Teaching Critical Thinking through Art with the National Gallery of Art

edX Teaching Critical Thinking through Art with the National Gallery of Art

Smithsonian Institution
3-4 hours a week
6 weeks
Paid Certificate Available
Course Link
Based on the National Gallery of Art’s popular Art Around the Corner professional development program for teachers in Washington, D.C., this five-part online course provides everything you need to begin creating a culture of critical thinking and collaboration for any classroom, subject, or level. You do not need an art background or museum access to successfully integrate the “Artful Thinking” course materials into your teaching. Your focused attention, willingness to experiment, and commitment to trying new discussion practices with your students is all that is required.

The strategies presented in this course are adapted from Artful Thinking pedagogy, developed by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You will explore three thinking dispositions, using eight thinking routines that are easy to understand and implement. Starting with the disposition of observing and describing, you will learn how to guide your students in using their senses and communicating impressions of what they see in a work of art. The routines used in the second disposition, reasoning with evidence, ask students to make hypotheses about the art and support their arguments with observations. The questioning and investigating disposition challenges students to hone their natural curiosity by expressing their wonderings, formulating open-ended questions, and imagining implications. Throughout, you will discover the power of art to develop your students’ inclination to think deeply.

When you enroll, all the resources you need to strengthen critical thinking skills by using art for your classroom will be immediately available. We recommend that you spend a few hours learning and practicing each section before progressing to the next. The online course environment features over 20 videos and interactive tools: including a zoom tool to examine works of art at full resolution, polls to compare your thoughts with those of other participants, and discussion boards where teachers around the world will share ideas, plans, and results. Authentic lesson demonstration videos model routines led by real classroom and museum educators with students of varying ages. Interview videos provide focal points for teachers on topics like using thinking routines with emerging language learners and making accommodations for all learners. Having access to a global network of educators who, just like you, want to hone their abilities to teach critical thinking skills will be an added and enduring bonus to your course experience.

What you'll learn
  • How to use Artful Thinking Routines to strengthen thinking.
  • How to facilitate meaningful conversations in your classroom using art for artful learning and artful teaching.
  • How to help learners of all levels develop more discerning descriptions, evidence-based reasoning, and meaningful questioning habits.
  • Key strategies for using content information to push original thinking deeper.
  • Exciting, immersive activities for any type of classroom.
  • How to use learning resources from the National Gallery of Art, including downloadable artful thinking lesson plans
Unit 1: Diving into Thinking Routines

Unit 2: Observing and Describing

Unit 3: Reasoning with Evidence

Unit 4: Questioning and Investigating

Taught by
Julie Carmean
First release
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