Reserve a group professional development workshop for your team.

In addition to public educator workshops at the museum throughout the year, we also offer professional development workshop opportunities for groups of educators.

Professional development workshops are FREE to educators who live in or teach at schools in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb counties. Private, customized workshops are available for K-12 teachers of all subjects, curriculum specialists, school administrators, or groups of homeschool educators. For teachers at schools outside those counties, the base per-participant fee for workshops is $250 for up to 3 hours or $500 for a full-day.

Michigan State Continuing Education Clock Hour (SCECH) credits are provided through Grand Valley State University and may be offered for educator workshops of three or more hours with at least 6 weeks’ notice.

Don't forget to sign up for an educator pass for free professional development and access to our monthly newsletter, so you never miss updates on educator events at the DIA!

Contact Information
School Information
Group Participants Information
Please indicate subject areas for all educators participating in the workshop. If your group includes non-classroom teachers, please specify: Administrator/Principal, Resource Room Teacher, Instructional Coach/Specialist, Librarian, Other
Workshop Topics
Please review workshop topics

The Visual Thinking Strategies Training is a research-based method that uses art to facilitate open-ended discussions. 

VTS helps students make their thinking visible and:

  • Builds skills in deep looking and interpretation
  • Provides evidence for their observations
  • Promotes active listening
  • Supports student-to-student discourse

VTS helps teachers:

  • Provide a safe environment for classroom discourse and embrace differing points of view
  • Support student literacy in viewing, speaking, and listening
  • Build students’ academic vocabulary
  • Remain neutral when asking and responding to open-ended questions
  • Use art as a resource to stimulate student thinking in all subjects

The DIA has been working with VTS for over 10 years and offers three different workshops to educators:

  • What's Going On In This Picture?: Introduction to Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)
    • A half-day workshop that introduces educators to the basics of the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).  Participants will leave having experienced VTS discussions from a student’s perspective and understanding a basic overview of the theory behind the process.  3 hours, 15 minutes.  3 SCECH credits available.

  • Permission to Wonder: Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) Workshop
    • A one-day basic training that will introduce you to the Visual Thinking Strategies.  Participants will walk away with an understanding of how to use VTS at a beginner level, as well as the practical implications for the classroom; those who are already familiar with VTS will have opportunities to deepen their practice.  6 hours, 30 minutes.  5 SCECH credits available.


  • Higher Thinking Skills: Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) Multi-Day Workshop with Coaching
    • This workshop is recommended for schools or districts looking to train all participants as VTS facilitators.  Participants in this in-depth, two to three-day course will gain an understanding of the research and strategies that are the foundation of the VTS method and will come away from the workshop with the ability to use this technique to confidently facilitate discussions about art with their students. All educators who participate in the three-day workshop will be provided with age-appropriate images from the DIA’s collection to use for discussions in their classroom and will have access to continued support and coaching in VTS techniques from DIA staff.

    • 11 hours for two-day or 15 hours for three-day (5 hours of instructional time each day), includes lunch breaks. 14 SCECH credits available for three-day option only. 
    • Note: this workshop can be spread over the course of the school year and does not need to be scheduled on consecutive days.

Collaborate with DIA educators to design self-guided materials and pre-and post-visit activities aligned with your curriculum and student outcomes.  The DIA’s collections include art and artifacts across time and place, helping students see how art reveals historical, cultural, political, material, national, and personal perspectives and identity.  Interpretive materials in the galleries like maps and gallery summary panels provide resources for students to connect with “big ideas” in curriculum.

Learn effective ways to organize and present art projects and materials that will facilitate classroom management, inspire students, and increase depth of engagement. This workshop will introduce simple open-ended, hands-on art-making projects using stimulating and easily accessible materials that can be implemented in the classroom. Teachers will learn ways to motivate creative ideas, encourage exploration, and sustain engagement in their students’ art-making experience.

  • Motivating for Learner-Centered Engagement (3 hours; k-12)
    • A simple art-making experience for teachers from the learner’s perspective, which includes a visit to the DIA galleries and motivation through peer discussion based on the learner’s own experience, for more sustained and meaningful engagement in individual creative expression.
    • The following media options are available to explore: 
      • Clay
      • Sculpture/assemblage with a variety of recycled materials
      • Acrylic painting
      • Printmaking
  • Partners in Inquiry; Collaborating across the Curriculum (3 hours k-12)
    • This workshop provides an opportunity for teachers to collaborate on learner-centered art projects and lesson plans that apply to different areas of learning in the STEAM curriculum, motivated by open-ended exploration of art-making materials and themes in the DIA’s art collection.
  • The Environment as Teacher (3 hours; pre-k-12)
    • An art-making experience for teachers, inspired by our work with Reggio Emilia and Montessori Early Education, which looks at ways to stimulate creativity and learning across the curriculum, through an exploration of themes found in the DIA’s collection, as well as intuitive and tangible responses to a rich variety of found and natural materials
  • Meaning through Art-Making for Teachers (2 hours, k-12)
    • An opportunity for teachers to experience our Meaning Through Art-Making program, developed for k-12 students to engage in discussions of selected art in the galleries and hands-on experiences in the Art-making Studio, from the perspective of their own learners.

We also offer custom workshops designed to meet your learning outcomes. Please e-mail for assistance designing a custom professional development workshop for your group. Please note custom workshops require at least 4 weeks’ lead time.

Designed to familiarize groups with the DIA’s offerings for students and teachers, this option allows educators to get firsthand knowledge of the tour types that are offered to students and make connections to how this can support the learning in their classroom or school on either a guided or self-guided experience.The experience includes an hour-long tour of the museum followed by a debrief discussion and overview of learning resources facilitated by DIA Education Programs staff.

The DIA can provide free meeting space for up to 50 educators from Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb counties in our Learning Center.  When scheduling a hosted meeting at the DIA, please include 90 minutes in the meeting agenda for DIA staff to provide an overview of current education programs.  This typically includes an hour-long tour of the museum followed by a debrief discussion, allowing educators to get firsthand knowledge of the tour types that are offered to students on guided field trip experiences and make connections to how this can support the learning in their classroom or school.  (At least 4 weeks’ notice is required and additional costs can be involved for catering.)

Preferred Date and Time
Please give two possible dates for your workshop request. We will do our best to fill your request as listed. You will be contacted as soon as possible upon receipt of application if we are not able to meet your stated request. Please note that workshops must be scheduled at least 4 weeks in advance. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Please indicate preferred start and end times based on the workshop selected and account for any breaks, if needed.
Additional Notes
Please contact our Education Team at 313-833-9178 or e-mail