Long before the camera went west, artists like George Catlin were preserving the images of the native Americans on the western plains. Catlin's paintings are numerous and divide into two genre: the group activities and portraiture. This learning lab focuses on group activities of many plains indians including hunting, traditional dances, and recreation.
Every year near Thanksgiving, images of our Pilgrims father begin to proliferate showing them as very austere and wearing only black clothing. This learning lab introduces images of Pilgrims that are compared with written primary sources. It was customary in the 17th century to inventory all the belongings of the deceased before they were distributed to the heirs. These inventories and the wills themselves provide detailed information about the attire of everyday Pilgrims of this period.
This collection includes a multi-day lesson plan built around Childe Hassam's Tanagra (The Builders, New York), 1918, and is designed to explore the effect that gender inequality can have on identity. Lessons are designed for an eleventh-grade, American Studies, Humanities-style course, and the historical context is the Gilded Age and the Women's Suffrage Movement. The plan for this mini-unit includes the analysis of visual, literary, and historical texts, and while it has a historical context, the goal is also to make connections to American life today. The essential question for this mini-unit is this: How can unfair gender norms affect what it feels like to be a human being? Included, you will find a lesson plan as well as digital versions of the artistic, literary, and historical texts needed to execute that plan. #SAAMteach
The resources in this collection are assembled to present a range of perspectives on the American Dream. After we have delved into the concept of the American Dream and its evolution over time, you will examine and consider examples of Americans' attempts to accomplish their unique aspirations.
After surveying the collection, choose one of the following assignments to complete and submit it. As you are browsing the resources in the collection, you may want to take notes and/or save images.
1) Compare and Contrast: Write an essay that examines how the images reflect or represent the American Dream. Choose 5 images and for each image, identify the time period, the person/people and place featured, and the American Dream referenced. By describing and analyzing each image, evaluate the American Dream. How do the images reflect the idea of the American Dream? What conclusions can we draw from examining the American Dream through these images? How has the dream changed over time and what does it mean today? Are there any aspects of the American Dream that hasn't changed?
2) Argument: Select a combination of articles, images, and videos (at least 5) to examine. Reflecting on the quote from class consider the extent to which you agree or disagree with the argument presented. To support your claim, use the sources from this collection to write an essay in which you argue whether or not the American Dream still exists.
Quote: "People have long held the view that America is a place where everyone can freely and successfully seek their dreams. We are a nation of potential success stories, emerged from simple beginnings. We've been told that within each of us lives the spirit of entrepreneurial or educational achievement. Up until recently, this was widely believed as true. But as a result of current economic conditions, this opportunity has been lost and the American Dream of the past no longer exists." (Levy)
Levy, Ellen. "Pursuing the American Dream." Constructing Meaning Instructional Unit. E. L. Achieve, Inc. 2012
Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts and Other Artists' Enumerations
This collection, first of all, is a work in progress and may change as time goes on. The collection includes pieces that are meant to prompt students to think how to create a "just society" and potential consequences when those ideals don't become reality. #SAAMteach
This collection includes a video that presents the question: "What did the artist keep the same and what did he change? Why?" In this collection, there are multiple images of individuals who have made a strong contribution in society. The artists have placed emphasis on the hands of the sitters. The objective is for students to compare and contrast multiple paintings, with the goal of gaining insights into ways portraitists convey personality with details.
1. Watch the video and write down the similarities between the two paintings that are presented. What are some comments the narrator said about the people in the paintings?
2. The narrator says the hands of the people are given great importance. Why do you think so?
3. Write down the similarities of the people's hands in the portraits.
4. Using that information, create a T-Chart. On one side of the chart write the overall similarities of the people in the paintings (build upon the findings of the narrator) and on the other side, the differences.
5. Using that information compare and contrast the second image and third images with the two paintings in the video. Add another column to the T-Chart and write down your findings.
6. Discuss or write about your conclusions as to what the painters were trying to express about the sitters. Do you think they were effective?
Tags: una troubridge; statue; representation; character; photograph; painting; visual.
In this collection, there are multiple images of objects that have been considered to be iconic in society. The objective of this collection is for students to look at the objects and research the significance of those objects. For this exercise, students will look over the images and write about those objects. This will allow students to use factual information that they look up, process the information, and use it to complete a writing assignment. They could write a fictional story having to do with the object of choice or they could write about a time when they have used the object during their day to day lives.
Tags: technology; toys; apparel; iconic;
Reading American Culture Through the Lens of Various Texts
Read, write, and think like a college-bound high school student!
Examine your portrait with your partner. Answer the three questions in your writer's notebook, being sure to write the portrait's name and artist in your notebook for reference! What OBSERVATIONS have you made? What INFERENCES have you made?
Be prepared to courageously share your findings with your classmates!
Craft can be used to respond to and record events in the world. How can an artist successfully translate a personal or national reaction into a craft work? Which moments are “remembered” this way? Students will learn to analyze an object and explore the interconnected nature of moments in the past to better understand the complexities of today.
A two-day lesson for middle schoolers to introduce some of the themes in The House on Mango Street through art representing Latino/a Americans in the 1900s.
tags: immigrant experience, culture, gender roles, women, class divide, jigsaw, see think wonder
By using Chimamanda Adichie's "The Dangers of a Single Story" as a lens, students will begin to analyze how urban artists draw awareness to single stories and challenge them through their artwork.
Topics and Hashtags
Urban Art, Stereotypes, Art, Social Action, Social Justice, Cities, City, Down These Mean Streets, Maristany #SAAMteach
All resources that I've gathered to teach Adiche 's novel in Fall 2017.I have also begun a collection specific to Smithsonian exhibits and resources.
English, Hispanic History, House on Mango Street, Braceros, Hispanic American, American History, camps, workers, labor, Latino Americans, Sandra Cisernos, Domingo Ulloa
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.
Artworks to be used to with Black Boy, by Richard Wright, his autobiography which chronicles his search for identity while growing up in the Jim Crow South.
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).
In this collection, students will explore how portraits can be used to reveal biographical information about a subject and time period. This collection focuses on a few portraits of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii (1795-1893). Students will be asked to think critically about each portrait. This activity is based on the "Reading Portraiture" Guide for Educators created by the National Portrait Gallery. The guide can be found at the end of the collection. The collection also includes an article from Smithsonian magazine that provides a brief history of Hawaii to provide further context for the images.
One of the final activities requires students to compare the monarchs' portraits to contemporary images of Hawaii (after it became a part of the U.S.). Students will also be asked to find an image of a famous person from Hawaii to compare and contrast with the previous images. This assignment tasks the class to think critically about their preconceptions and background knowledge on this part of history.
Resources would work best in a social studies class (either U.S. or World History) in a unit focusing on Hawaii. This collection can also be revised to fit into an Art History class. To learn more about the theory behind this approach of analyzing portraits of a subject before reading their biography, please see the last resource "'Reading' Portraiture Guide for Educators."
Objectives: To build reading comprehension skills through analyzing texts and to build writing skills. These skills will be acquired through student engagement built by participating in activities which work together to help students consider the unifying theme of Community.
Skills Taught: Students will be able to discuss a theme that is common to various works of media including visual art and text. Students will be able to provide supporting evidence for their responses in both discussion and writing in order to support their comprehension building skills and to demonstrate their comprehension.
This topical collection features more than a dozen postcards that were distributed during the World War I era. These postcards will serve as inspiration and a starting point for teacher-created Smithsonian Learning Lab collections during the National Postal Museum's workshop, "My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I" (July 2017).
Students will begin by examining Tooker's "The Waiting Room" using the "See/Think/Wonder" methodology. Then, they will examine five poems and argue (using evidence from their chosen poem as well as the painting) which poem is closest in tone and theme to the painting. I've included additional images to further the discussion.
This unit explores the idea that "as is painting, so is poetry." It invites students to learn to "read" art in the same way they read poetry, and likewise to imagine poetry visually. This bank of resources provides pairings of American poems and paintings.
This is a collection that allows students to examine the role of the worker in the American Experience and how it has changed over time. #SAAMteach