Category Archives: Renaissance

Google Art & Culture is More Robust than Ever

I have been a fan of Google Art & Culture from the days when it was called Google Art Project. By combining Google Maps with Google Art & Culture, you can take a tour of your favorite museums using street view. The latest annotations in Google Art & Culture are far more robust and in depth. Check out this video produced by Google to see how easy it is to use the new features:

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Free Technology for Teachers: Explore the World with the Google Cultural Institute

This is reblogged from my post on Free Technology for Teachers

I am a big fan of the Google Cultural Institute; it’s an amazing repository of Artistic Masterpieces, Wonders of the Natural World, Historical Artifacts, and more. By using it as a repository of digital materials, it’s an easy way to access cultural content from around the world in my classroom. I can pull up a high definition image of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and use its powerful zoom features so that students can see the impasto brush strokes. We can explore the Street Art of Sao Paulo with a Google Street View for a unit on modern art or the Ruins at Angkor Wat

Free Technology for Teachers: Explore the World with the Google Cultural Institute.

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The Best Museums on Flickr

A photographer friend of mine, Christian Santiago, recently redirected me to Flickr. I remember the Flickr of a few years ago, largely used as a repository for vacation photos. Wow has Flickr grown up! As a Social Studies teacher, I am always on the look out for high quality images that are Creative Commons Licensed. Now, museums around the world are using Flickr as a means to showcase and share their collections. What makes these Flickr streams especially valuable is that they use them to highlight their archived material.

Here is a short list of museums on Flickr:

Boys picking up garbage, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Boys picking up garbage, courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress – An amazing repository of images from American history, some of the highlights include Dorothea Lange, the history of baseball, and photojournalist collections about child labor.

The Field Museum Library – More than 1,600 images of both the collection of Field Museum and the history of the museum itself.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Not only do they have some great images from their collection, but they include photos of their social events including the Met Gala.

The British Library – More than a million images from their collection  covering topics like fashion, cartography, warfare, botany, and more.

The British Museum – While they have only few images from their collection, they post pictures and videos from their live events around the world, such as Nelson Mandela Day and Day of the Dead Altar.

Prairie Dawn 1971 Muppets, Courtesy of the Smithsonian Museum

Prairie Dawn 1971 Muppets, Courtesy of the Smithsonian Museum

Guggenheim Museum – This is a great way to look at installation exhibits!

National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian – Not only do they post images from their collection, but pictures of the museums’s history, scanning images for their x 3D collection, and more.

National Media Museum – This English museum focuses on photography, video, memes, and more.

The Smithsonian Institution – A great highlight of material at all of the Smithsonian Institutions.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – Another amazing collection of natural history artifacts.

Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art – A nice overview of the collection and exhibits at LACMA.

This is only a small collection, but Fickr is an excellent resource for educators looking for unique, high quality images to incorporate into lessons or to teach students about licensing online content.

Smarthistory: Khan Academy for Social Studies

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Khan Academy is popular in math for its brief lectures and interactive modules. However, you can also use it in the Social Studies. Check out Smarthistory, a free multimedia platform for student and teacher of history, archaeology, museum curation, and art history.

It includes an interactive timeline, in-depth yet easy to understand articles, vibrant images, and videos about topics throughout history and around the globe. Check out “Teach with Smarthistory” for ideas on how to incorporate it into your classroom. If you are a historian, archaeologist, museum curator, or otherwise involved in the social science consider contributing an article or multimedia content. Additionally, Smarthistory contributes videos to Google Art Project.

Six Sites for Primary Source Materials

It is officially August and most educators are beginning to feel the pressure that is the beginning of school. As we start to look at rosters and enrollment, we start to pull out and revamp old lesson plans and search for new material. As a History Teacher (with a background in archaeology) I understand the relevance and importance of primary sources in the classroom. Primary sources are not solely essays or primary works, but art, photographs, and other avenues of popular culture.

Finding primary source documents on the web can sometimes be a bit of a scavenger hunt. I know that I have spent hours scouring the web for good translations, excerpted texts, or relevant materials. Additionally, incorporating primary source texts can be a challenge with high school children. My youngest kids are ninth graders and often, when I distribute an original text, it is the first time they have seen a document of this type. Additionally, as much as we educators do not like to admit, sometimes it is a challenge for us to come up with ideas and activities to effectively incorporate this material into our classrooms. How do we make this interesting? How do we make this comprehensible? How do we make this relevant? Bringing in an original work and simply tossing it into a classroom environment is a sure-fire method for failure – students will often be confused, bored, and overwhelmed. Teaching with primary sources requires preparation and method.

In this article, I am focusing on six websites that focus on providing primary sources for educators and students. These sites are all excellent resources for educators in the Social Studies with a broad range of topics: American History, World History, World Religions, Language, Literature, Art, and Politics. There are many more amazing resources out there and I encourage you to add yours as well! So, here are my favorite five (presented in no particular order):

1. Milestone Documents  (Subscribe to their Facebook and Twitter feeds (all free) for regular highlights of documents in their catalogue as well as lesson plan ideas.)

  • Cost: $106.20 for an annual subscription
  • Grades: High School and College  (the material is too sophisticated for elementary and middle school).
  • Subject(s): History
  • Geographic Focus: Milestone focuses heavily on American History, but includes a solid library of texts for all of World History (Ancient, Western, African, and Asian).
  • Additional Subject Focus: In addition to organizing the material by date and region, Milestone has sections of Social History including politics (heavily focused on American political history), religion, and women.
  • Material Types: Text-based documents
  • Navigation: The content area is easy to navigate and great for “browsing.” The search feature is excellent for when you know exactly what you need.
  • Teacher Resources: lesson plans, rubrics, and assessment material.
  • Web 2.0 Focus: Many of the lesson plans incorporate Web 2.0 elements – Google Maps, Mind Mapping, etc.

What sets Milestone apart from the free resources listed below is that each document is predicated with a succinct contextual/historical statement. Students and educators are provided with a solid background for the text. Most works are also followed up with a critical analysis essay as well as provocative questions. Milestone is an excellent investment for teachers and students alike.

2. EDSITEment – Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities,

  • Cost: Free
  • Grades: K-12
  • Subject(s): Art & Culture, Foreign Language, History & Social Studies, as well as Literature & Language Arts.
  • Geographic Focus: World
  • Additional Subjects: Current event topics, social history, politics, religion, popular culture, and more. There are many sub-categories that merit exploration.
  • Material Types: Text-based documents, visual material, maps, etc.
  • Navigation: Easy to browse and explore content areas.
  • Teacher Resources: Educator’s using this resource can readily access a multitude of innovative lesson plans, activities, assessment materials, alignment with Common Core Standards, worksheets, and listings for additional materials and resources.
  • Web 2.0: Many lesson plans incorporate Web 2.0 elements

3. Smithsonian Education – Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution

  • Cost: Free
  • Grades: K-12
  • Subject(s): Art & Design, Science & Technology, History & Culture, Language Arts
  • Geographic Focus: World (US History most thorough)
  • Additional Subjects: Current event topics, social history, art history
  • Material Types: Text-based documents, visual material, audio recordings, maps, etc.
  • Navigation: Easy to browse and explore content areas.
  • Teacher Resources: Educator’s using this resource can readily access a multitude of innovative lesson plans, activities, assessment materials, alignment with Common Core Standards, worksheets, and listings for additional materials and resources.
  • Web 2.0: Many lesson plans incorporate Web 2.0 elements

4. Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

  • Cost: Free for Educators and Students (private citizens pay per use), must register for access to materials. Gilder Lehrman encourages schools to register as Affiliated Schools (numerous benefits and access to more resources)
  • Grades: K-12, College, Graduate
  • Subjects: American History
  • Geographic Focus: The United States of America
  • Additional Subjects: Social History, Politics, Civil Rights
  • Material Types: Text-based documents, visual material, audio recordings, maps, video, interviews, etc.
  • Navigation: Easy to browse and explore content
  • Teacher Resources: some lesson plans and ideas, collaborative weblog, sponsored Teacher Seminars
  • Web 2.0: very little web 2.0 focus.

5. The Library of Congress

  • Cost: Free
  • Grades: K-12, College, Graduate
  • Subjects: History
  • Geographic Focus: Heavily focused on the Americas (national and regional histories), limited resources for World History
  • Additional Subjects: Folklore, local histories, veteran history, literature
  • Material Types: Text-based documents, visual material, audio recordings, maps, video, interviews, etc.
  • Navigation: Tricky to browse and search, requires adaptability
  • Teacher Resources: Some sections have extensive teachers resources in the form of lesson plans and activities, others are more spartan in their construct. LOC offers grants for professional development.
  • Web 2.0: Some sections readily incorporate web 2.0 activities, others are more limited and traditional.

6. Perseus Digital Library – Sponsored by Tufts University

  • Cost: Free
  • Grades: 9-12, College, Graduate
  • Subject: History, Art History, Archaeology
  • Geographic Focus: Heavily focused on Greco-Roman (founded as a Classical Library it contains all Latin & Greek works), Arabic, Germanic, 19th century America, Renaissance Europe, Egyptian Papyri
  • Additional Subjects: Humanism, Literature
  • Material Types: Text-based documents, visual material; the Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser provides High Definition images of thousands of artifacts.
  • Navigation: Tricky to browse, excellent search capabilities. This is an fabulous tool so long as you know what you are looking for.
  • Teacher Resources: No lesson plans or activities, purely material resources.
  • Web 2.0: No web 2.0 incorporation.

As you can see, there are numerous and extensive resources readily available to educators. The six that I highlighted are a good start, but hardly an all encompassing list. If you have suggestions or additions, please add them here! In the meantime, get browsing for some great material and lesson plan ideas!

Did Leonardo da Vinci Copy his “Vitruvian Man?”

Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is one of his most recognized and admired works. However, new evidence suggests that it was not the artist’s original work. Architectural historian Claudio Sgabari believes that the piece may have been copied from Leonardo’s friend and contemporary Giacamo Andrea de Ferrera.

In Leonardo’s writings, he mentions “Giacomo Andrea’s Vitruvius” — seemingly a direct reference to the illustrated Ferrara manuscript. Secondly, Leonardo had dinner with Giacomo Andrea in July 1490, the year in which both men are thought to have drawn their Vitruvian men. Experts believe Leonardo would have probed Giacomo Andrea’s knowledge of Vitruvius when they met. And though both drawings interpret Vitruvius’ words similarly, Leonardo’s is perfectly executed, while Giacomo Andrea’s is full of false starts and revisions, none of which would have been necessary if he had simply copied Leonardo’s depiction, rather than the other way around. (Scientific American)

Other Art Historians agree with the argument and believe that the origins of the Vitruvian man may be more involved and intricate than previously believed. To read about this story in more detail, see the article in Scientific America, MSNBC, and FoxNews.

The Devil’s in the Details… of a Giotto

Thank you to my friend Mike Carano for bringing this story to my attention. Art Restorers working on a Giotto of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi have uncovered the details of a ‘devil’ figure hidden in the cloud at the top of the fresco.

To learn more about this discovery, read the article at Reuters.