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Google Arts and Culture needs to be in your teacher tool belt

I’ve seen it so many times.

And you probably do it every day, without even realizing it.

I’ll be chatting with a teacher just before they start a class or enter their room and there is subtle but powerful shift in body language. It’s happened so often, I started calling it the Wonder Woman pose. You’re making a very deliberate mental shift to teacher mode and that mental adjustment impacts how you stand and move.

I asked a teacher about it once and she said:

“I’ve never really thought about it. But I guess I’m thinking about what I need to do and how I’m going to do it. I’m clicking on a mental tool belt.”

She’s right. We all put on a virtual tool belt every time we get in front of students. Pulling out just the right tool for a specific task.

If you’ve never been to the Google Arts & Culture site, this is truly one of those tools that needs to be in your instructional tool belt. Arts & Culture gives you free access to millions of primary and secondary resources to use as part of your instruction and learning.

Basically it’s a database of artwork, objects, artifacts, and documents from thousands of museum collections and historical sites from around the world. Much of this content comes from Arts and Culture partners – public museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. These partners also provide such things as 3D tour views and street-view maps that allow you to “walk” through their actual brick and mortar sites.

So what kinds of things can you find at Arts & Culture? At the basic level, you can find artwork, history, and geographic places. But within that structure, there is so much more. Seriously. It is incredibly easy to stop in for a quick search and surface an hour later, having gotten sucked into whatever cool thing lead to the next cool thing that lead to a 3D tour of some cool place.

The best place to start for social studies teachers looking to add to their tool belt is probably Historical Events. Click the three line hamburger menu in the top left corner and scroll down to Historical Events.

You’ll find hundreds of specific topics such as World War Two or the 1960 presidential election. You can sort the events in a variety of ways but I like the Timeline option. Simply drag the timeline to the period you’re curious about and the results reset themselves.

Within each of the topics are hundreds of primary and secondary sources. The Civil War topic, for example, has 1,066 painting, photos, sheet music, letters, and artifacts.

But you should also check out Historical Figures. You can sort the results in the same way – alphabetically or with the timeline option.

The Places section provides a way for you to search the database for items specific to a geographic place. This is also where you can drill down to StreetView options for different places. Clicking any of the Partner links opens up a page with a StreetView icon. You can also simply scroll down the main Places page and see items with a StreetView icon.

It seems like a map search option in Places would be a no-brainer. But there isn’t yet.

But there is a map option available in a different section. Go back to the hamburger menu in the top left and select Collections. Choose Map and you get the chance to drill down to specific museums to view their stuff.

But wait. There’s more. Select Themes from the top left hamburger menu and you’ll get access to a wide variety of collected topics such as Black History / Culture and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. You’ll get exhibits, artifacts, videos, and StreetViews related to that topic.

Need an example?

Explore this amazing virtual reality tour of five National Parks.

Perhaps the most useful tool you can add to your belt is the ability to save whatever individual pieces of evidence you find as a Favorite.

When viewing an individual piece of evidence, find and click the heart icon. Your favorites are stored in your profile account. This is an awesome way for you and your students to curate and store resources during research and learning.

You can also share your Favorites (or even items you don’t fave) directly to your Google Classroom – allowing you to create an assignment, ask a question, make an announcement, or create a shared material item directly into any of your Google classes. Simply click the Share icon that sits beside the heart Fave icon. How cool is that?

View the stuff you save under the Favorites tab that you can find in the top right. (And be sure to click the Nearby tab. You’ll get personalized search results based on your location – giving you the chance to interact and connect with museums and exhibits right next door.)

Get even more Arts and Culture goodness from a sweet presentation by Laura Israelsen and Kelsey Pacer from Chesterfield County Public Schools. Laura and Kelsey shared the presentation at the 2019 NCSS conference and rocked it. 

Cause we all can use extra tools in our utility belt.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.



2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rita K. #

    Wonderful information to know, use and share!

    May 22, 2020

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