Teaching & Learning in the museum district
Saturday at the Museum with Teacher Fellows
When you're a Teacher Fellow at the MFAH, you get certain privileges. When the Fellows met last Saturday, our instructors guided us through a secluded doorway into a staff only elevator. After reaching the second floor, we walked through the hushed administrative offices of the museum into an enormous conference room. Inside, fresh coffee was served while the day's agenda was projected onto a Jumbotron-size screen. For a museum-goer like me, getting this much access behind the scenes is the stuff of dreams.
At the Saturday meeting, we were given a hefty work assignment: write the middle school material for the Learning Through Art program. As a warm-up, Jenn Beradino and Natalie Svacina of the MFAH led us through several discussions about paintings on display at the museum. If not for our tight schedule, we could have talked for hours without pause. "We're passing hundreds of masterpieces," I told Kathy Webb as we rushed through the galleries behind Jenn and Natalie. Alas, no time for Goya or Picasso. There were other geniuses to see.
The nineteen Teacher Fellows returned to the conference room and immediately began composing material about works of art from the MFAH collection. We were instructed to write questions, discussion prompts, and curriculum connections to art which will promote good habits of mind in middle school students across all disciplines. Imagine, for example, that a teacher asks his students to look at Georgia O'Keeffe's painting Red Hill and White Shell. He could then link the painting to a study of desert geology, or marine biology, or any number of traditional areas of study.
Kathy Webb and I are energized by each meeting of the Teacher Fellows. We are motivated to find the best ways to introduce middle schoolers to world-class art. Kathy and I are also eager to bring our students across the street to the MFAH to look at art that links with the subjects we teach.
I like developing the Learning Through Art program for middle schools. While it lasts, I like being a VIP at the MFAH even more!
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