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National Education Summit 2023

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On July 18–20th, 2023, the Office of the Under Secretary for Education hosted its annual National Education Summit!

The 2023 theme was: “Together We Thrive: Fostering a Sense of Belonging,” acknowledging that given the right conditions and resources, all children can thrive. PreK-12 educators, librarians, media specialists, and policymakers nationwide participated in sessions exploring four distinct track themes:

You can watch all of the archived sessions below or here via the Smithsonian Education YouTube page. You can also view the archived sessions from past years here: 2022, 2021

Can’t wait for the next Summit? Save the dates for next year's Smithsonian National Education Summit: July 16-18, 2024. Be the first to learn about next year’s Summit by following us on social media or signing up for our e-newsletter. Each month we feature education resources from across the Smithsonian that highlight relevant interdisciplinary content, concepts, and skills for grades PK–12+.

Our mission is to inspire curiosity and connections in a changing world, so please reach out if you have questions or need support implementing Smithsonian Education resources.

The National Education Summit is made possible thanks to the generous support of friends across the country committed to providing free educational resources to America’s teachers. Your fully tax-deductible donation of any size will help make a difference as we work to develop and share free learning materials drawn from across the Smithsonian’s collections, exhibitions, and research areas for communities across the nation, especially those who need it most. Thank you!

Keynote: Welcome Reception

The opening panel of the 2023 Smithsonian National Education Summit features Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, 2023 D.C. Teacher of the Year Jermar Rountree, and founder of Real Men Teach, Curtis Valentine. The moderated conversation led by Dr. Monique Chism addresses the ways each panelist connected and felt invited to connect as a learner, what relationships supported their growth and development, the challenges they experienced as learners and how they have overcome them. This powerful conversation aims to fill a void in the discourse about identifying, connecting, and meeting the needs of Black male youth. On almost every metric, Black male youth are often left behind in our school systems (over representation of suspensions and expulsions, lower graduation, academic achievement, college matriculation and completion rates). To change, disrupt, and improve these trends requires us to take time to have conversation and dialogue about meeting the needs of Black youth. 

Keynote: Rebecka Peterson, 2023 National Teacher of the Year

Keynote: Rebecka Peterson, 2023 National Teacher of the Year

The keynote address from the 2023 National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson is entitled “The Power of One.”  Rebecka is a high school math teacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma who believes in the power of stories. The presentation explores the importance of learning students’ stories to cultivate belonging and shares the good things happening in classrooms in Oklahoma and across the country.

Keynote: Maulik Pancholy, in conversation with Smithsonian Educator Andrea Kim Neighbors

Keynote: Maulik Pancholy, in conversation with Smithsonian Educator Andrea Kim Neighbors

The plenary keynote session features a discussion between award-winning actor, author, and anti-bullying activist, Maulik Pancholy, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Head of Education, Andrea Kim Neighbors. The conversation includes stories and strategies for supporting students in feeling safe and celebrated in their identities, ensuring they know their voices, stories, cultures, heritages, and histories are all an important part of the American story.

Keynote: A Fierce Sense of Belonging: Fuel for Engagement, Motivation, and Learning

Keynote: A Fierce Sense of Belonging: Fuel for Engagement, Motivation, and Learning

Most of us have had the experience of feeling out of place, of not belonging. In some cases, the doubt is so severe, the imposter phenomenon so strong, fear and stress rule the day and can even shut us down. In this keynote speech, Dr. Pamela Cantor translated the neurobiology of safety and belonging and explained why it is an antidote to imposter syndrome. She revealed mechanisms that open learning pathways, feed engagement, motivation, curiosity, and exploration. Human connection is the primary energy source for the brain, a key to unlocking the potential in each and every learner. Following Dr. Cantor’s keynote speech, Smithsonian Under Secretary for Education, Dr. Monique M. Chism hosted a discussion with students Francisco Ciraulo, Jescie Tinio, and Quinn McDonald who shared their personal learning journeys, discussed programs at the Smithsonian in which they have participated and provided insights into the types of intentionally designed learning environments that can foster empowering, culturally affirming, transformative and personalized experiences. Speakers: Monique Chism Pamela Cantor Francisco Ciraulo Jescie Tinio Quinn McDonald

Keynote: How Fender & LAUSD are Equipping, Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation of Musicians

Keynote: How Fender & LAUSD are Equipping, Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation of Musicians

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) partnered to provide instruments, high-quality music education, and inspiration to over 17,000 LAUSD elementary and middle school students. This program was so successful that it played an instrumental role in Californians passing Prop 28 in November of 2022, permanently funding music and arts education for over 6,000,000 public school students. This session discussed the partnership between Fender and LAUSD, the impact of the program on students, and the lessons learned. The speakers, including Ed Magee, Geneva Moore, Hazel Navarro, Josephine Yadegar, Mary Keenan, and Sharon Nakata, also discussed the importance of music education and how it benefited students.

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Partnering with Youth for Sustainability: Researching the Shift in Students' Attitudes

How do young people become environmental justice activists? In this session, you’ll hear from two classroom teachers who are using the Environmental Justice! Smithsonian Science for Global Goals guide to empower their students to learn about and take action on environmental justice issues in their communities - and how you can use the guide too. This is an innovative partnership between the Smithsonian Science Education Center, the American Women's History Initiative, and Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science.

Using Design to Create the Next Generation of Sustainability Leaders

In this session, presenters show how students are empowered through Smithsonian resources to be changemakers in creating a more sustainable planet. Following a brief introduction by Vassiliki Giannopoulos, Bella Jacobs, a finalist in Cooper Hewitt’s 2019 National High School Design Competition, presents RainScales, a project she originally designed for the competition and recently implemented. Addressing the climate crisis and global peace, RainScales is a water collection device for informal “shack” homes. It creates a water supply independent of inequitable water distribution where there is severe water scarcity. Additionally, Bella speaks about using Cooper Hewitt resources in her studies.

Teaching Climate Science with the NSTA's Sensemaking Approach

NSTA's Our Beautiful Planet collection of films and lessons highlights the science and engineering practices scientists use to explain climate change phenomena and design solutions. In this session, NSTA presenters shared how their lessons present climate change as a problem-solving opportunity, and how they give students the tools they need to carry out investigations and design solutions to address these challenges. They gave helpful tips on how to use these materials to drive student learning and inspire them to examine critical climate issues in their own communities.

Applying Interactive Technologies in New Ways to Support Engagement From Museum to Classroom

The Michigan State University Museum (a Smithsonian Affiliate) and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service | Smithsonian Affiliations (SITES|Affiliations)  partnered to make the traveling exhibition, "Knowing Nature: Stories of the Boreal Forest" more accessible through overlaying interactive technologies. The first project they share uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to create a "digital concierge app" that allows visitors with disabilities to customize their exhibit experiences by self-identifying their preferences for accessible options. The second is a gamification project created by a team of five MSU students that leverages the content of "Knowing Nature" to advance game play.

Sustainability is Everyone's Business

During this session, the Smithsonian Under Secretary for Science and Research, Dr. Ellen Stofan, moderated a discussion with Smithsonian experts on how we can all work together to create a more sustainable future. Panelists shared their insights on how we can work across disciplines and geographies to create solutions that benefit everyone and ensure that all communities can participate in decision-making processes.

Social Studies and Climate Literacy for a Sustainable Planet

How can social studies learning support stronger climate literacy education in K-12 classrooms? Fostering a sustainable planet depends on student inquiry across vast disciplines including history, geography, economics, civics, and environmental education. This session featured K-12 classroom educators sharing their inquiry questions and activities to prompt students to take informed action in nurturing a sustainable planet.

Bringing the Science of Climate Change into the Classroom

Teachers often struggle with making the effects of climate change on the oceans relevant and accessible to students. The first part of this conversation facilitates a walkthrough of a suite of interactive materials that presents the effects of climate change on the oceans in an accessible, engaging way. The materials are based on the work Dr. Nancy Knowlton, a renowned Smithsonian marine biologist who has spent her career studying changes in the oceans. During the second half of the session, Dr. Knowlton presents stories of groups of people and organizations that have been able to accomplish positive changes in the environment.

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Towards A More Equitable Future

This two-part deep dive discussion explored how race informed each of our lives, regardless of our individual racial or ethnic identity. The panel reinforced ways to support teachers in thinking about the power of dialogue in building a more equitable future with and for their students. A video series introducing operational definitions and key concepts for consideration about race and its implications in education was premiered.

Be a History Detective: Promoting Historical Thinking Skills in Young Learners

Anyone can be a history detective! Participants learned how history experts at the Smithsonian used important social-emotional learning skills like perspective-taking, critical thinking, and communication in their work and how they exercised their history detective skills in the classroom and beyond. Participants heard directly from Smithsonian experts on how to use museum collections to incorporate historical thinking strategies into lesson plans to help students build empathy, think critically about the past, and develop civil discourse skills.

Telling the American Story: Interpreting Native History in Your Classroom

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is here to help you teach American history in a more inclusive way. During that session, educators from NMAI demonstrated how to interpret American history through a Native perspective. By utilizing the Americans exhibition and its related online resources, participants gained insight into how American Indians had contributed to the nation's identity since its inception. They also received guidance on incorporating the Americans online exhibition into their teaching practices, promoting more inclusive education.

Inspiring Creative Changemakers

How can museum resources help your students make creative interventions and take action on issues they care about? Five Smithsonian museums joined together to explore connections among their collections and discovered ways artists had creatively reckoned with our nation’s racial conflicts, past and present. Participants learned transferrable techniques to engage students in deeper thinking and object-based learning and left with a ready-to-use mini-lesson and a set of three free online courses to extend their professional development.

How Movement and Migration Have Shaped Our World

From ancient times to today’s globalized world, people have been on the move. Whether it was for work, love, or adventure, migration was part of what made us human. But migration was often politicized and problematized. What if we looked at it as a unifying force? Through museum resources, history, and art, participants explored the idea of home, and how moving and migrating have shaped our world.

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Early Learners as Scientists, Engineers, Artists, and Mathematicians

Early learners are little scientists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians! They constantly explore the world around them, ask questions, and try new things. When we recognize the capacity of our early learners, we open them to lifelong learning. This panel of State Teachers of the Year—who are also early childhood educators—shared their insights on how to create a learning environment that nurtures young learners' natural curiosity and creativity.

Sharing Stories of Women in STEAM Careers

This interactive session featured women working in STEAM careers. Participants heard their stories, learned from their experiences, and were inspired to encourage more girls and women to pursue STEAM careers. Presenters discussed challenges and successes in STEAM careers; how to be a mentor to women and girls in STEAM; the role of female mentors and leaders; how to overcome challenges in STEAM careers; and how to share lessons learned with others. The goal was to promote inclusion within STEAM education and provide inspiration for educators of all backgrounds about their students’ career paths.

Full STEAM Ahead

Fostering the next generation of inventive, well-rounded world citizens starts with a focus on our youngest learners. Participants explored how the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center integrated the arts into STEM learning and engaged young children in meaningful cross-curricular experiences. Through example lessons and interactive activities, presenters examined how art could be used to enrich STEM lessons and build a connection to design, innovation, and culture. 

Teach Your Students How to Save Whales with Computational Thinking

Computational thinking is a powerful problem-solving tool that can be used in any discipline. Participants learned how to integrate computational thinking into  an elementary STEM classroom using the new Protecting Whales unit from the Smithsonian Science for Computational Thinking series. Modeled after the work of a marine biologist, this unit was designed for third graders and used both hands-on and high-tech resources to help students solve the problem of whales getting hit by ships.

Discovering STEAM in the Library of Congress

What do a K-5 engineering teacher from Idaho, a middle school principal from Tennessee and a high school biology teacher from New Jersey have in common? The Library of Congress, of course! Each spent a year at the Library of Congress, serving as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. In this session, the three described their experience discovering science and scientific connections in the world’s largest library, shared favorite resources, and engaged participants in primary source analysis activities.

Teacher Toolkit: Playful, Creative Solutions for Interdisciplinary Learning in Head Start and Pre-K

"Get a Head Start with the Smithsonian" helps teachers bring STEAM learning to life by integrating history, literacy, SEL, and more to explore popular learning topics like animals and plants, transportation, community helpers, and emotions. In this session, participants got a sneak peek at a new Teacher Toolkit—full of ideas, activities, and resources—to help participants harness the power of interdisciplinary learning, and create fun and meaningful learning experiences for students.

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REACHing for Arts Integration  Report on a Multi Year, Multi Partner Project

The REACH (Race, Equity, Arts and Cultural History) project will transform arts education in the US. As this presentation of its progress and future plans indicates, this bold undertaking proves that the arts are a powerful tool for promoting student engagement achievement. Launched last year, the 5-year goal is to build a National Arts Learning Laboratory to strengthen arts learning and integration nationally. The REACH project is a collaboration with the Arts Schools Network, Florida Center Partnerships in Arts-Integrated Teaching at the University of South Florida, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and 13 other partners.

History Is Messy: How We Tell and Remember Stories

The ways we remember history and stories are messy. In this presentation, Hirshhorn Educators explore Mark Bradford’s Pickett’s Charge, a series of eight monumental canvases that explore the turning point of the American Civil War. Through discussion and sketching, this session invites the audience to reflect on the ways in which stories are told and remembered.

Deconstructing Power: Using Data in the Classroom

Data shapes our world. W. E. B. Du Bois’ pioneering data visualizations —currently on display in the exhibition Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair —use shape, line, and color to showcase the success Black Americans had achieved despite facing pervasive racism in the United States and the global community. In this session, presenters illustrate how Du Bois and the work of other data storytellers can help our students translate complex facts and figures into powerful imagery that can help them better understand themselves and their communities.

The ART of Literacy and ELA

Led by the National Council for Teachers of English, this session explores how self-expression and criticality of our world integrate to form student agency and fundamental skills. Contemporary times invite – and require – visual literacy, information literacy, creativity, and boundless learning to flourish in our world. This session dives into these exciting topics and illustrates how the arts are an intentional component of ELA, fundamentally woven into literacy, language, and composition.

List of sponsors for the 2023 National Education Summit.