In March educators from the National Museum of Women in the Arts travelled to Seattle, Washington, to participate in the annual convention for the National Art Education Association (NAEA). The world’s largest gathering of art educators, NAEA draws thousands of art teachers, administrators, researchers, professors, and art museum educators interested in professional development. This year NMWA contributed two sessions at NAEA: a best practices lecture and a hands-on art workshop. Both sessions shared discoveries from NMWA’s Teachers Connect: Distance Learning in the Arts initiative. Funded through a U.S. Department of Education, Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant, Teachers Connect provides a model for professional development that provides ongoing support for classroom teachers working to integrate the arts into the core curriculum.
In collaboration with public schools in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, the museum created and evaluated Teachers Connect and will soon be unveiling the final online portion. This resource is in final production and will be available for free beginning in fall 2011. Educators from NMWA were so pleased to be able to speak about Teachers Connect and share their experiences with colleagues. Deborah Gaston, Director of Education, and Adrienne Gayoso, Clarice Smith Education Specialist at Smithsonian Museum of American Art, co-presented Traversing the Digital Divide: Museums Inspiring Teacher Creativity and Innovation Through the Web. They introduced lessons learned from NMWA’s Teachers Connect initiative and American Arts’ Clarice Smith Summer Institutes.
Though created by different institutions, the projects shared certain goals and many of the same challenges for building and sustaining online learning communities among teachers. Participants learned how two museums encourage creative teaching through Web-based dialogue and learning communities; explore the ongoing barriers to success; and consider innovative ways to bridge the digital divide. At Three Books in Two Hours: Integrating History, Science, and Literacy with Artist Book Making, Kathleen Anderson (Project Manager for Teachers Connect), together with project partners Michelle Lemons and Rosemary Fessinger shared techniques and strategies developed by NMWA during the Teachers Connect summer institutes in partner schools in Pascagoula, MS, and Albuquerque, NM.
Thirty art teachers from around the country, created books, discovered curriculum connections, and learned about NMWA’s Art, Books, and Creativity (ABC) curriculum (www.artbookscreativity.org).