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Museum Tours Popular

Crystal Bridges Plays Part In Art Curriculum by Amye Buckley | November 25, 2012 at 5:00 a.m.
Laura Marie Rivera leads a discussion with fifth-graders on the painting “Ploughing it Under” by Thomas Hart Benton at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville.

— Art is illustrating lessons from other subjects through Common Core-based tours at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Tours should connect to the classroom, said Anne Kraybill, school programs manager at the museum. Crystal Bridges' tours are built around what teachers need students to know, instead of around pieces of art.

At A Glance

Teacher Fellowship

The Walton Arts Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the University of Arkansas Center for Children and Youth announced last week the ARTeacher Fellowship, a pilot program providing training for 10 secondary teachers to explore arts-integration methods to meet Common Core State Standards. The fellowship is designed to further the practice of arts-integration in area high schools. The 2012-13 ARTeacher Fellows:

Brandon S Flammang, Springdale Alternative Learning Environment

Bryant Davis, Bentonville High School

Elizabeth Spicer, Rogers High School

John O’Berski, Lincoln High School

Joshua Vest, Bentonville High School

Katy Buehrer, Hackett High School

Katy Moore, Har-Ber High School

Kenya I. Windel, Deer High School

Scott Lampkin, Fayetteville High School

Wayne Levering, Heritage High School

Source: Staff Report

Common Core standards have rewritten classroom content around the country, putting an emphasis on cross disciplinary teaching, such as reading in science class or art paired with history.

A dozen fifth-graders from Bellview Elementary School in Rogers squirmed in front of Richard Caton Woodville’s “War News from Mexico” as part of a recent tour examining the American Civil War.

The tour is built on a Common Core standard asking elementary students how people, fictional or otherwise, are changed through conflict.

Laura Marie Rivera, educator at the Crystal Bridges, pointed to the painting and asked children what the people could be thinking.

Cards with four portraits from the painting were on the children's clipboards: a man, woman, slave girl and a man reading the news.

“Try and imagine what would you be thinking and what would you want to know,” Rivera said.

Students wrote their responses.

“Will I have to fight in the war?”

“Will I have to move?”

“I would be worried.”

Art is inherently emotional and can draw out responses that a history book cannot, Kraybill said.

“If they can't relate it to their own life, they're not going to care,” she said.

Art gives children a pictorial perspective on history, said parent Stephanie James. Her children surprised her by focusing on traditional pieces instead of the modern art when they toured the museum, she said.

Educators use questions to teach throughout the tour encouraging students to look for information in the title of the painting, its content and historical context, Kraybill said.

The museum will add three full-time staff members Monday to help with student tours, doubling capacity, Kraybill said. An estimated 11,500 school children have toured Crystal Bridges in the year since it opened.

In 2013, museum administrators estimate 24,000 students will take a guided tour. An iPod tour program still in development could allow a few thousand high school students to take a self-guided tour.

New staff members will help develop a web component with lesson plans and a database searchable by content, subject and artist so teachers can allow students to visit Crystal Bridges collection without leaving the classroom. Even with the expanded program, there will still be a waiting list from spring applications, Kraybill said.

Tours are sponsored through the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program, a $10 million endowment supporting one-hour student tours, transportation and lunch.

At A Glance

Core Tours

Educators at Crystal Bridges have designed several tours designed to dovetail with Common Core standards.

w Wild West, second grade, tours art depicting Native Americans and pioneers from the American West.

Coming of Age, fifth grade, tours art from the Civil War era to the Great Depression.

Looking Back on America, eighth grade, looks at how artists in multiple disciplines have shaped history.

Emerging Modernism, 11th grade, traces the effect of industrialization on jazz and abstract art.


Next year high schools will roll out new Common Core standards. Art integration in English and social studies classrooms is being emphasized through the ARTeacher Fellowship, launched earlier this year through a museum partnership with the Walton Arts Center, and the University of Arkansas Center for Children and Youth. Ten high school teachers in Northwest Arkansas were chosen to learn about arts integration through the yearlong program.

After Common Core was put into place at elementary schools two years ago, teachers in other disciplines started using art in the classroom, said Olivia Slone, art educator at Elza R. Tucker Elementary School and elementary lead art teacher for the Rogers School District. Now when she displays a piece of art children shout where they've seen it at school.

“It's like a celebrity or something,” Slone said.

Common Core added emphasis to art by listing art pieces with books as resources, said

“Before now, the kids were only seeing art in art class,” Slone said.

Visual learners will retain more information if they can link the art with historic information, Slone said. Her students visit the museum and sometimes she will show them a picture and tell them they can find it at Crystal Bridges.

“It's like a scavenger hunt,” she said.

A visit to see Crystal Bridges' collection is valuable for students, said Donna Farley, a Bellview fifth-grade math and science teacher.

“I think it's important for them to get out and experience what we talk about in the classroom,” Farley said after a tour on Nov. 19.

“I wanted it to be longer,” said Bellview fifth-grader Brad Campbell after his tour.

Web Watch

For more information about educational tours offered to school groups through Crystal Bridges visit:

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