The Smart Museum’s sequential, multiple-visit programs—Art in Focus for third graders and Smart Explorers for fifth graders—are the cornerstones of our educational initiatives. Offered to public elementary schools on the South Side of Chicago, these programs are designed to integrate visual art into the classroom and enhance student literacy, critical thinking, observation, and communication skills through museum visits, classroom discussions, online activities, and art making.
Both programs introduce students to original works of art, a multitude of media and processes, and related vocabulary for the purpose of broadening students’ understanding of artistic concepts, increasing comprehension of visual vocabulary, improving art-making skills, and building student self-confidence and communication skills.
For more information about these programs, e-mail Lisa Davis, Manager of Tour and Teacher Initiatives, or call 773.834.1066.
The Art in Focus and Smart Explorer programs are generously supported by Smart Partners and the Polk Bros. Foundation.
Art in Focus and Smart Explorers meet Illinois State Standards and the Common Core curriculum in the areas of English Language Arts, Fine Arts, Social Science, Math, and Social/Emotional Learning. Students read images as informational text, use techniques like compare and contrast to discuss works of art, give evidence to support inferences and opinions, make direct and personal connections to authentic works of art, and consider multiple perspectives in discussions.
Art in Focus and Smart Explorers include four visits to the Smart Museum alternating with four art-making sessions led by Gabriel Garcia-Fraire—a Chicago-based artist with extensive teaching experience—in the students’ own classrooms. The length of the full program is eight, sequential weeks. Each museum visit/studio session lasts 90 minutes.
The objectives of this eight-week program are to:
Specially trained University of Chicago student docents lead all visits to the Smart Museum (each 90 minutes) and introduce students to methods of looking at and communicating about works of visual art.
Supported by writing and drawing activities in the Smart's galleries, students work with docents to develop a visual vocabulary that allows them to explore their own ideas about art; increases critical thinking and communication skills; builds a comprehension of the tools and processes of creation, as well as the purpose and function of museums. Each classroom works with the same docents for all Museum sessions; this is one of the ways in which continuity and rapport is built into the programs.
During the in-classroom studio sessions, our professional teaching artist Gabriel Garcia-Fraire—a Chicago-based artist with extensive teaching experience—introduces the students to a wide range of processes and media in order to reinforce concepts covered during the Museum visits and encourage students in their own work. The students create artworks inspired by the Smart's collection.
For a week-by-week outline of the Art in Focus and Smart Explorers programs, please review the curriculum and teacher guides:
In addition to feedback from our docents and teachers, we also have in place an evolving, responsive system of evaluation that has been critical to the ongoing success of the Smart's multi-visit tour programs. In 2012–2013, this system will be three-fold:
Integrating all facets of the visual arts into the school curriculum enables the Smart Museum to maintain long-term partnerships with Chicago Public Schools in neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago on the city’s South Side. As part of the multi-visit programs, participating teachers receive an extensive, week-by-week curriculum that outlines the objectives for each visit—including related vocabulary and concepts that the docents will address—and hands-on lesson ideas that integrate objects from the Museum collection plus a supplementary kit of art supplies.
Each teacher attends a professional development workshop (held quarterly) as an orientation before their classroom tours begin. During the workshop teachers review the curriculum with Musuem staff, participate in hands-on art-making with the Teaching Artist, and work together to draft arts-integrated lesson plans.
Participating teachers also collaborate with University of Chicagos students to develop their own unique, arts-integrated lesson for incorporation into their curriculum. This facet of the program can take place any time during the duration of the eight-week program and is intended to accomplish two goals: (1) to give aspiring teachers the opportunity to work with master educators and (2) to support veteran teachers in creating new lessons that make use of the Smart's collection.
A limited number of classrooms can participate in the Art in Focus or Smart Explorers multi-visit programs each year. There is no fee for classrooms to participate—the Smart provides bus transportation, teacher training, art-making supplies, and more. The application period for the 2012–2013 school year has passed; applications to participate during the 2013–2014 school year will be made available in the summer.
The Sahmat Collective
February 14–June 9, 2013
Explore art and activism in the world's most populous democracy, India.
The Smart's biennial report is now available online. The Bulletin details the Museum's exhibitions, programs, acquisitions, and generous supporters over the last two years.