Smithsonian Teacher Resources

Are you an educator looking for rigorous, yet engaging FREE science resources?! The place to start is NOT a Google search! Start right here on the Smithsonian Institution’s Educator web page. You can search by keyword or state standards to find exactly what you need.

I just returned from the Youth Access Grant Panel at the Smithsonian in DC where I spent two days analyzing and making recommendations for grants to be awarded to Smithsonian employees/educators for projects that aim to give underserved and disadvantaged youth the STEAM education that their schools are failing to deliver.

From hands-on watershed studies to telling the story of their own family’s migration, some of the projects are truly inspiring. I can’t wait to follow the positive impact they will surely have.

The Youth Access Grants were made possible by a $30 million endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Kudos to the foundation for supporting education!

Yet I was left wondering why our schools [that are already being funded by taxpayer’s dollars] aren’t doing a better job providing the education young people need?!

Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA) Conference

Recently I led an interactive session at the OESCA Conference. School Superintendents, Curriculum Directors, and IT Directors all participated in a lively discussion about game-based learning. They are looking for ways to easily and cost-effectively replace outdated programs such as wood shop and keyboarding with more modern elective choices.  They are losing students to cyber and charter schools, and need engaging, STEAM curriculum to retain as well as attract new students.

Zulama is a great fit for them, of course! Students clamor to take courses such as Game Design and Mobile App Development. Even though the topics are “hot”, our courses are rigorous and align to Common Core and 21st Century Skills. Here’s a great way to compare they kind of learning students experience in Zulama courses as stacked up against traditional classroom-based learning and hands-on programs:

How traditional lecture-based education, apprenticeships, and game-based learning all stack up against each other.

How traditional lecture-based education, apprenticeships, and game-based learning all stack up against each other.

Interest-Based Learning and Games ….. Duh!!!

Constance Steinkuhler describes a process that we are seeing over and over again with students in Zulama’s Entertainment Technology Academy courses. Underachievers and disinterested students suddenly come alive and re-engage when the things they are learning are relevant and matter to them.

Learning through games provides a bait-and-switch opportunity that teachers and schools really should pay attention to!



Why Should Teens Care about the Bill of Rights?

Should schools be allowed to drug test students? How much private information should schools know, for instance if student’s parents are incarcerated? The answers to these questions are not as clear-cut as they might seem at first glance.

This video gives a great peek into Zulama’s Bill of Rights Course.

The Bill of Rights
by: bvaillancourt