Shout Environmental Exploration Program from the Smithsonian Helps Educators Bring Learning to Life

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

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"Shout gives educators tangible and practical ways to recognize and promote student learning with standards-aligned content and activities.”
Stephanie Norby, executive director of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

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

Now in its second year, Shout is a joint project of the Smithsonian, Microsoft Partners in Learning and TakingITGlobal. This year’s series, “Water Matters,” kicks off with a teacher preview session Thursday, Jan. 19. The first of three interdisciplinary webinars, “Water Questions: When We Want to Learn More,” Feb. 7-8, will feature seven sessions led by Smithsonian experts. Participants will gain not only a global view but also a broad perspective, from the art world to the zoo, from underwater to outer space, from current problems to future solutions.

The webinars are designed for classroom participation as well as a professional development opportunity for educators. 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 environment issues to earn specific badges, demonstrating their understanding of ecological, social and economic systems affecting water; the human impact on the environment; and civic responsibility in sustaining water resources. Educators can also receive badges for being facilitators of student learning. The program is funded by the conference’s producer, LearningTimes LLC, and a Smithsonian Youth Access Grant.

“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, which leads the Shout program at the Smithsonian. “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.”
Educators who participated in last year’s conference series focusing on land issues inspired teachers and students to take action in their own communities.

“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.”

Members of Microsoft’s recently revamped Partners in Learning Network can also earn a Shout badge for their participation in the program. This free community resource is designed to provide educators with a place to engage with other like-minded professionals to enhance their personal development and classroom experience for their students.

The Teacher Preview Session for “Water Matters” will be held Thursday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. EST. During this session, Smithsonian educators will introduce the themes, standards and curriculum connections, with tips on how to get the most from the February webinar and the entire Shout program. To register, participants can go to shoutlearning.org.

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

About Smithsonian Institution
Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,000 Smithsonian employees and 6,500 volunteers. Approximately 28.6 million people from around the world visited the Smithsonian in 2011. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at 137 million.

About Partners in Learning
Partners in Learning is a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment by Microsoft to help education systems around the world. Since its inception in 2003, the Partners in Learning program has reached more than 196 million teachers and students in 114 countries. Supporting the program is the online Partners in Learning Network, one of the world’s largest global professional networks for educators, connecting millions of teachers and school leaders around the world in a community of professional development.

About TakingITGlobal
Launched in 2000, TakingITGlobal has a mission of enabling a collaborative learning community that provides youth with access to global opportunities, cross-cultural connections and meaningful participation in decision-making. TIG’s award-winning global education platform, http://www.tigweb.org, has provided more than 20 million users with an understanding of pressing global challenges and tools to support meaningful action in their communities, countries and across the globe.

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Anne Smith
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