A year ago, during final keynote of the 2020 NCSS national conference, author and actor George Takei shared his experience growing up in what he called an American concentration camp. As a five year old, he and his parents were forced into several different camps during World War II simply because of their racial ethnicity.
As he shared his experiences and connected them to contemporary issues, I flashed back to an earlier History Tech post highlighting the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, FDR’s executive order legalizing the internment of thousands of American citizens like five year old George.
Takei’s session was a good reminder about the power of the Bill of Rights and what can happen when we ignore its principles. As you continue to plan your instruction for the rest of the year, don’t shy away from telling the story of America even when it makes you and your students uncomfortable.
One way to do that? Lean into using primary sources that document the topic – such as Takei’s personal story.
Takei shared a bit about his recent graphic memoir titled They Called Us Enemies. It’s a perfect (and powerful) way to begin a conversation around Executive Order 9066. Use the available teaching resources and discussion guides to hook your kids and get them asking the right sorts of questions.
Another way? Use photographs, like these taken by Dorothea Lange.
Google Arts and Culture might just the most underutilized Google tool of all time. There is so much stuff that we as social studies teachers can use from the site. And if you haven’t been over there to poke around lately, youneed to get off the couch and head over.https://artsandculture.google.com/
First known as the Google Art Project, the site was launched just over ten years ago as an online platform that highlighted high-resolution images and videos of artworks and cultural artifacts from partner organizations and museums from around the world. So for history and humanities teachers, the site was super powerful from the get-go.
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.
But recent changes and additions make it even more useful.
But there are so many other places to find online primary sources. So. So. Many.
So many that it’s sometimes easier to just stick to the old reliables. So today you get 24 digital primary sources archives that tell the stories of people and groups that we sometimes miss when we stick to the old reliables.
Because the stories our kids need to hear should include more than just the dead white guys we grew up with. Nothing wrong with old white guys (you’ll find some below and I happen to know a couple of really nice old white guys) but don’t be afraid to grow your list to include the experiences of all sorts of people who make up the American narrative. Read more
My daughter was able to spend some time last year in Washington DC waiting to start an internship at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. And she had a few days to act like a tourist – touring monuments, exploring great little eateries, and visiting museums that have remained open. One of her new faves is the Folger Shakespeare Library. And to be honest, it’s a site I haven’t spent a ton of time exploring until she started texting photos and links to it.
One of the most interesting images for me as a history nerd?
A photo of a botany book from 1672.
Written by a guy named William Hughes, the book focused on the “roots, shrubs, plants, fruit, trees, herbs Growing in the English Plantations in America.” Hughes, who apparently was also a pirate, added a separate “Discourse of The Cacao Nut Tree and the use of its Fruits with all of the ways of making Chocolate into Drink.”
So I’m hooked already. Old books. Chocolate. And piracy. How have I never heard of this place before now?
Here’s the point. We can sometimes get in a rut in our instruction. Textbooks. The occasional SHEG lesson plan. Some Library of Congress documents now and again. And a test. There always seems to be a test.
And the decision just got a bit more difficult. The Smith just released a new site called Open Access focused sharing almost three million still images, text, sound recordings, research datasets, 3D models, and collection data. It gives you free and easy access to 2D and 3D images from all 19 Smithsonian museums, its nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo, all in the public domain. Use however you want for whatever you want as mush as you want.
All perfect for teacher lesson plan creation and student research.
I especially love the 3D objects and images of artifacts. With Smithsonian Open Access, they’re increasing our ability to use millions of digital assets all carrying what’s called a CC0 designation. This means the Smithsonian dedicates the digital asset into the public domain, meaning the collection is free of copyright restrictions and you can use it for any purpose, free of charge, without further permission from the Smithsonian. How cool is that? Read more
Art is hard. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s that sometimes I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s modern art that causes me trouble. Maybe I’m just too literal. The piece to the left hanging in Seattle’s art museum? I got nothing.
But with the help of an older sister and a daughter, both strong with the art force, I’ve gotten better at making sense of color, shape, perspective, of context and hidden messages. And with the help of a lot of bright people at places like the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, I’m also getting better at looking at art as a form of primary source information, as another way to understand place and time,
But I’m starting to believe even more in the power of artwork as story and primary source. So it’s always great to find another site and set of tools that help integrate art into instruction and learning. I recently ran across SmartHistory and am loving it.
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social studies nerd, consultant, tech guy
Thanks for dropping by! As a curriculum consultant for ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas, History Tech is my chance to rattle on about social studies and technology. Feel free to poke around.
Evidence Analysis Window Frames and Tools for Teaching & Learning
At ESSDACK, we want to offer tools and products that encourage you to learn and work when and where you want. Check out these handy products that can be used as instructional tools and professional learning opportunities in ways that work best for you.
The very cool Evidence Analysis Window Frame that scaffolds historical thinking skills and helps kids make sense of primary sources.
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