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Tess Porter

Digital Content Producer
Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Smithsonian Staff
Digital Content Producer

I'm the Digital Content Producer at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. Here, I research and develop learning resources focused on the topics of history, art, and culture for projects both within the Smithsonian and in collaboration with other institutions. I also train educators on how to create their own customized content in the Lab.

learninglab@si.edutwitter.com/smithsonianlab

Tess Porter's collections

 

Looking at Ancient Civilization through Objects

<p>This teacher's guide provides suggestions for facilitating student investigation of archaeological remains. Includes examples of objects to use (Ancient Chinese oracle bones) and a handout on artifact analysis that adapts close reading strategies to explore cultural objects. This concept can be replicated for other artifacts and cultures.</p> <p>Use the handout to brainstorm supporting questions for students - ie. "What knowledge or experience did the maker have?" "Who were the intended users?" Answers to these questions give students the knowledge to answer larger, compelling questions, like "What can archaeological remains reveal about early Chinese urban society?" </p> <p>Keywords: China, archaeology, archaeologist</p>
Tess Porter
6
 

Minnesota: Investigating a Place

<p>This teacher's guide uses stamps, photographs, paintings, objects, videos, and music to explore the history and culture of Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes. In the classroom, these resources can be used by students to investigate two essential questions: How do you define Minnesota as a place? What does it mean to be a Minnesotan? </p><p>Supporting questions and activity implementation ideas are located under this collection's Information (i) button.<br /></p>
Tess Porter
54
 

Multiple Perspectives: Artwork of the Great Depression

<p>In this activity, students will explore what life was like during the Great Depression through the perspectives of multiple artworks. After using looking strategies to examine six paintings, students will write a short essay comparing and contrasting these artworks while considering what art can reveal about life in particular time periods.</p><p>Big Ideas: </p><p></p><ul><li>How did perspectives regarding life during the Great Depression differ during that historical period</li><li>How can you see these differing perspectives through artwork created during the historical period?</li></ul><p></p> <p>Keywords: Public Works of Art Project, Federal Arts Project, Works Progress Administration, New Deal</p>
Tess Porter
7
 

New Orleans & Place

<p>Includes iconic people, places, and things associated with New Orleans. In the classroom, these resources can be used by students to investigate two essential questions: How do you define New Orleans as a place? What does it mean to be a New Orleanian? </p><p>Supporting questions and activity implementation ideas are located under this collection's Information (i) button.</p><p>Keywords: louisiana</p>
Tess Porter
28
 

Object Analysis: Hawaiian Flag Quilt

<p>This student activity explores a "Hawaiian Flag" quilt, a type of decorative object that became popular in Hawaii after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and the kingdom was annexed by the United States.  Symbols on this quilt, which include the Royal Coat of Arms, a quote from King Kamehameha III, and more, help reveal Hawaiian opinions about the state of their country during this tumultuous period in Hawaiian history.</p> <p>This collection can be used as an activity while studying the overthrowing of the Hawaiian monarchy, Hawaiian annexation, and United States foreign policy in the late 1800s.</p> <p><em>This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.</em></p> <p>Keywords: Hawai'i, annexation, Lili'uokalani, Liliuokalani, 19th century, 1898</p> <p>#APA2018</p>
Tess Porter
6
 

Photographs of the Great Depression: Unveiling Stories

<p>This activity analyzes the stories told by photographs of the <strong></strong>Resettlement Administration (RA) and Farm Security Administration (FSA) programs, which ran from 1935 to 1937 and 1937 to 1942 respectively. These photographs were taken to document the conditions and hardships experienced by Americans across the country during the Great Depression, as well as the success of relief services implemented by these two programs. Published widely in newspapers, magazines, books, and exhibitions, these photographs helped shape the public's perception and memory of this difficult time period.</p> <p>Using two Project Zero Global Thinking Routines - "Unveiling Stories" and "The 3 Ys" - students will uncover the stories and perspectives portrayed by these photographs in multiple contexts, from the personal to the global. Additional resources (photographer interviews and an article) and information on how to use these routines in the classroom can by found by clicking <em>Read More »</em>.<br /></p> <p>RA &amp; FSA photographers included in this collection: Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and Marion Post Wolcott.</p> <p>Keywords: poverty, rural, urban, roy stryker, new deal, inquiry strategy, global competence, global competency, 1930s, 30s, dust bowl, photojournalism</p><p><em>#historicalthinking</em></p>
Tess Porter
20
 

Portrait Analysis: Long Tack Sam

<p>In this activity, students will analyze a poster of Long Tack Sam (1884-1961), an influential magician and acrobat who was once one of the most famous vaudevillian performers in the world. As a Chinese-American man competing against fake-Asian magicians in "yellow-face" who hoped to capitalize on Western ideas of "the mysterious orient," Long Tack Sam held a complicated and sometimes contradictory position.  He and his performance troupe wore elaborate embroidered costumes and used scenery depicting pagodas, but he also authored newspaper articles correcting Western misconceptions of China and refused roles in early Hollywood films that negatively stereotyped the Chinese as opium addicts, criminals, and laundry workers. Opportunities to learn more include <em>The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam</em> (2003), a documentary directed by his great-granddaughter.</p> <p>This activity can be used in studying Asian Pacific Americans in the early 1900s, Chinese-American experiences, and more. This activity opens with questions from the National Portrait Gallery's<em> "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators </em>and ends with a Project Zero Think / Puzzle / Explore routine; the full portraiture guide and routine instructions are located at the end of the collection.</p> <p><em>This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.</em></p> <p>Keywords: magic, entertainer, entertainment, immigrant, 20th century</p> <p>#APA2018</p>
Tess Porter
7
 

Reading Companion: Hot-Air Balloons and the Civil War

In this collection, students will explore the Union Army's use of hot-air balloons during the Civil War. Two articles - "Professor Lowe's Adventure" [Cobblestone; Nov/Dec 2015] and "Civil War Air Force" [Cricket; Oct 2015] - serve as an introduction to Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, an aeronaut, and his influence in the creation of the US's first air force. Additional resources, such as photographs of the balloons, letters written from the Secretary of the Smithsonian to Lowe prior to his involvement in the Union Army, the remnants of a Confederate balloon, and more, help situate these articles into a larger, historical context. Suggestions for use located in "Notes to Other Users." Uses the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "Think Puzzle Explore." This routine sets the stage for deeper inquiry.
Tess Porter
19
 

Reading Companion: Robots

This collection is a reading companion to two articles - "Robot Zoo" [Ask; Nov 2011] and "Me, Myself, and My Android Twin" [Muse; Nov 2012]. Students are asked to investigate these articles, alongside other objects, videos, and articles, to examine what issues robot designers are attempting to address with their inventions, and how they are trying to address them. At the end of the activity, students will be asked to write a paragraph or more explaining which inventions they think are the most important and why, citing resources in this collection as evidence.
Tess Porter
22
 

Slow Looking: Untitled, by El Anatsui

<p>In this collection, students will explore an artwork by El Anatsui, a contemporary artist whose recent work addresses global ideas about the environment, consumerism, and the social history and memory of the "stuff" of our lives. After looking closely and exploring the artwork using an adapted version of Project Zero's "Parts, Purposes, and Complexities" routine, students will create a "diamante" poem using their observations of the artwork and knowledge they gained about El Anatsui's artistic influences. Additional resources about El Anatsui, how to look at African Art, and Project Zero Thinking Routines are located at the end of the collection.</p> <p><em>This collection was created for the "Smithsonian Learning Lab, Focus on Global Arts and Humanities" session at the 2019 New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) Arts Integration Leadership Institute. </em></p> <p>Keywords: nigeria, african art, textile, poetry, creative writing, analysis</p>
Tess Porter
20
 

Social Justice: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Resources

<p>This collection previews the fourth seminar of the 2017 Montgomery College / Smithsonian Institution Fellowship seminar series, <em>The Social Power of Music</em>. Two staff members from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will lead this event: James Deutsch and Atesh Sonneborn.</p> <p>Resources and questions included in this collection have been chosen by the presenters for participants to explore and consider before the seminar itself. Two resources, included at the end of the collection, are optional materials for those interested in addtional background information on Smithsonian Folkways.</p> <p>#MCteach</p>
Tess Porter
7
 

Social Justice: National Museum of African American History and Culture Resources

<p>This collection previews the first seminar of the 2017 Montgomery College / Smithsonian Institution Fellowship seminar series, <em>A Journey Through the African American Lens</em>. Five National Museum of African American History and Culture staff members will lead this event: Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Dr. Rex Ellis, Dr. Jacquelyn Serwer, Dr. Michèle Gates Moresi, and Mary Elliott.</p> <p>Resources and reflection questions included in this collection have been chosen by the presenters for participants to explore, consider, and answer before the seminar itself. Fellows will be asked to discuss their answers to the reflection questions during the seminar. </p> <p>#MCteach</p>
Tess Porter
41