"Closer Readings" Blog Posts

National History Day Resources: Conflict and Compromise in History

Engraving by unidentified Mexican artist, depicting scenes of Mexican Revolution
Tess Porter is an Education Support Specialist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.We wanted to let you know about some great new resources available for National History Day to help your students investigate this year’s theme: Conflict and Compromise in History.Read More »

Cultivating Hope through “Esperanza Rising”

Mexican girl takes a moment’s rest from her strenuous picking job
I am poor, but I am rich. I have my children, I have a garden with roses, and I have my faith and the memories of those who have gone before me. What more is there? ―Pam Muñoz RyanRead More »

Ten Ways to Teach the U.S. Constitution

Preamble to the Constitution
September 17 is officially Constitution Day (celebrated on Monday, September 18 this year). Since 2005, every U.S. educational institution that receives federal funds is required to teach about the United States Constitution. The original Constitution, signed by the members of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, is the oldest working constitution in the world.Read More »

Eight Tips for Making the Most of a Museum Field Trip

Student group at the Musee d’Orsay
For seasoned teachers as well as the newly minted—whether elementary or secondary—here are some ways you can enrich visits to museums by structuring them in the same way as for your classroom activities.Match content with grade level and interest;Choose a manageable bite of an institution’s collection;Create a diversity of sensory engagements.A little attention given in advance to how to shape the students’ visit will pay off immeasurably in what they take away from their time viewing an institution’s collections.Read More »

The National Parks and History

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Source: author photograph
It was, and remains, the bluest blue I have ever seen. As I stood on a rock jutting out over Crater Lake, the remnants of a massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago, I thought about the immensity of time and history that gives this place shape and meaning. Then I leapt. The freezing cold water disrupted these thoughts for the moment, but the National Parks have a way of sticking with you.Read More »