Museum tours focus on class-specific learning needs – Dothan Eagle | Team Cansler


Student tours at the Wiregrass Museum of Art are about more than just appreciating art. There are also natural sciences, language and mathematics.

The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) continues its artistic education partnership with Dothan City Schools for the 2022-2023 school year, using its resources to set critical educational standards for specific grade levels. According to a WMA press release, art educators focus the museum’s gallery tours and hands-on learning on the identified learning needs of first, fourth, and sixth graders.

On guided tours of the WMA Galleries, students are guided by museum educators and trained docents as they learn about selected exhibits and are encouraged to ask questions and share thoughts in a fun, small-group environment. This method of content-framing questioning encourages reading, comprehension, and observation skills that expand students’ academic understanding and interpersonal skills, the museum says.

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Tours for fourth graders will enhance STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning strategies where art and science collide for an arts integration tour. After the students tour the galleries, they create a STEAM-based art project, such as B. DIY kaleidoscopes or line plot cityscapes. Sixth graders will take guided tours around the visual arts to encourage their inner creativity and build on their visual arts vocabulary and historical understanding. Students will tour the galleries and then create an artwork inspired by an artist or specific work they encountered on tour – projects designed to build confidence in artistic ability and inspire students to pursue advanced Enroll in art classes at Dothan Preparatory Academy.

First graders will visit the museum in the Spring 2023 semester for literacy-focused tours that place a special emphasis on language arts and literacy in response to the Alabama Literacy Act. Students create a work of art inspired by a work on display and engage in a literacy activity, e.g. B. by creating an artistic statement about their work, filling out a sequencing worksheet or writing a short story about the piece they created. WMA will also incorporate other strategies during class, such as word bubbles, retelling instructions, and emphasizing good conversational skills, which also align with the Alabama State Standards for Art and Language Arts.

“WMA’s student tours are a great option for a free tour of the area,” said Crystal Forehand, visual arts teacher at Kelly Springs Elementary School. “The tours provide an immersive arts experience for students of all academic levels. The teachers keep the students’ attention and their hands-on lessons make everyone feel like an artist.”

Participation in these tours also benefits teachers. Teachers observe WMA art educators leading an art lesson with their students, learn the classroom challenges of each activity and time management to model the activity for their students in the classroom. Teachers also receive lesson plans with relevant Alabama State Standards to review and expand on ideas learned at the museum.

“We developed our tour program based on discussions with area educators and administrators to ensure we’ve created an experience that is fun and engaging for everyone, including the teachers,” said Brook McGinnis, WMA’s Director of Education . “By inviting groups into our classroom studio, educators observe how we lead an arts activity, including how we meet challenges and then triumph. Our hope is that they will feel more confident leading arts activities with their students. We want students and teachers to go home feeling inspired to create in their own classrooms and beyond.”

As part of this partnership, Dothan City Schools is providing the museum with up to $20,000 to help cover a portion of the administrative and operational costs of guided tours for all students in these grade levels. The museum’s Bus on Us program, a reimbursement program for excursion transportation, is also being used to remove barriers to participation. Bus on Us serves all Dothan City Schools and Houston County Schools and provides up to eight reimbursable buses for field trips to each school in the two systems. The program is supported by a grant from the Windgate Foundation with additional sponsorship from regional companies AngelTrax, Lewis-Smith Supply, Seay, Seay & Litchfield and SmartBank.

Field trips and tours at WMA are available year-round for public, private, and homeschool groups. To schedule a tour, contact Alexandria Turner, school program coordinator and arts educator, at

WMA also offers free lesson plans aligned with Alabama State Standards on its website at For more information on WMA’s annual arts programs and educational initiatives, call 334-794-3871 or visit

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