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In this section, you will find a selection of books and articles that will help you get started on or travel further along your path toward setting up a classroom that uses art in the inquiry process. 





Teaching Contemporary Art With Young People: Themes in Art for K–12 Classrooms, by Julia Marshall, Connie Stewart, and Anne Thulson

This full-color resource will help educators teach about current art and integrate its philosophy and methods into the K–12 classroom. The authors provide a framework that looks at art through the lens of nine themes―everyday life, work, power, earth, space and place, self and others, change and time, inheritance, and visual culture―highlighting the conceptual aspects of art and connecting disparate forms of expression. They also provide guidelines and examples for how to use contemporary art to change the dynamics of a classroom, apply inventive non-linear lenses to topics, broaden and update the art “canon,” and spur creative and critical thinking. Young people will find the selected artwork accessible and relevant to their lives, diverse and expansive, probing, serious and funny. Challenging conventional notions of what should be considered art and how it should be created, this book offers a sampling of what is out there to inspire educators and students to explore the limitless world of new art.

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Integrating the Visual Arts Across the Curriculum: An Elementary and Middle School Guide, by Julia Marshall 


With lots of examples and color images, this resource is both a foundational text and a practical guidebook for bringing contemporary art into elementary and middle school classrooms as a way to make learning joyful and meaningful for all learners. San Francisco State University Professor Emeritus Julia Marshall shows how asking questions and posing problems spark curiosity and encourage learners to think deeply and make meaningful connections across the curriculum. At the center of this approach is creativity, with contemporary visual art as its inspiration. The text covers methods of creative inquiry-based learning, art and how it connects to the “big ideas” addressed by academic domains, flexible structures teachers can use for curriculum development, creative teaching strategies using contemporary art, and models of art-based inquiry curriculum.

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Art-Centered Learning Across the Curriculum, by Julia Marshall and David M. Donahue

This volume provides teachers with a fresh framework for implementing inquiry-based, substantive art integration across the curriculum, along with the background knowledge and models needed to do this. Drawing on ideas from Harvard Project Zero, the authors make a clear and compelling argument for how contemporary art supports student learning. Subject-specific chapters co-written by teaching scholars include examples of contemporary art with explanations of how these works explore the fundamental concepts of the academic discipline. 

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Exploring Studio Materials: Teaching Creative Art Making to Children, by Mary Hafeli

Exploring Studio Materials: Teaching Creative Art Making to Children is a transformative approach to teaching art in elementary and secondary schools. Based on the model of how real artists create their work, the text encourages teachers to work with the most common media and materials found in the Pre-K-12 curriculum. Hafeli provides a rich blend of real-life examples and suggested classroom activities in order to help fledgling art teachers learn how to implement creative arts programs that will produce exceptional results.

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Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools, by Mara Krevchevsky, et al. 

Based on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, Visible Learners highlights learning through interpreting objects and artifacts, group learning, and documentation to make students' learning evident to teachers. Visible classrooms are committed to five key principles: that learning is purposeful, social, emotional, empowering, and representational. The book includes visual essays, key practices, classroom and examples.

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Creating Vibrant Art Lesson Plans: A Teacher's Sketchbook, by Kristin Baxter

Writing lesson plans is often considered busywork, but it can be a useful path for discovering what’s important about artmaking and teaching. This book shows teachers how to slow down, breathe, and linger over the process of unit and lesson plan writing to uncover how much this process can support them professionally, creatively, and personally. The user-friendly text offers guidance for selecting an art project for the unit and then zooms into the nitty-gritty of specific lesson plans, including how to identify materials for a project and how to construct classroom dialogue to help students develop ideas for their artwork. 

A More Beautiful Question, by Warren Berger 

In this groundbreaking book, journalist and innovation expert Warren Berger shows that one of the most powerful forces for igniting change in business and in our daily lives is a simple, under-appreciated tool--one that has been available to us since childhood. Questioning--deeply, imaginatively, "beautifully"--can help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities. So why are we often reluctant to ask "Why?"

Creative Practices for Visual Artists: Time, Space, Process, by Kenneth Steinbach 

Contrary to popular belief, the practice of art isn’t just a product of innate talent or artistic vision; artwork emerges from an intentionally constructed and maintained artistic practice. Developed from interviews with more than 75 mid-career artists, Creative Practices for Visual Artists examines the methods and approaches highly successful artists use to stay creatively robust for a lifetime. Offering practical strategies and concrete solutions, it also looks at the impacts of digital and social media, as well as recent changes in the educational system that can hinder the formation of a strong artistic practice.

In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School, by Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine

What would it take to transform industrial-era schools into modern organizations capable of supporting deep learning for all? Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine’s quest to answer this question took them inside some of America’s most innovative schools and classrooms―places where educators are rethinking both what and how students should learn.

Wired to Createby Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity. Each chapter explores one of the ten attributes and habits of highly creative people:


Imaginative Play * Passion * Daydreaming * Solitude * Intuition * Openness to Experience * Mindfulness * Sensitivity * Turning Adversity into Advantage * Thinking DifferentlyTeaching 

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly. 

Teaching Meaning in Art Making: Art Education in Practice, by Sydney Walker

The approach in this book extends somewhat beyond comprehensive art education to embrace a more interdisciplinary character, through an emphasis on big ideas the overarching notions that reach beyond any particular discipline. Each chapter in the book focuses on one component. Chapters in the book are: (1) "Big Ideas and Artmaking"; (2) "Personal Connections"; (3) "Building a Knowledge Base for Artmaking"; (4) "Problem Solving"; (5) "Setting Boundaries"; (6) "Designing Studio Instruction"; and (7) "Ways of Working: Artist's Practices."

Resources: Books


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A Systems View: The Role of Art in Education

Julia Marshall

An emphasis on inquiry represents a shift in art integration, because when art integration happens through inquiry, students do not simply represent academic content using art methods and materials; they connect their topic to big ideas, and they do it through an art practice that involves methods, tools, and thinking from various disciplines—such as observation, critical analysis, synthesis, questioning, connecting, and refection. Integration here works on a procedural level (methods and thinking) and on a conceptual level (linking to ideas and concepts). Moreover, in an art integration based on inquiry, learners explore content and connections through an organic, yet intentional, process that welcomes improvisation and invention.

Transforming Education Through Art-Centered Integrated Learning 

Julia Marshall


Art-centred integrated learning is a version of art integration that uses art enquiry processes to promote deep and holistic understanding of concepts and ideas that matter to our students while fostering their abilities to handle complexity and think flexibly, capacities they will need in order to prosper in a complex and uncer- tain world and become leaders in shaping that world. Because Integrated Learning presents solutions for education across the board, it provides a model that leaders in general education could consider when formulating pedagogy. And since this model draws from contemporary art practices, it provides both education in the arts and a strong rationale that art education leaders can use to argue for a robust presence of the arts in education.

Art Inquiry: Creative Inquiry for Integration and Metacognition

Julia Marshall

This chapter presents a vision of deep arts integration that can transform education. The arts integration it proposes is not a superficial kind of arts integration based on simply illustrating academic content, but a specific approach that employs many creative ways to connect and explore academic content. In this approach art practices and thinking provide fresh ways of seeing as well as new and imaginative ways of thinking about and exploring academic knowledge. 

Contemporary Practice in the Elementary Classroom: A Study of Change

Anne Thulson 

Author Anne Thulson sites evidence that deep arts integration not only works, but can positively transform education, despite art educators' concerns that: (1) young children can’t comprehend the complexities of 21st-century theory; (2) because contemporary art is conceptual, it is not conducive toward making “school art” products; (3) parents and administrators won’t understand; and (4) young students must learn the “basics”—self-expression and design principles—before they can fully participate in contemporary curriculum. She writes, "Educating parents and administrators about contemporary art takes a shift in school art display. Instead of filling the halls with artwork, like an art gallery, I put up documentation of the process, like a history museum. When a project is finished, the documentation tells the story through evidence of student and teacher thinking."

Art Studio as Thinking Lab: Fostering Metacognition in Art Classrooms,

Julia Marshall and Kimberley D'Adamo


What can high school art classes offer to both aspiring artists and students who have other interests and goals? Here’s an answer: thinking skills. Thinking skills are essential for all learners, and both art creation and encountering art provide opportunities for complex thinking and, therefore, for honing conceptual skills. Beyond that, art experiences can spur students to reflect on how they think and to expand and refine their thinking. That is to say, art classes can cultivate metacognition. 

Resources: Articles
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