The Institute featured several guest speakers each day, including the SAAM senior curator Eleanor Jones Harvey, National Archives historian Michael Hussey and painting conservator Amber Kerr.
Through various lectures, lessons, and activities, the Institute taught us several ways to use art as a visual entry-point for teaching concepts and ideas — such as identity, conflict, and place — in the humanities. Using several strategies from Harvard Project Zero such as Visual Thinking Strategies, Artful Thinking, and Making Learning Visible, our eyes were opened to the many possibilities of including visual media in the curriculum.
The participants practiced using various teaching methodologies such as Visible Thinking to critically examine works of American Art and make connections to our classroom curricula. Teachers also developed lesson concepts focusing on visual art that can be integrated into classrooms as a way to help students think through the ideas being presented in English, history, and other humanities classes.
With the help of Hussey from the National Archives, teachers learned how to pair primary source documents with works of art on a similar subject to enhance the learning process. The teachers left with a literal toolbox of technological aids, teaching strategies and ideas, 37 high-quality art cards, a book of art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection, and over a dozen activities to use in the classroom.
Not only did teachers gain a plethora of teaching ideas, they also created a professional community of teachers who are excited to implement these new ideas in their classrooms this year.