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Found 746 Collections


Watsons Go to Birmingham

Katie Cahill

Water, Art and Greek Mythology: Achelous and Hercules

A teacher's guide to the painting Achelous and Hercules, by Thomas Hart Benton. This 1947 mural retells an Ancient Greek myth in the context of the American Midwest. Includes the painting, a pdf of the myth "Achelous and Hercules", a supplemental picture guide to the story, a non-fiction article about fresh water from Readworks, and a supplemental worksheet.

Tags: greece, #SAAMTeach , water

Taylor Hummell

Warrenton (VA) History: An Artistic Introduction

This collection provides Fauquier County, Virginia, teachers with the tools needed to incorporate the work of Warrenton artist Richard Norris Brooke into our local history curriculum.  In addition to the focus painting, A Dog Swap, the collection provides access to museum and digital resources that delve into the painting's history, including the location and people on whom the figures are based.   It also includes an additional, connected Brooke painting, A Pastoral Visit, that teachers may wish to share with their students.   As the painting is intended as an introduction to the local history unit, a suggested Project Zero Visual Thinking Activity, "See/Think/Wonder" is also included to spark students' curiosity and help them make connections as they are introduced to this artwork.


Selena Dickey

Walt Whitman: Examining Portraiture

This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Walt Whitman, an American poet, essayist, and journalist. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture.  Also includes "A Close, Intimate Look at Walt Whitman," an article about the final portrait in this collection that may be used as a lesson extension.


  • What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?
  • How are these portraits both fact and fiction?
  • How do these portraits reflect how he wanted to be seen, or how others wanted him to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.
  • Having read one of his poems, does the portrait capture your image of Walt Whitman? Why, or why not?
  • If you were creating your own portrait of Walt Whitman, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?

Keywords: new york, ny, leaves of grass, humanist, writer

Tess Porter

Walt Whitman Poetry and Art

SAAMteach - High School Level English classes

Lesson concept is included in resources

Anne Ruka

Walt Whitman lesson with WPA art


Eddie Black

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

Take a close look at the portraits and objects within “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. “Votes for Women” outlines the more than 80-year movement for women to obtain the right to vote as part of the larger struggle for equality that continued through the 1965 Civil Rights Act and arguably lingers today. This Learning Module highlights figures such as Lucy Stone and Alice Paul, but also sheds light on the racial struggles of the suffrage movement and how African American women, often excluded by white women from the main suffrage organizations, organized for citizenship rights (including the right to vote).



Nicole Vance

Voices of Social Justice

In Voices of Social Justice, students will learn about some of the major figures who struggled to obtain civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups. They will listen to stories of social justice and analyze portraits of individuals who broke barriers——from key nineteenth-century reformers to modern leaders—and will likely be encouraged to consider how they, too, can become civically engaged.


Briana White

Voice over - XXXtentacion's impact on the youth



Visual Thinking Strategies

The goal of teaching visual thinking strategies is to encourage students to observe independently and back up their responses with evidence.
Annotations for each image contain key questions to help students practice visual thinking.
Linda Muller

Vietnam War for novel The Things They Carried

This collection has images of the Vietnam War to background the novel The Things They Carried.     This collection should help to answer the compelling question; was the Vietnam War justified?


June Bohr

Ut pictura poesis: Examining connections between American art and American poetry

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. 

Elaine Bransford

Using Visual Images to Determine What it Means to Be Human

Theme, Human Nature, Short Stories, ELA

Ellen Fisher

Using Vietnam War art to introduce the novel "Inside Out & Back Again"

This collection is curated to introduce the historical background of the Vietnam War for the free verse novel Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, 2011, based on one year in the life of a Vietnamese refugee who came to America in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. I use these resources for a middle school classroom, but it can be modified for high school as well.


Karen LaVohn

Using Global Thinking Strategies with Latino Content

Teachers looking to foster in their students a broader understanding and appreciation of today’s complex world can use these Learning Lab collections that pair Harvard’s Project Zero Global Thinking Routines with new bilingual Latino-content videos of National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum curators discussing works in the collection. 

Each Learning Lab teaching collection includes additional supporting materials to add dimension, expand the activity, and deepen students' learning. 

These four videos were created with federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.


Philippa Rappoport

Using Digital Resources to Integrate Asian Pacific American Experiences in the Classroom

In this collection, Smithsonian Affiliate museums and the Smithsonian Learning Lab team share free digital resources and strategies to integrate Asian Pacific American history, culture, and the arts into your K-12 classroom, via a Google Hangout. Presenters highlight a set of Smithsonian Learning Lab collections that teachers can adapt and use to examine a breadth of topics, from the 1800's to the present and on both local and national scales, in ways that best suit their students’ needs.

Find #APA2018 Smithsonian Learning Lab collections at:

This online session received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.


  • Kristin Gallas – Program Manager for Education Development, Tsongas Industrial History Center (Lowell, MA) 
  • Rahul Gupta – Education and Tours Director, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA) 
  • Hanna Huang – Culture and Arts Education Coordinator, Asian American Resource Center (Austin, TX) 
  • Ashley Naranjo – Manager of Educator Engagement, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access 
  • John Plunkett – Reading-Language Arts Teacher, Lowell Public School District (Lowell, MA) 
  • Tess Porter – Education Support Specialist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Ashley Naranjo

Using Close Investigation of Artworks to Tell Stories and Take Perspectives

This collection provides opportunities for students to uncover the deeper meaning of and build an understanding behind an artist’s work, reveal an artist’s personal values, as well as begin developing empathy and sparking curiosity through close observation, perspective-taking and questioning. This deeper look into artwork can be used as a catalyst for students to share their own works, and act as an agent for action in their larger community.


Andrea Croft

Using Art to Teach Narrative Point of View in Literature

This lesson will provide catalysts for students to write their own third-person omniscient stories. Some instruction on different points of view should be completed before this activity.

The whole class will do a See / Think / Wonder with Tenements Flats after reading the first chapters of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Students should be able to make coherent connections between the picture and themes of the book, such as class disparity, isolation, community, etc...

After the See / Think / Wonder put students in groups of two to three. Tell each group that they are going to write a third person ominscient story inspired by the painting, but each person in the group is going to write the narrative of a particular figure in the picture which will all link together into one story. Students can work on this story as we read the novel.

As the class continues reading the novel, do a whole group See / Think / Wonder with the other three paintings in this collection as themes of culture, patriotism, and strategy emerge in the story. At the end of the novel, each child should then pick one of these three pictures to do their own independent third-person omniscient story.

Yolanda Toni

Upward Bound Tech & Tour - Intro to the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access' Learning Lab

Taking a great portrait is more than just taking a quick snap of a face. It requires thoughtful contemplation and a variety of choices by the photographer. We'll examine a collection of photographs that illustrate various principles of portrait photography and that will help students to understand the parts of a digital artifact. 

LENS 1 | One lens to consider when looking at an artifact is its context and the impression it gives you. Using "see, think, wonder" strategies, we consider:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you think about it?
  • What makes you say that -- what evidence is there for that - on what are you basing your opinion?
  • What does it make you wonder?
  • Why does something look the way it does or the way it is?

LENS 2 | Analyzing great photographs to provide inspiration for your own photography pursuits 

What makes a strong image?

  • angles (eye-level, high angle, low angle, and bird's eye);
  • light and shadow;
  • framing;
  • shot length (long-shot, medium-shot, close-up, & extreme close-up);
  • mood--capturing a feeling or emotion in a photograph; 
  • scale--how big or small subjects look; and
  • sense of place--capturing the feeling of a place. 

Click into each photo and on the "paper clip" annotation icon to read more information (metadata!)

We will then discuss publishing guidelines and other policies that will help students make their best collections.

Tags: portrait photography, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, Project Zero

Tracie Spinale

Unlikely Friendships II

Additional friendships to accompany the April 2018 workshop at the National Portrait Gallery #NPGteach

These are:

Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony

Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt

Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress and confidante Elizabeth Keckley

Entertainers Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald

Entertainers Marilyn Monroe and Eartha Kitt

Boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling

Jan Rubenstein

Unlikely friendships

"Culture is often difficult to define, but it influences everything from who you are as an individual to how you relate to other people at home and around the world. " from Cultural Conversations (2014)

Cultural conversations have been important to the development of the United States since its inception. To start cultural conversations among my students, I have gathered a collection of artifacts that give a brief history of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Douglass and Lincoln would ordinarily have not been friends,  but because of their relationship, history was changed forever! Other Friendships worth investigating: WEB DuBois and Woodrow Wilson (as well as William Monroe Trotter), Lyndon B Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Banneker, and Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune.



Jeryl Payne
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