Essential Online Tools for K-12 Educators

16 Apr 2007

0612onlineed6_600x449_2Online resources offer students in all grade levels fast and easy access to images and background information that offer students a deeper understanding of fine art and art history.

by Erica Yonks

A Hyena’s Dinner
12th grade student, 2006,
found objects and acrylic on canvas.

This sculpture was created after
the student studied hyenas and Darwin’s
theory of evolution. Because the hyena
is a scavenger, the student created a sculpture
of a hyena’s meal—a dead zebra.

Online resources are essential tools for today’s elementary- and secondary-school art teachers. The internet offers unlimited images of artwork and information on artists that is both easily and quickly accessible. As art lessons evolve and new ideas emerge, teachers can use the internet to network with other educators, browse lessons plans, and find supporting research.

Check Out These Online Resources

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. Whitney Museum of American Art

3. The Museum of Modern Art

4. National Gallery of Art

5. Philadelphia Museum of Art


7. Lesson Plans From *** Blick

8. Lesson Plans From Crayola

9. Lesson Plans

10. ArtLext Art Dictionary

E-Anna Soong, an elementary-school art teacher at P.S. 155 William Paca School, in New York City, uses the internet to access new information as the needs of her students change. Online resources help her transform unpredicted circumstances into productive lessons. Soong explains, “When my students’ work reminds me of the work of a specific artist, we go to the computer to look at images of the artist’s work. The students can then print out images, sketch from them, and use them for inspiration. They begin to feel more connected to the art world.” Soong finds that the instant gratification that the internet offers inspires students and encourages them to explore art further.

Online resources also provide students with a deeper understanding of museums and their collections and exhibitions. Leo Muellner, an art teacher at the New York City Museum School, in Manhattan, a public high school that takes advantage of the city’s wide array of museums and art resources, has his students observe and analyze portraits created during the American Revolution to discover clues about citizens’ domestic lives and socioeconomic standings, for example. Using approved museum websites, Muellner’s students are able to preview examples of portraiture before visiting the museums. The information that students acquire online then provokes thoughtful conversations in the classroom that reinforce knowledge and inspiration, thus providing students with a sense of ownership over their museum experiences.

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Figure Drawings
10th grade student, 2006,
graphite on paper.
These figure drawings explore the human form.
Students used concepts and techniques that they
learned from Renaissance masters to render
realistic figures with accurate proportions.

My art students at the New York City Museum School also frequent the city’s museums and cultural institutions. Prior to visiting the museums, however, my students view the artwork online. Students often revisit specific pieces to learn about their history, the people who created them, and the innovations that made these creations possible. When they then approach the artwork in the museum, I often overhear comments regarding their amazement at how the color, size, and other small details are often lost in reproduction—whether in print or online. Students can compare their own artwork to the originals that inspired them, and the internet provides students a deeper understanding of their creative processes. For example, a group of my students recently visited the European art collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, to study Renaissance art. Students observed, sketched, and reflected on Renaissance paintings and sculptures, and the museum’s online resources helped students acquire research done on the period and the pieces that interested them.

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Colored pencil studies by
10th grade students based
on the works of Renaissance masters.
11th grade student, 2006,
acrylic on canvas.

Students researched portraiture,
fashions, and historical objects
to create an original portrait
of a person who fought in
the American Revolution.

Although some art teachers use the internet with their students to acquire background information about artists and their work, other art educators are wary of some online information’s credibility. Most teachers, including Joanna Riinna, a high-school art teacher at the New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies, in Manhattan, only use credible sources, such as museum websites. “I’m concerned about the accuracy and credibility of many internet sites, but museum websites are usually acceptable and have high-quality images,” Riinna explains. “I can also check websites for museum hours, directions, and registration forms.”

Online resources can also provide art teachers access to chat forums. Chat forums, or message boards, help teachers share lesson plans, ideas, challenges, and success stories. Stacy Holtzman, who teaches sculpture and Advanced Placement Art History at the Pembroke Pines Charter High School, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, explains, “As a studio art teacher and an art history teacher, I use online resources daily to find information about artists who can inspire my students.” Holtzman’s students are also often asked to complete web-based scavenger hunts to research artists. “Another fantastic benefit of having internet access in the classroom is that by posting on and reading message boards for fine-arts teachers, I can be part of a community of educators who share information with the goal of professional development and personal improvement.”

Latin American Influences
12th grade student, 2006,
acrylic on canvas.

This painting was created based
on an object from Latin America.
Before painting, the student
researched the time period,
culture, and geographic region
that pertained to the object.

Erica Yonks is a high school art teacher at the New York City Museum School, in Manhattan, and holds a Master of Science degree in art education from the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn.

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