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Artifact-based instruction and History Explorer

I first began really thinking about using artifacts as a part of instruction when I met Keil Hileman. Keil was teaching in Monticello Trails Middle School in the DeSoto school district when I first ran across his room full of thousands of artifacts. Keil sucked me in to the idea that a single artifact can have a tremendous impact on student learning.

I’ve been using a West African manilla from Keil as an example with teachers for several years. And it never fails to intrigue and engage teachers and students.

explorehistoryAnd now the Smithsonian has created a very cool site that focuses on the effective use of artifacts and primary sources as teaching tools. Called History Explorer, you can search for resources by grade level, content area and time period.

Your gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the National Museum of American History as part of Verizon’s consortium. Explore the rich resources of the Museum and bring history to life with artifacts, primary sources, and online tools for the classroom, afterschool programs, and home.

They also have a Twitter feed that I ran across that updates you daily on the site’s goodness as well as a nice RSS feed. If you’re looking for additional resources, ideas and access to great artifacts, you really need to head on over!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks from the educators at Smithsonian’s History Explorer! How did you hear about our site? Do you have any suggestions for improvement?

    September 29, 2010
  2. Jane Steele #

    I am a former museum profesional as well as a history teacher. Using origional objects/primary resources is the way to go if you really want the student’s attention nowadays. I interviewed for a job this summer at a community colege where there was an opening in the history department. I used my dad’s combat jacket and discharge papers that he received after he was discharged from the Army during World War II.

    He was not only in charge of an ammo dump that supplied soliders with supplies to fight their was onto Juno Beach and other points once they got to Normandy but he was in combat as well. Many people do not realize that a lot of African-American,American-Indian and Hispanic and Asian-Americans plus soliders of color from around the world fought(and died) in WWII. It certainly got the attention of the interviewere but alas I did not get the job but it did wake up my audience to something real! Jane

    November 18, 2010
    • glennw #

      Sorry the job didn’t work out but I would have loved to sit in on the interview. Original artifacts can be powerful things. The teacher I mentioned, Keil Hileman, uses a Nazi flag torn down by US soldiers fighting their way through Nuremburg during WWII. He makes all of his kids smell it . . . it still smells like gunpowder.

      Powerful stuff!

      Thanks for the comment and good luck!


      November 18, 2010
  3. Jane Steele #

    I really appreciate this a lot. It is hard to get a job teaching history but I do have a parttime job and am considering tutoring students in the near future. Jane Steele

    November 18, 2010

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. NCSS Session – Object Based Instruction « History Tech
  2. Smithsonian X 3D and using artifacts in your classroom | History Tech

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