How does popular culture engage history? In this lesson plan, students will examine The Searchers, one of the most widely acclaimed Western movies of all time, to explore interpretations of race, gender, and family–both in the time period depicted by the film and the time period in which the film was produced.
This lesson plan uses A. A. Lamb's painting Emancipation Proclamation and resources from BlackPast to explore the successes and shortcomings of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Reconstruction amendments, as well as the roles played by Black people in securing their own freedom.
Use Aaron Douglas’s mural Into Bondage to introduce the stories of famous Harlem Renaissance figures, including Langston Hughes, and to explore the history and importance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of Black enslavement in the United States.
Kerry James Marshall's painting Voyager, depicting two partially obscured Black figures standing aboard a ship, refers to an actual ship, Wanderer, which was among the last slave ships in the United States, illegally transporting more than 400 individuals from West Africa to Georgia in 1858—even though the importation of enslaved people had been banned in 1808. Use the painting as an entry point to discuss the Transatlantic slave trade and introduce students to the NEH-funded database Slave Voyages project.
Students have multiple opportunities to analyze photographs captured during a national photography project about local history and changing places to create their own interpretations and exhibits. These materials were developed as part of a partnership between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In 1900, there were 16 million households in the United States; as of 2019, there are more than 126 million, an increase of nearly 700%. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the architectural evolution of the American home related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?
The United Farm Workers organized to bring attention to the working conditions faced by farmers during the 1960s and 1970s. This lesson provides access to a collection of artifacts and primary sources on the UFW, while also placing César Chávez and Dolores Huerta within the larger civil rights movement of the time.
In 2017, 144 skyscrapers (towers at least 660 feet tall) joined the skylines of 69 cities across the globe—a record that will likely be broken again before the end of 2018. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the evolution of the American skyscraper related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?
Throughout Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the main character Jonas realizes there are more elements to life than he has been led to believe. This lesson explores how The Giver addresses issues of personal identity, memory, and the value of reading and education, as well as other famous classics in this genre and books that students may have read on their own.
What if Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was set in a modern and newly independent nation? What do citizens look for in a leader? In this lesson, students not only consider the significance of this updated staging and political quandary, but will address important questions about how and why Shakespeare is adopted, adapted, and appropriated by people around the world in order for them to express their own political and social concerns through the universal language of Shakespeare.