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Worth the WAIT: Engaging Social Studies Students with Art in a Digital Age

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Social Education Volume 73, Number 3, ISSN 0037-7724


If the mission of the social studies is to educate global citizens for the twenty-first century, then students must learn how to engage in the type of systematic and sophisticated literacy work that recognizes the power of images as well as texts. In an era of high stakes testing, it is not easy for teachers to find time to locate appropriate art, never mind organize field trips to art museums. Yet educators in both museums and schools are starting to see that some of the most powerful collaborations are those that harness the promise of technology. This paper introduces one such collaboration--one that leverages Web 2.0 technologies to scaffold inquiry and interpretation. Through this collaboration, the authors developed a scaffold to support the interpretation of works of art (REED-LO) and an accompanying freely available Web-based Art Interactive Tool (WAIT). REED-LO is an acronym for the supporting stages students move through as they formulate an interpretation of a work of art. The initial step, Reacting, is followed by Embracing, Exploring, Deciphering, and then Locating the work in its historical context. The process culminates with Opining, or putting forth an opinion as to the work's meaning. Together REED-LO and WAIT allow students to virtually visit with selected works of art from the museum's collection and, more importantly, move beyond the "sit and get" experience normally associated with Web 1.0 technologies (or just visiting a museum for that matter) toward a "sit and give" experience where students have the opportunity to publish their own interpretations and perspectives on works of art online. (Contains 2 tables, 3 figures, and 11 notes.)


Crawford, B.S., Hicks, D. & Doherty, N. (2009). Worth the WAIT: Engaging Social Studies Students with Art in a Digital Age. Social Education, 73(3), 136-139. Retrieved June 17, 2019 from .

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