Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way
This collection is comprised of resources for introducing middle school ELA students to the concept of identity in art and literature. This was planned for use as an introduction to The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, so a special focus is given to Latinx culture and experience, but the resources could be used for any literature that addresses the topic of identity.
The resources in this collection can be used in whatever order you wish, but I have included my general plan and sequence for a three-day mini-unit. Each lesson is intended for a 45-minute class period for middle school English students, but could be extended or combined for longer periods or older students.
Day 1: Exploring the Concept of Identity
We begin with the painting Braceros by Domingo Ulloa, using the See/Think/Wonder visual thinking routine as a jumping-off point to lead the class to the topic of identity. The ideas recorded could remain as an anchor chart in the classroom as the class reads and discusses the novel. It would be interesting for students to revisit their initial ideas to assess how their concept of identity expands and changes through the reading. As an alternative or addition to the lesson, depending on the needs of your students, you could also use the Identity Worksheet handout provided as a metacognitive tool to assist your students in tracking the ways their thinking evolves and expands. This worksheet also encourages them to make connections with other works of art, literature and music from their past experiences; this can be done independently or in small groups.
Day 2: What Comprises Our Identity?
The goal today is for students to begin considering what factors determine or influence our identities. To begin class, students will be introduced to "Tenement Flats" using the "What Makes You Say That?" thinking routine. This will provide practice for students to make claims about the painting and provide evidence to support their claims. This will be the warm up for the day, but to extend time with the visual art, students could create a T-Chart or Venn Diagram for comparison and contrast with "Braceros."
Students will next listen to the poem, "Latino-Americanos: The Children of an Oscuro Pasado" by Xochitl (SOH-chee) Morales. After reading the poem, students will be invited to consider the stories they hear in the poem. Xochitl's voice tells one story, but what other stories do we hear? What stories are missing? IF the discussion does not naturally move toward identity, students should be invited to consider what comprises the poet's identity (for example, sense of self, sense of family, societal expectations, gender roles, home, community). Again, ideas could remain on an anchor chart for reference.
Day 3: What is the Author's Message about Identity?
On the final day, we will explore an excerpt from Cisneros' book ("My Name"). I have provided a handout with this excerpt. This could be an opportunity to guide students through close-reading techniques like intentional text marking, or students could do this work independently. After reading and annotating the text, students will be coached through the "Claim/Support/Question" reasoning routine to (1) provide an interpretation of the author's message or theme as it relates to identity; (2) provide support for the claim; and (3) extend their thinking by generating a question about what isn't explained or what information is missing, or what alternative points of view might exist.
I have provided some additional resources that could be added in to extend the time spent on this topic or used as journal or warm-up activities as the class continues Mango Street. These include an additional poem ("We" by Nathan M. Richardson) as a handout as well as a Youtube link to Richardson reading his poem, and a visual (typographic) prompt to use for the topic of identity. I have also included a video interview of Xochil Morales that might be useful for adding context, particularly because she is a very young poet and relatable.
The selected artwork and learning lab collection offers a historical approach to the transformation of Native Americans into white culture and society. It serves as a purpose to provoke discussion on the historical context of the Indian Removal Act, and gives students an understanding of the main character’s (from the novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) “modern day” internal conflict of erasing or eliminating his Native American culture to immerse into the lifestyle of a white teenager in a predominately white school.
As an introductory activity, students will engage in the see/think/wonder methodology to infer the artists’ purpose for the artwork. This initial activity will help scaffold students’ prior understanding and knowledge of the historical context of Native American history and the forced immersion into white culture. Therefore, after students have had ample time of using visual understanding skills to interpret the artwork, students can explore a “modern-day version” of Sherman Alexie’s image that showcases a juxtaposition of the main character’s internal identity conflict.Similar to the artwork, students will engage in the "connect, extend, and challenge" thinking activity. Students will make connections to the text and real-world connections as a culminating task. Lastly, students will discuss how it extended their thinking and a remaining challenge or wonder students still have. Using their remaining questions, this could lead to several extension activities.
Students can explore other Native American artwork in the learning lab, students can also use the "unveiling stories" strategy to learn more about the Carlisle school. The history of the Carlisle school connects and relates with the novel by adding historical context. Lastly, students can engage in teacher-made or student-made gallery walks using other Native American artwork or imagery to support the reading process of the paired text.
This is a collection of the art and resources used to help students become more familiar with the time period Of Mice and Men was set in. The goal is for the students use a historical perspective when reading the novel and to help them when discussing character motivation and theme at the end of the unit. It will provide them with a richer view into the novel.
This set of activities is designed to encourage students to think critically about how an artist’s race, background, and experiences might impact their ability to fairly and accurately tell the story of a different person or group - an "other."
Specifically, students will look at the creations of two white men - the painting Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning From Washington by George Catlin and the novella The Pearl by John Steinbeck - to analyze how the whiteness of these two artists might have affected their ability to fairly portray the indigenous people they sought to memorialize. Using primary source texts written by the artists themselves, students will conduct an inquiry into the possible motives and biases of these men in order to assess whether they, as white outsiders to the groups on which they focused, did or even could tell their stories accurately. The question students will be tasked with answering in writing as a culminating exercise is whether a white man can fairly and accurately tell the story of an indigenous people?
In terms of purpose, the study of the painting is intended to supplant a traditional anticipation guide to help students prepare to read The Pearl and also to provide a lens through which to analyze the text.
Includes iconic people, places, and things associated with Pittsburgh.
Prior to the workshop series, select one resource from this collection and conduct an adapted See-Wonder-Connect routine (What do you see in the resource that's worth noticing? What do you wonder about? What connections do you make to it?). You may consider sharing with a partner, using the Think-Pair-Share routine. Finally, Imagine if... you were using one of these resources in your own practice, what would you have students do with it?
This collection was created for the Smithsonian Learning Lab workshops in Pittsburgh and the surrounding school districts. Funded by the Grable Foundation and in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Quaker Valley School district and the Washington International School.
This collection is to be used in conjunction with the novel, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. The lesson concept spans the total of three 55 minute class periods for a middle school ELA course.
Students will begin by completing a pre-reading activity where they will analyze the artwork, Iceman Crucified #4through a "See, Think,Wonder" activity. Students will then discuss the overarching ideas or themes that they observed in the piece. This lesson will end with students making a prediction about the book, A Long Walk to Water, through previewing the cover/title and using information from the artwork to predict a possible theme of the story.
After reading chapters 1-4, students will then begin analyzing their predictions. They will also be introduced to a new piece of art, The Girl I Left Behind, to analyze in conjunction with another character in the book. Students will do a collaborative poem with the artwork. They will then work in pairs to analyze lines of text and draw similarities/differences between the character in the text and the girl in the painting.
This collection of teaching resources includes lesson plans and multimedia resources about the engineering design process. There are several lesson plans on architecture and engineering concepts of design, such as simple shelters, balance, and materials. The videos and illustrations explain what engineers do and the fundamental engineering design process.
This lesson includes:
- A video by Crash Course Kids titled "What's an Engineer? Crash Course Kids #12.1" (4:30)
- A video by Crash Course Kids titled "The Engineering Process: Crash Course Kids #12.2" (5:17)
- Two models of the Engineering Design Process by Preschool Steam
- Engineering/architecture activities from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum for Pre-Kindergarten-1st Grade
Visual art is a language that is socially and culturally constructed. Socially constructed learning values diverse perspectives, engages with local and global experts, and employs inquiry, discovery and exploration to move students toward global citizenship. Because the visual arts leverage the power of dialogue and debate to sharpen critical thinking, starting with the arts is a logical place to help students develop empathy for others while increasing their cultural intelligence.
This collection was created to support teachers and administrators who wish to better understand the various cultures in their schools. Using both Project Zero's Global Thinking Routines and strategies from Amy E. Herman's Visual Intelligence book, participants will practice articulating cultural perspectives and communicating across differences using artwork and primary sources from the vast collections of the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Participants will learn how to read a work of art, understand compositional hierarchy, and question what is missing. The frameworks provided by Project Zero and Amy E. Herman will allow everyone, even those not accustomed to discussing art, a place from which to begin using art as a foundation for building culturally-responsive curriculum.
Participants will see museums as the cultural ambassadors that they are and ask whose culture is being represented and whose is missing and why. Extending from this inquiry, participants will recognize the role schools play in nurturing and shaping the lives and identities of our students.
This collection contains the provocative piece The Way They Was and asks students to make parallels to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It uses thinking routines such as "See/Think/Wonder", "Circle of Viewpoints", and "Claim/Support/Question". There is also a graphic organizer in the shape of a door that allows students to record the connections they see between the piece of art and the novel. This lesson can be used after Chapter 25 or at the end of the novel.
This topical collection includes the iconic "Moon Man" image of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, a National Air and Space Museum “expert annotation” video featuring a curator highlighting specific details, and other resources about the space suit and the Apollo 11 mission.
Teachers and students may use this collection as a springboard for classroom discussions about the mission to the moon, for analysis of photographic details, or in biography projects about the astronauts.
Are you interested in learning about Jackson Pollock and his "drip" method of painting? If you are, this is the perfect collection for you!
You will be asked questions throughout this collection to help you better understand Jackson Pollock's art work.
This activity explores Elaine de Kooning's John F. Kennedy portrait and the process of its creation from sketches to the final piece. The collection includes a video about John F. Kennedy's assassination and prompts learners to better understand how to read this portrait by thinking critically while answering questions.
The collection contains work from an SAAM summer session from 2018 inspired by SOB,SOB by Marshall and is centered around the reading of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It is meant to be a resource for teachers seeking to consider identity critically, incorporate meaningful diversity, and promote the importance of complex representation. #SAAMteach
This collection includes ideas for using digital museum resources as a springboard for getting to know your students this school year. Three practical, teacher-tested activity ideas are shared within the archived webinar and an additional teacher-submitted idea is included.
Tags: ISTE standards, digital curation, icebreakers, ice breakers, object portraits, Burton Morris, Robert Weingarten, first day of school, CURIO, artifacts, introductions, knowledge constructor, creative communicator, My Smithsonian Closet, Nightstand Portraits, What makes you who you are?
Without even perhaps realizing it, we create self-portraits all of the time - in the form of selfies, in photos with friends, or in photos of exotic locales. Every time we share a self-portrait, we have a purpose and an audience, even though often we don't think explicitly about those things. First and foremost, often we (understandably) want to portray ourselves positively, as attractive and interesting people. Sometimes, however, our purpose is more complex, even if we don't realize it consciously. Let's take a look at three different types of self-portraits to gain a better understanding of purpose and audience.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.
This collection contains a selection of artworks related to the themes of conflict, identity, and place. They may be used for a variety of purposes; here, we use them as a catalyst for discussion. In small groups or as a classroom, have students select one artwork they find meaningful or interesting and discuss the following:
- Why did you pick this artwork?
- What do you see? Name specific aspects of the artwork you notice.
- What do you think about what you see?
- What does this artwork make you wonder?
- Optional: How might the artwork connect to the themes of conflict, identity, and place?
This activity works equally well online or using printed flashcards (see the resource tile). You may also replace or pair the above activity with a Project Zero Thinking Routine found in the final section of the collection.
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection contains artwork selected by Phoebe Hillemann, Teacher Institutes Educator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, to be featured in the 2018 Smithsonian American Art Museum Summer Institute for Teachers, "Teaching the Humanities through Art." The activity is adapted from Project Zero's See / Think / Wonder routine (see the resource tile).
Keywords: printable, flash card, project zero visible thinking routine, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, NJPSA, saam
Teacher's guide for using shoes to explore culture, history, place, and innovation. Includes images of thirty shoes and three different strategies, located at the end of the collection, for using these objects in the classroom.
Strategies include: a small-group object analysis activity; a poster, "If You Walked in My Shoes," introducing students to basic primary source analysis questions through six pairs of shoes; and a vocabulary exercise for ESL learners.
This collection contains a diverse set of resources related to Asian Pacific Americans that may be used as an introductory activity to spark classroom discussion and prompt students to conduct research about how Asian Pacific American history is American history. For discussion questions and activity implementation ideas, click "Read More." A file to print these resources as flashcards is located at the end of the collection; please see the resource's Information (i) tab for printing instructions.
This collection is not comprehensive but rather provides a launching point for further research and study.
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Keywords: printable, flash card, think puzzle explore, project zero visible thinking routine, apa
Each resource symbolizes a reason why Americans chose to move west. For EACH one, complete the following activity:
1) Source it: What is it? Who made it? When was it made? What is the author's purpose/why was it made? Hint- click the i on the left side of the screen to learn more about the source.
2) Identify at least 3 details that you see in EACH image.
3) Why would this resource motivate people to move West? Use a specific detail that you saw to prove your point.
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?
Supporting questions and activity implementation ideas are located under this collection's Information (i) button.
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?
Supporting questions and activity implementation ideas are located under this collection's Information (i) button.
In this collection the theme is "Head of State". Students are to question representation of in terms of power, authority and or propaganda. Included are Houdon's bust of Washington as well as his full length statue; the statue Augustus of Primaporta; and Greenough's statue of George Washington. This collection was created for AP Art History, however it can be used in lower level art history and art appreciation classes as well.
The premise is that students should be able to analyze the differences between two or more styles in terms of composition, choice of subject matter, proportion, color, and so on. Understanding the distinction between styles is especially important in French art (Houdon), where the inheritors of these artistic traditions will become the earliest modernists. Furthermore, artists in the new United States of America tried to capture the spirit of their fledgling republic in their art, but comparing the art of the young nation (Greenough) with that of its European antecedents (Augustus of Primaporta) reveals strong influences as exemplified here.
In addition, students need to be able to answer several key questions when looking and writing about works of art: Why do the historical contexts of the images inform our view of the person depicted? How does the depiction reinforce the image? What message is conveyed in the sculptures? What is the relationship between those portrayed? Finally, how do the works of art relate to specific cultures and the time period in which they were made?
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2018 Summer Teacher Institute. #NPGTeach #visiblethinking
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.