Found 569 Learning Lab Collections
Sustainability is about using techniques that allow for continual reuse of resources. Why might textile designers want to reuse scraps or reclaim waste fibers? What other things that get thrown away could be reused as part of a woven textile?
ART MAKING CHALLENGE: Incorporate something recyclable in a hand-woven textile. Consider color, texture, and how well it will perform for a particular purpose. Would you combine the recycled items with traditional yarns or just use re recycled items? Which method is likely to get the results you want?
The Donald B. Cordry collection contains photographs of Mexican mask-makers and textile weavers. Many of these photographs appear in his two books Mexican Masks and Mexican Indian Costumes.
Developing an inquiry-based strategy to support students can allow them to investigate objects and images as historians do. In this example, students try to reveal the story behind the image. They raise questions for their own further research. Because the image has only a title, the photographer's name, the "sitter"'s name, the place and the date, students have to rely on their own analysis of evidence in the image, rather than someone else's interpretation. When they read the expert's analysis, they will have already considered many of the elements that the expert highlights and can compare their interpretations.
"Girl at Gee's Bend, Alabama" is a provocative photograph that can be used in discussions ranging from history of the South during the Great Depression, to social justice.
In this activity, students will explore Mickalene Thomas's process, artistic influences, and art historical context. Students will examine Thomas's Portrait of Mnonja (2010, Smithsonian American Art Museum) in depth, and use three supporting resources to build context.
1. Have students look at Mickalene Thomas's Portrait of Mnonja. Give them 2-3 minutes to do a quick sketch of the painting.
2. Next, ask them to note the part of the painting their eye went to first on their sketch with a star.
3. Next, ask students to draw a line through their sketch to show the path their eye used to travel through the painting. Use arrows to indicate direction.
4. In pairs or as a class, ask students to share where their eye went first, and why they think it went there. Was it the color? Light? Lines? The placement in the composition?
5. Next, students should write a list of 8-10 words and phrases describing the painting. Ask for volunteers to share out.
6. As a group, discuss students' impressions of the painting. Ask for visual evidence to back up claims. (e.g. A student says, "she looks powerful." You ask, "what do you see that makes you say she's powerful?")
7. To further the conversation, share some background information about the painting: the title, the date, and the artist. Explain a little about Mickalene Thomas's process: posing live models in sets with props and furniture, taking photographs, then painting from the photographs.
8. Next, break students into small groups. Each group should receive a printout of ONE of the three supporting resources in this collection. Ask them to compare and contrast their image with Portrait of Mnonja.
9. After 4-5 minutes, ask each group to share out the main idea from what they discussed. The teacher should add additional information as it is useful.
a. Mickalene Thomas set photograph: Shows the artist's process, how she uses real models and sets. Note patterns and 1970s motifs.
b. Romare Bearden collage: Thomas has cited Bearden as one of her artistic influences. Students should note similarities in color, pattern, and flatness.
c. John Collier painting: An example from the early 1900s of the "reclining woman" in art history. Students should discuss the passiveness/agency of each of these women, and how a male artist's depiction of a woman differs from a female artist's in this case. Thomas was well versed in art history and was consciously making reference to precedents like this.
10. Writing Activity: In small groups, have students write a dialogue between Mnonja and someone else. It could be the artist, the viewer, or someone from one of the supporting resources.
Optional: Have students view one or both of the short videos of Mickalene Thomas discussing Portrait of Mnonja.
Issues of gender inequality have had profound effects on all aspects of American society and its many institutions. In conjunction with the National Postal Museum’s upcoming exhibition Baseball: America’s Home Run, this collection will assist teachers in examining this issue with their students through two important institutions of the 20th Century: Major League Baseball and the United States Postal Service. The collection explores this essential question: How was the changing status of women in American society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries represented in professional baseball and the United States Postal Service? In small groups, students will discuss this underlying question through the variety of resources in this collection, examining the historical access women have had to these institutions, their divergent experiences compared to their male counterparts, and how women have historically been depicted on USPS stamps. Some supporting questions to scaffold inquiry can be found in the “Notes to Other Users” section.
Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "Claim Support Question," a routine for clarifying truth claims, students will examine a portrait of Rosa Parks, a prominent civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger prompted the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. After discussing the portrait with their peers, students will learn more about the arrest this sculpture depicts by reading the original police report, with notes by a Smithsonian curator.
Created for the 2016 National Portrait Gallery Summer Teacher Institute.
Keywords: african-american, black, civil rights movement, female, woman, women, segregation, NAACP, justice, arrest, #BecauseOfHerStory
This is a collection of items belonging to, or about, Frances M. Albrier. Although an important female leader and activist during the mid-20th century, many students may not have heard of Ms. Albrier. Encourage students to act as history detectives, exploring the collection to determine why this woman's belongings are in the collections of the Smithsonian.
Some questions to consider:
- What are Albrier's main accomplishments? What types of occupations did she have?
- Based on these, what values do you think were important to her?
- How does Albrier's life reflect major changes for women during the 20th century? Changes for African-Americans?
- What do these items tell us about challenges facing African-American women in the mid-century?
- What remains unknown about Albrier based on this collection? Where else could you go to look for more information?
- Look at an encyclopedia entry for Ms. Albrier. Are there any events mentioned not covered in this collection? What might be a good item to add in order to better show her life?
tags: activism, civil rights, union, labor, voter registration, 60s, world war II, shipyards, WW2, nursing, Red Cross, National Council of Negro Women, Nigeria, independence, peace, moral rearmament, #BecauseOfHerStory
In this activity, students will analyze a portrait of Lili'oukalani (1838-1917), the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Queen Lili'uokalani came to the throne after her brother's death in 1891 and ruled until 1893 when, to avoid bloodshed, she surrendered to a coup led by American business leaders. Opportunities to learn more include other portraits of Lili'uokalani, including one taken when she was 15, an article about her life and the annexation of Hawaii, and more.
This activity can be used as an entry point into studying Lili'uokalani's life and achievements, Hawaiian annexation, Hawaiian history and culture, and more. This activity opens with questions from the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators 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.
This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
Keywords: liliuokalani, hawai'i, polynesian, pacific islander
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.
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.
This collection incorporates two Project Zero Agency by Design routines: Parts, Purposes, Complexities, a routine for looking closely; and Imagine If..., 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 Agency by Design website.
Keywords: vote, voter, maker, making
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?
Memories can evoke strong feelings and inspire artists to tell stories in their art. Look at a selected image with a partner or table group and discuss:
- What is the story?
- How do you think the person or people feel about this experience?
- What do you see that makes you think they feel that way?
- Have you ever had the same feeling?
Collection of Political Cartoons from the late 1800s/early 1900s
This Learning Lab uses interactive virtual tours, videos, images, and much more to Celebrate the Rich Cultural History of African American History in honor or Black History Month.
Students can explore this Learning Lab independently. Learning exercises and worksheets have been provided to help enhance the exploration of the content for the NMAAHC Black Superheroes
Wakanda Learning Lab is this? #SJ2019LP
The Angel Island Immigration Station operated as one of the immigrant induction processing centers for the Western United States from 1910 to 1940. The following activities will help learners explore the experiences of the various immigrants that were detained at Angel Island and the process they endured in their attempt to gain access to America.
Upon completing the lesson, students will be able to:
- Use rhetorical thinking to analyze a poem.
- Analyze the perspective shared in a poem, a primary source document.
- Engage in a "Text Talk," by coming to a discussion prepared after annotating a poem.
In this activity, students will analyze an artwork that celebrates the idea of Manifest Destiny and western expansion - Emanuel Leutze's 1861 mural study for Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, the final version of which rests in the U.S. Capitol Building. Through the use of two Project Zero Thinking routines - What makes you say that?, a Visible Thinking routine for interpretation and justification; and Parts, Purposes, Complexities, an Agency by Design routine for looking closely - students will consider what message this painting conveys, how choices made by the artist convey that message, as well as what perspectives are portrayed and what perspectives are missing. After looking critically, students will watch a video and learn from senior curator Richard Murray how to read this painting and what messages/images they may have missed.
This activity can be used as an entry point or supplement in studying westward expansion, the idea of Manifest Destiny, how public perspectives are shaped, and more. Resources to extend this activity include: a website about the final mural located in the U.S. Capitol Building and a Smithsonian American Art Museum lesson plan about both the mural study and the final mural.
Keywords: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, manifest destiny, westward expansion
Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "What makes you say that?," students will investigate a photograph from the Civil War taken by the studio of Mathew Brady, one of the most prominent American photographers of the 19th century. The Civil War was the first major war captured on camera and photographs, like this one, played a pivotal role in shaping public perceptions of the conflict.
This activity can be used as an entry point into studying soldiers' experiences during the Civil War, photography's effect on public perspectives about war, and more. Resources to extend this activity include: a Smithsonian American Art Museum lesson plan investigating this and other photographs from the Civil War, a blog post discussing connections between Civil War photography and President Abraham Lincoln, a Smithsonian Magazine article about Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner, a Learning Lab collection on Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, and an article discussing the National Portrait Gallery's recent exhibition The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now.
Keywords: photo, battlefield, inquiry strategy
Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "What makes you say that?," students will investigate two photographs, taken from different angles, of Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri as they signed the surrender that would officially end WWII.
Keywords: world war 2, world war ii, general macarthur, carl mydans, primary source, ww2, japanese instrument of surrender, potsdam declaration, inquiry strategy
Stimulus for art work or essay on slavery in America. Students to create a drawing or painting using images to portray the the pain of slavery. Student can select a variety of media. The essay could be based upon the first person experience looking through the eyes of a slave.
This topical collection of artworks is based upon a wide variety of places and travel spots, both "real" and "imagined." It features castles, mountains, beaches, forests, capital cities, and fantasy movie landscapes. It was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials); and as a discussion prompt in an informal learning activity with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program. Students were asked about famous places they have visited or would want to visit, as well as favorite vacation or travel spots. Other suggested uses beyond collage and discussion prompts would be a writing exercise, "If you could travel anywhere, where would you go, and who would you travel with, etc...?" Use the visible thinking routine "See|Think|Wonder" as a starting point for the writing prompt, and the images for inspiration.
Tags: Decision Making, Disabilities, Self-Determination, Self-Efficacy, Student Empowerment, All Access Digital Arts Program
Get out on a sunny day and enjoy an art sculpture garden with friends...Wander with a purpose. In this teen group quest, teams use close-up photo prompts to find artworks in a sculpture garden, and then use tablet devices to take team photos with the sculptures. This activity was originally used in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. with the All Access Digital Arts Program as a photo scavenger hunt. Example PDFs of photo details are provided. To turn the photo hunt into a more formal learning experience, the answer section shows the entire sculpture with information and discussion prompts to elicit questions about teen identity and self-expression.
Tags: decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program
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. This is a collection of photographs that illustrate various principles of portrait photography: angles (eye-level, high angle, low angle, and bird's eye), light and shadow, framing, and shot length (long-shot, medium-shot, close-up, & extreme close-up); As well as 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 and complete challenges.
Tags: portrait photography, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program