Learning to See Learning
at the Art Museum
Ralph Córdova, Jenna Garkie,
and Candice Gaudette
How can future teachers learn to see that engaging with literature and writing are also ways of engaging
with works of art in a museum setting? What could this look like in
teacher preparation experiences? Why
should we care?
As teacher-candidates collaborating
with our university language arts
course professor, we asked ourselves
those very questions while constructing new learning spaces to explore
process-pedagogy writing instruction
in partnership with the Saint Louis
Art Museum. In doing so, we experienced noticing, inquiring, writing,
and sketching as powerful and smart
practices for interacting with works
of art. We realized the importance
of building bridges between how we
learn to teach writing, reading, and
how we prepare
to learn from
and more fully
a museum setting. We planned
to approach the museum and its art
as texts to be interacted with, much
as we had been learning to approach
reading and writing.
We’re excited to share one experience we had at the museum, and we
also want to share the connections
and insights that emerged. We hope
that you can adapt this approach for
Teacher candidates noticing, inquiring, writing, and sketching with Joan Mitchell’s Ici at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
work of art. What do you see?
Notice what’s new.
3. On a golden sheet of paper write
one question that you have about
the painting. Fold the piece of paper
in half and sit on it.
4. Take three minutes and sketch the
painting on paper.
5. With your
looking at the
words come to
them on your
6. Share your drawing/words/phrases
with a partner.
7. On a green sheet of paper, take the
words you’ve created (yours and
your partner’s) and create a word
8. Take out your question on the
golden paper and re-read it.
9. Arrange your sketch, question, and
10. Meander around, reading the
poems, observing the drawings, and
looking at the questions without
what others have drawn/written.
11. Ask for volunteers to read their
poems after walking around.
At the museum we experienced
noticing, inquiring, writing,
and sketching as powerful and
smart practices for interacting
with works of art.
Ralph A. Córdova, Jr. is director of the
Piasa Bluffs Writing Project and assistant professor of literacy and language at
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenna Garkie is a teacher candidate in the
elementary program in curriculum and
instruction at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. email@example.com
Candice Gaudette is a teacher candidate
in the elementary program in curriculum
and instruction at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Guided Looking Process
1. Sit in front of a work of art and chat
with a partner. What do you see?
( 1 minute)
2. Make a “telescope” tube with a
sheet of paper and examine the
Words of Reflection from Candice:
“As many times as I have visited a
museum, I have never approached
the work in this way. As a reader, I
have noticed that I have always been
a spectator at museums—never quite
digging into what I was seeing or
exploring what feelings it provoked.
By approaching a piece of work
with eyes that are willing to look
deeper and beyond what is on the surface (searching for approach, meaning,
motive, technique, etc.), it is actually
possible to have an experience with
that piece instead of a moment.”