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“Artful Connections,” a virtual tour program offered by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, allows students from third through 12th grades to visit the museum in real time without leaving their classrooms. Through videoconferencing sessions, museum docents lead the study of U.S. history and culture using the museum’s extensive holdings of American art. There are 10 standard lessons available for discussion in three categories: “Looking at Art,” “Learning History through Art” and “Celebrating Heritage.” The content of the lessons corresponds to national education standards, as well as Common Core State Standards, and tours can be tailored to match a teacher’s specific objectives. Pre- and post-visit school materials are available for school use, and video field trips typically last from 45 minutes to one hour. Though the sessions are designed primarily for school-age students, the museum also offers them to college students, senior centers and non-school groups.
Since its inception in 2002, “Artful Connections” has served nearly 57,000 students through 2,150 videoconferences. During the 2013–2014 school year, the museum reached 5,513 students in 126 schools in 30 states.
“This program really encouraged students to use background information they had acquired during research and then apply higher order thinking to interpret the artwork and participate in the discussion,” said a third-grade teacher from Clarksburg, W.V. “My students were in awe that they could talk to and listen to someone ‘live’ from Washington, D.C. The visual connection made it a successful learning experience for our special-needs students who were able to fully participate. I learned how to present art as a discussion starter for covering history and geography content. The students were very enthusiastic about this experience. Thank you.”
To learn more about “Artful Connections” or to schedule a classroom videoconference, visit americanart.si.edu/education/video.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the vision and creativity of Americans with artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. The museum is recognized as a leader in providing electronic resources to schools and the public through its national education programs. Its National Historic Landmark building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, iTunes U and ArtBabble. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Website: americanart.si.edu.
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