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Five Tips for Teaching with Works of Art | MoMA Education

Video transcript
- Hi, I'm Lisa Mazzola, and I'm an educator at the Museum of Modern Art. And we are here in MoMA's galleries where I spend lots of time with students and teachers talking about works of art in our collection. I'm here to share with you my five top tips for engaging students with works of art. One of the biggest challenges the teachers tell me they have with their students, is getting them to slow down and really look at a work of art. The way that we focus students' attention here at MoMA is by asking open-ended questions. What I mean by open-ended questions are questions that don't require a yes or no answer. So what else do you notice, the overall size right? So now you're looking at this painting, the actual painting and it's much larger. Yeah, what else do you notice? - That's so flat. - [Lisa] Yeah, can you tell me more about that? What does that mean, it's so flat? These types of questions get the students comfortable generating their own ideas and making observations, and even interpretations about what they see without needing any prior knowledge about the work of art. So once you get a lively discussion going using open-ended questions, make sure to validate your students' responses and keep them focused by restating their responses to the group. It's really important to not give them all the information up front, but slowly start to layer the information in. This will leave room for the students' interpretations and ideas in the conversation. The original kind of seed of the idea was this depicting this community, this village, this place that he grew up. But it's not exactly the way that it was, right? So he added some of these sort of unrealistic things to it. Not all students feel comfortable talking in a large group. Some of them might feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts or their ideas with their fellow students. To address the needs of those students, I like to develop activities that engage other learning styles, like writing or drawing, or even incorporate physical exercises like taking on the pose or the gesture of a particular figure in an artwork. So someone asked the question about does it have to be real or does it have to be imaginary? And it can be both, right? This is just about you playing with line and shape. When you engage students in other types of learning in addition to dialogue, you're now making room for responses you might not get through conversation alone. If you can get your students thinking about personal experiences that relate to the work of art, that's a connection you're making. And the more connections you can make, the more engaged the students will be, and the more information they're ultimately going to learn. It's this connection between information and ideas that really activates the students, and oftentimes makes them want to explore works of art on their own. So you've asked questions, and you've layered in information, and you're engaged in different types of activities, and you're making connections. So my last tip for you is reflection. It's really important to take the time to reflect and synthesize what the students have learned. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can simply ask them an open-ended question about big ideas, or you can ask them to consider what they learned about the work of art that they didn't know before. You can also have them do some type of drawing or writing activity. Whatever you do, it's really important to take the time to reflect and synthesize their ideas. - [Voiceover] Amazed. - [Voiceover] I see a chair. - [Voiceover] It looks like traffic. (children murmuring) - [Voiceover] It looks like a road with cars. - [Voiceover] It looks like lights flashing on a screen. - [Voiceover] A road with cars and those boxes are schools. - [Lisa] See how it's got quiet for a second, and when we got quiet, your eyes really got in there and then all of a sudden these things, it looks like traffic, it looks like a maze, I see all the colors. It looks like a board game, right? Incorporating these five tips into your teaching will help you facilitate deeper engagements with your students and works of art.