Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooper-Hewitt Hosts City of Neighborhoods Program for K-12 Teachers

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is hosting A City of Neighborhoods, a professional development program for K-12 teachers, in San Antonio Aug. 3–7, 2009.

A City of Neighborhoods brings together 32 educators from all disciplines from across the country for a five-day workshop of interactive activities—walking tours, workshops and presentations by leading design experts—that demonstrate how to incorporate design thinking into classrooms.

Cooper-Hewitt’s education programs provide teachers with the resources to impart essential 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, visual literacy, teamwork and problem solving. Participants will learn about the design process before returning to their schools, where they will incorporate this content into their lesson plans and curricula. All lesson plans will be posted on Cooper-Hewitt’s online Educator Resource Center (www.educatorresourcecenter.org), where they will be accessible to educators around the world. “This program teaches teachers and students to think like designers,” said Caroline Payson, director of education at Cooper-Hewitt. “Educators can use their own communities as a vehicle for change and civic engagement.”

The Educator Resource Center is creating the largest online design resource for educators. Participating teachers will engage in a close follow-up process with Cooper-Hewitt’s education staff through evaluations, lesson plans and completed classroom projects submitted to the center. The site features design-focused lesson plans and discussion boards for teachers interested in incorporating design into their curriculum. More than 250 lesson plans for K-12 educators, aligned to the national standards for all grade ranges, help teachers learn ways to promote innovation, critical thinking, visual literacy and problem solving in their classrooms.

A community-based design education and advocacy program, City of Neighborhoods aims to foster civic engagement and apply design education to a neighborhood context, providing access to primary resources, such as streetscapes, maps and historic and cultural materials. The program will use San Antonio’s Five Points community as its focus neighborhood. The Five Points area has played an important role in the development of San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, since its inception. Presenters will include Ellen Lupton, Cooper-Hewitt’s curator of Contemporary Design and director of the graduate program in graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art; Meredith Davis, director of the doctoral program in design at North Carolina State University and co-author of “Design As a Catalyst for Learning”; Stephen Tillotson, principal of Kell Muñoz Architects; and D.J. Stout, a partner at Pentagram, a design studio.

The City of Neighborhoods program in San Antonio is part of a multicity initiative that aims to create a model of community-focused, project-based learning that can be replicated throughout the country.

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