Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Tuesday 01.28.20

A Day at the Museum

By Le Ann Hinkle

I didn’t visit museums growing up. So, I still have that sense of awe when I walk in and see paintings and sculptures, previously only viewed in books or on the internet. My students feel the same way.  Recently our fourth graders had an opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Museum, as part of our art curriculum assured experiences.  In the fall, my school participated in the “Inside Out Project”.  An exhibition of JR’s work at the Brooklyn Museum prompted our visit.

As I prepared students for our museum visit, I appreciated how the exhibits were so thoughtfully curated for all visitors. Museum educators have to provide access to artworks and artifacts for those who have a broad range of knowledge in aesthetics, art history and/or art making.   A few years ago, I participated in a project where my third grade students had several pre-visit classes with a museum educator from the Bruce Museum, a regional museum in our neighborhood. I found the strategies the museum educator used to introduce concepts and artwork, directly connected to the students’ activities during visit. She asked students to identify different categories of art and led a discussion incorporating vocabulary, art concepts, and strategies for looking deeper.  In the museum, students worked in small groups to select a piece of art. They used the vocabulary and analysis strategies, introduced in the pre-visit lessons, to present the work to their classmates. This experience had a profound impact on how my students interacted with the artwork at the museum; art and artifacts introduced in subsequent classes, and future museum visits.

In partnership with AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors), NAEA conducted a research study on the impact of museum programs on K-12 students. “The research study summary identified four key areas of significance. “Through facilitated, single-visit museum experiences it was determined that, students ask more complex questions about art.  Students are more accepting of multiple interpretations of a work of art. Students are more likely to think about  art in terms of a work’s material properties. Students experience greater emotive recall of the program.”  This research provides relevant data to support the necessity for students to have facilitated museum visits.

In a recent conversation with a colleague in another state, she mentioned that the museums in her city gave free admission to school groups.  However, there was no money for busses or substitutes, so she could not take advantage of the programs offered.  How can we express to our communities that students having access to museums is essential to the development of their knowledge and skills? 

For more information:

Brooklyn Museum:

Bruce Museum:

Inside Out The People’s Art Project:

NAEA-AAMD Research Study: Impact of Art Museum Programs on K-12 Students

- LH

Thursday 01.23.20

Embedding Community Service in Your Art Curriculum

By Le Ann Hinkle

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

        —Martin Luther King, Jr.

This week, as we commemorate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have reflected on how we teach the concept of giving back. Community service in the art curriculum provides students with opportunities to recognize moments of advocacy and activism.  An example is one of our Dot Day projects from this fall.  Students in third and fourth grades created quilt squares that will be assembled as a finished quilt and donated to a local organization.  Our fifth-grade Art Club participates in several service projects including, Valentines for Vets, a program organized by one of our state Congressional Representatives.  They also design and make stuffed toys through Sew a Softie Global Kids Sewing Party. The finished softies are donated to a local children’s group.

Through participation in NAEA sponsored National Art Honor Society and National Junior Art Honor Society, students are encouraged to advocate for personal and community causes. These students recognize the importance of giving back. They develop leadership skills, learn to curate an idea that communicates a message, and become global citizens.

These projects and organizations inspire our students to use visual arts in relevant and relatable ways. Gained from their contributions is the intrinsic rewards of a increased sense of self-worth and recognition in the value of their knowledge, skills, and time. They develop a connection with those from circumstances different than their own.

Some simple ways you can embed service into your art curriculum:

- Think about how you use language. One of our district norms, “Care for self and others” is put into practice through service to others. Students leave the art studio clean for the next class as it was left clean for them. 

- Older students can make portfolios for or help younger students.  We say, “One for the greater good, one for yourself.”  

- Identify and incorporate National Core Arts Standards that address broad themes of cultural and social values, e.g. VA:Cn11.1.5 Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.

- Refer to school-wide projects as doing a service that benefits the whole school community.  Making murals or displaying artwork, can be an act of community service. 

- Our district has a Community Service Recognition program. The students chosen from my school participate in Art Club, in addition to other school service programs.  

- Ask your students how they would like to advocate for and help others.  Look to the local and global community for opportunities where your students can make a contribution.  

- Most importantly, be a role model for your students.  Share your volunteer commitments with them and get excited about theirs.  

For more information: 

- International Dot Day-

- NAEA- National Art Honor Society & National Junior Art Honor Society:

- National Core Arts Standards:

- Sew a Softie Global Kids Sewing Party 2020-


Friday 01.10.20

Experimenting with Goal Setting Strategies

By Le Ann Hinkle

I have been fortunate to have worked with administrators who allowed me to experiment and try new strategies.  Recently, I have worked to learn more about implementing Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM), born out of Harvard’s Project Zero- The Studio Thinking Project  and Dr. Julia Marshall’s Creative Strategies.  As I discussed this with other art educators, it seemed that goal-setting might be a good way to start the conversation with students. 

Deciding to focus on my fourth graders, my goal was to have them identify the SHoMs and Creative Strategies within the context of their own art work and artistic behaviors.  I included the “Studio Structure and Definitions” and the Creative Strategies definitions in my students’ resource materials.  As part of the planning of their artwork, they had to identify one SHoM and one Creative Strategy they would focus on during the lesson.  I anticipated a learning curve.  I introduced both sets of definitions and explained the process of making choices during their planning and then having to reflect on how they used these strategies at the end of the lesson. 

In the beginning, there were a lot of reminders to identify a goal and select a strategy.  I always check in with students at the planning stage, so this gave me ample opportunity for mini goal setting conferences.   As students moved to the reflection, at the end of the lesson, there were more 1:1 conferences about describing how the goal was met and the strategy was used.. 

We are several lessons and four months into this process.  Overall, this methodology seems promising.  First, I can see that the students are becoming comfortable with the concept of goal setting through the implementation across all curriculum areas.  Additionally, using the SHoMs and the Creative Strategies as goals, is giving my students language for discussing the process of creating their artwork that goes beyond just describing the idea and the media.  They have words to identify the strategies they use and how they have progressed from an idea to a finished piece of art. 

Resources from Project Zero-The Studio Thinking Project:

Marshall, J., Ledo-Lane, A., McAvoy, E., Steward, C. (2019) Integrating visual arts across the curriculum: an elementary and middle school guide. New York, NY. Teachers College Press. 

- LH

Tuesday 01. 7.20

The Benefits of Student-Driven Goal Setting

By Le Ann Hinkle

The “Walk-Through Observation” is a tool, familiar to most educators.  This past school year, I started participating in a district pilot where pre-scheduled walk-throughs are focused on recognizing the components of personalized learning within content specific learning environments. 

My first walk-thorough was scheduled during my second graders’ weaving unit.  Knowing that student-driven goal setting is a primary factor in personalized learning, I needed to address embedding a goal setting component. I thought about the process of weaving and the objectives of this unit.  I created a “goal setting form” with three, predetermined goals that students could identify within their own process and recognize when they met their goal.  

As I was working to develop this tool, I could not really envision how my students would benefit. However, when I introduced the goal setting sheet, there was no learning curve.  They immediately understood what was being asked and were energized about setting their goals. I checked to make sure each student had set their goal. When necessary, I had a quick conversation to discuss if the goal was appropriate based on where that student was in their progress.  While they were working,  they kept talking about their goals.  “I have done five rows, I only have to do five more.” “What happens if I meet my goal?” “We are both working to add beads, can we work together?”  The identifying and setting of a personal goal made students more invested in their work.  At the end of class, if they met the goal, they gave themselves a smiley face.

Student Weaving Goal Setting Form

This simple tool became the vehicle for a significant paradigm shift.  The goal setting process generated an intrinsic reward for my young learners.  Until that first class, I had not really understood how powerful student-driven goal setting could be. I redesigned this unit to better meet my students’ needs. This year, I noticed that by incorporating more options for student choice and flexibility there has been an increase in student engagement and achievement. 

The walk-through observation motivated me to reexamine how I was using student-driven goal-setting. Now, I build on this strategy in other lessons, looking for opportunities to embed goal-setting with all my students.

Connect with me on Twitter @hinkleart or email-

Download the Weaving Goal Setting Form


Friday 01. 3.20

Modeling Goal Setting and Perseverance

By Le Ann Hinkle

Happy New Year! Before the ball dropped and the fireworks were set-off, I am sure you started hearing about the ubiquitous “New Year’s Resolutions”.  I am not one for making (or keeping) a list of New Year’s resolutions.  However, I have come to realize that goal setting and perseverance is a very important part of my work with students.  As my district has moved to a “personalized learning model”, goal setting is at the forefront of teaching and learning.  

In developing strategies to embed goal-setting for my students, it has become clear that I need to model my personal goal-setting and how I work to achieve goals. Art teachers everywhere have heard the phrase, “You are the best artist.”  Emerging artists, especially early primary youngsters, have difficulty making the connection with “years of work” to the exemplar I have just created. As the art room has become a more personalized learning environment, working 1:1 and in small groups with students, those demonstrations and exemplars now have a different look based on media, subject and level of skill.  So, how can I share my personal goal-setting and perseverance in achieving my goals?  

Recently, I designed several lessons that were a little out of my comfort zone.  I also wanted to engage the students more in the lesson design process.  When my students began these lessons, I told them it was something new I was trying and needed their help. The early starters helped me clarify information and directions, or suggested resources that would be helpful.  I did more research, some rewriting, and created more visual resources for them to access independently. As students moved through the lessons they continued to provide feedback on areas where I needed to make changes. 

Through analysis and scaffolding of my goal-setting process, my students are more able to articulate their own goals.  By making my thinking visible, my students realize the reciprocal respect I have for them as co-learners. They are more trusting of me when it comes to asking for support when they are working to develop new skills outside their own comfort zone.  

How are you are modeling your personal goal-setting for students.  How can you make your thinking visible and engage students in your problem-solving process?  

Connect with me on Twitter @hinkleart or email-

Resources to consider: 

Angela Duckworth- Grit, the Power of Passion and Perseverance

Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick- Habits of Mind: Strategies for Disciplined Choice Making