Introduction. In this unit, students investigate literature and art by individuals who, through their work, reflect on the U.S.-American experience. Is it the role of the artist and the writer to make us more reflective? If so, to what end? If we look at a startling image or read an inspiring story, is it a momentary thing? Do we go on unaffected or are we somehow changed? Are we supposed to do more than reflect? Are we supposed to rethink the ways we interact with others? Revise the way we live? Are we meant to take action? Our answers to these questions help us to understand the role of the author and the artist in a society that is fraught with conflict and, in a sense, put on edge by questions of identity.
Each resource symbolizes a reason why Americans chose to move west. For each one, complete the following activity:
1) Source it: Is it a primary or secondary source? Who made it? When was it made? What is the author's purpose (PIE)? Hint- click the i on the left side of the screen to learn more about the source.
2) Identify at least 4 details that you see in the image.
3) Why would this resource motivate people to move West? Use a specific detail that you saw to prove your point.
Context: A lesson for a U.S. History/American Literature humanities class. This lesson will come towards the end of our study of the Revolutionary period.
Essential Question: What does it mean to be an American in 1782?
- How does Crevecoeur define an American here? How accurate is his definition for that time period?
- To whom is Crevecouer making this appeal? What sort of person would be motivated by these passages?
- Who is included in Crevecoeur's appeal? Who is left out?
- How is "this new man" different?
- How does Crevecoeur help build the ideals and myths of America?
- How does this letter build on the idea of American Exceptionalism? America as the land of "new and improved"?
Students will have read Letter III before class.
Using the Smithsonian Learning Lab and the text excerpts below (or the entire text of Letter III), students will identify three key quotes or words and find artwork that connects to chosen text. Three total text excerpts and three works of art. The works of art can support, refute, or simply connect to some aspect of the quote and the idea of what it means to be an American.
Students will share their chosen artworks and quotes via the class Google classroom.
We will use the images as the basis for a class discussion on what it means to be an American.
After the class discussion, students will write a short paper on "What is an American?"
1.. Using the Smithsonian Learning Lab and the text excerpts below (or the entire text of Letter III), identify three key quotes or words and find artwork that connects to chosen text. You can use the images below as a starting point, but don't feel limited to these. The Smithsonian has an amazing and extensive collection. Take time to use the search function and explore the collection. You have all period to do so. Be original.
2. By class tomorrow, post on the google classroom your text excerpts and accompanying three works of art. The text can be a whole sentence or just a few key words. The works of art can support, refute, or simply connect to some aspect of the text and the idea of what it means to be an American. Be sure to include the title, artist, and date for each artwork. Your artwork doesn't have to come from the Revolutionary time period. The important thing is that you use your critical reading and thinking skills to make a connection between the text and the art work.
3. Tomorrow we will have a class discussion based on the images and excerpts. Be prepared to share your thinking on your choices with the class.
As always, remember to consider speaker, audience, and purpose. Who is speaking? To whom is he appealing? Why?
Not sure where to start? Find what you think are the ten most important words in the passage. Narrow it down to the top three.
Based on our studies so far, what are the different groups, ethnicities, races, religious affiliations make up the population at this time? Which of these does Crevecouer include? Leave out?
How did these people come to be in America? Does that matter in Crevecouer's writing?
by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur
"What then is the American, this new man?...He is an American, who, leaving
behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new
mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He has
become an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater.
Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors
and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the
"After a foreigner from any part of Europe is arrived, and become a citizen; let him devoutly listen to the voice of our great parent, which says to him, "Welcome to my shores, distressed European; bless the hour in which thou didst see my verdant fields, my fair navigable rivers, and my green mountains!--If thou wilt work, I have bread for thee; if thou wilt be honest, sober, and industrious, I have greater rewards to confer on thee--ease and independence. I will give thee fields to feed and clothe thee; a comfortable fireside to sit by, and tell thy children by what means thou hast prospered; and a decent bed to repose on. I shall endow thee beside with the immunities of a freeman. If thou wilt carefully educate thy children, teach them gratitude to God, and reverence to that government, that philanthropic government, which has collected here so many men and made them happy. I will also provide for thy progeny; and to every good man this ought to be the most holy, the most powerful, the most earnest wish he can possibly form, as well as the most consolatory prospect when he dies. Go thou and work and till; thou shalt prosper, provided thou be just, grateful, and industrious" (Letter III, 1782).
This curriculum pack was produced by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and includes everything you need to teach about the town of Homestead and how it reflects changes in American society. The student text includes readings that you can give directly to your students, and the info tab includes suggested teaching activities. Primary sources and biographies with suggested activities are also included (be sure to click on the paper clip and/or info icon on each item to find out more about it).
A collection of images focusing on the Native Americans and their vanishing cultures due to Manifest Destiny.
Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green, KY
Grade levels: 9-12
11th grade American Literature Focus for English Second Language Learners
Lesson Time: 50 minutes
1. Show the students a copy of the painting “Westward the Course of Empire Makes Its Way” by Emanuel Leutze (1861). Ask the students to spend a few moments observing the work in silence, noticing any details that draw their eyes. Ask the students to let their eyes touch every part of the canvas/picture.
2. Using the teaching strategy “See Think Wonder” ask the students to volunteer details in the work that they see. Ask them to describe only what they observe in the work (e.g. “I see a man in a fur hat holding a gun”). After the student makes a factual observation, ask the student “What do you see that makes you say that?” if the student says something that is not immediately obvious (e.g. the student sees a wooden sailing ship trapped in sea ice but describes it as a cabin). Do not correct the student. Let other students make observations and possibly correct each other through observation and discussion. After the student is satisfied with an observation, follow up with the question “What do you think about that?” Allow the student to offer any interpretations of what the detail means for the content of the work, the tone, the theme etc. Avoiding any value judgements, summarize back to the student his or her interpretation and evidential observations supplying any vocabulary the student might lack, asking for the student’s approval of the final summary. Continue this procedure until the students exhaust their observations or the class time restraints are reached. Finally, follow up with the question “What does this work (or specific observation) make you wonder about?”
3. At this point, ask the students to note anything that they do not see but would expect to be represented in the scene. Second Language Learners who have been in the USA for 2-3 years would probably have some general ideas about the history of the USA and may be able to offer such absences. If not, the teacher may need to point out that no Native Americans appear in the main scene. If the students do not notice the border of the work, point out that there are small scenes in the border that add content/connections to the main scene. Point out that two Native Americans appear there, small and crawling.
4. Ask the students to make a journal entry writing their thoughts about the work, specifically noting the Americans who are represented as moving across the land and the Americans who are not represented.
If the students have enough command of the language, the teacher can discuss representing fact versus propaganda. Discuss the painting as advertisement for the movement west despite its factual inaccuracies (e.g. the painting depicts California as visible from the Rocky Mountains although it is actually 1,200 miles away). Contrast this with a handbill distributed in the Dust Bowl areas advertising workers needed in California to pick crops (in reality the number of workers was greater than the jobs available). A possible literary connection could be to The Grapes of Wrath.
Use the painting periodically through the course of American Literature. Students’ reactions to the work may evolve as they expand their ideas of American history, manifest destiny, and the immigrant experience. Allow students to write new journal entries each time they revisit the work with new knowledge. Discuss the dialogue that gets created between the artist, the work, and the viewer based on what the viewer brings to the experience.
Objective: The student will be able to make a factual observation about the painting and offer interpretation (where possible) citing evidence from the work.
Follow-up lessons: On subsequent viewing of the work, the student will be able to identify themes in the painting that connect to texts from American Literature (e.g. attitude toward nature, the west, immigration, manifest destiny, etc.)
Rationale for using this artwork: The painting by Leutze encapsulates many themes that permeate American Literature and lends itself to an introduction to the course as well as an anchor for the course that will bear repeated viewing.
Rationale for the the methodology: The English as a Second Language student often does not bring a lot of background knowledge about American history or art. The See-Think-Wonder technique allows the student to engage with the work as an expert would: one who makes observations and interpretations that allow claims backed by evidence.
Differentiating Observation (fact) from Interpretation (opinion).
Making claims based on evidence.
Practice speaking in front of peers using the target language of English.
This lesson will teach students about the bracero guest worker program, as well as painting, photograph, and textual analysis. Students will use the Domingo Ulloa painting as a jumping off point for an analysis of working and living conditions of migrant Mexican workers in the United States. Photographs from the American history collection will show workers's lives in America, while a primary source will show the effects of the bracero program on an individual. Finally, students will connect the bracero program of 1942-1964 to immigration issues of today by analyzing statements made by Donald Trump in the context of the bracero program.
This collection is for use with an introductory lesson for a 12th-grade rhetoric course's unit on "arguments to meditate," which are defined in the text "Everything's an Argument" by Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz as, to paraphrase, those arguments which are abstract and/or which lack a clear, explicitly stated thesis and that therefore depend on thoughtful meditation by the audience to arrive at an understanding of the rhetorician's intent. The purpose of this lesson is to (1) establish students' understanding of the definition of an argument to meditate and (2) provide students with a beginning ability to assess the thesis and supporting ideas that comprise arguments to meditate in the form of American Art. The details of the lesson itself are included in a document within the collection.
This collection is designed to help students learn and understand the idea, artistic approach, decision making and creative processes that come to play when one creates a self-portrait.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.
TAGS: #NPGteach, learning to look, National Portrait Gallery, self-portrait, portrait, figurative painting
A complementary collection of extension activities is available here: https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/anna-may-wong-extension-activities/Eo4txiDzJnf8arqN#r
NPG Final Project July 2017
Shirley Chisholm's 1972 presidential campaign poster and paraphernalia
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to look Summer Teacher Institute. The activities, which should take 1 hour over two class days, use two photographs for student visual analysis, as well as a short reading on feminist history, to help students investigate context to further their understanding of characterization, theme, and plot elements in Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. A page of teacher notes is included at the end of the collection, outlining suggested uses of the slides.
TAGS: #NPGteach, portrait, learning to look, National Portrait Gallery
This collection previews the fifth and final seminar of the 2017 Montgomery College / Smithsonian Institution Fellowship seminar series, The Struggle for Justice. Two National Portrait Gallery staff members will lead this event: David Ward and Briana Zavadil White.
Resources and questions included in this collection have been chosen by the presenters for participants to explore and consider before the seminar itself.
This was a period of Athenian political power, economic growth and cultural flourishing formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens with the later part The Age of Pericles.
This teaching collection gives an introduction to e-textiles, which incorporates sewing with circuitry. Students will first learn the basics LED circuitry, then create their very own wearable tech. Extension activities include creating paper circuits with magnetic copper tape and magnetic "throwies".
This is one of 5 activities used in the Lenovo Week of Service event.
Go through the character sketches and renders from the animated feature "Bugs!" and guess what personalities the characters portray based on pose, shape, and expression. Then, using scientific illustrations from the National Museum of Natural History as reference, create your very own insect character in the Sculptris software.
This is one of 5 activities used in the Lenovo Week of Service event.
Did you know that quilts are also historical artifacts? Use this collection to learn more about how curators investigate quilts to learn about their origins, and then explore a variety of different quilts that tell us important things about the time in which they were made and the crafters who made them. Finally, make your own quilt depicting an important historical moment.
tags: quilt, craft, activity, review
This collection of artifacts, photographs, texts, and historical markers is intended to help students explore the history of the Mormon religion in America.
Each of these items is intended to spark inquiry, following the process below:
- Students should choose one artifact on which to focus.
- Have them use the artifact analysis PDF (last resource) to begin their study of the artifact.
- Next, have students generate questions about the artifact? What do they wonder about? What does it tell them about the Mormon religion or its history within the United States?
- Have students complete some general research on their artifact that will help their classmates piece together the story of the Mormon experience.
As a collaborative project, students should use the PBS Forced Migrations map/timeline as a model for a class map/timeline of their own.
- Project an image of the map on a class whiteboard or create your own basic outline using large paper.
- Have each student present their research findings. The main questions they should answer are: What does it represent about the Mormon experience? Where would the artifact they chose be placed (geographically and in terms of chronology)?
- Students should then place place their image on the map with significant dates noted.
- After all groups have presented, review the narrative of the Mormon experience with the class. What would they identify as critical moments in Mormon history? What questions do they still have?
Resources supporting the March 2017 Google Hangout facilitated by the National Museum of American History's curator of Photographic History, Shannon Perich, in coordination with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. Suggested questions for analyzing photographs, yearbooks, photo albums and portraits are included. The archived version of the online session is available at the end of the collection for viewing.
Tags: Migrant Mother, Napalm Girl, Tank Man, Times Square Kiss, 1943 Rohwer Center High School Yearbook, WWI Photo album, Robert Wiengarten, Hank Aaron
This collection includes nine political cartoons about Richard Nixon's presidency and the Watergate scandal, as well as a cartoon analysis worksheet from the National Archives and Record Administration and a link to more cartoons about Nixon at the Library of Congress.
Teachers may use this collection in many ways: by assigning individual students or groups cartoons to analyze and share with the class via presentations, using the "jigsaw" format to create expert groups on each cartoon and then share information that way, or by creating a gallery walk of cartoons for students to work on individually. Students might even create their own political cartoon about the Nixon presidency, focusing on one of several topics: Watergate, ping-pong diplomacy, detente, visit to Moscow, environmental protections, the "southern strategy," busing, his relationship with the press, Vietnam, and more.
This collection highlights the Creative Questioning thinking routine from Project Zero. Students will watch a video clip about the Great Wall of China and generate questions they have about the topic. Then, they will use the question starters to improve and expand upon their questions. Finally, they will choose one of their questions as the starting point for further research.
tag: Great Wall, China, military, inquiry
Charles Russell brought the west alive with his paintings and sculptures of western life. His authentic depictions of Native Americans allow the viewer to appreciate the dress and life of the plains Indians. Also skilled in sculpture, Russell depicts cowboys and wildlife in action settings. This lab provides samples of Russell's best work.
Each item in this collection matches a part of the New Deal. Students must justify their answer using evidence in the image.
lead investigator of the FBI (federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States) from 1935 to 1972
This collection contains images, lithographs, and written documents pertaining to the period of Reconstruction. Reconstruction marks the period in American history beginning in 1863 and lasting through 1877. This collection will help to better understand the role Reconstruction played in re-establishing race relations and enfranchising African Americans, but also the struggles African Americans faced in upholding their rights. People who view this collection will be able to analyze and respond to the question "Was Reconstruction successful?" #TeachingInquiry