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Community of Learners: Expanding the Museum’s Teaching Role

Hood Quarterly, autumn/winter 2010-11
25th Anniversary Issue

Every year the Hood offers professional development opportunities in the form of workshops and written and online resources for regional teachers. The goal of these programs and resources is to cultivate teaching with original works of art in the K–12 curriculum. Workshops introduce teachers to the art on display at the museum and provide them with skills and information to help them integrate the visual arts into the curriculum—no matter what subject(s) they teach. Whenever possible, we hope they will bring their classes to the museum so that students can engage with and learn from original works of art. Each year, several thousand school children visit the museum and do just that.

Sometimes we learn that a professional development workshop or resource that the museum offered continues to have an ongoing impact in the lives of teachers and their students in the classroom. This fall the impact of the museum as a place of learning is being taken a step further: at the end of October two regional teachers, Matt Fisk and Jill Chastenay, will present at the annual New Hampshire Council for Social Studies conference on integrating art into the curriculum. Their presentations will highlight professional development experiences they participated in at the Hood, and the ways these inspired changes in their teaching. Through these dynamic teachers, the educational role of the museum is expanding and hopefully will inspire more regional educators to integrate the museum’s collections and exhibitions into the curriculum.

Matt Fisk taught U.S. history at Concord High School for many years and just recently accepted the position of head of the history department at New Hampton School. He will talk about attending a Learning to Look workshop at the museum several years ago.The workshop modeled the five-step, discuss-based approach to exploring works of art that the Hood developed in the early 1990s to empower visitors to observe carefully and think critically about any work of art they encounter. Matt will be speaking to social studies teachers from around the state who teach advanced placement history courses. He will share the ways he has integrated the Learning to Look teaching technique, images from the museum’s collections, and trips to the Hood into classroom and homework assignments. Based on his experiences at the Hood, Matt no longer feels that art is peripheral to social studies but is in fact core to the study of human experience.

Jill Chastenay teaches U.S. and world history, Asian cultures, and modern world history at Stevens High School in Claremont. She will present on ways that she combines art and writing in her social studies class, inspired by attending a Summer Institute on Art and Writing at the Hood in 2005. Jill will also discuss the museum’s Learning to Look teaching technique, and then will share some of the writing curriculum she developed at the Summer Institute and has adapted in subsequent years.

The museum thanks and commends Jill and Matt for their deep commitment to integrating the visual arts into the lives and academic pursuits of their students—and now their colleagues.We hope their presentations at the New Hampshire Council for Social Studies conference will inspire more teachers to utilize the Hood and other art museums as curricular and cultural resources to enhance their vital work educating the future generations and leaders of our country.

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