Since this project has not reached completion at the time of this newsletter, Nancy can only anticipate the reactions of her students. However, she knows the positive nature of student reactions to works of art. “Last year, I took a bulletin board in a well-traveled hallway and set it up as a fine arts gallery. It’s at a place near the cafeteria where kids often stand in line. I started with a poster from the Picturing America set and added text such as background, vocabulary words, and questions about how to look at the artwork. I also put this information in the teachers’ mailboxes so that they would know what to ask their students as they passed by the paintings. I also used posters from some of the Philadelphia Museum of Art poster sets. Over the course of last year, I was able to put up about eight paintings. “Later in the school year, when I did a unit on painting on the computers [using several museum sites for students], I found that the students recognized several paintings from the museum sites as those from the fine arts bulletin board and knew about them, so I knew it was having some impact. “Unfortunately, we don’t currently have an art teacher at Penn Alexander, so the teachers have taken the initiative to include art when they can in their classrooms. Some have borrowed the teaching posters from the Museum and some have asked me to download things for them (such as the portraits one fifth grade teacher was using to teach early American studies). Also, this year I will be responsible for creating a school news broadcast with the students. One segment of their news broadcast will be ‘Eye on Art,’ and I’ll be using posters from The Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ll help the students investigate the paintings and they are then going to present them on our news broadcast. They see me now as an art resource here.” Nancy’s westward movement museum will be unveiled in December, and it’s easy to imagine the positive impact her students will have on each other and on the school environment in general. The West may never be the same.
(L-R) Fiona, Sean, Hana, Emma
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