Smithsonian Learning Lab Internship – Reflection 1

While I was hoping to work on a project during my internship, I’ve come to realize that the opportunity to be a reviewer at the Smithsonian Learning Lab also offers an excellent learning experience in Digital Humanities and it directly relates to my everyday job as a high school English teacher. Its motto: Discover, Create, Share speaks for itself and by searching through its collections, that is exactly what this digital platform offers and allows participants to experience.

The initial contact with Tracie Spinale to set up my working schedule, requirements, and expectations was encouraging and certainly made me feel like I was becoming part of a team that supports and reviews the collections created in the Learning Lab. Before I began, I was asked to create a collection in the Lab to understand how it works, which was a relatively easy assignment, enjoyable, and useful. I created a lesson for my juniors, which connected directly to our unit we were studying at the time. The project is titled: Stories of the American Dream.  In our brief discussions, Tracie also recommended collections and items for me to review to peek my interest regarding materials I may use for teaching. The Learning Lab will be a new tool I am going to use in my instructions.

Each time I review collections, I get to have an insight into other teachers’,  professors’, or students’ creations in connection to history, narrative, art, and many more inspiring ways to view, interpret, and teach humanities. For instance, the collection on Decades of Transformation: Bridging the 1920’s and 30’s offers a great way to have students think critically and analytically about the times surrounding The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men as they look through artifacts, photos, and paintings. Many of the collections and lessons are an eye-opener to new ideas and strategies to understand, examine, and explore the connections between all of the disciplines in humanities.

So far, it has been an interesting journey to review fellow educators’ work in the humanities.


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