Art Center College of Design Offers Award-Winning Summer Institute for Teachers

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K-12 Teachers from All Subject Areas Will Learn How to Motivate Students—and Get Results—in a Hands-On Workshop July 28-August 3

Summer Institute for Teachers 2010 cover

Design-Based Learning is not intended to replace the techniques teachers are successfully using now. Rather, this approach gives teachers a powerful new methodology for presenting challenging concepts and reaching various types of learners.

During the summertime, Art Center College of Design teaches teachers—and the results make the first day of the next school year an eagerly anticipated event.

Using a methodology called Design-Based Learning, Art Center has found a proven way to empower educators to excite students about learning, improve their test scores and boost their overall performance—in any subject. The college has made this approach the cornerstone of its award-winning Summer Institute for Teachers, an intensive five-day program for K-12 teachers in all subject areas and grade levels.

“At the Summer Institute for Teachers, brand new and deeply experienced teachers alike will pack their toolkits with practical techniques they can use to inspire, involve and energize their students and help them develop reasoning and problem-solving skills, no matter the subject, the curriculum, or the grade level,” explained Dana Walker, Managing Director of Public Programs at Art Center College of Design.

“One of the strengths of the Summer Institute for Teachers is that Design-Based Learning is not intended to replace the techniques teachers are successfully using now,” added Paula Goodman, Director of the K-12 Programs at Art Center College of Design. “Rather, this approach gives teachers a powerful new methodology for presenting challenging concepts and reaching various types of learners, including at-risk, gifted, ADD and ADHD students.”

The faculty of the Summer Institute for Teachers is made up of public school educators who have earned a master’s degree in Design-Based Learning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and have successfully put this innovative methodology to work in their own K-12 classrooms.

In engaging hands-on workshops, they teach Summer Institute participants how to enhance their own students’ comprehension and tap into the children’s natural creativity to develop higher-level thinking. The participants take away techniques that require nothing more than basic classroom materials such as paper, pencils, glue and recyclables, so their teaching will not be adversely affected by budget cutbacks or textbook changes.

Teachers using Design-Based Learning challenge their students to create never-before-seen solutions to specific problems. As an example, a sixth grade class studying ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Mesopotamia might work in teams to build a 3D scale model of a place in that ancient world. Doing so compels them to answer questions such as "What types of dwellings will people live in?" and "What values will they live by?" Motivated by the need to answer their own questions, students search for solutions in required texts. In this way, the Design-Based Learning approach "sneaks up on learning" by engaging students' innate curiosity in a fun, interactive environment.

The Summer Institute will be offered July 28-30 and August 2-3, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The course is worth four semester units of professional staff development credit. Tuition is $680 for credit (non-credit tuition is $500) and discounts are available to teacher pairs from the same school.

Full-tuition scholarships are also available as a result of generous donations from the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Hutto-Patterson Foundation, Washington Mutual and Art Center Partners. For more information, visit

Past Summer Institute participants were teachers from public school districts across Southern California, from Alhambra and Beverly Hills to Glendale and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Teachers from charter schools from Pacoima to Santa Monica as well as from independent schools including the Harvard-Westlake School and the St. Patrick’s School Diocese of San Diego also have attended.

During the 2009 Summer Institute, Victoria Lannom, an eighth grade teacher of multiple subjects from Sierra Vista Middle School (part of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District) shared that, “I feel that I am learning with a mindset that has been blown open to endless possibilities. I have the same excitement that I did going into my first year of teaching, the excitement that I might actually make a change/difference in students’ lives. I feel that I have the capability to now prepare my students for the here, now and beyond.”

About the Summer Institute for Teachers
Founded in 2002, the Summer Institute for Teachers received the 2006 Award of Merit in K-12 Architectural Education from the American Architectural Foundation. Also in 2006, Art Center’s Leslie Stoltz received a California School Board Association Golden Bell Award for excellence in education for her work in Design-Based Learning with the Chapparal Middle School in Diamond Bar, California. Design-Based Learning was developed by Doreen Nelson, a professor at Art Center College of Design and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a recipient of the California State University 2006 Wang Family Excellence Award in education. Nelson directs the Summer Institute for Teachers.

About Art Center College of Design
Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, Art Center College of Design is a global leader in art and design education and the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Art Center offers bachelor’s degrees in advertising, entertainment design, environmental design, film, fine art, graphic design, illustration, photography and imaging, product design and transportation design. A graduate program of study can lead to a master’s degree in art, broadcast cinema, industrial design and media design. The college also offers a series of programs for the general public, including Art Center at Night, its continuing studies program; Saturday High for high school students; Art Center for Kids for children in the fourth through eighth grades; and the Design-Based Learning program for K-12 educators.

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