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Smithsonian Program Brings Learning to Life

Drawing upon the considerable expertise of its stable of scientists, the Smithsonian is offering a professional development and teacher resource program that many are calling second-to-none.

smithsonianWith “Shout,” a free environmental exploration program, the Smithsonian gives teachers a multidimensional resource for expanding and enriching curriculum. Through interactive webinars, comprehensive lesson-planning materials and hands-on activities, Shout features renowned Smithsonian scientists and other experts in the arts and humanities.

“Last year, Shout had more than 11,000 participants from 94 countries,” said Stephanie Norby, executive director of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. “We expect participation to increase even more this year. With the addition of Smithsonian Badges, Shout gives educators tangible and practical ways to recognize and promote student learning with standards-aligned content and activities.”

Now in its second year, Shout is a joint project of the Smithsonian, Microsoft Partners in Learning and TakingITGlobal. The first of three interdisciplinary webinars, “Water Questions: When We Want to Learn More,” runs Feb. 7-8 and will feature seven sessions led by Smithsonian experts.

The webinars are designed for classroom use as well as teacher professional development. All of the live, interactive sessions will be archived and available so teachers and students can access them on their own schedule.

New to Shout this year is Smithsonian Badges, a digital-recognition program that encourages and rewards student participation. Students complete challenges centered on global environmental issues to earn specific badges, demonstrating their understanding of ecological, social and economic systems affecting water. Educators can also receive badges for being facilitators of student learning.

Educators who participated in last year’s conference series have said that the experience has led to conservation efforts at their local schools.

“After learning how much paper our school uses, my students developed a plan to reduce paper consumption,” said Joli Barker, second-grade teacher at Slaughter Elementary School in McKinney, Texas. “Due to their efforts, our district implemented an online report card system and other paper-saving initiatives. This program opened their eyes to the world beyond our community and made them see that they can make a difference.”

For more details on the first webinar’s speaker line-up, the complete “Water Matters” conference schedule, or additional information, visit

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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