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Posts from the ‘primary sources’ Category

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

Discussion strategies so good, your kids won’t be able to shut up (And a few that even work long-distance. Cause . . . coronavirus.)

I can’t find it now but I ran across some research a year or so ago that suggested that 70-80% of all conversations in K-12 classrooms is teacher to student. As in . . . we can’t stop talking long enough to let our kids get a word in edgewise.

Since I can’t find the research, I’m not going to include it in this quick post on ways to encourage student conversation and discussion. If I had found it, I would say that teachers talk too much and that we need to find more ways to support student to student and student to teacher and student to content conversations. But I haven’t be able to find that research so I wouldn’t think of suggesting that probably 70% of the time, we talk too much. 70-80%. Can you believe it? It must be hard as a student to sit through a whole class period when the teacher is really the only one who gets to talk and who is the only one who gets to explore the primary sources and to solve the problem that they started the class with and then the bell rings.

So. What can we do to increase student conversation and encourage discussion? There are a few ideas out there. Read more

Becoming US is latest from Smithsonian. And it’s a no-brainer. (Seriously. Go there now.)

I got the chance to attend and present at the very awesome Minnesota Council for the Social Studies conference this weekend. (Thanks @jessellison!) Spending time with hundreds of other social studies teachers is always a good thing. I always walk away smarter.

But some days you don’t just walk away smarter . . . you walk away SMARTER. Today was one of those days. And I know that I just posted something a few days ago about the new cool Smithsonian Open Access tool. But this afternoon, Orlando Serrano from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History highlighted a new website from NMAH that really blew me away. And I gotta share. Read more

Open Access just made me love Smithsonian more

You all know how much I love the Smithsonian. Between their 19 brick and mortar museums, the amazing Learning Lab, the History Explorer, and their handy digital resources, it can be difficult deciding where to start.

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

History at the movies: The 20 best films of the decade and how to use them

There’s nothing like watching a movie in a big screen theater – the kind that bans small children and has heated reclining seats –  holding a mega-tub of popcorn with a side of nacho cheese and a Diet Pepsi.

(You mean you don’t dip individual pieces of popcorn into nacho cheese while watching movies? While then . . . you’re welcome.)

And it’s even better when the movie is history related.

I’ve written about movies before. Because I like movies. I’m also convinced, when used appropriately, that they’re great teaching and learning tools. And a recent Smithsonian article highlighting their choices for best history movies of the last ten years got me thinking. So now I’m curious . . . what were the best movies of the last decade? Maybe more important, how can we use them as part of our instruction?

Read more