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Posts tagged ‘museums’

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

Google Cultural Institute: Now new and improved

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

Cultural geography, online photos, and the Field Museum of Natural History

I consider myself a fan of museums. Maybe more than a fan. There’s not much that can beat a good museum. I can easily spend hours browsing displays, talking with docents, and learning tons.

And there aren’t many museums that can get the better of me. The Smithsonian. National Air and Space. World War One Museum. But there’s only one Field Museum. It’s huge – some 24 million objects. I’ve never made it through the entire thing. But still so cool.

So when I found out that the Field Museum is posting some of its photos online, I was pumped. The hundreds of photos are perfect for geography and cultural geography teachers.

I especially like those from the 1893 World’s Fair. But you can find historical images from a wide variety of places and times. Read more

Mounuments Men: “Art is long, life is short”

I’m sitting here in a comfy chair warming up by the fireplace, with laptop in hand and a nice cup of coffee nearby. It’s a snow day pretty much everywhere in the state of Kansas and I’m catching up on my to-do list.

One of the things to check off? The Monuments Men.

It’s an incredible true story. It’s a book. And this weekend, it’s a movie coming out starring, well . . . a bunch of my favorite actors. Bill Murray. George Clooney. John Goodman. Matt Damon. Cate Blanchett.

Early reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes seem mixed. But I’ll be going no matter what. I’m a sucker for movies based on historical events. Argo. Lincoln. Band of Brothers. Hotel Rwanda. Glory. Gettysburg. All the President’s Men. The Mission.

I’m hoping for the best but I’m sure that through the whole thing I’ll be making mental notes about the lack of historical accuracy and the jumbling of facts for dramatic effect. Because we all know that the book is always better. Always.

But I’ll also get over it. The book is always better but it’s also always interesting to see how the story “looks,” how the movie tells its version of events. Because the story is a great tale. If you haven’t gotten the drift from all the movie ads, here are the basics: Read more

Tip of the Week: Online museums

Last week, Learning Never Stops posted a great article about a variety of online museums. You need to add over and check out the entire list. Some of their suggestions are history / social studies related and you’ll want to be sure to read their reviews of the following suggestions:

But there are other online museums out there that are super handy for classroom use. So today . . . a quick list of places you can visit for great resources to incorporate into your instruction:

Read more

Tip of the Week – The End of the Scavenger Hunt

I’ve written about Mary Madden before. Mary is the amazing Education and Outreach Director at the Kansas State Historical Society. And she and her tiny staff do incredibly big things.

Mary recently shared with me a book that looks very interesting. Titled Teaching History with Museums: Strategies for K-12 Social Studies: Strategies for K-12 Social Studies, it provides an introduction and overview of the rich pedagogical power of museums. Mary says

This is the gold standard.

So you know it’s good.

Part of what the book attempts to do is to overcome the typical end of the year “let’s take our kids to a museum to kill a day by giving the kids a scavenger hunt” sort of museum visit.

The authors show how museums offer a sophisticated understanding of the past and develop habits of mind in ways that are not easily duplicated in the classroom. Using engaging cases to illustrate accomplished history teaching through museum visits, this text provides pre- and in-service teachers, teacher educators, and museum educators with ideas for successful visits to artifact and display-based museums, historic forts, living history museums, memorials, monuments, and other heritage sites.

Each case is constructed to be adapted and tailored in ways that will be applicable to any classroom and encourage students to think deeply about museums as historical accounts and interpretations to be examined, questioned, and discussed.

Among many other useful things you can find in the book, Teaching History with Museums offers a nice list of ten things you can do to take full advantage of the true power of history museums.

  • Visit the museum prior to bring students
    Allows you to see what kids will see, meet staff, and plan logistics.
  • Collaborate with museum staff to plan activities for students
    Mary from KSHS is a history / education goddess. Why would not use her skills and knowledge to plan your trip?
  • Take students to museums to learn both content and develop an analytical and critical stance towards history
    The full power of a museum includes the chance to develop a richer understanding of history, not just simply looking at stuff.
  • Build visit activities around curricular goals and explicitly connect the visit to classroom work
    Rather than stand-alone activities, museum visits are the most effective when they are ties to our classroom curriculum.
  • Plan both pre-trip and port-trip activities
    Your trip is wasted if your kids are not prepared before hand. But kids need to also reflect on what they learned after they’ve learned it.
  • Conduct extensive research
    Do a bit of due diligence – look at the website, talk with other teachers, call the staff.
  • Provide a balance of structured activities and freedom of choice during the visit
    Kids need specific guidance but “playing” during unstructured free can also encourage powerful learning opportunities.
  • Establish a norm of museum visits as a scholary endeavor, not a day off
    Hold kids accountable, communicate high expectations – this is a learning activity.
  • Provide school adminsitartors with a strong rationale for your visits to history museums
    Museum visits cost money. Make sure your principals understand the purpose. If nothing else, show them a dog-eared copy of this book.
  • Select chaperones carefully and provide them with support and expectations
    I understand how hard it can be to find volunteers for this sort of thing. But the more clear you are about their roles, the more comfortable they will be.

There are some other useful resources out there. Try these on for size:

Have fun!