Professional Development Programs for Educators

Three teachers smiling

Designed for classroom teachers, SAAM's interactive web-based workshops feature engaging "Monday-ready" activities that provoke deep thinking and invite students to apply content knowledge across the curriculum and in the world. Get certificates of completion for seat hours and join a community of practice that stretches across the US!

In addition to our scheduled workshops, we are able to create customized, interactive digital workshops for in-service days. For more information, send an email to AmericanArtEducation@si.edu.

 

2021-22 Programs

Alma Thomas: Teacher, Artist, Trailblazer (Part 2)

September 13, 2022, 4-5pm

Art meets science in the paintings of Alma Thomas, a trailblazing artist who took creative inspiration from plants, nature, and the cosmos.

Join a rich conversation with aerospace engineer Janelle Wellons and horticulturist Abra Lee, as they reflect on artist Alma Thomas’s legacy as a STEAM trailblazer. Wellons shares insights on how visual images and inquiry can unlock the mysteries of the cosmos, while Lee unearths the histories of Black gardeners. Together, these reflections provide an in-depth understanding of Thomas’s cultural impact and the ways in which her work continues to inspire adults and students alike.

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite

Register Here

In-Person Teacher Workshop: Differentiate Instruction with Art

Saturday, October 22 | 9:00 a.m. - noon

How can artwork help all students access core learning?

Differentiated instruction allows teachers to adapt content, process, and products to students’ needs. Collaborate with colleagues and uncover how artwork can offer students multiple ways to access content and explore ideas, while providing options to demonstrate their understanding of concepts.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite | Meet in G Street Lobby

Register Here

Virtual Teacher Workshop: Build SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Skills

Wednesday, November 16, 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

How can artwork help us exercise our interpersonal skills?

People are all different. Our bodies, families, beliefs, abilities, and experiences vary, sometimes making communication difficult. Artwork can often communicate what we do not have the words for across cultures and differences. In this virtual workshop, practice multiple approaches and gain new resources for building mutual understanding and connecting with others.

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite

Register Here

In-Person Teacher Workshop: Assess Understanding through Artwork

Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. – noon

How can artwork provide opportunities for engaging (and measurable!) assessment?

Supporting deep understanding—not just building knowledge—provides students with transferable, meaningful learning. Collaborate with education colleagues to explore how artwork and micro-assignments can provide teachers with formative assessments along students’ learning pathways

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite | Meet in G Street Lobby

Register Here

Virtual Teacher Workshop: Build Problem-Solving Skills with Craft

Wednesday, February 15, 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

How might students explore place and time to imagine a brighter future?

How might students explore place and time to imagine a new future?

"This Present Moment" marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery. The works on display capture the challenges of today, from environmental crises to poor labor conditions and more, and inspire dreams about a path forward. What open-ended problems do these works prompt us to consider? What data is needed to understand and solve these issues? What procedure or algorithm might help us create positive change? Let’s apply computational thinking to craft!

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Register Here

In-Person Teacher Workshop: “Read” and Write Personal Narratives with Art

Saturday, March 18, 9 a.m. – noon

If we are made of stories, how might artwork support students as they write about their own lives?

We are the embodiment of our experiences. Drawing from SAAM’s collection of self-taught artists, peel back the layers to discover unique perspectives and experiences. First, consider how your own storytelling might be a powerful tool in your classroom. Then, plan for how your students might use narrative writing to explore the influences that have shaped them.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite | Meet in G Street Lobby

Register Here

In-Person Teacher Workshop: Unlock Curiosity and Creativity through Embodied Learning

Saturday, April 1, 9 a.m. – noon

How can movement help us identify gaps in understanding and express new learning creatively?

By embodying a process, students can think more deeply and expansively, uncover gaps in their knowledge, and teach others through their performances. Explore artworks to exercise analytical skills and spark ideas, then work in small groups to creatively express new understandings. Bring your cell phone to make a mini movie with your colleagues!

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite | Meet in G Street Lobby

Register Here

Virtual Teacher Workshop: Apply History’s Habits of Mind; The American West

Wednesday, May 24 | 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.

How might we extend our thinking about the past by exploring sources from the present?

“The American West” has always been a place of multiple stories, experiences, and cultures. Examine works from this traveling exhibition to consider how the telling of history can be expanded through modern and contemporary art.

Online program. A Zoom link and a list of suggested materials will be sent to registered participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.

Free | Registration required via Eventbrite

Register Here

Interrogating the Stories We Tell

How can museum objects and works of art can broaden our perspectives, reveal silenced stories, and make relevant connections to our world today? Explore these questions in a self-paced course led by educators at six Smithsonian museums.

Register today for this self-paced course

Interdisciplinary Teaching with Museum Objects

Co-facilitated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Register today for this self-paced course

 

2021-2022 Workshop Archive

Pairing Art and Text (ELA)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Develop strategies for identifying artworks that can help build and extend student comprehension of texts.

Watch the Recorded Workshop

 

Visible Data: Making Meaning Through Art (STEAM)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

How do artists convey complex interconnections clearly and compellingly?

Watch the Recorded Workshop

Big Art, Big Systems (Civics)

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Uncover how the interdependence of elements of an artwork helps us consider interdependencies in society.

Watch the Recorded Workshop

Neighborhood Historians (Continuity and Change Over Time)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

How can photographs challenge students to gauge what has changed and what has stayed the same?

Watch the Recorded Workshop

Heart and Head: A Call to Action (Global Competencies)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

What lessons can artists teach students, our future global leaders, about inspiring action?

Watch the Recorded Workshop

Memorials and Memory (SEL)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Some artists are also veterans. How might their artworks give us and our students a way to feel loss and also connection? Presented with the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).

Watch the Recorded Workshop

Alma Thomas: Teacher, Artist, Trailblazer, Inspiration 

September 17, 2021

Join museum educators and art conservators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a "behind the scenes" look at the trailblazing artist Alma Thomas and the unique way she created her exuberant abstract paintings.

This online workshop was part of the Smithsonian’s First Annual Educator’s Day.

Read More

Past Programs

A slide from a presentation in which four works of art are accompanied by the text "How might you use these ideas in the classroom"

A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture

Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom.

 

a slide from a presentation with an artwork of people sitting on a house and text asking questions like "What are the parts of this story?" and "What do you see"

2020-2021 Archived Workshop Recordings

Look into our archive to find even more interactive, web-based workshops.

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