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O Say Can You See? Smithsonian’s blog. (And other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff)

Have you ever had one of those days / weeks / months? I feel ya.

Back in the day, summer was one of the slower times of the year at ESSDACK mission control. But over the last few years, for a variety of reasons, June through the end of August has become a very exciting time. Lots of extended learning opportunities that we facilitate, travel to places outside member school districts, and our own very cool Podstock tech conference.

But I’ve been missing History Tech. It’s nice to be back. And what better way to get back home than to talk up one of my favorite online places. Read more

I thought I was smarter. Uh . . . no. Dang you, Smithsonian

Yesterday, I felt smart. I had just finished a full day with some of the best social studies teachers around. We had talked about hyperdocs, completed a BreakoutEdu, identified photos as either real or fake, learned about a variety of graphic organizers, and participated in an awesome video conference focused on the Smithsonian Learning Lab with Darren Milligan and Kate Harris.

I felt smart. I had learned some stuff. I had taught some stuff. My brain was feeling good.

I should have stopped while I was ahead. Read more

It’s a podcast part duex! Darren, Ashley, and the incredible Smithsonian Learning Lab

Last week, we published Part One of my conversation with Darren Milligan and Ashley Naranjo from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Today? Part Two.

Quick review:

Read more

It’s a podcast! Darren, Ashley, and the incredible Smithsonian Learning Lab

I had the opportunity to run into Ashley Naranjo and Darren Milligan last summer at the 2016 ISTE conference during their rollout of the new Smithsonian Learning Lab. And I was blown away. Seriously.

And, yes, Ashley and Darren were incredible. They’ve got the chops. But it was the Learning Lab and all of its cool tools that really got me fired up. I was literally writing a blog post during their presentation.

At the time, I said:

This will change how you and your kids collect, organize, share, and analyze primary evidence. It is seriously that good.

And after getting the chance to talk with them via Skype two days ago, I remain blown away. The Smithsonian Learning Lab truly can and should change how we do our jobs. At its core, the Lab is an online storage facility for 2,000,000 Smithsonian primary sources that gives you the opportunity to access those sources, organize them into collections, and share those collections with students.

And wait for it.

Your kids can do the same thing. So whether it’s you who creates the collection or your students do it, the Lab is a powerful way of curating resources. And it’s done in a beautiful, image driven environment that encourages users to make sense of the past and apply it to contemporary issues in ways not possible even five years ago.

So if you haven’t had a chance to experience the sweetness that is the Learning Lab, Read more

“I, too, sing America.” Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed –

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

The National Museum of African American History and Culture officially opened on Saturday, adding one more amazing piece to the Smithsonian collection. Through its collection of artifacts and narrative, the NMAAHC makes clear that the African American story is an American one and that understanding black history and culture is critical to understanding American history and culture.

In his dedication speech, President Obama said that the NMAAHC Read more

Your world is about to change. Cause . . . Smithsonian Learning Labs

You may have seen the TV commercial where the tops of peoples head blow off because of the amazing new tool the ad is trying to sell.

The brand new Smithsonian Learning Lab is like that. This will change how you and your kids collect, organize, share, and analyze primary evidence. It is seriously that good.

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access created the Smithsonian Learning Lab to inspire the discovery and creative use of its rich digital materials—more than 1.3 million images, recordings, and texts. And Darren Milligan, head of the Learning Lab, says that they are digitizing a new resource every six seconds.

It is easy to find something of interest because search results display pictures rather than lists. Whether you’ve found what you were looking for or just discovered something new, it’s easy to personalize it. Add your own notes and tags, incorporate discussion questions, and save and share. The Learning Lab makes it simple. By encouraging users to create and share personalized collections of Smithsonian assets and user-generated resources, the Learning Lab aspires to build a global community of learners who are passionate about adding to and bringing to light new knowledge, ideas, and insight.

There are three basic parts to Learning Lab: Read more