This series of online teaching guides supplement the free art books provided by A.R.T.’s Library Program

— What

These Teaching Guides use art making as a model for literacy. They propose that artistic methods of thinking, questioning, and creating are valuable tools that can be applied within a range of contexts. Their aim is to facilitate the direct use of A.R.T.'s Library Program books in educational activities, and to equip readers with broader strategies for communication, critical inquiry, and social action.

Each guide is developed through a year-long engagement with our annual artist honoree.

— Why

The series was initiated in response to the question: What happens when a Library Program book reaches a library’s shelf?

The deeper concern this question raises is: How and where does access begin? What information, concepts and tools do readers require to meaningfully engage with books on contemporary art? And further, how can these books be put to use?

— How

These guides are designed for use by teachers and librarians.

We suggest you begin with the Guiding Question and the artist’s Biography to understand the key concerns each guide poses. In Activities, you can find sample exercises structured for specific age groups, alongside learning objectives.

— Method

Teaching Guides aim to build critical literacy through the arts. We define literacy as the ability to use language (including written, oral, visual, and bodily forms) to understand, question, and communicate concepts and knowledge within and between contexts. Literacy is not limited to the skills of reading and writing, but further involves the ability to expand one’s frameworks of understanding and transform texts through their active use.

A.R.T.’s teaching method is modeled on the Understanding by Design framework developed by educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

The model emphasizes student understanding of big ideas through a ‘backwards planning’ method in which learning goals are outlined prior to classroom activities. Detailed information can be found through the Authentic Education Association as well as books published by the ASCD.

Each guide is organized around one Guiding Question that focuses and structures units of study. Guiding Questions are designed to:

  • Be open-ended and thought-provoking prompts for discussion and debate.
  • Foster higher-order thinking, including analysis, inference, evaluation, and prediction.
  • Point towards important transferable ideas within and across disciplines.
    Raise further questions and inquiry over time.

— Activating the Catalog

We hope to provide a model of literacy that is specific, but not limited to, A.R.T.'s Library Program books. The guides are designed for adaptation to a broad range of teaching materials and contexts, and foster transferable skills and concepts that are valuable across disciplines and social contexts.

We encourage you to use books in our catalog as a starting point for broader inquiry. To help you locate books that are relevant to your teaching goals, our catalog tags books according to their key themes. Look for the "Teaching Guides" tag to identify books that are recommended for educational use.

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