Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

by Cynthia Wallace-Casey,
PhD Candidate
University of New Brunswick
(Fredericton)

For educators interested in human rights, consider the recently opened Canadian Museum of Human Rights as your go-to source for lesson plans and teaching ideas. As someone who has been watching the museum develop from afar, I look forward to the day when I can visit in person. Yet, for those of us restricted by distance, the museum’s web site provides an effective outreach service that is equally beneficial.

As Mireille Lamontagne has noted in her recent blog post, the museum’s Canadian Human Rights Toolkit provides a convenient hub for lesson plans geared towards grades K-12, which can be filtered by province, language, grade level, and subject area. The hub currently boasts more than 200 teacher-reviewed resources, including lesson plans, teacher’s guides, manuals, handbooks, and study guides. What makes this tool kit most promising, however, is that it is a work-in-progress. As such, it represents an evolving database of teaching resources, useful for Canadian classrooms, and intended to grow over time with user-generated content. In this way the Canadian Human Rights Toolkit promotes an on-going exchange on human rights education in Canada. As educators, the more we contribute to this exchange, the more we can add to the national conversation.

Criteria for submissions to the toolkit are based upon four basic points:
  • Related to human rights;
  •  Available in English and/or French;
  • Intended for the Canadian classroom;
  • Aimed at students aged 5 to 18;
Resources are verified for completeness and suitability according to this criteria, then posted as “not reviewed”. Materials are later reviewed bi-annually by a national committee of accredited teachers, brought together by the museum’s project partners (these partners, however, are not identified). 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taking Time for Role Reversals in Museums

by Cynthia Wallace-Casey,
PhD Candidate
University of New Brunswick
(Fredericton)

One of the biggest challenges I've encountered when working with both adults and students in community history museums, is the problem of time. There never seems to be enough time to make connections: connections with student visitors, connections to individual artifacts, connections to big ideas in history. Too often it seems, a school field-trip to a community museum evolves into little more than a hurried walk through history, where students are presented with only the alluring highlights of each exhibit space. Although armed with the best of intentions, in such instances museum educators become little more than information gatekeepers, adjusting their tour ‘on the fly’ to the immediate needs of a group leader—without any prior knowledge of the students or their interests. For students themselves, such a scenario leaves no time to ask questions, no time for individual engagement, and no time to establish historical connections.

There is a solution to this, however, and it rests with role reversals, along with repeat museum visits. As I have found in my own research, with repeat visits to a community history museum (combined with curatorial classroom time) traditional gatekeeper roles can be reversed—thus ‘flipping the museum’—to enable student-driven exploration of the past. In my own case study, students visited their local community history museum four times over six weeks. In between, they also re-visited their experience through classroom activities, which included close reading (and corroboration) of artifact sources, as well as mapping of museum narratives. In this way, students were empowered to break out of their passive role as knowledge-receivers—to become engaged in discovery, observation, de-construction, and re-interpretation.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

From the Ontario Ministry of Education - Capturing Thinking


Source: Making Thinking Visible Facebook page (August 2014): https://www.facebook.com/MakingThinkingVisible/photos/a.243661132352216.73810.232080106843652/805718336146490/?type=1&theater 

Great Example of Material History Inquiry - National Museum of American History

A nation of savers: The impulse to connect with history through objects, buildings, and sites

Intrigued by a piece of charred wood in the museum's First Ladies exhibition, intern Auni Gelles explores the story behind this slice of timber as it relates to the history of both the national museum and the historic preservation movement. Two experts discuss how Americans' long-standing impulse to collect bits of history simultaneously damaged and preserved many of our national treasures.
When British troops marched into Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812, 200 years ago on August 24, they set off a shockwave of fear by burning iconic symbols of the young capital city: the White House and Capitol Building. With these landmarks ablaze, residents feared for their lives as well as for the fate of their nation. An air of desperation arose over the city as the scale of destruction became known.
- See more at: http://blog.americanhistory.si.edu/osaycanyousee/2014/08/a-nation-of-savers-the-impulse-to-connect-with-history-through-objects-buildings-and-sites.html#sthash.emShI9zr.dpuf 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Using History to Invigorate Common-Core Lessons - by Sam Wineburg

Common-core anxiety sweeps the land, and professional developers of curriculum and assessment smell dollars. Flashy brochures promise that once that purchase order is signed, every child will pass the new tests. For a pittance more, they'll make the lion lie down with the lamb.
District administrators would be wise to lay down their pens. There's a valuable resource right in front of their eyes. It requires no lengthening of the school day, no elimination of art and music, and no endorsement of checks to third-party developers. It's so familiar we no longer notice it. It's called the history/social studies ...
Read more...

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Map of Thinking involved in Understanding


Here's an example explanation of the See-Think-Wonder protocol:
http://prezi.com/isrcbgjd9ubr/a-map-of-thinking-involved-in-understanding/