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Smithsonian Institution

Teaching Critical Thinking through Art with the National Gallery of Art

Smithsonian Institution via edX

Overview

Based on the National Gallery of Art’s popular Art Around the Corner professional development program for teachers in Washington, D.C., this five-unit online course provides everything you need to begin creating a culture of critical thinking and collaboration for any classroom, subject, or level. You do not need an art background or museum access to successfully integrate the course materials into your teaching. Your willingness to experiment with new teaching practices is all that is required.

The strategies presented in this course are adapted from Artful Thinking pedagogy, developed by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You will explore three thinking dispositions, using eight thinking routines that are easy to understand and implement with STEAM curricular content.

  • Starting with the disposition of observing and describing , you will learn how to guide your students in slowing down, using their senses, and communicating impressions of what they see in a work of art...and in other things.
  • Next, the routines used in the disposition of reasoning with evidence ask students to make hypotheses about the art and support their arguments with observations.
  • Finally, the questioning and investigating disposition challenges students to hone their natural curiosity by expressing their wonderings and formulating open-ended questions.

Throughout, you will discover the power of art to develop your students’ inclination, motivation, and ability to think deeply.

When you enroll, all the resources you need for your classroom to strengthen critical thinking by using art will be immediately available. We recommend spending a few hours learning and practicing each section before progressing to the next.

The online course environment features over 20 videos and interactive tools:

  • a zoom tool to examine works of art at full resolution
  • polls to compare your thoughts with those of other participants
  • discussion boards where teachers around the world share ideas, plans, and results
  • authentic lesson demonstration videos that model routines led by real classroom and museum educators with students of varying ages, with corresponding downloadable lesson plans
  • interview videos on topics like using thinking routines with emerging language learners and making accommodations for all learners

Participating with a global network of educators who, just like you, want to hone their abilities to teach critical thinking skills and explore arts integration will be an added bonus to your course experience.

Syllabus

The course contains an introductory unit and four content units listed below. It will take approximately 14-20 hours to complete this self-paced course. Those who audit have access for 16 weeks. Those who register for the verified certificate have access of a full year.

Unit 0: Welcome (2 hours)

Unit 1: Diving into Thinking Routines (3-4 hours)

Unit 2: Observing and Describing (3-4 hours)

Unit 3: Reasoning with Evidence (3-4 hours)

Unit 4: Questioning and Investigating (3-4 hours)

Taught by

Julie Carmean

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