Last week, we published Part One of my conversation with Darren Milligan and Ashley Naranjo from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.
Today? Part Two.
I’ll admit it. I’ve been on a Google kick lately, especially with the recent release of some new Google gadgets. Led some on-site Chromebook trainings. Hooked a few people on the power of Cardboard. And there have been several recent presentations focused on under-appreciated Google tools for social studies teachers.
It was during my trip to and a preso at ISTE that I ran across significant changes to one of my favorite under-appreciated tools, the Google Cultural Institute. It was a little awkward. Have you ever gone to a Google tool and it’s different than when you last visited?
Yeah. That was me. Together the session participants and I all headed to the Cultural Institute and . . . it was not the same. My collections were in a different place. The ability to annotate items in my collections were gone. Finding historical places and their 3D versions was a different process. Even the name was different. Now it’s called Google Arts & Culture.
But as I’ve played with it since then, the new and improved GAC (Cause using Google Arts & Culture is just too much.) has grown on me. If you’ve never been to the site, this is truly one of those tools that needs to be in your instructional tool belt. We’re always looking for primary sources. For artifacts. For places that provide evidence for our students to use. The AC gives you access to millions of items to use as part of instruction and learning.
Basically the GAC is a Read more
And we just keep on rolling. Daniella Green from the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School is rocking this session on using art and artifacts to teach World History.
Why use art and artifacts?
Art and artifacts can help reveal a civilization’s culture because these things come from all levels – economic, educational, cultural., political – of that society. Daniella says we don’t need to live near a museum to do this so a few ideas of what this can look like.
She usually starts with Mesopotamia and has kids explore artifacts that she finds online. Her basic lesson structure with artifacts have students write brief summaries (like the labels found on artifacts in a museum) and create a replica of one artifact of their choice.
She starts by having kids “source” an artifact: Read more
I spent part of the past week in Topeka and Kansas City – not sure what was my favorite. On Wednesday, I climbed to the top of the Kansas State Capitol Building. It’s one of the few capitol domes that still allow folks to visit the very top. And it’s been since I was 13, on the traditional 8th grade field trip to Topeka, that I last climbed to the top.
For the record? Above the inner dome? With just that spindly looking set of stairs? Yeah. Still very spooky.
But the highlight was probably the chance to visit the Steamboat Arabia museum in downtown KC. Most of you probably won’t be able to make that trip but if you can, it’s a keeper. Quick overview – the Missouri River has Read more
There’s nothing like a good history museum. Interactive displays. Interesting artifacts. Knowledgeable docents. Done well, a museum visit is not just a good time but can be an incredible learning experience.
That’s sort of the point, isn’t it? Especially if I’m a classroom teacher. Having students connect with evidence and explore possible theories in an environment specifically designed to support learning is something we all want for our kids.
And most history museums work very hard to find ways to get teachers and students into their buildings. The artifacts are there. The docents are there. The resources are there.
But more and more school districts are struggling to fund off-site field trips to history museums. Subs, entrance fees, fuel costs all add to make it difficult to get kids from schools into places like the Kansas History Museum. And so many museums, have been forced to develop a variety of tools that attempt to replicate actual visits.
They create and ship out traveling trunks. Create and post lesson plans online. use photos and videos to give a sense of artifacts and displays. Many museums are experimenting with online chats using Skype or Google Hangout.
Museum and Education Director Mary Madden and her staff at the Kansas Museum of History have done all of that. Their Traveling Trunks are very cool. The Read Kansas cards are a great example of practical and aligned lesson plans that focus on literacy and social studies.
But two days ago, Mary stepped into a whole new world. Together with Curriculum Specialist Marcia Fox, Mary led Read more