Next-Generation Learning: Identifying Needs

#NCMAasks (2)What do students and teachers need to navigate the shifting landscape of education? The NCMA project team working on the IMLS grant Museum Solutions for Tomorrow’s Learners have identified the primary student and teacher needs after speaking with hundreds of educators, administrators, and museum stakeholders over the past few months. As technology becomes more integrated, content more open and accessible, and new models of education introduced, museums are poised to provide spaces and experiences to meet these needs.

This list will guide our discussions and planning for prototyping programs and resources as we move into the “imagine phase” of the grant.

Top 4 Teacher Needs

  • Time (saving time, time management, classroom models to individualize learning).
  • Professional development (new technology, standards, curricular integration, acting as a facilitator, differentiation).
  • Collaborators (other teachers, community partners, museum).
  • Proof (research, data, advocacy, awareness, analysis of student work/ teacher appraisal instrument, alternative assessments).

Top 4 Student Needs

  • Play/experiment (hands on, creativity, tinkering, alternative learning spaces, maker spaces).
  • Authentic approaches to demonstrate learning (mastery, formative, project-based).
  • Real-world skill sets (soft skills, project-based, career readiness, making, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, planning and organizing).
  • Engagement (active learning, individualized, child-centered, student-directed, mindset, participatory).

To hear more discussion about these needs, check out our Google Hangout that shared our findings from the “ask phase” with the museum community at large. We were joined by two members of our national thought partner network, Seema Rao and Kris Wetterland, who contributed to the discussion.

As we move into the “imagine phase” of this planning process, we ask you to take a moment to dream about what the ideal learning environment will look like in 2020. What does the art room of tomorrow look like? What does a museum visit look like?
Our next post will share some solutions students have imagined for next-generation learning.

Next-Generation Learning: Asking Around

11154961_10205774211545734_262573898902355917_oOur last blog post about the NCMA’s planning grant from IMLS introduced our guiding question: What is the unique role of art museums in supporting tomorrow’s learners in North Carolina and beyond? To develop an audience-based needs assessment, the project team had many conversations with groups identified as stakeholders in the planning process. The discussions revolved around four main themes: trends in education and museums, change, educator and student needs, and the museum’s role._DSC1695

Our stakeholders included:

  • Collaborative Planning Team members (12 educators and administrators from across the state who meet quarterly)
  • NCMA Education staff
  • NCMA Board of Trustees Education Committee
  • NCMA staff members from the curatorial, marketing and communications, visitor services, performing arts, and planning and design departments
  • Representatives from the North Carolina Arts Council, Arts North Carolina, and the Department of Public Instruction
  • NCMA docents
  • Educators participating in an #NCed twitter chat.

Questions posed:

  • What trends in education (schools/museums) have you seen in the past five years that will have lasting impact?
  • What do you think will be the most powerful change in classrooms/museums in the next five years?
  • What are the growing needs of educators and students across the state?
  • What is the role of the art museum in the state?

We’ll share the results from these conversations in our next post.

The Museum’s Role in Next-Generation Learning

Design-ProcessSTEMAre you interested in current trends in education and how they will change the design of learning spaces, the way students access content and show what they know, and how educators will connect with others and grow their practice? We are, too!

In September 2014, the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Education Department received a grant from IMLS to spend two years collaborating with educators, students, and a national panel of experts to investigate the question: What is the unique role of art museums in supporting tomorrow’s learners in North Carolina and beyond?

To answer this question, the project team will experiment with a STEM-based[1] and art-infused design process to first identify questions, challenges, needs, or gaps among key audiences and within the existing research and literature, and then, based on those findings, plan, prototype, and refine a scalable menu of collection-based programs and resources designed to deepen learning across the disciplines for prekindergarten to college students and teachers.

We and our Collaborative Planning Team will keep you up to date with our findings as we move through the design process, and we’ll keep you informed of opportunities to be involved with discussions and experiences connected to the grant.

[1] STEM is an acronym for the fields of study in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

2014 -15 Big Picture Fellows

The Big Picture has been offering a yearlong fellowship to educators interested in developing their skills and understanding of arts integration. This summer we had over 150 applications! It was a definite challenge to narrow down the field of amazing educators who would work with Big Picture educators over the 2014-­15 school year. We’re thrilled to introduce the three teams of educators who were selected. In their own words, they describe where and what they teach and answer one of the following questions:

  • Why are the arts essential to what you teach?
  • What do you hope to get out of the fellowship?
  • What is your favorite work of art from the NCMA collection, and why?

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Amy Yount

I teach 5th grade at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School in Greensboro, which is in Guilford County. Art is essential to what I teach because my students may not be able to say what they are thinking with words, but they can show me through their artwork.


photo (20)Doris Kroiss

I am a 5th grade ESL teacher at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School, which is a public school in Guilford County. Our school serves refugees and immigrants who have recently arrived in the U.S. I have always said that working at our school is like traveling without leaving home. Our students bring with them a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. Art is an essential tool in my teaching because of its psychological effects on my often traumatized students. Teaching content curriculum with art allows me to put my students at ease while motivating them to learn. It has become an invaluable asset to my teaching.

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Andrew Brennan

I teach 10th grade English at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh. My favorite work of art at NCMA is Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) because its psychedelic colors and messy geometry are just plain fun to take in.


Chip2Chip Stone

I teach AP Environmental Science at Leesville Road High School. I am starting my ninth year at Leesville. I’ve been a college professor at Davidson College, UNC–CH, and UNC–Wilmington. I have also been a business owner and hospital administrator. I really like teaching and look forward to using art to help my students love and appreciate science and the arts.

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Anita Rubino

I teach visual arts at Currituck County High School. We live on the beautiful northeast coast of North Carolina. Working with the fellowship is going to enable my colleague and me to pursue a fusion approach to teaching art and English. Working thus far with our advisor, Camille, has been incredible! She is able to bring all the resources the Museum can offer to our collaboration. We are truly excited about the potential to effect change in teaching at our school!

photo (19)Valerie A. Person

I teach English language arts, primarily 10th grade and AP Literature and Composition, at Currituck County High School in Barco, North Carolina. We are part of the OBX. Why do I love the arts? For me, they are a vehicle I ride in to get to the truth. Our ability to create and appreciate art is what separates us from other living creatures. Art is my comfort food; it’s what I “eat” to feel at home.

The Flipped Museum: Artists in Process

The Big Picture Team would like to share another great program offered by our Education Team.

Have you experimented with a “flipped” classroom? Are you interested in blended learning and looking for opportunities to try it out in your school? The NCMA Education team is piloting a blended learning experience that flips the Museum to help deliver content and activities in a fresh way. The deadline to participate is December 1. Read below for more information about the course and how to apply.

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The Flipped Museum

The North Carolina Museum of Art seeks high school art educators to pilot an innovative blended learning program that inverts the delivery of content for a more student-centered approach. This spring, almost 300 high school students from across the state will participate in our first comprehensive pilot of the Flipped Museum called Artists in Process.

What problem does the program address?

Museum tours and studio programs have limited time to engage groups of students who have little knowledge of discussing art in galleries or the content being discussed. There may be advanced students who need to be challenged, along with students who feel overwhelmed. Teachers interested in bringing students for self-guided experiences have limited time and resources to research and design gallery experiences. How can we provide engaging learning experiences for students to deepen learning at the Museum?

What’s the solution?

Based upon the approach of the flipped classroom, the Flipped Museum puts students in control of their learning rather than teachers or docents. The NCMA seeks high school art educators to pilot a new blended learning course to “preload” students before visiting the Museum so they can apply this knowledge during their field trip. Blended learning combines online learning and face-to-face (F2F) learning in the classroom and at the Museum. Students can log in to the Museum’s secure learning management platform to watch content-rich videos that are not published outside of this platform. Teachers become facilitators, working with Museum educators as well as other teachers across the state to engage students in their classroom and at the Museum.

The Museum hopes to build on the foundations of choice-based art education by providing individualized student-centered learning so students can make choices to read content and watch videos that interest them at their own pace. Based on our initial blended learning pilot in spring 2014, we have created a new experience with increased flexibility for teachers to set the pace for students. While we recommend students have one week in the course before visiting the Museum and continue for two weeks after the visit, teachers and students will have access to the course for the entire semester.

DI24944-146What is Artists in Process?

Artist in Process is a blended learning unit that combines individual and collaborative investigation of the artistic process online, in the classroom, and at the Museum. For this course, the Museum will pair classes online whose field trip will be on the same day. Students can watch videos of contemporary North Carolina artists Beverly McIver, Thomas Sayre, and Kiki Farish discussing their process of finding inspiration, developing ideas, and making art. Classes from across the state will partner to explore the artistic process online, individually, and at the Museum.

This blended learning unit was created as a resource to develop work for the annual Teens, Inspired exhibition. Students may choose to submit their work at the end of the blended learning unit. Watch this short Prezi to see how Teens, Inspired and Artists in Process are connected.

How do you apply?

Complete this Google form by December 1. Teachers will be notified by December 11. Teacher orientation begins in early January with a 30-minute Google Hangout and access to the online course. The blended learning unit tentatively begins January 28. Visits to the Museum would be between March 3 and March 13.

Interested, but not a high school art teacher?

We’ll offer opportunities in the next few months to provide feedback on the next blended learning unit integrating English language arts, social studies, and art.

From STEM to STEAM: Reflections from our Big Picture Fellow John Scarfpin

KM_72_Scarfpin_JohnMiddle school teacher John Scarfpin finished up his fellowship with the NCMA Big Picture team this summer and wrote this reflection of his year diving into the arts as a STEM teacher. Here he shares his perspective on what it means to teach the arts. The student work that came out of his fellowship will be on display in the Museum’s education galleries through January 2015. You can also visit his website Technology, Engineering, and Design.

When I first took on the challenge of integrating art into my STEM class, I thought, “I already do this, it’ll be easy.” Then I actually began to look at what art teachers really have to teach. I never thought of art as problem solving, nor did I ever consider how much one needs to know to complete a work of art. I always thought of art as something that just happened. Someone found inspiration in something and created something they thought would be cool or expressive of a situation. My experience as a Big Picture fellow has given me a new perspective and respect for art teachers in general.

When I think of problem solving, I think of engineering, math, or science─but art, it was not even on the radar. I never thought that there was a problem in art. I have taken art classes in painting, photography, pottery, three-dimensional design, and sculpture, and never thought of the assignments as problems. I simply found them as enjoyable activities. I find great joy in creating things, and that was the way I viewed art as a class. Then the paradigm shift began to happen. I started to look at the parallels between art, engineering, science, and math. In all of these things, as with the rest of the universe, the foundation of these areas of study has to do with how the elements are arranged. The difference between wood stacked in a pile and the frame of a house, grains of sand and glass, numbers on paper and a well-formulated equation, paint on a palette and a masterpiece on the wall, all comes back to organization.

Once I began to realize this, my project began to take shape in my mind. Through the engineering and design procengineering_design_process1-2fdq4vsess, we began to integrate the elements of design from art. My students studied Vollis Simpson’s Wind Machine and began to define the problem they had. We wanted to create our own kinetic sculptures that we could display in the Museum. Originally, to give the project context, I had the students focus on creating something similar to Wind Machine, but as we began to move through the E&D process and identify constraints, we realized that wind was not on our side, given the display area. As a result, we modified our designs to use gearboxes and motors. As each team worked on brainstorming solutions to the problem, many different ideas emerged, ranging from pieces derived from perpetual motion machines and marble machines to more organic structures with spinning flowers.

As the ideas began to take shape and grow, so did the challenge of managing it all. Students had to then figure out which materials to use for their construction and how to assemble it so it would actually work. We focused on simple machines and compound machines in figuring out the mechanics needed to make the pieces work. Students began to bring in many assorted materials, such as cardboard, marbles, tubing, paint, and even a tree stump.

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For me, as the instructor, the real problem working against me was time. I thought two weeks would work for this project, and testing was coming, so I thought, “This will work out in time.” But two weeks became four weeks, and then after testing was over, another week until school was dismissed. In total the students spent five weeks working on the projects that I thought would take about two weeks of class time.

All I know is that art teachers must be some amazing people. I have done science projects that require extensive construction, but this was something else. Everyone was given the same prompt at the beginning, and every team took a different approach to the problem. Each project grew into extremely involved and detailed construction, and if school had not ended, I think the students would have spent several weeks more trying to add to each one.

In the end, even though some projects remain incomplete, I do not see this as a failure. This project is about the process and not the product. I feel that the students learned a great deal about the design process and how all the various curriculum areas go together in solving real world problems. There is a lot of room in STEM to make STEAM. The challenge I see is in most experiments and engineering activities is that when it works you are done. With art it is only truly done when you are ready to set down your tools and say it is done.

Introducing Concept Explorer v2

By Ashley Weinard, Educator


Concept mapping on just got way more fun, flexible, and personal. The new and improved version of the NCMA’s Concept Explorer tool lets you customize your concept maps with your own images and your own concepts. We have been listening to your feedback and requests for more versatility! Thanks for helping us make our mapping tool even cooler and more useful.

Now, let’s see what you can do with the new CE 2.0:

1. You can map your own images, as well as NCMA collection works.

Can’t find the image you are looking for on ArtNC? Add your own.

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Look for this icon in your Portfolio or under the My Images tab in the Concept Explorer. Click on the icon to upload a selfie, photo of a friend, your favorite landscape, an object you treasure, a student art work, or even an NCMA gallery shot. The options are endless. Be creative!

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Personal images are stored in your Portfolio. Your photos will remain private unless you decide to make your concept maps public.

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2. You can tag your personal images with Big Picture concepts and your own concepts.

After you upload your own image, you can tag it with provided Big Picture concepts (e.g., change, communication, environment, interdependence), and you can add your own concepts to your image. (Go wild!) All the concepts you have selected and added will show up as options for concept mapping your image.

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3. You can use your iPad or Android tablet to take and upload new photos within the Concept Explorer.

Have a tablet? Head outside, visit a museum gallery, or capture your classroom. Create a concept map of what you see around you.

Log into your account. Then tap the Start a Concept Map button on the home page.

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Select My Images and tap the Add-an-Image icon.

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Choose Image File and the Take Photo option. Use the photo or retake it to get a better shot. Add an image title, select your concepts, or add your own. Now you’re ready to start your map.

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These new Concept Explorer features give you and your students the freedom and versatility to design and customize your own concept maps. Share your unique ideas and images with other teachers by making your maps public! Or, browse maps shared by other teachers in the Concept Maps section of the web site. Custom concept maps are distinguished by a camera icon on the bottom right of the map icon.

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Connect and share in your own way. We can’t wait to see and hear about the new connections you and your students create!



Why Concept Mapping?

Ashley Weinard, Educator and NCMA teacher workshops are built around the practice of concept mapping. Remember those black and white graphic organizers with spokes and arrows? We don’t use those. NCMA concept mapping is art based and designed to spur creative, critical, and collaborative thinking.

NCMA online tools and professional development programs focus on helping teachers build two key professional and life skills: visual literacy and making connections. After several years at the planning table with groups of teachers, NCMA educators learned that these particular skills enable teachers to be more successful at integrating the visual arts (and works of art) into classroom instruction. They also happen to be critical skills that you are charged with transferring to your students. Visual literacy and making connections support the Common Core’s focus on critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis.

Concept mapping is the perfect collaborative tool for exploring how ideas and concepts connect and expand. Starting with a visual image makes ideas flow more rapidly and opens up thinking. Works of art add a layer of depth and wonder that makes the brainstorming and group conversation even richer. Connections are found, ideas are created, and team trust is developed. As one teacher said, “When you synthesize it all together, it becomes this amazing thing that no one of us would have done just alone.”

Think this might be a good exercise for your planning team? Watch this video to see how to put it into action. If you would like additional support, contact the Big Picture team to set up a team workshop in your area. Or, create your own concept map at

Look closely. Discover connections. Be inspired to think and teach creatively.


Want more? Read our last post Why Concepts?

Why Concepts?



By Ashley Weinard, Educator

Have you ever tried to collaborate and discovered you have a hard time finding common ground? Does your colleague across the hall speak a different language from yours? It turns out vocabulary is one of the most common obstacles to collaboration.

Big Picture Concepts are designed to help educators find commonality across the table and within the disciplines. Take a step back from the topics you teach day to day, and consider what abstract concepts encompass your information.

Fractions = part to whole, order

Weather = environment, variation, cycle, force

American Revolution = power, change, time, place

Neighborhoods = interdependence, environment, impact

Plot = communication, order, perspective, conflict

Yes, volcanoes and character development are radically different topics. However, they both have to do with change and adaptation. If you start the conversation with the concepts you share, it will be easier to find opportunities for co-teaching and collaborative planning.

ArtNC lesson plans can be used as models for how to teach integrated content through concepts. In this lesson about North Carolina agriculture, students tackle the concepts of change, impact, perspective, and technology at once through a creative writing and art-making exercise.

Search to discover how all of the Big Picture concepts play out across the disciplines. You might find that your point of intersection lies in a work of art.

Knowing and Sharing Yourself

Ashley Weinard, Educator


Before I can be generous and put things out into the world, I have to be my most authentic self, which is painting. That is my voice. That is my expression. And, then, it makes me a better teacher in the classroom.”—Beverly McIver

Last week’s Spring Educator Expo in Rocky Mount, N.C., celebrated our identities as educators, creative problem solvers, colleagues, and lifelong learners. It was an opportunity to feel nourished, supported, and encouraged for the very hard and generous work of teaching. The food, wine, camaraderie, laughter, breakout sessions, and artist talks were fuel that reignited our collective desire and energy to teach creatively. The experience was a pat on the back and a friendly push forward.

On this night it was artist Beverly McIver’s presentation “Knowing Yourself” that provided the sweetest and most nurturing food for our weary spirits. We listened as Beverly talked about her own journey in coming to understand herself through painting, the encouragement of her own art teachers, and the constant love and support of her mother and sisters. Her authentic paintings reveal so much of Beverly, but there is still something very introspective about them that keeps you from really knowing what she is reflecting on internally. Having her speak words into her images added another luscious layer of color and humanity to the dried paint. We began to see her paintings as exercises in honest self-exploration, which Beverly says gives her the ability to graciously share her own talents and encouragement with others.

Group discussion with Beverly also raised the questions: How many different identities do each of us have? What is the common strand that runs between them? How can we help students make sense of who they are?


In one expo breakout session, a group of teachers tried out selfies as a format to help kids explore themselves. We are teaching a selfie generation, but how often do our students stop to consider what their handheld reflection communicates to the world around them? This group of teachers tested a new version of the Concept Explorer to see how it could be used as a tool to help students stop, look, and reflect before they put their best face forward. This online concept-mapping tool, due out early this summer, allows teachers and students to create concept maps with their own images, selfies included. The selfie maps give students (and teachers) a chance to identify a set of concepts that define them and then explore how those concepts play out in their lives and identities. With some coaching students can transfer personalized selfie maps (think rough draft) into more refined portraits of word and image that reveal their own complexity and beauty to themselves and let them confidently shine their faces to the world around them.




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