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Connect with Your Curriculum

Learning Resources

Are you interested in collaborating with DIA Education Programs Staff to develop curriculum resources for your students? Please call Rebekka Parker at 313.833.6448 or email to get the conversation started!

Self-Guide Materials

Armor on View
In addition to what is currently on view in the Great Hall, this resource also lists armor on view in Decorative Arts, Sculptures and Paintings.
Artful Adjectives 
How can adjectives help refine writing and more accurately describe student thinking? This graphic organizer will help students connect descriptive words with works of art and encourage more detailed writing.
Visualizing Verbs 
What kinds of action words could your students use to describe works of art? Use this graphic organizer to support students in using verbs to write dynamic interpretations of art.
Understanding the Five Themes of Geography
How can art help students understand the world around them? Use this graphic organizer during a self-guided visit to help connect art with the five themes of geography.
Energy Change and Transfer
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be changed and transferred. Use this graphic organizer to assist students to investigate and describe how artists explore the concept.
Math in Action! 
Encourage students to explore their understanding of mathematical concepts by identifying real-world examples of math in works of art.
Using essential questions from the new visual arts standards, this graphic organizer will support students as they explore the galleries and discover the standards in action.
Encourage students to look closely at works of art and capture their detailed observations with a sketch and a quick write to launch descriptive writing back in the classroom.
How can communities of the past help students understand their own? This graphic organizer is designed to help students draw connections between their own communities and the many different ones on view at the DIA.

Help students capture descriptive details in their writing to make their thinking visible and find identities in art at the DIA.
Using this graphic organizer, students investigate how art can build an understanding of individual, group and world identity.

Unit & Lesson Plans


Using the five themes of geography to guide their inquiry, students will explore objects from ancient
civilizations to understand how human culture has evolved and how those advances affect our lives today. 


Through exploration of portraiture and self-portraiture across time and cultures represented in the
DIA’s collection, students will understand how artists use pose, symbolism, clothing, facial expression, objects and other details to communicate information about people’s identity in portraits and their place within their culture.

Through classroom and museum experiences students will deepen their understanding of the writing
process, specifically in the areas of symbolism, descriptive writing and character development within
the genre of fantasy. 

Courageous Conversations


These video modules, created by the Detroit Institute of Arts, feature Metro Detroit high school students from diverse backgrounds. The videos are designed to support educators in facilitating conversations about such potentially challenging topics as identity and race in their classrooms. The modules can be used as a pre- or post-visit resource or independently of a visit to the museum. Along with the links below for each video module, there are discussion prompts that may be helpful for guiding conversations with students. Educators can modify and use these flexible and open-ended prompts in many different ways to inspire thinking and discussion among students.

Courageous Conversations: Identities
Discussion Prompts
-Where do you go to escape from external markers of identity? Where’s your “Soundsuit”? Do you have one?
-Think about some facets of your own identity—in your family, with your friends, at school. How can you build an understanding of yourself by exploring different facets of your identity?
-Think about a time when you’ve tried on different outfits in front of a mirror. What is this about—is it about self-expression, fitting in, something else? How do outward appearances get in the way of authentically seeing ourselves and each other?
Courageous Conversations: America
Discussion Prompts
The artist of this work, Glenn Ligon, says, “How is it that America can be this dark star, death star and also, at the same time, this incredible shining light?” What do you think about what Ligon says?
Courageous Conversations: Perspectives
Discussion Prompts
-How do life experiences shape the way we think or wonder about what we see?
-Why might it be important to try and understand another’s perspective when it differs from our own? How might we go about exploring differences?
Courageous Conversations: Histories
Discussion Prompts
We are constantly being bombarded with information. How often do we question the source and perspective of the information provided? How might we develop our own informed opinions?