If you’ve checked out Smithsonian’s History Explorer —the museum’s online portal for all of our interactives, lesson plans, videos, podcasts, artifacts and other educational resources—in the past few months, you’ve probably noticed some changes.
The Education Outreach team has been hard at work making the site more user-friendly and adding new resources to make History Explorer a more valuable resource for educators. In addition to giving the site a facelift, we’ve added a few new tools:
• Make cross-curricular connections : Looking for interdisciplinary resources that link American history and language arts? Or math? Or visual or performing arts? All you need to do is filter by the related subject to find the resources you need.
• Find books:To facilitate language arts and social studies integration, we’ve added a book search tool to the site. Just click on the books tab and search by grade level, era, and keyword to find award-winning picture books, biographies, historical fiction and more for all ages. You’ll also find related books listed along with any searches you do. Dan Gasteazoro, a fourth grade teacher from Eagan, Minnesota wrote that: “[The books page] is great! Literacy is huge with all of the testing that we have to prepare kids to take on a yearly basis; finding ways to meet all those expectations but bring in real good quality reading that’s the one of the harder things to do. I can’t stop all the time to have social studies every day, but…I can bring social studies to my literacy time of day. Having a list like this is really important. It will help me manage my load.”
• Check out resources by theme: Looking for the very best of the best of what we have on major themes such as westward expansion, immigration, or civil rights on our new themes page? Find six of our best resources on these themes and related books. Be sure to check back to this page often—we are updating this regularly to reflect anniversaries, heritage months, and new resource collections.
• Stay in touch: We’re making it even easier to stay in touch with us and connect with other educators. In addition to links to our Twitter feed, @explorehistory, our email newsletter, and the museum’s Facebook page, you’ll find conversations from our Thinkfinity community group, History Explorers, on the main page and on the teacher resource page. See what fellow educators are discussing and share your ideas, or share your own questions and get feedback from museum educators and other group members.
The site is designed for K-12 teachers, but can be useful for parents, too. The site was recently reviewed by Wired magazine, which noted that parents can use the site to find reference material and activities for their kids.
Beyond the site revision, we’re constantly adding new and newly revised materials to History Explorer. To learn more about the site and its new features, watch this screen cast on how to use the website, and join us in our online community if you have questions. We look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy the site!
Naomi Coquillon is an education specialist at the National Museum of American History