Posts Tagged 'creative thinking'

Teaching for Creativity: A Conversation Between Artworks

Have you read Shannon’s post about our gallery experience with ­­­Anytown, USA during Museum Forum for Teachers? After we imagined businesses, shops, and restaurants inspired by typography, we moved into a gallery in Variations on Theme with figural works of art. In this fun, creatively-charged gallery experience, we projected character traits and narratives onto the ambiguous figures.

To warm up, we created scribble characters and characterized one as a large group. Then, small groups of four or five people turned their attention to the artworks in the gallery. Each group chose two figures to explore and characterize. Then, each group wrote a short piece of dialogue between the two figures. To add a little challenge, each group randomly chose one line of dialogue to incorporate. Though it may seem counterintuitive, limitations within a lesson actually inspire more creativity than a completely open assignment.

These dialogue lines included:

  • What is that smell?
  • You are never going to believe what just happened…
  • I have never been so embarrassed.
  • No, I’m not kidding.
  • Tell me it isn’t permanent!
  • Did you get dressed in the dark?
  • Happy birthday!
  • I tried everything I could…
  • What’s on your face?
  • I heard it on TV…
  • I’m telling you…it won’t work.

Most of the groups’ conversations between artworks were light-hearted and humorous. However, each conversation was diverse with rich characterization. I really enjoy experiences when art-viewers combine what they see visually with their own experiences and ideas to create unique interpretations.

It would fun to tweak the creative twist for a classroom experience. Instead of incorporating a specific line of dialogue, try assigning the students a specific historical era or geographic location to research as a setting for a conversation between two artworks. Or, ask the students to create conversations between a figure in a work of art and a historical or literary figure. One of our Museum Forum participants suggested that students research artists and write hypothetical conversations based on what they discover of those artists.

What might a conversation look like between these two figures?

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Teaching for Creativity: Scribble Characters

Consider testing out this entertaining creativity exercise with your students or even with friends. (It’s THAT fun.) When Summer Seminar instructor, Magdalenda Grohman facilitated this exercise with this year’s participants, they had a blast with it.

  1. Every person should have a piece of paper and a writing utensil.
  2. Close your eyes. Keeping your pen or pencil on the paper, scribble for about forty-five seconds. Think about the mood you are in, and try to reflect that mood through your scribbles.
  3. Once everyone is finished drawing, open your eyes, and gather together all the scribbles. Shuffle the scribbles.
  4. Choose one scribble. As a group, think about and describe the scribble. What adjectives come to mind?
  5. Imagine that this scribble is a person. Who is it? What is his/her name? How old is he/she? What does he/she do for a living and/or for fun? What is his/her relationship with his family? What interesting events have occurred in his/her life? What is his/her biggest wish and/or greatest fear?
  6. Jot down the most important aspects of this person, and continue personifying the rest of the scribbles as a group.
  7. Once you have a set of scribble-characters, then randomly distribute one to each participant. Ask one participant to create a sentence to begin a narrative. The scribble-character in his/her hand must be involved in the narrative.
  8. The next person adds another sentence and another character to the narrative, until you have a funny, collaborative story that incorporates all of the scribble-characters.

Here are some of our scribble characters:

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In what ways are you encouraging open-minded, creative attitudes and training transformative thinking in your classroom?

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator for Teaching Programs

Friday Photos: Summer Seminar 2012

Last Friday marked the end of Summer Seminar 2012: Teaching for Creativity, a week-long, immersive workshop for teachers of all grades and subjects to explore ways to foster creative thinking skills in their students. As a relatively fresh DMA employee, this Summer Seminar was my first. I was joined by eight educators from near and far (from Texas to Nebraska to Monterrey, Mexico!). Participants spent the week with the Museum’s resident creativity expert, Dr. Magdalena Grohman, engaging in group and independent creativity exercises, exploring creativity through art in the galleries, discussing current scholarship on creativity, and developing lesson plans to be tested in their classrooms next school year.

Thank you to this year’s participants for your insight, enthusiasm, and open-minds. Check out some of the photos from our idea-filled week.

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Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

2012 Summer Seminar for Teachers

2011 Summer Seminar Participants

Imagine yourself among a group of educators — spirited, inspiring, trusting, supportive, and innovative — all focused on creativity and the nurturing of students. Now imagine this group immersed in the creative environment and resources of the Dallas Museum of Art for one full week.  This is the Summer Seminar experience for teachers at the DMA, and we’ll be hosting the 2012 Seminar June 11-15.  We invite you to join us!

Teaching for Creativity reached beyond my expectations by exploring how to consider attitudes, ideas, and associations I may have discarded or not considered before this class.  – 2011 participant

Designed for teachers of all grade levels and subjects, Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity explores education and creativity through experiences in the DMA’s galleries and Center for Creative Connections. The course references creativity from a variety of perspectives, and participants engage in readings about creativity from various authors, including Robert Sternberg, Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Through conversations and workshops centered on creative attitudes and thinking, the Seminar supports teaching skills and approaches that foster imagination, curiosity, an open mind, and a natural drive for creating in students. UT Dallas professor Magdalena Grohman and DMA staff lead workshops and gallery experiences.  Participants reflect on and further develop their own creativity, as well as focus on how to teach for creativity.

I will use the tools in order to push myself further with my projects, rather than staying in [a] comfort zone.  – 2011 participant

This definitely helped me tap into more creative thinking. The exercises and activities were very helpful.  – 2011 participant

2011 Summer Seminar gallery experience

Throughout the Seminar, the DMA galleries serve as a kind of laboratory space, in which we consider the creative process and relate creative thinking techniques to specific works of art. In-depth experiences with art cultivate our abilities to observe, envision, express, explore, engage, and understand  in the arts and other disciplines. Through these experiences, we may become more persistent, flexible thinkers, better problem explorers and problem solvers—overall, more creative beings.

Unlike most professional development, the focus is not on ‘making a better teacher’ but on providing good teachers with better tools to bring out the best in their students.      – 2011 participant

The one-week Summer Seminar experience serves as a catalyst for an extended relationship between participating educators and the DMA as we continue the dialogue about education and creativity throughout the academic year.  This blog is one venue for the continued dialogue — view posts from a series titled Teaching for Creativity to learn more and hear about the creative journeys of several educators in the classroom.  The blog post this Thursday will feature 2011 Summer Seminar participant, Lorraine Gachelin.

Registration for the 2012 Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity is currently open. For more information, please contact Andrea Severin at aseverin@DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Teaching for Creativity: A Few Good Books

I am often inspired by a good read and I am an equal opportunity reader.  I love both fiction and non-fiction books and find that both can ignite my creative capacities.  Through fiction, I escape the day-to-day to walk in a character’s shoes and visit places unfamiliar, perhaps discovering an interesting metaphor that results in a richer understanding of the world around me.   Encountering new perspectives from an expert in another field and reading about real-world stories and events are a few things I appreciate about non-fiction reading.   These too can lead to richer understandings.  Here’s a list of books on my radar presently (some in the mail as I write) for which I have high expectations of stirring my creative spirit.  After you take a look at this list, then share with us what’s on your bookshelf or nightstand that is provoking you to think in new ways and see the world with fresh eyes?

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer – This one comes out in March, 2012 and is the third book written by author Jonah Lehrer.  Lehrer has a background in neuroscience and a strong interest in the relationships between art and science.  In Imagine, he discusses new science about creativity and proposes that all of us can achieve increased creativity through effectively using a distinct set of thought processes.  Lucky for me (and others), Lehrer will be in Dallas on March 23, 2012 presenting at the DMA’s Arts and Letters Live programming.

Sketchbook with Voices by Eric Fischl and Jerry Saltz

Sketchbook with Voices by Eric Fischl and Jerry Saltz – This collection of prompts from contemporary artists was compiled in 1986 by Fischl, an artist, and Saltz, an art critic.  The book was reprinted this year and I discovered it recently as I ambled through a museum gift shop.  Full of empty, ready-to-be-filled pages, this sketchbook includes inspirations from artists such as Richard Serra, Susan Rothenberg, and John Baldessari.

Mr. g by Alan Lightman

Mr. g by Alan Lightman – This is the forthcoming book from one of our department’s favorite authors!  Remember the recent post about Einstein’s Dreams?  We cannot wait for Lightman’s new book to come out in January, 2012.  Lightman, like Lehrer, is a scientist intrigued by the blurred and crossing boundaries of art and science. However, Lightman explores these ideas through novels and in Mr. g, the story of creation is told, as narrated by God.  Alan Lightman is also coming to Dallas next year!  On May 20, 2012 Lightman will be the featured author for Arts & Letters Live.

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites – This is a recent addition to my “books to read” list.  I heard about it the other day on the radio and love the curious story behind the book.  In pursuit of wanting to know more about where things come from, Thomas Thwaites decided to build a toaster from scratch….

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships


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