Lesson Plans

15 Result(s)
Grade Range
9-12
Jazz Ambassadors: A Model for Cultural Diplomacy

When you think about diplomacy, you may first imagine ambassadors or even the Secretary of State. But the U.S. has a long history of using the arts and humanities to influence international opinion—a practice known as cultural diplomacy. This lesson plan unpacks the principles of cultural diplomacy through an exploration of  the Cold War “Jazz Ambassadors.” Students also investigate differing viewpoints of this program through historic newspapers and other primary source documents. Finally, students are asked to design their own program for cultural diplomacy.  

Grade Range
6-12
Visual Records of a Changing Nation

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.

Grade Range
9-12
The Music of African American History

This lesson traces the long history of how African Americans have used music as a vehicle for communicating beliefs, aspirations, observations, joys, despair, resistance, and more across U.S. history.

Grade Range
9-12
Albert Sabin and Bioethics: Testing at the Chillicothe Federal Reformatory

In this lesson students will determine whether or not Albert Sabin acted ethically in his use of prisoners for experimentation; learn how to approach ethical questions using primary and secondary sources; and come to their own conclusions uses evidence-based logical reasoning.

Grade Range
9-12
The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement

The American civil rights movement incorporated a variety of cultural elements in their pursuit of political and legal equality under law. This lesson will highlight the role of music as a major influence through the use of audio recordings, photographs, and primary documents. Students will participate in their own oral history, examine lyrics, and work with case studies such as the Freedom Rides to gain an appreciation of how music influenced the early 1960s.

Grade Range
6-8
What Masks Reveal

Explore the cultural significance of masks by investigating the role they play in ceremonies and on special occasions in societies from widely separated regions of the world.

Grade Range
K-5
The Meaning Behind the Mask

Students explore the cultural significance of masks, discuss the use of masks in stories, and then investigate the role masks play in ceremonies and on special occasions in various African cultures.

Grade Range
9-12
Learning the Blues

Take a virtual field trip to Memphis, Tennessee, and explore the history of the blues.

Grade Range
K-5
Music from Across America

Students examine and listen to a variety of forms of music to learn about the cultural, geographic, and stylistic diversity available within the United States.

Grade Range
6-8
Thomas Hart Benton: The Sources of Country Music

In this lesson students will learn how to describe Benton’s artistic techniques; identify the roots of country music as well as some of the early performers; and discuss how changes in art and musical style reflect changes in society.