Posts Tagged 'educators'

Friday Photos: Fair Day!

On October 7, the DMA Education Division took a small (and well-deserved!) break to explore the food, photography and fun at the State Fair of Texas! We really enjoyed the Creative Arts Exhibition Hall, and of course the crazy fried food concoctions. In honor of the Fair’s closing weekend, here are a few snaps from our day!

Madeleine Fitzgerald
Audience Relations Coordinator

So What? One Question Evaluations at the DMA


Almost all museums have programs for the public, in one form or another. These programs may fall under the fields of education, visitor engagement or interpretation, and may take the forms of drop-in workshops, ticketed lectures, in-gallery interactives or scheduled tours. Even within a single museum, these programs are diverse in their scope, varied in the spaces they take place, and wide-ranging in their scale. Furthermore, they differ in their intended outcomes, but more on that later.

Importance has been placed on growing different types programs for the public, as these can garner more attention from the community, increase overall attendance, and develop audiences. Oftentimes, this growth is approached by expanding programmatic offerings: increasing lecture topics, presenting more classes and workshops, or providing additional interactives in galleries. In these instances, growth is measured by quantity: “Well yes we serve our community, look how many programs we offer!” But I question whether this type of growth is positive for museums. Is expansion without reflection a good idea? I am inevitably reminded of the adage, “Less is more,” and wonder how this concept can be manifested in museum education programs.

The process of reflection and evaluation is an often overlooked step in program creation. Activities are designed, implemented, and either repeated (perhaps next week, or next month) or they are archived (if they’re lucky) for posterity. But rarely does someone stop and ask, “So what?” This question, seemingly harsh and unforgiving to some, or unimportant to others, is an invaluable asset to evaluation in my mind. It is a question that harks back to my time as a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin in the Art Education department. My thesis advisor and Assistant Chair to the department Dr. Paul E. Bolin situated this question as an integral part of all academic research. Students would approach him with research proposals and he would answer, “Well yes, that does sound like an interesting study of this-and-that at the so-and-so institution, but so what?” This simple question produced its fair share of frustration, but also some very fruitful discussion about the field of art education. It caused us to reflect on how our intended research would impact or advance the discipline. It wasn’t enough for the topic to simply garner interest, it had to have purpose and intention; it needed to be able to stand on its own and answer, “This is why I exist.” Now, I am not proposing that every public program initiated by a museum or art institution should be held to the bar of furthering the field of art education (this would be rather difficult), but I do feel that every program should be accountable in providing a significant answer to this critical question.

As a department, the DMA’s Education team has spent many hours creating a mission statement that encapsulates our departmental practice, inevitably answering the So What question for ourselves. And during this process we have hit upon some key concepts that fuel our programs, the chief one being engagement. As educators, we aim to broaden and deepen engagement, and recognize that the DMA can influence the depth of one’s engagement, not by pitching more programs at our community, but by facilitating meaningful experiences in our current educational endeavors. But how can we know that these experiences are meaningful, unless we ask?

Our Education team is undertaking the evaluation process by implementing a series of one question studies that aim to pinpoint specific queries we as educators have about our public programs. The restricted format of this evaluation exercise is key, because evaluation can be a daunting task if approached too broadly. The one question design ensures that we concentrate on a single point—one program or interactive, one outcome, one bit of information that is important for us to determine. Just as the questions vary, so too do the methods of collecting data from visitors, ranging from written surveys, a post-it note response wall, and even a voting system using colorful pony beads. Below are preliminary looks into two different one question case studies we’ve begun.

CASE STUDY #1: YOUNG LEARNERS GALLERY (contributed by Jessica Fuentes)

Young Learners Gallery

The Young Learners Gallery, within the Center for Creative Connections (C3), is a space designed for children ages 5-8 and their caregivers. Over the past three years while much of C3 has changed—with the introduction of new artworks, art-making materials and gallery interactives—the Young Learners Gallery has gone untouched, because making changes to that space requires a complete redesign. Before undertaking such a task, the C3 staff want to learn more about families’ anticipated and actual experiences at the Museum.

We started with the prompt, “I bring my child(ren) to the Dallas Museum of Art Prompt signbecause…” posted on a wall in the Young Learners Gallery near a small table equipped with post-it notes and pencils. Unlike a survey, this method allows for open-ended responses that can later be categorized and analyzed while retaining the individual visitor’s voice. This analog system has been brought into the 21st Century through the development of the Post-It Plus App. With this app, instead of sifting through responses and later transcribing them in digital form, we can simply photograph the post-it notes and organize the digitized notes on a virtual board. The board can then be exported in a variety of formats including PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF.

We posted our question for a month and received 107 responses. The responses ranged from children’s drawings to eloquent statements expressing a desire to expose children to a broader world view. Because the purpose of this question was to gauge the caregiver’s motivations, we set aside the 26 children’s responses and the 4 irrelevant responses; however, we plan to use future questions to gather children’s input as well. The top three categories for why caregivers bring their child(ren) to the DMA is to get inspiration or foster creativity, to provide exposure to different cultures or broaden their world view, and because it’s fun.

As we plan the new Young Learners Gallery, we are keeping these findings in mind. For example, we have decided to include works of art in the space which currently is an activity area. The works of art selected will have a strong emphasis on culture and creativity. We also plan to create hands-on activities that address the developmental milestones of children aged 5-8 and provide opportunities for children and their caregivers to play, draw, and talk together about the works of art in front of them.

Now that we understand why caregivers bring their children to the DMA, we are in the process of posing more questions to learn what families actually do in the Young Learners Gallery. Understanding both expectations and experiences will help us develop a space that will meet a wider spectrum of caregivers’ and children’s needs.


The DMA first offered activity-filled tote bags to families around this time last year, premiering during our January 2013 Late Night event. Each tote bag contains a variety of activities that encourage families to write, talk, play, or make while exploring the galleries together, the idea being to have fun with the art as a family. Since their public introduction last year, our Art To Go Family tote bags have grown to include many different themes: Senses, to help explore art through the five senses; Color, to explore art while thinking about colors; Family Fun, with activities designed by a family who frequently visits the Museum; and Arturo’s Library totes, designed for children under five years of age, which focus on a single work of art with an accompanying book and hands-on activity. These tote bags are available for check-out at our Family Fun Cart, located at the main entrance to the Museum, and are free to use by families anytime the Museum is open.

Initially, the Family & Access programs staff sought feedback on tote bags through individual paper surveys, presented to families once they returned tote bags to the Family Fun Cart. We found that very few of these surveys were returned, or even taken in the first place. During busy times at the Museum, those who coordinated checking bags in and out to visitors rarely had time to focus on handing out this extra survey to families, who for their part, were usually rushing to leave the Museum, and therefore rarely could spend extra time answering a two-page questionnaire. In this case, the one question evaluation was ideal not only because of its simplicity and accessibility, but also because of its straightforwardness. Unlike the above-mentioned project with the Young Learners Gallery, for the tote bags we were not looking for open-ended answers, at least not yet. While it is absolutely valuable to know whether or not visitors feel that the tote bags encourage a playful attitude towards looking at art, or if they are able to increase visitor confidence in looking at art with children, this is information that is best obtained in a second stage of evaluation, when we look at the specific effects of each activity and deem whether things should be modified or not. At this still early stage in the life of the tote bags, our team is really interested in the simple question of whether families are indeed using the tote bags during their visit, and where in the Museum they are being used. (This is our So What question.)

We designed our one question evaluation as a multiple choice prompt, which was added to the tote bag check-out sheet. We asked, “On Which Floor Did You Use the Tote Bag?” and invited visitors to check the box next to each area in which they used the bags—Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4—or, if they didn’t in fact use the activities in the bag, to check Did Not Use. Our hope was that including our one question evaluation on the check-out sheet, something that families were already using and thus familiar with, would increase the amount of feedback we received.

The updated check-out sheet has been in rotation for two months, and we have collected data for November and December 2014. On average, 52% of people who checked-out tote bags during that time responded to our evaluation, and of that total only 6% did not use the tote bag activities at all. While in the Museum, the respondents said they preferred to use the tote bags most on Level 1 (28%) and least on Level 4 (16%). Now, is this choice based on physical access (Level 1 is the same level on which the tote bags are offered, while Level 4 is farthest away) or related to the works of art available on each level (Level 1 is Contemporary art, Level 4 is American)? Now that we are beginning to better understand how much the tote bags are being utilized by visitors, and where in the Museum galleries they are being taken, we can start to pose these types of ancillary questions, that tap into deeper inquiries about visitor engagement.


The insight provided by these two studies hopefully demonstrates the importance of evaluation to both growing and expanding program development. These are just preliminary looks into initial studies, and we hope to have more one question studies, as well as data, on the horizon. In order to increase the effectiveness of our programs and spaces, museum educators need the input of our audience to better understand their level and scope of engagement. Reflection and evaluation, in the style of these one question studies or other formats, can facilitate this exchange of ideas in a positive and productive manner, providing a strong foundation for educators to answer the So What question for themselves, their institution, as well as their community.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Friday Photos: Emotional Performances

Last month, Shannon Karol and I led a group of K-12 teachers through the Cindy Sherman exhibition.  The goal of this teacher workshop was to encourage educators to explore the artistry of both Cindy Sherman and photography by examining works of art spanning Sherman’s forty year career. We investigated themes of identity and performance as we considered Sherman’s role as photographer, model, art director, make-up artist, and stylist.

We concluded the workshop with a performance-based activity that shed light on Sherman’s artistic process.  Each teacher was given an emotion card and–without revealing their specific emotion–was asked to direct a partner to convey this emotion through facial expressions, body language and costumes. Everyone had a great time dressing up and playing director–take a look at the entertaining results!

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Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Teaching for Creativity

The beginning of another school year can be very exciting because there are many things that are “new.”  We may experience a new teacher, new students, new friends, new clothes, new school supplies, new bulletin boards, and more.  As we launch ourselves into a new school year at the DMA, we also launch a new blog series called Teaching for Creativity.  The inspiration for this new series comes from various sources, including the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections; our collaborative work with UT Dallas professor and creativity specialist, Dr. Magdalena Grohman; and the 2011 Summer Seminar: Teaching for Creativity, a professional development experience for K-12 educators.

Over the next year, look for monthly posts that inspire us to teach for creativity, encouraging open minds and creative behavior in ourselves, our students, and our colleagues. Teaching for Creativity blog posts will:

  • feature classroom and museum educators to share creative lessons and approaches to teaching that nurture observation skills, curiosity, imagination, and metaphorical thinking,
  • draw attention to great books and websites for creativity resources, and
  • highlight creative beings from the past and present who may offer us new ways to look at the world.

For this inaugural post, I am excited to introduce you to Shadan Price.  Shadan teaches art to students ages 3-5 at El Dorado Montessori in Frisco, Texas and joined us in June for the 2011 Summer Seminar.  Shadan shares with us the lesson plan that she developed during the Seminar and the results of trying it out in her classroom.

During the Teaching for Creativity seminar I attended, our goal was to create a lesson plan that focused on creative thinking. The lesson I came up with did that but was also simple enough for the young children that I teach to understand. In summary, my lesson had them discussing how certain shapes (we focused on circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles) and how they are used in artwork and the real world. We looked at a few art images (ex: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, Klimt’s “The Kiss”) and the students pointed out those shapes in the images. We then looked at images of everyday objects (ex: buttons, tables, pizzas, etc.) and the students talked about what shapes those were. The next step was brainstorming. For each shape the class thought of objects that those particular shapes could be. This was really fun for them! I didn’t want them to brainstorm for too long though because I wanted them to still have a few more ideas for the next part of the lesson which was to draw each shape on a piece of paper and then create an object (real or imaginary) out of that shape. I didn’t put any restrictions on what they could draw. I just told them no matter what it was, even if it wasn’t a real thing, they had to explain to me what the drawing was. For the most part the students really enjoyed this but I could immediately tell which students were not really comfortable making something completely out of their imaginations as opposed to something a little more guided. This was a good project to see who I need to work with more on their creative-thinking skills.  Overall this was a good project.  The students loved brainstorming and drawing their own creations!

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These are a few examples of what the students came up with for each shape:
TRIANGLE – almost all the students chose a slice of pizza….if I did this project over again I might tell them not to do that so I could see what else they came up with. A few others were roofs, mountains, cat ears, and noses.
SQUARE – iron man, robot, mirror, window, bubble machine, cage, bookshelf, frame, butterflies, purses, books, and dinosaurs.
CIRCLE – vacuum, wheels, monkey, balls, DVDs, cookies, lollipops, a “purse maker”, pancakes, rings, and buttons.
RECTANGLE – monster, table, frame, door, fluorescent lights, microwave, baskets, rocketships, and sharks.

I want to express great thanks to Shadan for sharing her lesson with us.  Follow this link to download the lesson: SHADAN_CREATIVE_LESSON.

What creative experiences are happening in your learning environment?  Share them here and look forward to the next Teaching for Creativity post in September.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Educator Resources: DMA Program Recordings for Artist Talks and Lectures

Finally, school is out for summer.  Now you can relax and sleep in, work on that special house project, take a trip, or read that book you just didn’t have time for during the school year. For a little intellectual stimulation, we invite you to add another item to your list.  Listen to DMA program recordings, a new resource on our Web site that holds an abundance of audio recordings and transcripts from artist talks, lectures, and special programs.  Topics range from the work of artist Renee Stout to the art of the Silk Road to the connection between Coco Chanel and the DMA’s famous Wendy and Emery Reves Collection.  Speakers featured in these recordings include visiting scholars, artists, and DMA curators.

To access the recordings, visit the DMA Web site and select “Research” on the top menu. Then select “Program Recordings” from the menu on the left side.

We also invite you to spend some quality time with works of art this summer and fulfill your professional development opportunities by attending a Dallas Museum of Art teacher workshop!

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Educator Resources: Five Outside Online Resources

Several weeks ago for parts one and two of our Educator Resources series, I wrote about three wonderful DMA online resources and field trip grant opportunities.  For the third installment of our series, we wanted to introduce to you five phenomenal online resources from other arts institutions

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

The Heilbrunn Timeline, produced by Metropolitan Museum of Art curators and education staff, presents maps, timelines, thematic essays, works of art, and indexes from prehistory to the present day.  Launched in 2000, the Timeline continues to expand in scope and depth and reflect the most up-to-date scholarship.

2. ArtsConnectEd

ArtsConnectEd, a joint venture between the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center, provides two key features: “Art Finder” and “Art Collector.”  Art Finder offers textual, audio, video, and interactive resources regarding works of art from the two collections, while Art Collector allows users to save and customize resources through comments, tags, and ratings. 

3. Art 21

Art21 produces Art: 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century, an Emmy-nominated PBS series that highlights contemporary art and artists, in addition to books, online resources, and public programs.  The mission of Art21 is to create a living history of contemporary art by presenting contemporary artists discussing their work in their own words.  This is done in hopes of ultimately increasing the accessibility and knowledge of contemporary art. 

Artists represented in our galleries at the Museum such as John Baldessari, Trenton Doyle Handcock, and Bruce Nauman have been featured in past series.

4. MoMA’s Modern Teachers

Modern Teachers is an online resource offered by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  The site provides educator guides, lessons, and images related to the Museum’s collection.  These resources span modern art of the 1880s, including Post-Impressionism and Symbolism, to recent 21st-century works.

5. ArtBabble

ArtBabble is an initiative of the Indianapolis Museum of Art that showcases video content from a variety of arts institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Museum of Arts and Design, among others.

Enjoy exploring these resources, and please share in the comments below any additional resources you find useful when teaching about art in your classroom!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teacher Programs and Resources

Educator Resources: Three Excellent Online Resources from the DMA

As educators, we know you all are always looking for fantastic resources to benefit both you and your students in and outside the classroom.  However, these resources can be hard to come by, especially if you don’t know where to look.

So, we are beginning a series on Educator Resources to highlight some of the materials and opportunities available to you and your students.  This month, we will begin by talking about various online resources available through the Museum and accessible on our main web site

1. Teaching Materials

Under the “Educators” tab of the main website, select “Teaching Resources” and then “Teaching Materials.”  This portion of our website offers over thirty FREE downloadable “packets” of information, organized by theme, age level, or collection.  Some examples include Silver in America, A Looking Journey (4th grade), and Arts of the Americas.  These packets include introductory information, images of art objects, and classroom activities, along with bibliographies and printable materials. 

This portion of our online offerings is currently in a period of transition.  Through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, to be discussed here later this month by Nicole, the materials are being revamped to better suit teacher needs.  As we begin to add new and updated materials, the original materials and packets will still be online for your use.

2. Collections Online

Another fantastic resource to be found on the Museum web site are the Collections Online or Search Collections features.  Several of our staff are working tirelessly to present the over 20,000 objects within the DMA collection to online audiences.  Currently, over 6,300 works have been added to the online database and are searchable through the website.  When viewing these objects online, users have access to images, basic object information, and notes from the curators.  Objects can be sorted by collection area (i.e. African, Asian, etc.), artist, and object name.  Users can also create a FREE eMuseum account to group and save images in customizable packets.


Finally from the main website, you can access DMA TV.  This resource includes both videos and podcasts created by the Museum, ranging from interviews with curators and artists (i.e. this video interview with painter Luc Tuymans) to recordings of past lectures (i.e. Yale University Anthropology Professor, Michael D. Coe’s presentation: The True History of Chocolate). 

We hope that you will take the time to explore the many wonderful online resources the DMA has to offer and find ways to incorporate them into your lesson preparation or classroom teaching.  Don’t forget to check back in the coming months for posts about other educator resources, including online resources from other institutions, area adult learning opportunities, and local and national grants.

If you have any additional tips for your fellow educators, please leave a comment below!

Ashley Bruckbauer
McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Resources

February Programs for Teachers

February is going to be a busy month that includes several programs for teachers that range from an Artist Talk to an Evening for Educators.

Gregory Crewdson, (Untitled) House in the Road, 2002, The Rachofsky Collection

First up is a teacher workshop on the evening of Wednesday, February 3 from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.  Artist Gregory Crewdson will be at the Museum to give a public lecture as part of the “Creativity in the Age of Technology” lecture series through The University of Texas at Dallas.  Three of Crewdson’s photographs are currently on view in our galleries, and teachers can register to join Logan Acton and me for a conversation about these works of art before joining the public talk at 7:30.  Register online to earn CPE hours while connecting with an artist who is working today.

Jacob Lawrence, The Opener, 1997, collection of Curtis P. Ransom

Our next teacher workshop will be on Saturday, February 6.  Shannon Karol will lead this workshop on the exhibition Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, which includes fifteen silkscreen prints about the life of this leader during the Haitian Revolution.

Teachers at Evening for Educators

Our big spring exhibition, The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874, opens on Sunday, February 21.  On Tuesday, February 23, teachers can enjoy the exhibition on an evening when it is open exclusively for educators.  Register online to join us on this evening for a talk about the exhibiton and related programs and resources for students and teachers and to see the show when education staff will be available to answer your questions.  We hope to see you there!

Molly Kysar
Head of Teaching Programs


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