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Tess Porter

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

I'm the Digital Content Producer at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. Here, I focus on the use of digital museum resources to support teaching and learning.  I train educators on using digital museum resources and the Smithsonian Learning Lab to support student learning, research and develop learning experiences in collaboration with educators at the Smithsonian and other cultural institutions, and support the development of new tools and features to improve the Lab.  I hold a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Art History from University Colorado Boulder, and am currently pursuing an M.S. in Museums and Digital Culture at Pratt Institute. 

learninglab@si.edutwitter.com/smithsonianlab

Tess Porter's collections

 

Exploring Identity and Community: Njideka Akunyili Crosby

<p>This collection contains activities to explore ideas of identity in community in artwork by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a Nigerian-American artist who often uses collage, photo-transfer, and painting to explore the worlds she calls home.  The first half of this collection is designed for students to use directly, and includes two artworks – both tied with Project Zero Thinking Routines – to support close looking and responsible perspective taking, alongside an interview with the artist.  The second half of the collection is designed for teachers, and includes additional resources to support further exploration into Njideka Akunyili Crosby's work, close looking and diverse perspectives, and identity and community.</p> <p>This collection was created with <a href="https://learninglab.si.edu/profile/eveeaton">Eveleen Eaton</a> to support the 2021 Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers (WISSIT).</p> <p>Keywords: nigeria, america, contemporary, female, art, perspectives, close looking, conversations, activity, discussion, see think wonder, step in step out step back<br></p> <p>#WISSIT #WISSIT21</p>
Tess Porter
13
 

Flashcard Activity: Civic Discourse

<p>This collection contains a diverse set of resources related to civic discourse that may be used as an introductory activity to spark classroom discussion and prompt students to conduct research. For discussion questions and activity implementation ideas, click "Read More." <br></p> <p>This collection is not comprehensive but rather provides a launching point for further research and study.</p> <p><em>This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received support from The Grable Foundation.</em></p> <p>Keywords: flash card, think puzzle explore, project zero visible thinking routine, social justice, equity, civil rights, protest, activism, culture, cultural identity, representation, sensitivity, community, communities, politics, immigration, migration</p> <p>#civicdiscourse</p>
Tess Porter
68
 

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
 

Esperanza Spalding: Examining Portraiture

<p>This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Esperanza Spalding, a Grammy-winning jazz bassist and singer. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "<em>Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, </em>both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes a video of artist Bo Gehring speaking about his portrait of Spalding and a Smithsonian Magazine article about her curation of an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.</p> <p>Consider:</p> <ul><li>What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?</li><li>How are these portraits both fact and fiction?</li><li>How do these portraits reflect how she wanted to be seen, or how others wanted her to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.</li><li>Having read listened to her music, does the portrait capture your image of Esperanza Spalding? Why, or why not?</li><li>If you were creating your own portrait of Esperanza Spalding, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?</li></ul><p>Keywords: musician, oregon, American, #BecauseOfHerStory, #SmithsonianMusic</p>
Tess Porter
7
 

Selena: Examining Portraiture

<p>This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, an American singer known as the "queen of Tejano music." Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "<em>Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, </em>both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes videos of educators and curators talking about her life and accomplishments, as well as an outfit she wore during performances.</p> <p>Consider:</p> <ul><li>What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?</li><li>How are these portraits both fact and fiction?</li><li>How do these portraits reflect how she wanted to be seen, or how others wanted her to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.</li><li>Having listened to her music, does the portrait capture your image of Selena? Why, or why not?</li><li>If you were creating your own portrait of Selena, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?</li></ul><p>Keywords: singer, musician, texas, model, fashion designer, entertainer, #BecauseOfHerStory, #SmithsonianMusic</p>
Tess Porter
8
 

Bessie Smith: Examining Portraiture

<p>This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Bessie Smith, the "Empress of the Blues" and one of the most influential blues singers in history. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "<em>Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, </em>both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes a video clip of Bessie Smith performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1929 and a post from the National Museum of African American History and Culture discussing her and other LGBTQ African Americans of the Harlem Renaissance.</p> <p>Consider:</p> <ul><li>What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?</li><li>How are these portraits both fact and fiction?</li><li>How do these portraits reflect how she wanted to be seen, or how others wanted her to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.</li><li>Having listened her music, does the portrait capture your image of Bessie Smith? Why, or why not?</li><li>If you were creating your own portrait of Bessie Smith, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?</li></ul><p>Keywords: singer, musician, 20s, 30s, American, Tennessee, #BecauseOfHerStory, #SmithsonianMusic</p>
Tess Porter
11
 

Korean Burial Practices in the Goryeo Period

<p>In this activity, students will explore personal objects found in stone caskets from the Goryeo period (935-1392 CE), an era of great artistic and cultural achievement in Korea.  After looking closely at the types of objects found, students will consider why these particular objects may have been chosen to memorialize the deceased, what this may reveal about those who lived during the Goryeo period, and similarities and differences in how objects are used in the burial practices of other cultures.  Use this activity as an entry point into studying Korea during the Goryeo period, cross-cultural and cross-historical funerary practices, and more.</p> <p><a href="https://learninglab.si.edu/search?st=%23AsiaTeachers&amp;st_op=and&amp;item_type=collections">#AsiaTeachers</a></p> <p>Keywords: archaeology, archaeologist, tomb, funeral, death</p>
Tess Porter
16
 

Korean Buddhist Painting: Looking Closely

<p>In this activity, students will use visual evidence to explore and study an exceptionally rare Buddhist painting from the Goryeo period (935-1392 CE), an era of great artistic and cultural achievement in Korea.  This painting depicts Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion, and scholars believe images like this were created to aid private meditation.  Use this activity can as an entry point into studying Buddhism in Korea, Korea during the Goryeo period, and more. </p> <p><a href="https://learninglab.si.edu/search?st=%23AsiaTeachers&amp;st_op=and&amp;item_type=collections">#AsiaTeachers</a></p> <p>Keywords: water moon avalokiteshvara, avalokitesvara, religion, buddha, </p>
Tess Porter
4
 

Designing a Better Voting Machine: 1880s to Today

<p>Objects are time capsules; they embody values, aspirations, or problems of a particular time and place and mark a stage of technological evolution. This student activity examines voting machines used in U.S. elections over more than a century. Looking closely and understanding the historical objects’ design evolution will inform students’ design of new machine intended to overcome barriers to voting in today's elections. </p> <p>The first five images are voting machines from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. Students will explore their parts, purposes, and complexities, then read the Washington Post article "Broken machines, rejected ballots and long lines: voting problems emerge as Americans go to the polls." Finally, students will design (and may prototype) a voting machine.<br /></p> <p>This collection incorporates two Project Zero Agency by Design routines: <em></em><a href="https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/agency-by-design-voting/xf6JuBhCB1u29e8h/#r/517111">Parts, Purposes, Complexities</a>, a routine for looking closely; and <a href="https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/agency-by-design-voting/xf6JuBhCB1u29e8h/#r/517112">Imagine If...</a>, a routine for finding opportunity. Questions in each routine are open-ended and should be used to spark peer discussion in small groups or as a class. For more information on how to use and facilitate each routine, see their resource tiles at the end of the collection, as well as the <a href="http://www.agencybydesign.org/">Agency by Design website</a>.</p> <p><em>Keywords: vote, voter, maker, making </em></p>
Tess Porter
13
 

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
 

Portrait Analysis: Duke Kahanamoku

<p>In this activity, students will analyze a stamp depicting Duke Kahanamoku to explore his significance in American history and culture. Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968) transformed the Polynesian pastime of surfing into a worldwide competitive sport.  He also won five Olympic medals in swimming, was an accomplished actor and businessman, and was re-elected sheriff of the city and county of Honolulu for thirteen consecutive terms.  Opportunities to learn more include a photograph of him with Amelia Earhart and her husband, a surfboard he carved, and a Google Doodle created for his 125th birthday.</p> <p>This activity can be used as an entry point into studying Duke Kahanamoku's life and achievements, Hawaiian history and culture, 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: surfer, pacific islander, athlete, hawaii, hawai'i</p> <p>#APA2018</p><p><em>#visiblethinking</em><br /></p>
Tess Porter
11
 

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