Skip to content

Posts from the ‘museum’ Category

Can the Chronicling America site get any better? Yes. Yes, it can.

Seriously. Other than somehow delivering their results with a large iced tea and delicious side order of hand-cut fries, is there any way that the Library of Congress Chronicling America site could get any better?

I mean, you’ve got almost 200 years worth of digitized primary source newspapers available for scanning, analyzing, printing, and perfect for use for all sorts of learning activities in your classroom. Searchable by keyword. By language. By state. And it’s free. What’s not to like?

So is there really any way that it can get better? Yes. Yes, it can.

Adding a map with an embedded timeline would make it better. So . . . that’s what the LOC people did. You now can search for newspapers by location and time visually using their new interactive map. So cool.

Read more

You need to be using the Smithsonian History Explorer. Seriously.

I thought I knew the Smithsonian History Explorer. I’ve been using it and recommending it for years. But I was wrong. I don’t know the Smithsonian History Explorer.

Not like I should know it. Cause they’ve changed and updated it.

So if you teach US history (or even world), you seriously need to head over and do some poking around. The staff from the Smithsonian  Museum of American History has added so many new resources, lessons, activities, and themes, I guarantee you’ll walk away with all sorts of stuff you can incorporate into your instruction tomorrow.

Start by using the Read more

History shouldn’t be boring. Or leave out stuff. Resources for your Indigenous Peoples’ Day

A year or so ago, I sat with a group of upper elementary teachers and asked them to read an article titled How Do We Teach With Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing? Published by Education Week, the article highlights the difficulty in telling a complete story when Native American voices are hard to find.

Bottom line? We need to train both ourselves and our students to look beyond what the easy to find sources are telling us. It’s what Sam Wineburg once called “reading the silences.” We need to be more intentional about finding and using sources that fill in those silences, that let kids listen to the stories that are often untold and left out. 

Finding these missing voices is important for a lot of reasons. But one particular quote in the EdWeek article stood out for me:

The nice little progressive American story is boring. Once students realize it’s complicated, it’s interesting.

We want our kids to go beyond just hearing and memorizing the story. When students get the chance to hear the nuance and connections and people and interactions and relationships and context and motivations and emotion and similarities to contemporary issues, you don’t have to work very hard to keep them engaged.

No one likes a boring story. No one sits through a crappy movie on Netflix. No one finishes a book with poorly written and unimaginative characters.

So why should a student have to sit through a tedious and dull history class that tells a story without subtlety or interesting individuals? Read more

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. Read more

Pirates. The Columbian Exchange. And hot chocolate.

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.

But we shouldn’t forget that Read more

The New Normal of School: A few suggestions, a few resources, a few tools. You can do this

It’s been less than a week. It doesn’t seem like it. But think back to last week. I was looking forward to watching the Big 12 basketball tournament and already had a tentative NCAA bracket filled out. You were relaxing on your spring break or looking forward to a well-earned break this week.

Today?

Whole different world.

Here in Kansas, the entire school system has shifted from a face to face model of teaching and learning to one that revolves around e-learning. For the rest of the year. And you may not yet be in that sort of long term distance learning environment. Yet. But I think school for the rest of spring 2020 is going to be very different for most of us.

So what can that look like? What tools should you use? Are there tips and tricks that can help? I want to start the conversation and share some ideas and resources that can help in this world of a new normal. And I know you’ve all been buried under a ton of information and emails and free offers and suggestions and to-do lists.

So I’m going to try and keep this short. Today is just enough to get you started – I’ll be updating and adding posts all spring.

First thing? Read more