Online Resources Include Activities Tied to National Learning Standards and Support for Teachers and Parents

News Release, Smithsonian Institutes

The Smithsonian will offer new distance-learning resources to support teachers and students facing unprecedented learning challenges in the midst of nationwide school closures due to COVID-19 (coronavirus). The resources, which focus on pre-K-12 education, include tailored lesson plans tied to national learning standards and added support for educators and parents.

The Smithsonian, which has more than 1.7 million multimedia educational resources available online, worked closely with District of Columbia Public Schools to curate a set of distance-learning opportunities tied specifically to the schools’ educational priorities through the spring. For grades K-8, Smithsonian educators have identified online lessons and activities with a direct tie to goals in the DCPS curriculum guides to help keep students on track while schools are closed. Teachers can find these recommended activities broken down by grade and subject on the distance-learning resource webpage. In addition, parents can find activities designed specifically for them to work with their children at home. These distance-learning resources include options for every learning environment, ranging from technology-free activities that don’t require computers to resources for students and educators in high-tech learning environments.

The Smithsonian’s distance-learning resources draw on content and expertise from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers and 21 libraries. These activities are tied to national learning standards and can serve as a resource for teachers, students and parents across the country.

“The Smithsonian should have a prominent place in every classroom and home in America,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch. “Whether during the course of everyday learning or in a crisis like this, parents, teachers and students can rely on the Smithsonian’s wealth of expertise and knowledge that is available for free at the click of a mouse.”

The work being done with DCPS is the latest collaboration under an ongoing partnership between the two organizations. In 2019, the Smithsonian and DCPS signed a memorandum of agreement, the first formal agreement between the Smithsonian and a school district, in an effort to offer learning opportunities for local students that directly supports the school district’s strategy. 

“The Smithsonian has always been committed to supporting students and teachers, and we want to ensure that school closures do not get in the way of students’ ongoing education,” said Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, the head of the education and access at the Smithsonian. “We formed an education response team to support schools facing closures around the country by connecting them with free and relevant resources. This team has also been working directly with DCPS administrators to assist local students, teachers and families with their specific needs.”

The Smithsonian also offers increased resources to help educators and parents utilize these tools. The distance-learning resources webpage offers tips for getting started with distance-learning, information about upcoming webinars with Smithsonian educators, and professional development opportunities for teachers. The Smithsonian Learning Lab will expand its online office hours to several days a week. During office hours, educators from the Smithsonian Learning Lab are available to answer questions about the platform and help identify what lessons and activities are available for specific needs. Teachers and parents can also email any time with questions or to request specific content. The distance-learning resource webpage will continue to be updated in response to feedback as new needs are identified.

About Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives and more. The site allows teachers and students to create and adapt personalized interactive instructional materials with online tools and share in the Smithsonian’s expansive community of knowledge and learning. Prepackaged collections contain lessons, activities and recommended resources made by Smithsonian museum educators and thousands of classroom teachers across the country.