject, Marilyn Monroe, and its representation of objects
traditionally associated with femininity.
The Fourth of July, commissioned for the bicentennial in 1976, is a slight break from her usual subject
matter in that it displays objects associated with Independence Day. While war is mostly considered a
male experience, Flack intentionally includes beads to “denote a feminine presence” (personal
communication, May 9, 2013). She also included objects from her personal childhood memories of
Fourth of July celebrations, such as red, white and blue crepe paper rolls and firecrackers. Tea and the
Liberty Bell bank, representing American heritage and Americana are, “offered to invite personal
thought on the involvement of our country” said Flack (personal communication, May 9, 2013).
Her modern take on the traditional still-life tells a story through objects. In a world where our lives are
full of stuff, Flack’s paintings are able to give us a “sense of the world as a place full of objects”. Her
clever combinations and pairings of objects present the viewer with a distinctly personal, not distant,
perspective.
Bibliography
Brooklyn Museum: Audrey Flack. Retrieved from
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/flack.php
Gouma-Peterson, T. (1992). Breaking the rules: Audrey Flack; A retrospective 1950-1990. New York:
Harry N. Abrams. Inc
168
Audrey Flack
Writing Exercises
Poetry- Descriptive List Poem
Some great poems are nothing more than a list that describes a thing, person, or place. Start by slowly
looking at Audrey Flack’s Fourth of July for a few minutes. Take in the work object by object, from top to
bottom and back again. “What do you see in Fourth of July?” Make an opening line. The rest of the
poem is a list of what you see.
Line 1 What I see in Fourth of July
Line 2 name and describe observation 1
Line 3 name and describe observation 2
Line 4 name and describe observation 3
Line 5 name and describe observation 4
Line 6 name and describe observation 5
Line 7 name and describe observation 6
Continue until work is completely described…..
Example
Line 1 What I see in my family portrait
Line 2 One father, taller than the rest
Line 3 A mother holding back a smile
Line 4 Child with freckles and a mess of curls
Line 5 House porch cracked with old white paint
Persuasive- Interpretation
Audrey Flack’s work can be viewed as a contemporary spin on seventeenth century Dutch still-life
paintings. These paintings, like Flack’s use a great amount of symbolism within the objects to
communicate a meaning. Complete a “What I See- What it Means” worksheet in order to analyze the
message/s of The Fourth of July. Record the denotations and connotations of the objects you see and
then share your findings with the class. Summarize the overall main ideas and meaning of the image in a
short essay, citing the visual evidence to support your conclusions.
Expository- Text to Text Connection
Perform a careful analysis of the two still-life paintings, Fourth of July by Audrey Flack and Still Life of
Fish and Tackle, by Mignon and Gillig.
What similarities and differences do you see? How can you explain for these similarities or differences?
Do you think their intentional purposes were the same? What in the work makes you say this? What
does each work say about the time and place they were made? Use the Text to Text Comparison
worksheet to record your findings.
169
Figure 5: Audrey Flack Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
170
William Hogarth (British, 1697-1764)
Biography
In 1731, William Hogarth (British, 1697-1764) created a new form of art, one he called "modern
moral subjects." He began telling stories of contemporary life, through a series of "scenes" that could
be engraved and sold to the general public. Hogarth's approach was not to preach virtue, but instead to
satirize vice and folly. This approach was so effective that it earned him the title of "Comic History
Painter" from his friend Henry Fielding.
Marriage A-la-Mode or A Variety of Modern Occurrences in High Life was by far Hogarth's most
popular and enduring of these "moral" series. Painted mainly in 1743 and published in 1745, it contains
all the elements that make Hogarth a master satirist. Not only is the series a keenly observed and
savage caricature of the aspirations and foibles of the upper classes, it also contains clever allusions to
proverbs and slang of the day, as well as innumerable background details that contribute to the meaning
of each scene.
The story is not a pretty one. It begins with a marriage arranged by two self-seeking fathers:
one, a rich Alderman of the City of London who craves social status and buys it by marrying off his
helpless daughter; and the other, the Earl of Squander - a spendthrift nobleman who desperately needs
cash and acquires it by marrying off his foppish and unprincipled son. There is never any question of
love or even compatibility. Flush with money but no moral grounding, the married couple soon strays
into foolish diversions and adultery - and then subsequently to venereal disease, murder and suicide.
Hogarth hired three highly skilled French engravers working in London to produce the series:
Bernard Baron (plates II and III), Gérard Jean-Baptiste Scotin (plates I and VI) and Simon-François
Ravenet (plates IV and V). As these were reproductive engravings copied directly from the original
works, the printings are in reverse of the paintings. The original paintings can be found today in the
National Gallery of Art, London.
Details of Plate I, The Marriage Settlement:
The stage is set and the players have all revealed their true characters by the time the viewer
has analyzed this first scene. On the left, we see the groom's father, Lord Squander. He points to his
dubious-looking family tree while his coronet - the symbol of his rank - is conspicuously displayed all
over the room. Through the window we see a tasteless but grandiose new home under construction,
but with the workers sitting idle. Work has stopped due to lack of funds.
The bride's father, an Alderman with plenty of money but no title, closely examines the
marriage contract. A pile of money already sits on the table and the Alderman's clerk hands the Earl his
redeemed mortgage. When the contract is signed, the Alderman's daughter will instantly acquire rank
and distinction that will, of course, reflect well on him.
171
The groom, dressed in the latest French fashion, takes a pinch of snuff and admires himself in
the mirror. He ignores his bride-to-be. The daughter looks perfectly miserable and allows herself to be
sweet-talked by a lawyer named Silvertongue. His name is a play on the proverb, "A man that hath no
money in his purse must have silver in his tongue." The two dogs collared together at the Viscount's
feet obviously reference the marriage, but are also a play on the current slang saying that persons
chained together in order to be conveyed to jail are "married."
Everyone in the room seems ignorant of the black spot on the Viscount's neck. This is Hogarth's
reference to the black mercurial pills that at the time were the only known treatment for venereal
disease. This spot will continue to be the groom's most conspicuous feature, and sets the stage for the
tragedy to come.
Details of Plate II, The Tete-a-Tete:
The newlyweds lounge in the double-drawing room of their new home (the one previously seen through
the window) after a night of parties, which they attended separately. An exasperated steward holds a
pile of bills that the couple is uninterested in paying, although the rather vulgar objets d'art, paintings
and collectibles in the room indicate a well-financed household.
The bride looks remarkably self-satisfied and quite comfortable in her new clothes and new position as
Viscountess. Her posture indicates that she might be pregnant - but the identity of the father is brought
into question by the carved face of a man watching her on the chimneypiece. The overturned chair and
the open fiddle case on top of it are also references to sexual indiscretion.
A night of debauchery and amusement has left the groom exhausted. His sword lies broken from an
unknown encounter, but wrapped around it is a girl's cap. Another cap, poking out of his coat pocket
and detected by the poodle, is presumably from another female. The ribbon around it indicates
virginity.
Details of Plate III, The Inspection:
The Viscount and his young mistress, who dons a cap much like the one that protruded from the
Viscount's coat in the previous scene, are paying a visit to a quack doctor in order to exchange medicine
previously purchased for venereal disease (note the conspicuous location of one of the pill boxes
between the groom's legs). The flawed skull denotes that this doctor specializes in curing "the pox."
However, the doctor's body - the sunken nose, bulging forehead, thick lips, and bowed legs - indicates
that he himself has an advanced form of syphilis.
The furious woman in the scene has a tattoo of the letters "FC" on her breast - a branding inflicted on
convicted prostitutes. She seems to be upset that one of her "girls" has developed venereal disease, but
closer reading shows that she is probably the girl's mother. The fabric on the woman's sleeves is the
same as the fabric of the girl's skirt - a relationship that would never have been accidental in a Hogarth
painting. By ranting and raving about her daughter's spoiled innocence, she is likely to attain a large
sum of damages.
172
Details of Plate IV, The Toilette:
Time has progressed, the old Earl has died and the Viscount and his wife are now Earl and Countess
Squanderfield (note the coronet above her vanity mirror). They also have a child, as a rattle can be seen
hanging off the back of the Countess' chair. The Countess is conducting her toilette in a "charming"
state of déshabille that implies she is so sought after that she has to socialize while she finishes dressing.
Silvertongue, now openly admitted to the house and comfortable enough to lounge with his feet on the
sofa, holds an invitation and points to a painting of a masquerade, where presumably the lovers will
rendezvous later. The painting above the Countess is that of Jupiter and Io, representing their affair in
allegory. Below them, a young black page plays with a horned figure of Actaeon - horns being the classic
symbol of cuckoldry.
Meanwhile, the other guests listen to a recital by an Italian singer whose elaborate wig, ringed fingers,
and fancy earrings indicate that he is a castrato, another very fashionable "accoutrement" to upper class
entertainments.
Details of Plate V, the Bagnio:
A bagnio is a hotel that rents rooms by the hour. The Countess and Silvertongue retired there after the
masquerade (discarded masks and costumes litter the floor), and the Earl discovered them. (Did he
follow them from the masquerade, or did he happen to have an assignation at the same hotel?)
The lawyer has fatally stabbed the young man, and as he begins to buckle under his own weight, the
Countess pleads for forgiveness, but the pose is deliberately theatrical and puts her sincerity into
question. The owner of the hotel has summoned a night watchman and constable, who enter the room
just as Silvertongue - in his nightshirt - attempts to flee through the window.
Details of Plate VI, The Lady's Death:
The final scene of this narrative takes place in the Alderman's house, after the burial of the Countess'
husband and the trial of her lover. The Countess has poisoned herself and has only moments to live.
The letter that lies on the floor is that of Silvertongue's dying speech (condemned men were encouraged
to repent before being hanged). The fact that the bottle of poison and the letter are next to each other
indicates that the Countess committed suicide not because of her husband's murder, but her lover's
death. In the corner, the apothecary berates a dim-witted servant for his role in the suicide.
The Countess' child is held up to kiss her, and we see his black-spotted cheek and crippled legs, telling us
that he is the innocent victim of his parents' vices. The Alderman, still mainly concerned with money,
removes his daughter's ring. The malnourished dog stealing food from the table, as well as the presence
of the ledgers in the cupboard, indicate that the father hoards his money to the detriment of everyone
around him. The child will probably not survive long in this environment.
-Lauren Rabb UAMA, Curator
173
William Hogarth (British, 1697-1764)
Historical Context
William Hogarth is most famous for his paintings on ‘modern moral subjects’, but it was the
engravings of these images that gained him fame, as he could reach more people through the
reproducible print. His ‘take no prisoners’ approach held up a moralizing mirror to eighteenth century
Britain where no social group or class was safe from his witty critique. His paintings and prints reveal
that popular culture displays of hedonism are far from being a twentieth century invention.
His images were produced at a time in England when a growing middle class of merchants and
professionals were fueling a market for moralizing genre paintings. British intellectuals were criticizing
what they saw as Britain’s moral decay, calling on art to promote virtue and integrity. At the time of
Hogarth’s visual reference to syphilis in Marriage a-la-mode the disease had long been connected to
questions of individual and societal morality.
Hogarth’s moralizing images were not original in subject but unique in that his were told
through a sequencing of four to six paintings. His form was so original that a new name was used to
describe them- cartoon, which is why Hogarth is often described as the father of the modern editorial
cartoon. Hogarth’s work was so popular that his work was plagiarized constantly. Booksellers openly
made cheap copies to sell and returned his originals unsold. This prompted him to lobby for the
Copyright Act of 1735 as protection for writers and artists, which when passed was referred to as the
“Hogarth Act”.
Bibliography
Stokstad, M. (1995). Art History, Volume II. New York: Prentice Hall Inc.
William Hogarth Caricature Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2013, from
http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/caricatures/bio_hogarth.htm
174
William Hogarth
Writing Activities
Description- Analyze
Analyze each work from Hogarth’s series as a whole class or in small groups. Small groups can report
back their findings to the class.
 What do you notice first, second, third? Why do you notice this?
 What is the setting? Describe it.
 Who are the characters? Describe their posture, facial expressions, dress, clothing, and social
class?
 How do multiple characters interact with other? What is the relationship? What makes you say
this?
 What are they saying to each other? Write a short dialogue of the conversation that is occurring
in the scene.
Expository- Visual Art Analysis
Artists, like writers make careful choices about their compositions and are impacted by the time and
place in which they work. These factors work together to create meaning in a work of art. Analyze
Hogarth’s images using the Visual Art Analysis Chart to uncover what the meaning is and what gives it
that meaning.
Expository- Editorial Cartoons
Contemporary editorial cartoons also communicate social and political messages through visuals.
Today’s cartoons use the following persuasive techniques to argue their points. Use these to analyze a
contemporary editorial cartoon and one image from Hogarth’s series Marriage a-la Mode.
 Symbolism- Use simple objects or symbols to stand for a larger idea or concept.
o What does the symbol stand for?
 Exaggeration- Physical characteristics, people, places or things are overdone, exaggerated in
order to stand out.
o What is being said with that exaggeration?
 Labeling- Objects or people are labeled to make an idea clear or specific.
o Why did they label that person or object?
 Analogy- Analogy compares two unlike things. This can make you see an idea in a new way.
o What is the main analogy? What is the main point of this comparison?
 Irony- Irony is the difference between the way things are and the way they should be.
o What is the point the irony is intending to emphasize?
Write an essay comparing the persuasive techniques used today to Hogarth’s series from the 1800’s. Are
there similarities, differences? Compare the messages being argued. Are the issues that Hogarth
criticizes still relevant today? Cite specific visual examples from Hogarth’s Marriage a-la Mode series as
well as your contemporary editorial cartoon.
Persuasive- Make Your Point
Choose an issue to make a persuasive editorial cartoon about (racism, school funding, environment, gun
violence, etc). Create a cartoon using the above persuasive techniques to communicate your idea.
175
Resource:
The Library of Congress website- Interactive presentation on how to analyze editorial cartoons.
http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/activities/politicalcartoon/cag.html
Figure 6.1: William Hogarth Page View (Top of page)
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
176
Figure 6.2: William Hogarth Page View (Bottom of page)
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
177
Alexandre Hogue (American 1898- 1994)
Biography
Born in Memphis, Missouri, Hogue was raised in Denton, Texas and later studied drawing at the
Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Hogue was employed as a commercial artist, working in
illustration, lettering and advertising before moving to New York for four years from 1921-1925. He
returned to Texas in 1925 ready to stay and make a living as an artist in the Lone Star State.
Like other artists of the 1930’s, such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, and Thomas Hart
Benton, Hogue was influenced by the Regionalist movement in America. The Texas-based magazine
Southwest Review called on artists to create a new culture of art in Texas, one that allowed Texans to
relate themselves to their specific environment. Hogue was a leading force of Regionalism in Texas,
telling local artists that, “To be outstanding their art should be indigenous”.
He is most famous for his Dust Bowl series which he began in 1937. It was featured in Life
magazine, which described his work as intending to evoke a reaction to the disrupted relationship
between man and nature. Others have also commented on how much his work contrasts from the
landscape as productive garden to one of ruined ecological disaster. This image, Avalanche by Wind
(1944), was commissioned by Encyclopedia Britannica to illustrate their children’s encyclopedia. In a
letter to The Museum, the artist denies he intended any social commentary with the painting. He claims
to have simply wanted to document the physical realities from the era of the Dust Bowl.
Working out of his studio in a renovated building in Dallas, Hogue became an influential and
popular Regionalist artist in the 1930’s, helping to place Dallas on the Modern art world map. Themes of
Texas Regionalism can be seen in Hogue’s work, such as the desire to elevate the mundane and the
simple things from one’s environment to a higher category.
Note: This work was a gift to The Museum from the owner, Thomas Benton Sr., (the Senator) the father
of the Regionalist painter, Thomas Hart Benton.
Bibliography:
Stewart, R. (1985). Lone star regionalism: The Dallas nine and their circle 1928-1945. Austin, TX: Texas
Monthly Press.
Delong, L.R. (2010) Alexandre Hogue. Retrieved February26, 2013, from
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhoad.
178
Alexandre Hogue(American 1898- 1994)
Historical Context
Several factors occurred during the 1920-30’s to set the stage for the art movement known as
Regionalism (or American Scene Painting). Immediately after WW I, the United States began a period of
isolationalism that lasted until the start of WW II in 1941. This attitude had a direct impact on American
artists. A few artists still looked to Europe for stylistic influence, with New York City symbolizing the port
of entry for these modern, abstract European styles. But a greater amount of artists referred back to
realism in order to document and pay tribute to American life and sought to define a truly American art.
Their style would be defined by a representational depiction of everyday American life which was easily
accessible and visually readable by the “everyday man”.
Thomas Hart Benton, along with John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood, were leading figures in the
Regionalist art movement that grew out of the Midwest. The Midwestern Regionalism of which Benton
was the voice for was perceived by the Texas art culture as one which was too tied up with nationalism.
Hogue and other artists and writers in Dallas were not interested in defining The American scene, as this
task was near impossible, and even possibly dangerous.
Texas artists in the thirties were more concerned about place; their location in Texas, which was
influenced by its geographical and historical connections to Mexico, the Old South, as well as the West.
They cautioned against Thomas Hart Benton’s call for a nationalist art, an art form suppressed of all
European influence. The artists, like Hogue, instead took a more holistic approach to their landscape and
scene paintings, seeing the environment in relation to rather than in isolation from the whole.
Bibliography:
Dennis, J.M. (1998). Renegade Regionalists: The modern independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart
Benton, and John Steurt Curry. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Stewart, R. (1985). Lone star regionalism: The Dallas nine and their circle 1928-1945. Austin, TX: Texas
Monthly Press.
179
Alexandre Hogue (American 1898- 1994)
Writing Exercises
Descriptive-Circle Description
This activity works best with students arranged in small groups. One person starts by writing down a
brief description of what they see. A second student contributes to the first observation by either using
a more creative word or by describing the observation in more detail. The description is added onto
again until the entire group has contributed or until the map is complete. Use the “Descriptive Map”
worksheet to document descriptions.
Narrative- Make Predictions
Pay particular attention to the sky, the windmill and the railroad track on the horizon. Hogue chose
these three visual elements and combined them in one visual narrative on purpose. After a close visual
analysis of what you see, make some predictions on what will happen next. Draw this future event
including the visual elements that Hogue provides, landscape, sky, train tracks, hills of sand, etc.
Write a short newspaper article describing your event and explain the causes, citing the visual evidence
from Hogue’s painting.
Narrative- Point of View
Artists like Alexandre Hogue and Thomas Hart Benton were concerned about the idea of place and often
how place defined one’s identity. Based on what you see, take on the perspective from an inhabitant of
someone living in this landscape. What is their life like? What do they see or smell? What is their day
like? How has the landscape shaped who they are?
Write an inventive narrative of this person’s life written from the first person point of view.
Persuasive- Keep it short
Imagine you have visited the University of Arizona Museum Of Art, where you saw Hogue’s Avalanche
By Wind. Tell your friends your opinion of this work in the form of a facebook entry. Use the farsebük
worksheet to create a page. Why is this work important? How will they benefit from seeing it? Writing
should be concise but still cite specific evidence to support your opinion.
180
Figure 7: Alexandre Hogue Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
181
Edward Hopper (American 1882-1967)
Biography
Edward Hopper is known for his iconic imagery of modern twentieth century America, such as
the timeless masterpiece, Night Hawks (1942). He was considered one of the foremost realist painters
of the twentieth century, inspired by the nineteenth-century Realist painter, Thomas Eakins. Hopper’s
paintings of ordinary places such as the corner drugstore, apartment buildings, houses, and street
corners all convey a sense of enduring mystery and yet familiarity.
His paintings are not specific to places, but were ‘types’- all carefully constructed compositions
that were unpacked to their bare essentials, and then re-packed with emotional intensity through
dramatic use of light, shadow, strong diagonals and unusual perspectives. These visual qualities he
borrowed from French painters like the nineteenth century Impressionist Degas and Monet whom he
was inspired by while studying in Paris in 1906.
The biggest influence to his work would be the father of American Realism, Robert Henri, his
instructor at the New York School of Art who encouraged his students to depict scenes of urban life.
Hopper’s painting, The City, could be in any major urban city, and like most of his images, captures a
sense of isolation or loneliness about the city. The city landscape seems almost abandoned, quiet and
empty, or possibly all the inhabitants are asleep?
Hopper was discovered late in life at the age of 42. For twenty years he earned an income by
making illustrations for books and magazines, work that he hated due to the strict guidelines and
caricatured mannerisms the people in his compositions had to posses. Hopper’s goal was to convey the
‘truth’ of everyday life and knew the challenge was to convey a sense of authenticity in that vision.
Bibliography
Wagstaff, S. Ed. (2004). Edward Hopper. London: Tate Publishing.
182
Edward Hopper (American 1882-1967)
Historical Context
The sixty year time span of Edward Hopper’s art career was a time of ever increasing art
movements: The Ashcan School, American Scene Painting, Regionalism, Surrealism, and Abstract
Expressionism. Hopper’s work does not fit neatly into any of these modern art movements of the first
half of the twentieth century. The same conditions that propelled artists like Thomas Hart Benton to
champion Regionalism, such as the rise of industrialization, urbanization, and The Great Depression all
propelled Hopper to reject the movement and its Midwestern imagery.
Benton and other Regionalists looked to the nineteenth century agrarian lifestyles of the
Midwest and idealized the people, the place and the values in contrast to the overcrowded, capitalized
urban centers of America like New York City. Census reports from 1920 record a major demographic
shift in the United States as more Americans than ever before were reported living in urban centers than
in rural areas. Hopper, however much he detested his changing New York City landscape, rejected the
American Scene Painting or Regionalism label, stating that artists like Benton and Curry “caricatured
America”.
Many post WW I artists celebrated New York capturing visually the people, the skyscrapers,
bridges, the bright lights and the sounds of the growing international city. The 1920’s was an era of
dueling building campaigns in New York as the Chrysler Building surpassed the Eiffel Tower as the tallest
man-made building in 1930, and just one year later the Empire State Building surpassed it in height.
Hopper did not wish to celebrate these aspects of the city; rather he captured this changing city
landscape through a more pessimistic frame. For example, The City, a view of Washington Square in
New York, is a place that was normally bustling with people. But in his image, the square is almost
empty save a few isolated souls. The one skyscraper he records on the far right, slicing off with the edge
of the canvas was symptomatic for Hopper and others of the negative transformation that was occurring
in the city with the rise of these massive buildings that loomed over earlier structures.
Bibliography
Toyen, C., Barter, J.A., Comey, J.L., Davis, E.B., Roberts, E.E. (2007). Edward Hopper. Boston: MFA
Publications.
Wagstaff, S. Ed. (2004). Edward Hopper. London: Tate Publishing.
183
Edward Hopper (American 1882-1967)
Writing Activities
Poetry- Looking Poem
Write a four line poem about Hopper’s The City using the following guidelines:
 Line one- Give painting a short name or a title
 Line two- Write an action phrase based on what you see (ex. “falling down a path”)
 Line three- Create a simile for the painting (ex. “it is like a open window”)
 Line four- Give painting another short name or title
Share poems with class.
Extension- Explore the poetry of Stephen Crane (1817-1900), an American realist poet. How does his
work compare with Hopper’s painting? What elements do they have in common?
Description- Compare/Contrast
Edward Hopper was considered an American Realist painter. The painter Thomas Moran (The Mosquito
Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, 1875) is often described as an American Romantic artist.
List as many adjectives you can for Hopper’s The City followed by Moran’s The Mosquito Trail, Rocky
Mountains of Colorado. Without telling what work of art you are referring to, share an adjective from
the list with the class and classmates guess which work the work belongs to. Support your word choice
with visual evidence from the work.
Expository- Context
What does Edward Hopper’s work say about the time in which it was created? What does the image say
about the new nation and what in the work communicates that? How does each personify America?
Are any of these personifications ‘true’ today?
Extension- Compare and contrast Edward Hopper’s landscape to Thomas Moran’s The Mosquito Trail,
Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Expository- Realism/Idealism
Explore Realism and Idealism in American literature and visual art. Compare Hopper’s work to literary
examples of American Idealism (John Steinbeck, Jack London, or Mark Twain). Compare Thomas
Moran’s work to literary examples of Romanticism (Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson or Walt Whitman).
Use the Text to Text Connections worksheet to document your observations. Write an essay explaining
what elements they have in common and how the style of each work is similar. Cite examples from
written texts and the visual work of art.
184
Figure 8: Edward Hopper Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
185
George Inness (American, 1825-1894)
Biography
Inness received little formal art training, studying only briefly with painters in New York. His trips
to Italy (1850-52) and France (1854-55) would introduce him to the Barbizon School artists who
embraced their native landscape as an independent subject in their art. Inness became a leading figure
of the American Barbizon style, but by the 1880’s he became more known for his style of Tonalism.
These later paintings from the 1880’s and 1890’s are characterized by a moody landscape with an
overall tone of colored atmosphere.
Influenced by nineteenth century metaphysics, Inness said his objective in art was the
construction of a model of vision, one that taught one to see beyond our bodily sight and to possess
divine sight- the ability to see Christ. This spiritual “truth” was not captured in painting exact details but
in capturing the reality of the unseen and the unexplored. Art, he believed, could instruct the world to
see reality in a new light.
Unlike other nineteenth century painters, such as Thomas Cole or Thomas Moran, Inness
painted his pictures from memory in the studio, rather than en plein air (outside in nature) or from
sketches in the field. But he still observed the natural landscape very closely, sitting for hours carefully
studying the contours of trees and the composition of clouds and the grass. This practice also seems
closely tied to his metaphysical philosophy, as he stated about one painting, “Was it done from nature?
No. It could not be. It is done from art, which molds nature to its will and shows her hidden glory”.
End of the Rain (1891) is a great example of his Tonalist qualities, where the atmospheric haze
and the cool, dark colors create a strong mood within the painting. The black under-painting commonly
used in Inness’ work is revealed in some areas, creating a visual effect that helps to darken the overall
tone as well as the emotive qualities.
Bibliography
DeLue, R.Z. (2004). George Inness and the science of landscape. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
186
George Inness (American, 1825-1894)
Historical Context
Defining and describing place became a major subject and movement in American art during the
nineteenth century. The land became a symbol for what America was, for what American was for this
young country. Earlier landscape painters from the Hudson River School, like Thomas Cole, were greatly
influenced by Romanticism and the Sublime. The Romantic literature of the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries greatly influenced the arts as well, with an emphasis on individuality as well as a
belief that the divinely good inhabited nature while human society was corrupt and evil.
Later nineteenth century landscape painters such as George Inness could not escape the
influence of the highly acclaimed Hudson River School painters. Nature was often described by writers
and artists of the time as a book to be read, and that when read properly could reveal the creative force
of God and the truths of the world. All forms of the natural landscape were understood as signs that
were part of a divine language to be deciphered.
One of the major influential writers of the time was Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). A critical
element of his philosophy was the idea of awareness, where it was important to be always on the alert
and looking at “what is to be seen”. This type of alertness to the scene, he argued would allow one to
accurately recreate a sunset, the contrasting colors of tree bark and the shapes of rocks on the ground.
His influence on Inness can easily be heard in his statement, “It is something to be able to paint a
particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious
to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look” (Walden, II).
Bibliography
DeLue, R.Z. (2004). George Inness and the science of landscape. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Furtak, R. A. (n.d.). Henry David Thoreau. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from
http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2009/entries/thoreau/
187
George Inness
Writing Exercises
Inquiry
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What do you see?
What is going on in the picture?
What colors do you see?
What is the mood? What visual elements determine this mood?
Describe the figures you see.
Describe the setting? Does it look cold, warm, wet, dry, safe, dangerous, populated, or
deserted?
How does the image make you feel? Why do you say this?
Persuasive- Interpretation
Based on what you see, what is the work about, what is the artist saying with this image? What evidence
from the painting supports your interpretation? Write one paragraph that summarizes your
interpretation with supporting details from the image.
Expository- Craft and Structure
George Inness was particularly influenced by the philosophy from the writers and thinkers of
metaphysics. Research metaphysics in American culture during the 1900’s and analyze how this
perspective is reflected in Inness’s work. How does Inness communicate this philosophy in the painting,
End of the Rain (1891)? What visual characteristics reflect the philosophy?
188
Figure 9: George Innes Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
189
Luis Jiménez (American, 1940-2006)
Biography
Luis Jiménez, a first-generation American, was born in El Paso, Texas. He studied and worked
most of his life in the southwest region of the United States where he was born and raised. He described
his roots as being partly in Mexico and partly in Texas. This Chicano experience and perspective had
tremendous impact on his art. Jiménez’s early training in art started when he was six, working in his
father’s sign shop. Studying architecture at the University of Texas in Austin, he lived for a short period
in Mexico and New York, but eventually settled in the southwest from 1970 to the day he died.
While Jiménez was trained to work in metal at his father’s sign shop, and his earliest sculptures
were in metal, his preferred medium was fiberglass. He is most widely known for his large scale
fiberglass sculptures, where he took a medium most closely associated with cars and appropriated it for
“fine art” purposes. Combining the pop medium of fiberglass with more traditional southwest themes,
Jiménez brought Native American, Chicano, and Mexican figures into the traditional art setting.
Made in 1969 and standing more than seven feet high, Man on Fire was described by Jiménez as
being informed by the Aztec story of Cuauhtémoc, which his grandmother often repeated to him as a
child. Cuauhtémoc was an Aztec slave who provoked other Aztecs to revolt against Hernán Cortés.
When he was eventually defeated by Cortés’s army, Cuauhtémoc was burned alive at the stake. Many
Mexican-Americans and Mexicans still admire the Aztec figure, seeing him as an Indigenous hero.
Jiménez said that Man on Fire was also influenced by the Buddhist monks in South Vietnam who burned
themselves to death in protest of the Vietnam War. The immense scale, color and pose all work to
create a scene of heroic drama.
In 2006, Luis Jiménez was killed in an accident at his studio in Hondo, Texas when a large scale
sculpture came loose from a crane, pinning him against a steel support. His life’s work, like Man on Fire,
dealt with social and political issues with bold figures that seem to move and vibrate in bright spray
painted color. Many of his works are on permanent public display outside museums, airports, and city
buildings across the United States.
Bibliography
Luis Jiménez / American Art. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2013, from
http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artist/?id=2459
Miers, D. (Ed.). (1988). The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920-1970. New
York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.
Oral history interview with Luis Jiménez, 1985 Dec. 15-17 - Oral Histories | Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institution. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2013, from
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-luis-jimenez-13554
190
Luis Jiménez (American, 1940-2006)
Historical Context
History is a common theme in Luis Jiménez’s work. Mexican history, art history and cultural traditions all
inform his large scale pop-art style sculptures. His unconventional choice of medium, fiberglass, for
instance, is an intentional nod to the Lowrider car culture in the Latino community. His subject matter
however, is steeped in the heroic mythology surrounding the historical Aztec figure of Cuauhtémoc.
Jiménez’s sculptures are made from fiberglass molds, which are spray painted bright bold colors, and
then coated with epoxy resin. This media and process is what allows his work to possess its sleek, fluid,
and glossy look. This similar style can be seen in custom lowrider cars, a movement that began in
California after WWII as Hispanics purchased affordable used cars, but sought ways to individualize their
automobiles. The Lowrider Movement exploded in the 1960’s and 70’s, coinciding with the Civil Rights
movement. The aesthetics of the lowrider can be attributed to young Chicano sense of pride as well as a
refusal to be anglicized. While the car culture of white suburban youths has been about speed, the
lowrider is a direct opposite. Its lowered chassis, hydraulics, and airbrushed murals are designed for
cruising, or going “low and slow”.
The end of the 1960’s was a time of major domestic unrest in the United States. Nationwide violence
such as the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy in
addition to America’s involvement in Vietnam, generated a period of fear and critical cynicism. Man on
Fire situates itself within this period, reflecting the violence and anger of the era. It references not only
the Buddhist monks in South Vietnam who burned themselves to death in protest of the Vietnam War
but also the Aztec warrior Cuauhtémoc who fought the invading Spanish in the sixteenth century, who
according to legend, was burned alive. Cuauhtémoc has become a mythic hero in Mexico as well as in
many Latino communities in the United States.
Bibliography
Frost, B. (2002). Low and Slow: The History of Lowriders. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from
http://www.historyaccess.com/historyoflowride.html
Miers, D. (Ed.). (1988). The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920-1970. New
York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.
Phillips, L. (1999). The American Century: Art & Culture 1950-2000. New York, NY: W.W. Norton &
Company, Inc.
191
Figure 10: Luis Jiménez Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
192
Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945)
Biography
“But some day a new ideal will arise and there will be an end to all wars…People will have to
work hard for that new state of things, but they will achieve it” –Käthe Kollwitz
Born Käthe Ida Schmidt in 1867 in Konigsberg, Prussia (pre- German Empire), Käthe was born to
parents who supported and encouraged her training in art. Käthe originally pursued training in painting,
but while studying art in Munich at the Women’s School of Art from 1888-1889, and influenced by the
German artist Max Klinger, she discovered printmaking and drawing as her true medium and passion.
An independent woman, intensely devoted to her art, she postponed marriage until 1891, when she
married Karl Kollwitz to whom she had been engaged to for seven years.
Printmaking allowed Kollwitz to work in an expressive style, using a bold contrast of black and
white to create works of social and political commentary which were cheap to produce in multiples,
allowing Kollwitz’s work to reach more people. The 1897 etching, Weberzug (The Weavers) was one of
six prints created by Kollwitz after seeing the performance of the play, Die Weber (The Weavers), by
Gerhart Hauptmann. The play told the story of peasant weavers from the Russian town of Silesia who
revolted in 1844 because of their low wages and horrible living conditions. Hauptmann’s play was a
direct visual and narrative source for the people, conditions and events depicted in her series of prints.
Kollwitz’s work often responds to social and political conditions in a personal way. The woodcut
print Die Freiwilligen (The Volunteers), one of six prints in the series The War (1923), was a response to
the death of Kollwitz and Karl’s son, who died in WW I. Swept up in the German nationalist patriotism of
1914, their youngest son, Peter volunteered to join the German army. The only print in the series that
shows soldiers is The Volunteers, where the figure of death leads a troop of young volunteer soldiers,
the leading boy being Kollwitz’s son, Peter. This image displays the extremely personal loss and
devastation of war that was experienced by Kollwitz the artist and Kollwitz the mother.
In 1919, Kollwitz was the first woman elected to The Prussian Academy of the Arts. In 1933,
Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and after repeated threats by the Nazi Gestapo, Kollwitz
was forced to resign from the Academy that same year. She would never exhibit her work again. WWII
would bring more tragedy and hardship to Kollwitz when and her grandson Peter was killed in battle in
1943. That same year Kollwitz would escape the bombing of Berlin just six months before her apartment
was reduced to rubble by ally bombs, destroying a good portion of her work. Käthe Kollwitz passed away
on April 22, 1945, dying just weeks before the end of WW II.
Bibliography
Käthe Kollwitz. The Volunteers (Die Freiwilligen) (plate 2) from War (Krieg). (1921-22, published 1923).
(n.d.). MoMA.org. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from
193
http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A3201&page_
number=13&template_id=1&sort_order=1
Kearns, M. (1976). Käthe Kollwitz: Woman and artist. New York: The Feminist Press.
194
Käthe Kollwitz (German 1867-1945)
Historical Context
Despite a floundering economy and a psychologically devastated population after WW I, the
Weimar Republic in Germany was a time of great innovation and experimentation in art, architecture,
cinema and the sciences. Germany was an artistic breeding ground for the avant-garde art movements
like Dadaism, Expressionism, Die Brücke, and the Bauhaus. “Avant-garde” was a military term used to
describe the body of troops who advanced first, a fitting description for the artists who took risks and
stretched the concepts of art in the early 20th century Europe and especially Germany.
The art world that Kollwitz worked in was impacted by two major expressionist movements. The
German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) formed Die Brücke (The Bridge) in 1905 as an art
movement meant to return art to imaginary to its origins. Bold contrasting colors and abstracted, simple
forms dominate in the works of Kirchner and other Die Brücke artists. Vasily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was
a Russian painter who moved to Munich to study art because of research that was being done there on
the effects of color and form on the human brain. In 1911, he formed Der Blaue Reiter (The Rider Rider),
a group devoted to the power of color.
The Bauhaus was an art and design school formed by the Walter Gropius in 1919, where
prominent artists like Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and Vasily Kandinsky were instructors. The Bauhaus
received strong political opposition under the Weimer Republic, but was allowed to stay open until
Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and the Nazi party mounted a hostile campaign against modern art.
Hitler despised the avant-garde and forced the closing of the Bauhaus in 1933 and soon after, many of
its instructors immigrated to the United States. In 1937, Nazi leadership mounted an exhibit of banned
works called “The Degenerate Art” where works by modern artists, like Kirchner were hung with
contemptuous labels, such as “an insult to German womanhood”. Hitler intended to erase all traces of
modern art from Germany by inflaming public opinions against modern art.
Timeline: Germany and Modern Art in Europe
1887- Käthe Kollwitz creates series of prints based on the political play, Die Weber (The Weavers).
1889- Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch) paints famous Impressionist work The Starry Night.
1890 - Growing workers' movement culminates in founding of Social Democratic Party of Germany
(SPD).
1907- Pablo Picasso (Spanish) paints Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a major example of Cubism.
1911- Vasily Kandinsky organizes Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider).
1914-1918 - World War I
1918 - Germany defeated, signs armistice.
1919 - Treaty of Versailles: Germany loses colonies and land to neighbors, pays large-scale reparations.
195
Beginning of the Weimar Republic, based on a new constitution. Its early years are marked by high
unemployment and rampant inflation.
Walter Gropius establishes the Bauhaus art and design school.
Käthe Kollwitz elected as first female instructor to The Prussian Academy of the Arts.
1923 - Adolf Hitler, head of the National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) Party, leads an abortive coup
in a Munich beer hall.
Hyperinflation leads to economic collapse.
Käthe Kollwitz creates the print Die Freiwilligen (The Volunteers), part of her series called The War as a
response to WW I and the death of her son, Peter.
1924 - Hitler writes Mein Kampf - "My Struggle" - in prison.
1929 - Global depression, mass unemployment.
1933 - Hitler becomes chancellor. Weimar Republic gives way to a one-party state. Systematic
persecution of Germany's Jews escalates. Hitler proclaims the Third Reich in 1934.
The Bauhaus school is forced to close by Nazi party. Käthe Kollwitz is forced to leave position at The
Prussian Academy of the Arts.
1935 - Germany begins to re-arm. Nuremberg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.
1936 - Berlin Olympics.
1937- Nazi party mounts exhibit “The Degenerate Art” in Munich, displaying 650 works; viewed by 2
million people in four months.
1938 - Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) sees orchestrated attacks on Jews and their property as well
as synagogues.
Ernst Kirchner commits suicide, partially as a result of Nazi harassment.
1939-1945 - Invasion of Poland triggers World War II.
Millions of people of all ages, mostly Jews but also large numbers of Gypsies, Slavs and other races, the
disabled and homosexuals, die in the Holocaust as the Nazis implement an extermination policy in the
death camps of eastern Europe.
1943- Käthe Kollwitz flees Berlin during height of bombing campaign. Her home is destroyed by bombs.
1945 – Käthe Kollwitz dies April, 22.
196
German army defeated. Allies divide Germany into occupation zones.
Bibliography
Stokstad, M. (1995). Art History, Volume II. New York: Prentice Hall Inc.
Timeline: Germany. (2012, March 19). BBC. Retrieved from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1053880.stm
197
Käthe Kollwitz (German 1867-1945)
Writing Exercises
Inquiry
Discuss while viewing The Volunteers (1923):
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What do you notice first?
How is the work balanced (or not balanced)?
How does Kollwitz create a sense of movement?
Who are these figures? How do you know this?
Where are the figures marching to?
Kollwitz said that she made this work to come to terms with the years 1914-1918 in Germany.
These are the dates of WWI. What does this work say about Germany during WWI? What in the
work makes you say that?
Persuasive- Editorial
Imagine you are a citizen living in Berlin before the start of WWII. Write a letter to a newspaper, arguing
against the war using Kollwitz’s image of The Volunteers as inspiration and evidence for the
consequences of war. Persuade your readers so that they feel these consequences.
Narrative- What Makes a Story?
Discuss while viewing Weavers on the March (1897):
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What is the mood? What do you see in the artwork that makes you say that?
What is the setting? Describe it.
Who are the characters? Describe their posture, clothing, social class, facial expression, gender,
age, and race. How do multiple characters interact with one another?
What emotions do the characters display? What in the artwork makes you say this?
What is happening? What do you see that makes you say this?
Combine your analysis of the mood, setting, characters, and event to write a short story based on the
work of art. Include dialogue between the characters from the work. Your story may extend beyond the
frame (what you see) and included other characters as well. Use the Narrative Story Board worksheet to
help plan your story.
198
Figure 11: Käthe Kollwitz Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
199
Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917-2000)
Biography
Jacob Lawrence grew up in Harlem, New York during the 1930’s that was, despite the harsh
conditions of the Depression (overcrowding, poverty, and poor living conditions), a city with the ability
to produce illustrious cultural figures. Between 1932 and 1934 he took classes at the Harlem Art
Workshop where he was able to meet Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Augusta Savage, and other major
writers, thinkers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance. These individuals provided the young Lawrence
with a concerned awareness of the African-American experience and history in America.
A consistent theme of Lawrence’s work is the use of the series as a format to narrate a story, as
he felt that a single work could never convey the whole saga. His masterwork of storytelling is a series of
sixty panels, called The Migration of the Negro (1940-1941), which dramatically depicts AfricanAmericans moving North during the early 20th century to find better opportunities during the period
known as the Great Migration. This was a subject he associated with his parents who had themselves
migrated from South Carolina to New York. Its exhibition in New York marked the first time an African
American artist was exhibited in a New York gallery. Just ten years prior, Lawrence and other black
visitors were not welcome in New York art galleries.
Before painting the series The Migration, Lawrence had never personally experienced the South.
The image, Diners (1942), documents his first travels to South Carolina to visit relatives in 1942. It is
therefore, not his first painting of the American South, but the first based on his own experience. The
painting Diners, with its dark colors and jagged shapes is a great contrast to his other works of the
African-American experience (compare to The 1920’s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots, 1976),
where color and pattern are used to brighten the settings. Here the diners seem to almost fade into the
dark background, suggesting the idea of poverty being invisible to most people.
Bibliography
Wheat, E. H. (1996). Jacob Lawrence: American Painter. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
200
Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917-2000)
Historical Context
Jacob Lawrence’s parents were part of the Great Migration of African- Americans who left the
South for the North. The peak of this mass exodus was from 1910-1916, but lasted until around 1940.
During this period, Harlem experienced a huge growth, leading to the establishment of organizations
like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Urban
League in order to advance the cause of the poverty, poor living conditions and overcrowding being
experienced by the new mass population of African Americans in New York and the country.
During the 1920’s Harlem became the center of a massive cultural revival known as the Harlem
Renaissance. Major thinkers, writers and artists lived and worked in Harlem, interacting and sharing
ideas that stressed black achievement and self-realization, creating a vibrant hub of cultural renewal.
Writers like Alaine Locke encouraged African-Americans “to turn to their heritage for cultural identity”.
Lawrence was greatly influenced by Locke’s writings and speeches on the black experience in America,
as evidenced by the subject matter he chose to visually narrate in his work.
Lawrence’s artistic training exposed him to the art styles of Social Realism as well as abstraction.
Many artists of the 1930’s, like Lawrence, wanted to produce the Social Realistic images that dealt with
socially critical themes but with flavors of the abstract style. Artists like the Mexican muralists Diego
Rivera who promoted the idea that social change is possible through art, a corner stone of Social
Realism, inspired in Lawrence a desire to advance the stories of the neglected African American heroes
from history. Modernism, mostly in the style of abstraction had reached America’s shores by 1919, and
by the 1930’s, New York City was the center of modern art, with most galleries exhibiting abstract styles
such as cubism and expressionism.
Biography
Stokstad, M. (1995). Art History, Volume II. New York: Prentice Hall Inc.
Wheat, E. H. (1996). Jacob Lawrence: American Painter. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
201
Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917-2000)
Writing Exercises
Inquiry
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Describe the objects you see.
What appears closest to you? Furthest away? Explain how the artist was able to show this.
Describe the colors you see. Where are they the brightest? The darkest?
What is the time and place? How do you know this?
What mood does this painting have? What visual elements determine this mood?
Narrative
Using the Narrative Story Board worksheet, begin by recording Diners as the first scene in a story.
Carefully draw what you see in the image by looking at the image and slowly draw the shapes, lines and
details from Lawrence’s depiction of a southern diner. Imagine what happens next in the story, and then
next. After you have completed the visual story board, write the story.
Expository- Text to Text Connection
Read Langston Hughes’ poem, One Way Ticket.
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What is the time and place of this piece?
What is the purpose?
What is the point of view? How do you know this?
How does it make you feel? What in the piece makes you say that?
What words of phrases show the speaker’s tone?
Look carefully at Jacob Lawrence’s Diners.
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What is the time and place of this piece?
What is the purpose?
What is the point of view? How do you know this?
How does it make you feel? What in the work makes you say that?
How is the tone of this work similar to the poem One Way Ticket?
Use the Text to Text Comparison worksheet to organize and record observations.
Poetry
Write a poem inspired by an analysis of the work Diners. Consider the time, place, and mood.
202
Figure 12: Jacob Lawrence Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
203
Abraham Mignon (German 1640-1679)
Jacob Gillig (Dutch 1636-1701)
Biography
Abraham Mignon was born in Frankfurt, Germany but moved with his parents to the Netherlands in
1679 where he was left in the care of the still-life painter Jacob Marell. Both Marell and Mignon later
moved to Utrecht where the young pupil would find another master to train under, the still-life painter
Jan Davidsz de Heem. Mignon closely followed Heem’s flower and fruit paintings in subject and style,
rendering the same brilliant colors, fine details and opulent compositions. His paintings were popular in
the European courts with the Elector of Saxony and King Louis XIV both purchasing works from Mignon.
In 1675 he married Maria Willaerts who came from a well-known family of marine painters. The artist
worked in Utrecht until his death in 1679.
Jacob Gillig was born in the Netherland city of Utrecht and most likely studied and lived in that city from
a very early age until his death in 1701. In 1661 he married Hester Willaerts, who was also related to
Mignon by marriage. Gillig worked as a merchant and as a prison warden before he took up painting,
specializing in still-life compositions of fish. Gillig is regarded as one of the finest painters of fish from
the Dutch school in the seventeenth century.
This painting, Still Life of Fish and Tackle (c. 1670) is a collaborative work between the two gifted still-life
painters, combining the refined detail of Mignon’s flower paintings with the pyramidal compositions
typical of Gillig’s fish paintings. Fish symbolize the Dutch marine culture and its economic possibilities
because of the easy access to the sea. Flower still-lifes were also quite common in the seventeenth
century and Still Life of Fish and Tackle’s abundant, delicately detailed, brilliantly lit display of fish could
possibly be compared to floral still-lifes of the period.
Bibliography
Abraham Mignon. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-theart/visit-the-conservator/stories-from-the-conservators/abraham-mignon/
BBC - Your Paintings - Still Life of Fish. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2013, from
http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/still-life-of-fish-142039
Robinson, F. W., Wilson, W. (1980). The Flemish and Dutch paintings1400-1900: The John and Mable
Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, FL: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation.
204
Abraham Mignon (German 1640-1679)
Jacob Gillig (Dutch 1636-1701)
Historical Context
Seventeenth century Dutch art is influenced by several factors, mainly economics and politics. The Thirty
Years’ War (1618-1648) dissolved the united Catholic Europe, ending with a strict geological division
between the Protestant Church in Northern Europe and the Roman Catholic Church still the major
influence in Italy and Spain. With easy access to the sea and therefore trade routes, the Dutch were able
to establish valuable commercial outposts at key areas across the world. This economic advantage
created a middle class, and, more importantly for artists, a new patron for the arts.
This new art market meant that The Church and nobility were no longer the sole patrons commissioning
works. The new mercantile middle class wanted images of themselves and their possessions so with
these new patrons also came new subjects for pictures. From still-lifes of flowers, rich banquet settings,
to legal documentation of weddings, the Dutch commissioned pictures of a range of subjects. New
patrons also created greater competition between artists with some becoming specialists in one area,
creating expert painters of asparagus, flowers, fish, or glass, making still-life paintings a specialty that
flourished in the Netherlands during the 1600’s.
The rise of the still-life reflects the growing urbanization of Dutch society in the seventeenth century,
with an increased emphasis on the domestic as well as personal possessions. For the wealthy merchant
patron, a flower painting represented part of a rich domestic lifestyle that also included a garden with
rare specimens, which could often cost more than the paintings of them. A banquet still-life with
expensive foods like shellfish and lemons, or hunting trophies of fowl connoted wealth and privilege.
Viewers of these works would either be familiar with this lifestyle or would wish to be identified with it.
Bibliography
Walter Liedtke, D. of E. P. (n.d.). Still-Life Painting in Northern Europe, 1600–1800 | Thematic Essay |
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved March 11,
2013, from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nstl/hd_nstl.htm
205
Abraham Mignon (German 1640-1679)
Jacob Gillig (Dutch 1636-1701)
Writing Exercises
Looking Poem
Create a poem for the painting using the following structure:
Line one- One word or short phrase that comes to mind when you look at the image (don’t think, just
write)
Line two- Write an action phrase based on what you see
Line three- Create a simile, a phrase using the word “like” for the image
Line four- Give the image another short word or phrase
Share poems with the class. What were some common words that were used? Note creative descriptive
words that were used.
Describe to Persuade
List five colors you see.
List five textures you see.
List five shapes you see.
List five objects you see.
List five more details you see that no one else might notice.
Describe each word on your list with one adjective. (Example, “Brown” becomes “Dirty brown”)
Using the descriptive word list you have created, write a detailed description of the painting by Gillig
and Mignon for an art catalog. You want buyers to purchase this work, but they cannot see it. Describe it
so that they not only can see the painting in their mind but also would like to buy the work of art.
206
Figure 13: Mignon and Gillig Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
207
Thomas Moran (American 1837-1926)
Biography
After his family immigrated to the United States from England in 1844, Thomas Moran took an
early interest in art. The work of the British Romantic landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner had a dramatic
impact on Moran’s use of color and choice of landscapes. Moran closely studied and copied Turner’s
works while visiting London in 1862. Other early influences included the writing of the American poet,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His epic poem Hiawatha (1855) reportedly inspired Moran to visit upper
Michigan so that he could view the natural wonders of the landscape described in Hiawatha.
Moran worked at a time of western exploration which was followed by immediate western
expansion. On these expeditions, it was customary for a scene painter and/or a photographer to come
along. In 1871, Moran took part of a survey into Yellowstone with the geologist Ferninand V. Hayden.
Illustrations from the expedition were published in Scribner’s Monthly, a New York based magazine that
reported on news from the western frontier. In 1873, on assignment for Picturesque America, a book
that set out to illustrate the scenery of America, Moran accompanied Hayden again on his exploration of
the Colorado Rockies, the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Part of Moran’s funding for these trips
was from Jay Cooke of the Northern Pacific Railroad, who was eager to publicize the amazing landscapes
of the West as a means to advertise train travel out west.
Moran’s paintings and sketches from these expeditions launched his career as one of the
premier American landscape painters. They also helped an eastern audience picture the “wild” west as
untamed and ready to be civilized. In fact, many of Moran’s images were fictional constructs and not
exact replications of what he saw, but rather carefully arranged compositions created to insight a
specific emotional response. Ignoring evidence of civilization in the West, such as towns or railroads,
Moran concentrated on idyllic mountain ranges and the natural formations that were the backdrop to
these man-made features. His paintings were truthful enough for a nineteenth century audience who
could read the symbolic evidence of Manifest Destiny.
In reality, by the late 1900’s, the impact of American expansion could already be seen as far
west as Montana. While compared to Europe, whose landscape was blighted with evidence of human
civilization, a growing number of Americans fought to preserve the natural and wild places that
seemingly defined America. Many of Moran’s favorite sites to paint were declared national parks or
monuments, including Yosemite Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. His massproduced images played a central role in the establishment of these parks, as his epic landscapes
advanced a national identity closely linked with the rugged, the untamed, and the divinely allocated.
Bibliography
Anderson, N.K. (1997). Thomas Moran. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.
Goetzmann, W.H. (1981). The west as romantic horizon. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
208
Thomas Moran (American 1837-1926)
Historical Context
The Romantic landscape paintings from the early part of the nineteenth century by Thomas
Cole, George Catlin and Frederick Church, were views of the untamed interior nation that laid in wait for
civilization. These images helped to define the American identity and promote the belief in Manifest
Destiny, that God had indeed intended Americans (meaning white Europeans) to conquer and inhabit
the west. The Indian Wars and The U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) would be a violent consequence of
this ideology.
When later artists like Thomas Moran went on expeditions further into the American West, to
the wilderness landscapes of Yellowstone and the Colorado Rockies, the images brought back to the East
in the 1870’s played a central role in advertising the western expansion of America. By the time Moran
traveled to Montana on his expeditions into Yellowstone and later Colorado, the transcontinental
railroad had made travel to these further most lands possible. Trains from Washington to the West left
twice daily. His oil paintings, water colors, and especially his mass produced chromolithographs,
advertised to a wide audience the divine earthly gift that was now only a train ride away.
Thomas Moran’s work as a landscape painter coincided with the rise of mass production
printmaking. Moran was able to create detailed, colorful compositions in watercolor while on location,
and mass produce the images through a printing process called chromolithography. This affordable and
higher quality printing method provided mass-produced prints of artist’s work to a diverse public.
Opinions on this development were mixed. Some critics saw the rise of visual media (including
photography) as a lowering of taste while others during Moran’s time saw these types of images as a
means to disseminate art, culture and American ideals to the masses.
Moran’s packaged and glorified images of the western world constructed a specific historical
narrative, one that would set the standard for American landscapes. Made for audiences that accepted
the concept of Manifest Destiny, images such as The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, seem
to map out the location of the Garden of Eden and thus the western expansion of the United States.
Bibliography
Anderson, N.K. (1997). Thomas Moran. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.
209
Thomas Moran
Writing Exercises
Descriptive- Descriptive Walk
Spend a few minutes and look closely at the image, The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Now close your eyes and imagine walking in this scene.
 What time of year is it?
 What is the weather like? How do you know? What words describe the weather?
 Has the land been touched by humans. How?
 What sounds would there be? How do you know?
 Who is in the image? Are they alone? What makes you say this?
 What would it feel like to be in this scene? What direction would you move in? Where do you
think you would end up?
Narrative- “I remember”
Write an imagined personal narrative from this image. Imagine this scene as a remembered event in
your life. Begin with, “I remember…” and describe the setting and event so that the reader is able to
picture it, hear it, smell it or even taste it.
Expository- Context
What does Thomas Moran’s work say about the time in which it was created? What does the image say
about the new nation and what in the work communicates that? How does the image personify
America? Are any of these personifications ‘true’ today?
Extension- Compare and contrast Thomas Moran’s landscape to Edward Hopper’s The City.
Expository- Images of Manifest Destiny
Complete a “What I See- What it Means” worksheet in order to analyze the message/s of The Mosquito
Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Coffeyville, Kansas broadside. Record the denotations and
connotations of each work and then share your findings with the class. Summarize the overall main
ideas and meaning of Moran’s image and the broadside citing specific examples to support your
conclusions.
Write an essay juxtaposing Moran’s print and the Coffeyville, Kansas broadside. How does Moran’s
message in The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado compare with the Coffeyville, Kansas
broadside? What does each communicate about the American landscape and how does each work
communicate that message? Cite specific evidence from each example.
Coffeyville Kansas broadside credit: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division (Call
# Portfolio 20, Folder 16)
Link:
http://memory.loc.gov/cgibin/ampage?collId=rbpe&fileName=rbpe02/rbpe020/02001600/rbpe020016
00.db&recNum=0&itemLink=r?ammem/AMALL:@field%[email protected]%28rbpe+02001600%29%2
9&linkText=0
210
Figure 14: Thomas Moran Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
211
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940)
Biography
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith was born in St. Ignatius, Montana, raised on the Flathead Reservation and is
an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation of Montana. Her early
childhood was difficult, as Smith went to work at the age of eight to help out her family who had very
little. She also had to live in foster homes as a child and went to public schools where she faced open
discrimination because she was Native American. Despite this difficult childhood, she earned a Bachelor
of Arts degree in Art Education from Framingham State College in 1976 and a Masters of Art degree at
the University of New Mexico in 1980.
Her heritage as a Native American plays prominently in her artwork and in her life’s work. She has
committed herself to improving the education and the preservation of Native American culture. After
completing art school and establishing herself as a very successful contemporary artist, Smith worked to
raise funds for scholarships and textbooks for the college on her reservation. She has been active as a
spokesperson and historian for Native artists that she feels are unappreciated. Smith is also an
environmental activist, motivated by a concern of the destruction of the land and its peoples.
Using a combination of representational and abstracted imagery, Smith paints over clippings from
newspapers, photographs and textbooks. Smith’s work as an artist visually communicates her concerns
about the land, government oppression and commercial misrepresentations of Native American culture
and histories. Spam, like much of Smith’s work, is about the contrasting perspectives of land between
Euro-Americans and Native Americans. In her own words, “Euro-Americans see broad expanses of land
as vast, empty spaces. Indian people see all land as a living entity. The wind ruffles; ants crawl; a rabbit
burrows. I’ve been working with that idea for probably twenty years now.”
The painting Spam works to raise the viewer’s awareness of the almost total elimination of the bison, an
animal species central to the life of Native Americans. During the nineteenth century, killing campaigns
of the bison brought the animal close to extinction. Smith explains the imagery and text, “tell a story
about the Indian peoples’ loss of the buffalo and having to eat commodity food or poor people's food
such as Spam. This is not a story of yesteryear but today's story as well” (personal communication, May
7, 2013).
Bibliography
Serwer, J.D. (1996). American kaleidoscope: Themes and perspectives in recent art. New York:
Distributed Art Publishers.
Tremblay, G. (nd). Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Flathead contemporary artist. Retrieved from
http://www.missoulaartmuseum.org/files/documents/collection/Montana%20Connections_Smi
th/TremblayEssay.pdf
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Retrieved from http://www.nwhp.org/whm/smith_bio.php
212
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940)
Historical Context
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s painting Spam relies heavily on the use of text to convey its message about
the politics and history of food on native lands. The roots of this practice go back to the rise of modern
art in the late 1800’s Europe with artists like Pablo Picasso and George Braque. For these Cubist artists,
words were viewed as another visual element, like shapes or lines. Besides the words being used as a
formal element, they also worked to communicate the meaning of the work of art more directly.
By the 1960’s the use of text had become a very common compositional element in contemporary
Native American art. Native artists at the time were predominantly concerned with the invisibility of
Native people politically as well as the feeling that native histories had been erased or white-washed by
the history books. Art then became a way to combat this “official narrative” and text was seen as a more
direct and powerful means by which to bring attention to the historical accounts of Native people.
Quick-to-See Smith began including words in her paintings in the late 1980’s. Including words cut from
newspapers articles or other source materials, the artist collaged these words directly onto the surface
of the canvas. Later, Quick-to-See Smith began to stencil words onto the painting as well (example
“SPAM”). The pairing of carefully selected text cut from newspapers like “Put Your Trust in the Land”,
“You Could Say We’ve Arrived” and “Minding the Menu”, help to translate the visual language in her
work.
“Whether they [native artists] are using text to speak clearly, enhance narrative, combat silence, rewrite
history, speak metaphorically, convey rhythm or express states of mind or body, contemporary Native
American artists have shown that language is an ideal medium for personal for personal and political
expression. In this respect, it is the perfect complement to art itself”.
Bibliography
Morris, K. (2009). Reading between the lines: Text and image in contemporary Native American art.
American Indian art magazine. 34(2), pp 52-59.
213
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940)
Writing Activities
Description- Free Write
Look closely at the image for five minutes, then free-write about what you see for two minutes. Reading
what you wrote, circle the most important idea to you. Take another minute to look closely at the
painting, then free-write about this idea for another two minutes. Stop again and take a minute to read
what you wrote and look closely at the painting. Circle the most important idea that you just wrote and
free-write for two more minutes about this idea.
Share responses with other students. Compare what you see. How are your responses similar and
different?
Descriptive/ Narrative Writing- Farcebük Page
Use descriptive writing and practice seeing from another point of view to talk about an art work or an
artist using a familiar social media format. Use the farcebük worksheet.
Imagine that Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is your friend on a social media website. Create a “farsebük”
conversation between you, Quick-to-See Smith and other friends on your wall. Cite specific examples
from the painting SPAM in your conversation.



What would you ask the artist about their work or life?
How would the artists respond?
What factors might influence the artist’s comments?
Persuasive- Interpretation
Artists use subtle elements within a work of art to convey a meaning, such as gesture, color or line.
SPAM’s image contains many clippings from newspapers and magazines. What do these texts say? What
do they mean? Complete a “What I See- What it Means” worksheet in order to analyze the message/s of
SPAM. Record the denotations and connotations of the work and then share your findings with the
class. Summarize the overall main ideas and meaning of the painting in a short essay citing the visual
evidence to support your conclusions.
214
Figure 15.1: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith Page View (Top of page)
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
215
Figure 15.2: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith Page View (Bottom of page)
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
216
Anton Refregier (American, 1905-1979)
Biography
Anton Refregier was born in Moscow and moved with his family to Paris at age fourteen and eventually
emigrated to the United States in 1920. He earned a scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design,
and upon graduation moved to New York City in 1925 finding work for interior decorators. Working for
the WPA/FPA from 1935-1940, provided Refregier, like other artists during the Great Depression,
constant commissions and an hourly wage.
His most famous work was the WPA mural of the “History of San Francisco” at the Rincon Post Office in
San Francisco. The mural was commissioned in 1941, but was halted due to the onset of WWII and was
not resumed until 1946 and completed in 1948. Refregier broke from WPA tradition of painting images
of hard work ending economic hardships, and instead choose to include in his mural the more
controversial events from California history, such as anti-Chinese riots and the water front strike of
1934. The work became the most controversial of all the WPA art projects, sparking national debate but
the work has since been protected as a National Historical Place.
Broken Life was painted in 1942, during Refregier’s hiatus on the Rincon mural. In a letter from the
artist’s wife, she states that the title was originally Grief and was painted as a result of Refregier’s
“response to the bombing of London during the war”. Broken Life, like the Rincon mural and its inclusion
of the less than nostalgic moments in California’s history, demonstrates the artist’s inspiration in tragic
events.
Bibliography
O’Connor, F.V. (Ed.). ( 1973). WPA: Art for the millions. Boston, MA: New York Graphic Society Ltd.
S. Refregier, letter to museum, October, 19, 1981.
217
Anton Refregier (American, 1905-1979)
Historical Context
During the thirties, America struggled with economic security, while Europe dealt with violent political
upheaval. This crisis led to World War II which the United States actively entered after the bombing of
Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. With a growing sense that democracy was threatened on a global
scale, many American artists looked toward America’s roots as a defense of American values.
After the start of WWII, songwriters like Woody Guthrie set aside the more social-political protest songs
to compose “This Land is Your Land”. Movie makers like Frank Capra filmed idealized visions of
America’s past and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II loaded their 1943 musical Oklahoma
with themes of the American rural past and innocence.
Fearful that America’s aversion to war would weaken its resolve and readiness to defend democracy,
the Regionalist painter Grant Wood produced posters for Bundles for Britain, a relief agency that sent
American medical supplies to England. Norman Rockwell ‘s popular four painting series, Four Freedoms
was created to run on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post intended to promote patriotism. These
four essential human rights were devised from Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address. Roosevelt’s
“Freedom from Want”, for example, was visually communicated with a nostalgic scene of an American
family eating a holiday meal.
Anton Refregier’s painting Broken Life can be juxtaposed against this cultural context of visual works
being created to inspire patriotism during the time of war. Broken Life is not an idealized scene of
Americana, nor is it an emotional propagandistic call to fight against Facism. Refregier captures the
reality, rather than the idealized, experiences of war. Two individuals cling to each other out of grief
after the London Blitz, when the city was bombed by Germany for 57 consecutive nights. The work
evokes contemplation for the human cost of war.
Bibliography
Haskell, B. (1999). The American century: Art & culture 1900-1950. New York, NY: W.W. Norton &
Company.
218
Anton Refregier (American, 1905-1979)
Writing Activities
Description- Free Write
Look closely at the image for five minutes, then free-write about what you see for two minutes. Reading
what you wrote, circle the most important idea to you. Take another minute to look closely at the
painting, then free-write about this idea for another two minutes. Stop again and take a minute to read
what you wrote and look closely at the painting. Circle the most important idea that you just wrote and
free-write for two more minutes about this idea.
Share responses with other students. Compare how each of you see the image. How are your responses
similar and different?
Narrative- Text to Self Connection
What personal connection can you make to this image? Take on the perspective of one of the figures in
this painting. Write a response to this work beginning with the prompt, “I remember…”. Your writing can
be invented (i.e. fictional), but must include details from the painting.
Read the historical context for this artwork. Does this change your perspective or point of view? Write
again from the perspective of one of the figures, beginning with the same prompt. “I remember…”.
Persuasive- Interpretation
Artists use subtle elements within a work of art to convey a meaning, such as gesture, color or line.
Complete a “What I See- What it Means” worksheet in order to analyze the message/s of The Broken
Life. Record the denotations and connotations of the work and then share your findings with the class.
Summarize the overall main ideas and meaning of the image in a short essay citing the visual evidence
to support your conclusions.
219
Figure 16: Anton Refregier Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
220
Thomas Hart Benton
Biography of life and work
Thomas Hart Benton became a leading figure in the 1930’s American art movement known as
Regionalism. Born in 1889 in rural Neosho, Missouri to a prominent political family, Benton studied art
despite his congressman father’s objections. Studying at the Art Institute of Chicago for a short period
from 1907-1908, Benton left America to study in Paris in 1908 where he met the famous Mexican
muralist Diego Rivera. Diego’s use of vivid colors and depictions of the everyday working man greatly
influenced Benton’s style.
Benton returned to New York in 1913 and shortly after in 1918 documented his rejection of
Modernism in his autobiography. His return home to rural Missouri in 1924 to visit his dying father
solidified his move away from abstraction to realism and a desire to record rural American life. His prints
and paintings after this date reflect this change in style and subject matter. During the 1920’s, Benton
would trek through remote areas of rural America, sketching examples of everyday folk. Benton
disdained the elitist, high society of New York but loved the common folk and everyday man. Benton
escaped the New York art scene through his acceptance of a teaching position at the Kansas City Art
Institute where he would reside until his death in 1975.
Benton, like other Regionalists sought to document the hard working people of the rural
landscape that were forgotten and victimized by the changing modern and mechanized economy of the
early twentieth century. His easel paintings and his better known murals, such as The Indiana Murals
(1933) and A Social History of Missouri (1936), sought to capture his vision of what he called the
“hardworking folk who lacked predatory qualities and were responsible for making their own way into
the world”. With a focus on the individual as well as the local, Benton’s mural, A Social History of
Missouri included 235 individual portraits.
Woodchopper (1936), is typical of this Regionalist style of Benton’s in that he captures a rural
individual making his “own way” in rugged, isolated conditions. A lone farmer chops wood on a cold
Midwestern winter day. One could read this lifestyle and scene as depressing and bleak, or heroic and
idyllic. But either way most viewers are forced to have admiration for the solitary figure, bent hard to
labor, not for the faceless- industrial company, but for himself. Benton’s typical use of swirling forms
unites separate sections of the composition. The curve of the woodchopper’s body echoes the curve of
the haystack behind him which gives way to the curves and swirls of the expansive winter sky.
His painting style can be seen as quintessential nineteenth century, capturing an American
sentiment of an era and place that was quickly disappearing. His work has also been interpreted as a
narrow and simplistic view of nationalism that excluded other perspectives or experiences as authentic
American ones.
Bibliography:
Guedon, M.S. (1945). Regionalist Art: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood.
Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press.
221
Weintraub, L (1984). Thomas Hart Benton: Chronicler of America’s Folk Heritage. New York: Edith C.
Blum Art Institute.
Thomas Hart Benton
Historical Context
Several factors occurred during the 1920-30’s to set the stage for the art movement known as
Regionalism of which Thomas Hart Benton was a major part. Immediately after WW I, the United States
began a period of isolationalism that lasted until the start of WW II in 1941. This attitude had a direct
impact on American artists. A few artists still looked to Europe for stylistic influence, with New York City
symbolizing the port of entry for these modern, abstract European styles. But a greater amount of
American artists referred back to realism in order to document and pay tribute to American life and
sought to define a truly American art. Their style would be defined by a representational depiction of
everyday American life which was easily accessible and visually readable by the “everyday man”.
America’s isolationalism, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed
sparked a backlash against capitalism, European modernism, and urban elitism. Census reports from
1920 also record a major demographic shift in the United States as more Americans than ever before
were reported living in urban centers than in rural areas. Regionalism grew out of these conditions as a
reaction to industrial dehumanization, long bread lines and a perceived loss of traditional values.
Thomas Hart Benton, along with John Steuart Curry (see Hogs Killing a Rattlesnake, 1930), and Grant
Wood (see Tree Planting, 1937), were leading figures in the Regionalist art movement during the 1930’s.
The art movement gained publicity and support through the Federal Art Project, a unit of the Works
Progress Administration (WPA), funded as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Benton and other Regionalist artists responded to Modernism in art as well as the modern
industrial landscape in urban settings. The solution, they believed, was in America’s past and most
directly in its agrarian roots. While the underlying obsession of Regionalism was time, place became the
symbolic imagery in which to communicate, in a universal manner, their message. The American
Midwest therefore became the setting and subject of their paintings, murals, drawings and prints.
Placing their faith in agricultural life, Regionalist artists captured a time and place where values such as
family, hard work, and independence defined America. The Depression era American public took refuge
in these idyllic, romanticized scenes of rural farm life while films such as The Wizard of Oz and works in
literature such as John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath were also popular, especially with urban
audiences.
Bibliography:
Dennis, J.M. (1998). Renegade Regionalists: The modern independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart
Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
222
Guedon, M.S. (1945). Regionalist Art: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood.
Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press.
Thomas Benton
Writing Exercises
Expository- Compare/Contrast
Both images, The Locomotive, by Salvatore Pinto and The Woodchopper by Thomas Benton were
created during the 1930’s and capture an American scene. Compare and contrast these images and the
messages conveyed. Use the Text to Text Comparison worksheet to organize and record observations.
Description- Descriptive Walk
Spend a few minutes and look closely at the painting, The Woodchopper. Now close your eyes and
imagine living within this scene. How cold is it? What do you hear, smell? If you turn to your left, what
would you see? What could you see to your right, behind you? Who are you? What is your relation to
the gentleman chopping wood? What is your life like? Step back out of the painting. Free write for a
short period describing what you experienced inhabiting the scene.
Extension- Extend this scene into a short story.
Narrative- Fictional Letter
In Letter from Overseas, a young woman receives a letter in the mail. Who is the sender? What is their
relationship to the young woman? Where are they? Why they are writing a letter? Is the content of the
letter good news or bad? What visual evidence do you see that supports your opinions? Write the letter
that the woman is reading.
Extension- Write the woman’s response.
223
Figure 17: Thomas Hart Benton Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
224
Horace Vernet (French, 1789-1863)
Biography
A descendant of celebrated landscape and genre painters, Horace Vernet received his training in the
studio of his father. Theodore Gericault, the leading Romantic painter of the nineteenth century, often
visited the studio of Vernet’s father where the two young painters formed a strong bond. This friendship
likely influenced a Romantic style within Vernet’s work. Vernet is best known however for his more
traditional Academic subjects, especially his realistic military scenes and his exotic paintings of North
Africa and the Middle East.
Vernet was a loyal Bonapartist, Napoleon even awarded him the Legion of Honor in 1814 for his brave
defense of Paris under enemy attack. He was also commissioned to paint several portraits of Napoleon
before the emperor’s ousting. But the artist was also a favorite of the Bourbon monarchy, during which
he was appointed director of the French Academy in Rome in 1828. During his widely successful artistic
career under the Bourbon monarchy he painted genre scenes as well as portraits of Italian nobility.
Painted while he was at the Academy, Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant
Son and His Nurse, from 1830, is one of these nobility portraits. Marchesa Cunegonda was married to
Marchese Geremia Antonio Misciattelli, whose family was related to the Pope. This touching portrait of
mother, child and nurse is purely secular in content, but does display some influence of Rafael’s
Renaissance portraits of the Holy Family, not surprising since Vernet lived in Rome where several of
Rafael’s paintings were displayed.
Bibliography
Ishikawa, C., Orr, L.F, Shackelford, G.T.M., Steel, D. (1994). A gift to America: Masterpieces of European
painting from the Samuel H. Kress collection. New York: Henry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
225
Horace Vernet (French, 1789-1863)
Historical Context
Royal patronage and the Royal Academy in France play significant roles in the production of art during
the nineteenth century. The two are intimately linked in fact, in that the Academy was an arm of the
monarchy. Those in power always recognized that those who controlled the arts and what it looked like
controlled the messages, values and opinions of others. Artists who rebelled against the Academy, were
seen as rebels against the monarch and were doomed to receive any Royal commissions. Contrary to
today, where thousands of art schools, galleries and museums exist, from the seventeenth to the
nineteenth century, the Royal Academy was the only art institution in Europe.
Since the Academy controlled not only the teaching of art in France, but also the presentation of art by
running the only exhibition of art (called the “salon”), the monarch had great power over the style and
subject of art as well as who got exhibited at the bi-annual salon. The Academy created a hierarchy of
subjects, with history painting (historic moments, Greek/Roman myths, and biblical scenes) seen as the
supreme subjects and portraiture as one of the lowest.
Even portrait paintings followed the Academic tradition, especially those of aristocracy and nobility. The
Portrait of Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant Son and His Nurse exemplifies the
traditional pyramidal composition of an intimate family portrait, following in the footsteps Renaissance
art, promoted by the Academy. Traditional codes of depicting class are also depicted in the portrait in
that the nurse appears to be dressed in richer fashion than the Marchesa. However, it was common
among the aristocracy during the Bourbon monarchy to dress in a demur and unrefined manner. The
setting with its rich décor such as the fresco with the ornamental pilaster on the right, the piano, the
gold gilded side chair , as well the Marchesa’s pale skin, all convey the social status, cultured taste, and
wealth of the sitter.
Bibliography
Ishikawa, C., Orr, L.F, Shackelford, G.T.M., Steel, D. (1994). A gift to America: Masterpieces of European
painting from the Samuel H. Kress collection. New York: Henry N. Abrams, Incorporated.
Smarthistory, a multimedia web-book about art: discussing The Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19,
2013, from http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/the-academy.html
226
Horace Vernet (French, 1789-1863)
Writing Activities
Inquiry- Text to Self Connections
Students reflect and record answers to the following:
 Have you ever taken a family photograph? What family photo of yours does this painting remind
you of? Imagine what it looks like.
 Who took the picture?
 Describe all the details you can recall from the image. Where were you? Who was in the picture,
not in the picture? How were the people arranged in the picture? What family dynamics went
on behind the scene? What were you wearing?
 What personal connections can you make to this family portrait by Vernet?
Description- Circle Description
This activity works best with students arranged in small groups. One person starts be writing down a
brief description of what they see. A second student contributes to the first observation by either using
a more creative word or by describing the observation in more detail. The description is added onto
again until the entire group has contributed or around until the map is complete. Use the “Descriptive
Map” worksheet to document descriptions.
Poetry- Word List
Take your Circle Description and transform it into a word list poem with a minimum of fifty words. Start
by circling the most important word from your Circle Description and list words that come to you that
continue to describe the painting in more detail and depth. Use nouns, adjectives and verbs in your
poem. You may not use conjunctions (and, but, for, etc.) or articles (the, a, some, it, etc.).
Persuasive- Interpretation
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Who stands out the most in this painting? Why?
Where does your eye goes next? How does the artist lead your eye around the painting?
Describe all the textures you see. Do they look expensive or inexpensive?
Describe all the colors you see.
What is the time and place of this painting? How do you know?
What gestures and facial expressions does each figure display? What do these convey?
Who is in this painting? How do you know?
What is each figure thinking? What makes you say this?
What more do you want to know about this painting?
Read the historical context about Horace Vernet. Has your interpretation of the work changed?
What more do you want to know?
Based on what you see, what do you think the painting is about? What does it mean? What does it
communicate? Write a short essay describing your interpretation, stating specific visual evidence from
the work to support your conclusions.
227
Figure 18: Horace Vernet Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
228
WPA Prints
Historical Context
Pinto, Salvatore, Locomotive, 1935-1943
Simpson, Marian, Men Digging, 1935-43
Weller, Paul, Breakdown, 1935-1943
By the spring of 1935 many American artists were destitute. The government-funded Federal Art Project
of the WPA(WPA/FAP), part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, hired thousands of artists to create
paintings, murals, sculptures, and prints intended for all Americans to see and enjoy. Some of the
twentieth century’s greatest artists were employed under the WPA/FAP, such as Jackson Pollock,
Thomas Hart Benton, Stuart Davis, Anton Refregier, and Jacob Lawrence. The graphic arts were hit
especially hard during the economic downturn of the Great Depression. When in the nineteenth century
Americans had been avid consumers of mass produced lithographs by artists like Thomas Moran and
James Ives, by 1935, there was practically no market for prints.
With the establishment of the Graphic Arts division in the WPA/FAP, new hope and life was brought to
the artists and therefore the medium of printmaking as well. The Program provided not only a weekly
paycheck ($24 per week) that many artists desperately needed to survive, but also expensive supplies,
equipment and facilities which allowed artists to experiment. Costly methods like color lithography that
were being used in Europe could now be used. Silkscreen was also used for the first time as a creative
print medium, contributing to the later experimental printing methods of Robert Rauschenberg and
Andy Warhol.
While the Program did provide economic relief and freedom to experiment with new styles and subjects
that would have otherwise been unpopular in the art market, the government was the commissioner of
all work under the WPA/FAP. Therefore, specific criteria were established that all artists had to follow.
Themes of the work were meant to be patriotic in an effort to rally dispirited Americans. Artists had to
get sketches or proofs of final work approved and in general, most were given the ability to choose
themes that seemed real and significant to the American experience.
Work and worker themes are common subjects of American prints from the period as well as images of
the machines from the factory industrial age. Holger Cahill, the Project’s national director said that it
might be possible to visually read the history of the period of the Depression from the prints created by
WPA/FAP artists. Because the history of the Depression is so closely linked with the history of labor in
America, this statement seems quite true. The works that have survived leave a visual record of how the
Depression affected individuals of the working class.
When the program ended in 1943, little attempts by the United States government were made to
catalog, research or preserve the thousands of works that were made by artists. In 1943 the government
auctioned off works not individually, but by the pound. Recent attempts by the Government Services
Agency (GSA) are initiating efforts to identify and catalog WPA art. The GSA regards these works,
whether in private or public collections as Government property.
Bibliography
Francey, M. (2008). American printmakers and the federal art project. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/8aa/8aa192.htm
229
Wolf, J. (N.d). Federal art project of the works progress administration WPA: Years: 1934-1943.
Retrieved February 7, 2013. http://www.theartstory.org/org-wpa.htm
WPA/FAP
Teacher Resources
Article describing the United States Government’s recent attempts to relocate lost, stolen or non-legal
transfers of work produced under the WPA/FAP.
http://www.artbusiness.com/wpa.html
The Government Services Administration’s official website for Works Progress Administration (WPA) Art
Recovery.
http://www.gsaig.gov/index.cfm/other-documents/other/works-progress-administration-wpa-artrecovery-project/
The Smithsonian’s photographic collection on the Federal Art Project (1935-1942).
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/federal-art-project-photographic-division-collection-5467
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WPA Prints
Writing Activities
Pinto, Salvatore, Locomotive, 1935-1943
Simpson, Marian, Men Digging, 1935-43
Weller, Paul, Breakdown, 1935-1943
Description- One Word
Compare the theme and mood for each WPA print. What visual clues communicate the themes and
unique feelings of each? Describe these visual clues with one word.
Expository- Headline News
What is the story in each work? What is happening? Write a headline for a news story (newspaper,
magazine, blog, etc) that captures the reader’s attention. Your headline must be supported with visual
evidence from each work.
Read each headline and ask other students to guess which work inspired it.
Expository- Contextual Analysis
Discuss as a class how does each work reflect the social and economic times in which it was made? How
does it reflect the time and place in which the artist made the work? What visual evidence do you see
that reflects the context in which the work was made? Is there a common theme between all three
prints? How does each artist communicate this theme?
Write a short essay explaining how each work reflects the context of the period. Support your ideas with
visual evidence from each work.
Poetry- Ode Poem
And ode generally celebrates a person or a thing. Look closely at the three WPA prints, what one theme
or idea do they all have in common? Write an ode about that idea celebrating its significance and
explaining why it is worthy of such admiration.
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Figure 19: WPA Prints Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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APPENDIX F
WRITING ACTIVITIES
Expository Writing- Writing that explains, describes, informs or instructs using evidence or facts to
support main idea/s.
Woodchopper, 1936, Thomas Hart Benton
Marriage a-la Mode series, 1745, William Hogarth
The City, 1927, Edward Hopper
End of the Rain, 1891, George Inness
Diners, 1942, Jacob Lawrence
The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, 1875, Thomas Moran
Locomotive, Men Digging, Breakdown, 1935-1943, WPA Prints (Salvatore Pinto, Marian
Simpson, Paul Weller)
Fourth of July Still Life, 1976, Audrey Flack
Blue Moon over the Steeple, 1965, Alexander Calder
Man on Fire, 1969, Luis Jimenez
Argumentation/Persuasive- Gives an opinion and seeks to influence the reader’s thinking with
supporting evidence.
Marriage a-la Mode series, 1745, William Hogarth
Avalanche by Wind, 1944, Alexandre Hogue
End of the Rain, 1891, George Inness
The Volunteers, 1923, Käthe Kollwitz
Still Life of Fish and Tackle, 1670, Arbraham Mignon and Jakob Gillig
Broken Life, 1942, Anton Refregier
Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant Son and His Nurse, 1830, Horace
Vernet
Fourth of July Still Life, 1976, Audrey Flack
Spam, 1995, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Man on Fire, 1969, Luis Jimenez
Descriptive- Vividly describes people, places or thing using appropriate details. The writing enables the
reader to visualize the topic and to feel as though they are part of the scene.
Woodchopper, 1936, Thomas Hart Benton
Marriage a-la Mode series, 1745, William Hogarth
Avalanche by Wind, 1944, Alexandre Hogue
The City, 1927, Edward Hopper
The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, 1875, Thomas Moran
Still Life of Fish and Tackle, 1670, Abraham Mignon and Jakob Gillig
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Locomotive, Men Digging, Breakdown, 1935-1943, WPA Prints (Salvatore Pinto, Marian
Simpson, Paul Weller)
Broken Life, 1942, Anton Refregier
Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant Son and His Nurse, 1830, Horace
Vernet
Spam, 1995, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Blue Moon over the Steeple, 1965, Alexander Calder
Narrative- Real or imagined writing that tells a story or part of a story. Narrative writing is generally
characterized as having a plot, characters, and a setting.
Letter from Overseas, 1943, Thomas Hart Benton
Avalanche by Wind, 1944, Alexandre Hogue
Diners, 1942, Jacob Lawrence
Weavers on the March, 1897, Käthe Kollwitz
The Mosquito Trail, Rocky Mountains of Colorado, 1875, Thomas Moran
Broken Life, 1942, Anton Refregier
Poetry- Writing that uses language in an evocative way to express ideas, emotions, or experiences.
Diners, 1942, Jacob Lawrence
The City, 1927, Edward Hopper
Still Life of Fish and Tackle, 1670, Abraham Mignon and Jakob Gillig
Locomotive, Men Digging, Breakdown, 1935-1943, WPA Prints (Salvatore Pinto, Marian
Simpson, Paul Weller)
Portrait of the Marchesa Cunegonda Misciattelli with Her Infant Son and His Nurse, 1830, Horace
Vernet
Fourth of July Still Life, 1976, Audrey Flack
Man on Fire, 1969, Luis Jimenez
Blue Moon over the Steeple, 1965, Alexander Calder
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Figure 20: Writing Activities Page View
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art
& Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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APPENDIX G
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APPENDIX H
Classroom Educator Interview Questions Day One
o
Do you see value in using art via the art museum web site to teach writing?
o
How do you, as a classroom teacher, experience the art museum’s educational websites?
o
What academic connections can be made to looking at art and writing?
o What specific Core writing standards could be addressed (are addressed) with this
activity of looking at art?
o What specific 21st Century Skills could be addressed (are addressed) with this activity of
looking at art?
o
What style of writing/s do you stress in your curriculum? How do you see it relating to the visual
arts?
o What teaching strategies can be applied via the museum’s web based format to teach
writing using visual art?
o
What are the benefits of the virtual museum to the core subject school teacher?
o
How can non-art (core subject) teachers successfully incorporate visual art into teaching
writing in their content areas using web-based art museum collections?
o
How can art museums best utilize their art collections via the web in order to engage students in
practicing writing according to the Core Standards?
243
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Classroom Educator Day Two Questions:
What specific 21st Century Thinking Skills are important to you and your curriculum?
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What specific writing skills are important to you and your curriculum?
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How can non-art teachers (“core teachers”) successfully teach writing through the visual arts in their
content areas?
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How can art museums best utilize their art collections via the web in order to assist core content
instructors teach writing skills and critical thinking?
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Investigator will share some looking strategies used by art museums and classroom educators. How
might these benefit a writing based curriculum?
 VTS-
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Inquiry Based Questions-
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Conversational Interpretation-
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FTC=Art (Form +theme+context)-
Looking at sample of works of art from UAMA collection, what are some images that you think you
would like to use in your class to teach writing? (each instructor choose 3-5 images, circle and
initial).
244
o
What lesson or activity can be applied in a web based format to teach writing using this
work of art?
o
What specific Core Standard (Language Arts/Writing) could be addressed with this
activity/lesson?
o
What specific 21st Century Skills could be addressed with this activity/lesson?
Classroom Educator Interview Day Three
1) Show me how you typically used the website?
2) Walk me through how you used the website with your class?
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What level of prompting did you have to provide to get students to look and respond to the
artwork?
What level of instruction did you need to give?
Did you use all three writing prompts?
What influenced your choice of writing activity/viewing strategy?
3) Describe the student response to lesson?
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How do you normally assess student’s writing?
Did you assess their writing? Did you notice a difference?
What surprises did you see? Why do you think that is?
If you have done similar literacy-based tasks after, did you notice an effect on later work?
4) What else would you like to see on the website?
Type up major cc standards and have them arrange in order of which ones are most relevant to the site
Type up critical thinking skills and have them arrange in order of which ones are most relevant to the
site
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APPENDIX I
Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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Collection of the University of Arizona of Art & Archive of Visual Arts, Tucson
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APPENDIX J
Museum Educator Interview Questions Day One
1. Do you see value in using the art museum website to teach writing?
2. What programs do you currently offer that incorporate writing into the school visit?
a. Are these available online
3. What museum literacy connections can be made by looking at museum collections online (using
the museum’s website)?
4. How can non-art (generalist) teachers successfully incorporate visual art into teaching writing
within their content areas?
5. How can art museums best utilize their art collections via the web in order to engage students in
practicing writing skills?
Museum Educator Interview Day Two
1. What more could the website do/differently to help teachers teach writing with art?
2. What more could the website do/differently to help teachers teach writing with art?
3. Is the site, in your opinion, something a generalist teacher could use?
a. -What would you change or add?
4. Mentioned the primary objective is to teach museum literacy, get people into museums, to
value museums, how does this website do this or not do this?
5. Does the web site teach students how to respond to art, another objective you mentioned to
teaching art?
6. What else would you like to see on the website?
7. Type up major cc standards and have them arrange in order of which ones are most relevant to
the site
Type up critical thinking skills and have them arrange in order of which ones are most relevant
to the site
263
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