Celebrate Arts Education

Posted on September 17th, 2015 by

Did you know that this week marks the fifth anniversary of National Arts Education Week? This is something that I recently learned by reading the weekly update of the area arts and culture scene distributed by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.  Study after study highlights the importance of exposing children of all ages to the arts in all its many forms. Local families and schools are fortunate to have access to such an incredible variety of museums where the arts come to life in such dynamic ways.

Given this important anniversary, I thought I’d take the opportunity to promote the JMM’s educational programs and resources and to highlight how they foster multidisciplinary connections between social studies, English language arts and fine arts.  While the JMM is traditionally thought of as a history museum, our education team is exceptionally talented at using our exhibits, collections and historic sites as springboards for activities and resources that integrate the arts.

City Spring students participate in a field trip to the JMM.

City Spring students participate in a field trip to the JMM.

This summer, JMM docent Robyn Hughes created an art program for campers with visual impairments from the Maryland School for the Blind in which students toured Voices of Lombard Street and then built neighborhoods out of art supplies.

This summer, JMM docent Robyn Hughes created an art program for campers with visual impairments from the Maryland School for the Blind in which students toured Voices of Lombard Street and then built neighborhoods out of art supplies.

A good example of this is our Immigrant’s Trunk program that explores immigration history through the lens of personal stories. Each of our Immigrant’s Trunk program brings the experience of a real life Jewish immigrant to life through reproduced photographs, documents and objects. The trunks come with a full set of lesson plans that integrate primary source analysis as well as creative writing assignments, storytelling and art activities. Teachers can also opt to schedule living history performances by professional actors who dramatize significant moments from each immigrant’s life.

Actor Terry Nicholetti brings to life the story of Bessie Bluefeld, a Russian immigrant who established Baltimore’s beloved Bluefeld’s catering business.

Actor Terry Nicholetti brings to life the story of Bessie Bluefeld, a Russian immigrant who established Baltimore’s beloved Bluefeld’s catering business.

Some of our programs have strong visual arts components, including a new initiative that encourages middle school students to interpret family history through multimedia art installations. Last year, JMM education director Ilene Dackman-Alon piloted My Family History Project through a partnership with Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv and the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore. As part of the program, students immersed themselves in genealogical research. They then went above and beyond the traditional family tree assignment by creating amazing visual representations of some aspect of their family’s experiences. The student artwork was displayed in the JMM as we hosted an evening reception for families. Everyone was amazed by the creativity and diversity of the artwork on display and how the students incorporated a variety of media as they highlighted something unique about their own family’s history. We are delighted to embark on the second year of this project and Ilene is expanding the initiative to work with additional schools.

An example of the art work on display in the My Family History Project.

An example of the art work on display in the My Family History Project.

Another piece of art created for the My Family History Project.

Another piece of art created for the My Family History Project.

Visual arts, drama, creative writing, storytelling…these are all art forms that can easily be integrated into JMM educational resources. The one medium that has not been as easy to incorporate is music, but I am excited to announce an exciting new educational offering this fall in conjunction with the opening of Paul Simon: Words and Music (on display October 11, 2015-January 18, 2016). Our education team has developed a curriculum that ties in with music education standards and exposes students to the worlds of music theory and the history of folk music. For all the educators out there, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Field trips can be scheduled by emailing our visitor services coordinator, Graham Humphrey at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org.

Click here for more information about these and other JMM educational programs.

So take advantage of the wealth of cultural resources available locally and find time to visit a nearby museum. You’ll be glad you did!

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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Busy bees in Education!

Posted on November 12th, 2012 by

A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik.

We have been busy bees here in the Education Department. In the month of October alone we had 423 people from school groups come to the museum! They came from all over: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Washington, D.C.

The majority of them came from City Springs Elementary and Middle School, one of our partner schools and neighbors (they are located on Caroline and Lombard). A class arrives here every morning with sleepy, but smiling faces. They’ve even inspired me to start arriving for work 10 minutes early, so I can get here before they do! 

We’ve had every class from Pre-K through to 8th grade (with the exception of some 5th and 6th grade classes whose visits were postponed due to Sandy). We’ve been joking about how we’re seeing a sped-up version of child development (“Oh look, the children have gotten a little bigger today!”). 

It really was fascinating to see how different each age group was. The youngest ones were always so eager to please: they hugged us and held our hands and tried valiantly to guess the answers to our questions (my all-time favorite is the kindergartener who, when Ilene was trying to teach them the word “history” by waving her hand over her shoulder to indicate the past, shouted “You’re hot! It’s hot in here!”). But with each progressing grade, we could see that they were a little more self-aware, able to absorb more information, and, most importantly, they able to ask more questions. They wanted to know what was brisket and why so many people voted for it as “The Most Jewish Food” in our Chosen Food exhibit. They were more comfortable saying that no, they had never tried matzah before, but they were eager to try challah or matzah ball soup.

There were a couple of things all of the grades had in common: they were all attentive and excited about learning, and they all professed their love for Oreos when they saw the picture of the famous cookie in Chosen Food!

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