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Connie Towson Ford Teaching Innovation Lab

The Connie Towson Ford Teaching Innovation Lab (TIL) serves as a launch point for object-based experiences in the CMA galleries. The TIL assists classroom teachers, community-based educators, CMA staff, volunteers, and others interested in using the museum as a tool for teaching and learning.

In an environment where objects on view are closely guarded, materials from the TIL allow participants to partake in hands-on experiences. We also aim to inspire regional educators to consider the possibilities of object-based learning and its ability to encourage students’ capacities to learn. Direct contact with physical objects and resources helps educators better understand and connect with the material they are teaching. The TIL is designed around the concept that physical materials help visitors engage with and better understand the art historical and contextual framework of the artworks in the collection.

Educator access to the TIL requires no membership, no appointment, and no check-out fees. Staff members who work in the TIL will provide guidance, recommendations, information, and preparation of materials for all TIL visitors.

Access to the physical space of the Teaching Lab is 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday to Friday. We are able to offer weekend and evening appointments on demand or with prior appointment.

Upcoming Teacher Workshops

CANCELED - Early Childhood Educator Workshop
Saturday, April 25, 2020, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Explore how to use art as a valuable teaching tool to help you meet early learning standards. Expect gallery discussions, classroom activities, and more. The workshop is Ohio Approved and can be taken for SUTQ hours. Register online or by calling 216-421-7350. $25 for adults, $20 for members. Scholarships are available for Cleveland Metropolitan School District teachers on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Molly Phillips for more information at mphillips [at] clevelandart.org or 216-707-2181.


Summer Professional Development

CANCELED - CMA 2020 Summer Teacher Institute: Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn
June 9–11, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. FREE

How can we nurture curious, empowered learners in our classrooms? Join the CMA’s second annual Summer Teacher Institute to explore how object-based experiences can help prepare 21st-century learners! Throughout the week, participants will have the chance to practice facilitating object-based experiences that transfer into classroom settings.

Together we will accomplish the following:

  • Explore what student-led inquiry and teaching for mastery look like in a variety of education environments and how they can be integrated into all curriculums
  • Model experiences that foster student choice and agency
  • Develop strategies and tool kits that can be immediately implemented in your classroom

Groups of 2 to3 educators from a single school are encouraged to apply together for this FREE institute.

Apply by April 30, 2020.

* College credit may be available for an additional fee.

“I feel empowered. Now I am creative, I am an artist.”

“Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and passion! This is rejuvenating to be with others who are passionate about learning.”

“I feel excited about taking some of these amazing activities back and talking about them with my principal.”

“I feel excited and renewed by the work of others to find the common threads.”

—2019 Summer Teacher Institute Participants


Yearlong Teaching Innovation Fellowship

WHEN: Tuesday, July 7, to Thursday, July 9, 2020, 9:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and a series of cohort-selected dates throughout the 2020–21 academic year.

WHO: Educators of all grade levels and content areas ready to take a yearlong, deep-dive into object-based learning and a related, self-designed action-research project. Each cohort teacher receives a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the fellowship.

Each cohort caps at 10 members.

Apply by April 30, 2020.


Now Accepting Applications for 2019–20 Teen Summit
High school teachers are invited to apply to Teen Summit, a field trip program beginning January 15, 2020. This program allows students to learn about professional environments and to develop problem-solving skills by experiencing real-world situations in a safe space that encourages them to experiment, make mistakes, and grow—using a world-class institution as a classroom.

Participating students and teachers are required to come to three sessions at the CMA during the school day. Each day is themed with a particular focus that encourages students to think deeper, collaborate, and try something new. To apply, a teacher representative must fill out a group application. Transportation reimbursements may be available—please inquire! For questions or application information, please contact Arcelia Gandarilla at agandarilla [at] clevelandart.org.

The deadline for applications is January 9, 2020.


TIL to Go—Professional Development Comes to You!
The TIL offers professional development sessions custom-designed for your district, school, or subject area. To book a visit to your faculty meeting or district professional development day, or to find out more, email TeachingInnovationLab [at] clevelandart.org.

Did you know that we have subsidies for some of our programs? Please check here or email TransportationSubsidy [at] clevelandart.org for more information.