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Indiana Teachers Redraw Lesson Plans with Art Databases

Giuliana Bullard Institute for Museum and Library Services

Eleventh graders in Suzanne Mance's geography class at Avon High School in Avon, Indiana, get a dose of fine art in their introduction to geography. In one lesson her students play detective and try to determine the cultural characteristics and geographic influences of two proto-Greek communities using only images of art. From the imagery in the art and the types of artifacts shown, the students often can deduct that one society, the Minoans, lived near the water and had a protected island lifestyle, while the other, the Mycenean, had a warfaring culture. In another lesson students are shown a picture of Albrecht Dürer's "Knight, Death and the Devil" and are asked to approach the etching as a reporter, coming up with answers to the who, what, when, where and why. It is an exercise that leads to discussions of symbolism in art, the history of the Renaissance, and the Black Death.

Mance is one of more than a hundred teachers in a nine-county area of Central Indiana who can access free art images on-line through the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Libraries K-12 Community Project. Funded through an IMLS National Leadership Grant for museum-library collaboration, the project provides public and private schools and libraries free access to two commercial art databases: Corbis Images and the Grove Dictionary of Art Online. Beyond access to images, the project supports the development of activities that focus on learning through art by conducting workshops and testing other model collaborative projects with elementary schools, libraries, and museums.

The project makes available to teachers and librarians thousands of art images that can be used for educational purposes. Participants obtain access to the databases by logging onto the project website and providing the Internet Provider (IP) address for their organization. Within a day or two, the school or library has a connection to the databases, which allows staff members to search the database for images and descriptive text, download images, and, where there is a printer, print out materials.

Within the first three months of 2000, 16 school districts and 50 public and private schools signed on for access to the databases. June Ward, the project director, says that the project provides resources that would otherwise be too pricey for school libraries or smaller public libraries and it points toward the benefits of cost sharing among regional institutions for licensed material. Roughly 70 schools and more than 10 libraries now access the databases.

Project staff negotiated a license for the databases that allows them to be used for almost any educational activity. While the arrangement was unusual for the database companies, it was noted in a recent report to IMLS that the project may have opened new avenues for the databases, which typically market to commercial and higher educational users. Corbis Images and Grove Dictionary of Art Online are interested now in exploring other pilot applications for K-12 learners.

During the summer of 1999, the project offered mini-grants to a dozen teachers so that they could attend a workshop on integrating art into their curriculum. The teachers developed plans for including art in their lessons and prepared study units for using art in their disciplines. Ward says the teachers discovered something that Suzanne Mance already knew: that the visual arts can be worked into any subject-that they are multi-disciplinary. She said, "We learned from the focus group that the workshop was a very positive experience for teachers. They all said that they would never teach the same way again."

Students, too, are motivated by the art in their studies. According to the project's report, students seem to remember the images used in the lessons, even after a long period of time. They also love discussing the visual arts, and they even enjoy accessing the online databases themselves.

The project continues to offer teacher workshops, many of which are held at the partnering museums. The Eiteljorg museum in downtown Indianapolis features Native American and Western art. In the spring of 1999, the museum offered four workshops for K-12 teachers. Held in conjunction with a traveling exhibition, called "Americanos: Latino Life in United States," the workshops drew a much larger group of teachers than the museum typically experiences.

Cathy Burton, Education Director at the museum, attributes the success of the workshops to a number of factors, including the involvement of the IUPUI K-12 Community project. She said, "It seems like we knock ourselves out preparing materials and checking with teachers on the kinds of things they need, but sometimes we don't get the word out to everyone who could use what we have." She noted that by telling June Ward about the workshops, she was able to get the word out and reach more teachers than ever. "We had such outstanding attendance, that we opened the museum an hour earlier," Burton added.

The most recent set of workshops included a two-day session at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where 25 teachers were introduced to a concept called visual thinking strategy. Based on the studies of museum educator Abigail Housen--who identified five stages of art viewers, from the most naïve to the most sophisticated--visual thinking strategy is an art-focused curriculum for developing critical thinking skills. It helps students progress from making the most basic personal connect to art to analyzing elements of style.

Troy Smythe, the manager of the Indianapolis Museum of Art's teacher and school program, is excited about using this new methodology to extend the reach of the museum's resources beyond traditional art education. At the start of the session, he took a poll to find out how many teachers were art educators. Suspecting that most were, he was surprised to learn that only four of the 25 had formal art education and that there were math and physics instructors in the group. He said, "We have long fought the battle to change how we are perceived in the education community. The visual arts reflect social issues, philosophy, geography, as well as aesthetic and other obvious issues. It's just a matter of seeing the links. At the museum, we are trying to figure out how to awake teachers' yearning [for fine arts]."

The next stage for the project is to identify library-based uses for the databases. Ward says that they are exploring applications especially geared for seniors, home schoolers and stay-at-home moms. The databases are currently available to public libraries in Central Indiana; plans include expanding availability to every public library in the state, perhaps through a connection with Inspire, Indiana State Library's statewide network of databases. If additional funding is secured the project will also be expanded to include many additional partners, including additional library networks and distance education groups.

Beverly Martin of the Johnson Public Library is an advisor for the K-12 Community project. She says that the project is ultimately about building collaborative partnerships that foster greater awareness about each participating institution. "Other members of this partnership came to see the public libraries as responsible for lifelong learning in the community. We had always thought our role was for lifelong learning. It's nice that other people are seeing it as well. The project is giving us all a greater awareness."

While project developers work to take the resource statewide, those teachers already using the database and attending the workshops continue to voice their approval. Mance says, "This project's a gem. It brings together technology and art, and kids love it. The technology is important, but a lot of times it comes into the school at the expense of the arts. The project helps teachers brings arts into the classroom, and it is so easy to do."

Vital Statistics

Grant:      1998 National Leadership Grant LL-89954-98 (Extended until 9/30/01)

Website:   http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/imls

Contact:   Sonja Staum-Kuniej
               IUPUI/IMLS Community Project
               Herron Art Library of IUPUI University Library
               1701 N. Pennsylvania Street
               Indianapolis, In 46202

Grant Partners:    University Library, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
                        Indianapolis Museum of Art

Project Partners: Children's Museum
                        Eiteljorg Museum
                        Indiana State Museum
                        Indiana Historial Society
                        Indiana Department of Education
                        Indiana State Library

Databases:         Corbis Images
                        Grove Dictionary of Art Online

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IUPUI Project Uses Web to Link Hoosier Students, Art Masters

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2000 For More Information Contact:
Lyn Mettler, (317) 274-7711

INDIANAPOLIS -- From Van Gogh's "Starry Night" to Munch's "The Scream," Central Indiana K-12 students are viewing artwork from museums and collections around the world from the comfort of their classroom through a program offered by University Library at IUPUI.
The IUPUI University Library Community Project is a collaboration of Central Indiana schools, museums and public libraries, funded by The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and is the only project of its kind in the nation. It allows any school in the nine-county Central Indiana area free access to databases that include thousands of digitized art images and numerous lesson plans. CD-ROMs containing similar information are available to Indiana schools outside of the nine-county area.

Students at participating schools log on to IUPUI's University Library web site at: www.ulib.iupui.edu/imls. Once at the site, they may enter either of two databases--Corbis Images or Gorve Dictionary of Art Online--which provide access to the digital images and text.

The project's dual aim is to expose students to art and provide teachers with support and guidance in incorporating art into their lessons. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Children's Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society also have pitched in to help educate and inspire local teachers by offering support and holding workshops.

Last summer, a dozen Hoosier teachers received mini-grants through the program to develop lesson plans that may be used in any classroom connected to the project. These plans are available through the web site.

Two of the mini-grant recipients, media specialist Diana Rennels and third-grade teacher Jill Taylor of Brownsburg Elementary School, found that the project had a profound impact on their classroom.

"The integration of art into my third-grade curriculum has enriched the academic and personal lives of my students," said Taylor. "Like Rembrandt and Norman Rockwell, my students painted their own self-portraits and even used a Rockwell print as a springboard for a simulated ISTEP writing experience. Our project, entitled 'From the Emerald Isle to Little Ireland: the Legacy of Farming in Brownsburg,' was selected by Congressman Ed Pease and will be part of a national database after the formal presentation of our project to the Librarian of Congress in May. The possibilities are endless."

Project leaders will apply for another grant from IMLS this coming fall to continue and expand the program. They hope to eventually digitalize artwork from local museums and expand the on-line program to include schools throughout the state.

To sign up for the program, schools should contact Sonja Staum-Kuniej, Community Project Director at (317) 920-2432 or by e-mail at sstaumku@iupui.edu.

Access to the database is also currently available through computers at IUPUI libraries, Marion County Public Libraries, and public libraries in the eight counties surrounding Indianapolis.

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Art Meets Technology at IUPUI Summer Workshops for Teachers
For Immediate Release

June 13, 2000 For More Information Contact:
Lyn Mettler, (317) 274-7711

INDIANAPOLIS -- IUPUI will help Indiana's teachers use technology to bring art into the classroom at three upcoming workshops for elementary teachers at University Library and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
During the workshops offered June 12-15, June 15-16, or June 19-22, teachers will learn how to use the resources provided by the IUPUI University Library Community Project that allows access to visual art images that can then be incorporated into class projects.

The IUPUI project is a collaboration of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and other museums, Central Indiana schools, and public libraries funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). It allows schools in the nine-county Central Indiana area free access to databases containing thousands of digitized art images and numerous lesson plans. It is the only program of its kind in the nation.

Media specialist Diana Rennels and third-grade teacher Jill Taylor, both of Brownsburg Elementary School, will lead the workshops at University Library June 12-15 and June 19-22, entitled "Picasso Makes a House Call." Both received mini-grants through the Community Project to develop lesson plans and class projects that incorporate the artwork viewed online into the classroom.

Congressman Ed Pease selected their class project entitled "From the Emerald Isle to Little Ireland: The Legacy of Farming in Brownsburg" to be included in the Library of Congress National Digital Database Project. The Library of Congress and IMLS praised the project for its uniqueness and encouraged the teachers to present the project nationally to other schools and educational agencies.

The two-day workshop at IMA, June 15-16, will focus on Visual Thinking Strategies, a teaching model for students and teachers founded on the premise that finding meaning in works of visual art involves a rich range of thinking skills.

The workshops are free and teachers who write well-developed instructinoal plans may receive $100. Teachers can also earn three hours of graduate credit or Continuing Renewal Units by attending the workshop. Media specialists are welcome to attend.

Workshops begin at 9 a.m., break for lunch from noon-1 p.m., and conclude at 3 p.m. At IUPUI's University Library workshops will be held on the lower level in computer classroom room UL 0106. At IMA classes will be held in the Riley Board Room on June 15 and in the galleries in the special events area on June 16.

For more information about the program or the workshops log on to www.ulib.iupui.edu/imls or contact Sonja Staum-Kuniej at (317) 920-2432.

Editor's note: Media are welcome to attend any day of the workshops. If possible, please contact Lyn Mettler at (317) 274-7711 if would like to attend on at University Library or Amy Sorokas at (317) 923-1331 if you would like to attend one at IMA.


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