Teachers and docents find that writing with art is an exciting, productive activity. Writing Tours are offered to school groups and can be adapted to fit any grade level. The Write for Understanding Tour Overview includes potential stops, background information, and images. The featured writing activities could be performed in the gallery or in the classroom and include printable handouts that can be springboards to writing for many purposes.
Discussion: In the introduction to her book, Looking to Write, Mary Ehrenworth talks about “ways to find new entry points for writing by engaging children with the visual arts.” There are times in our work as docents when we wish to have children write as a way to respond to the art, but there are also those occasions when we have an opportunity to use art as an inspiration for writing.
When it is the teacher’s goal to visit the museum with the purpose of generating writing from her students, the tour will naturally depart from the traditional tour and include fewer stops. It may seem that the art is taking a back seat to writing because of the small number of works included in the tour. However, this is an opportunity to spend an extended period of time for close observation and may be a rich aesthetic experience not always available in a traditional tour of 6 stops. Examining a few carefully selected works for writing about in detail will deepen a child’s appreciation for the artist’s craft as she explores her own craft as a writer. Understanding the connection between the writer’s process and the artist’s process emerges as the student connects to the visual arts through writing.
Core Curriculum Standards:
CS4.3- Demonstrate awareness of words that have entered the English
language from many cultures.
CS4.5-Explore and begin to use language appropriate for different contexts and purposes.
Art Concept: Use a descriptive vocabulary to discuss the visual and tactile qualities in a work of art and interpret the meaning conveyed.
A detailed description of each stop, including handouts, can be found separately in the Docent Writing Tours Learning Collection folder.
Stop 1: Descriptive or sensory details / Landscapes on the Balcony
Stop 2: Compare and contrast / Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass
Stop 3: Figurative language / White Territory, Black Excursion, Albers Chain
Stop 4: Visual analysis / Begin the Beguine, Two Girls Reading
Stop 5: Summarize, paraphrase, note-taking / Mitchell, Diebenkorn
Stop 6: Point of view / Portraits in Davidson Gallery or apse
Stop 7: Zoom in, details / Heda Vanitas
Stop 8: Narrative sequence / Cache-cache
Stop 9: Concrete description / Korean Four Seasons Screen, Asian scroll