Summer Teachers Institute 2015 In Review

Posted on August 26th, 2015 by

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute focused on a seminal event that recently took place, the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. For an excellent summary of the program, please see intern, Eden Cho’s recent blog post: Three Days Later…. Having recently had the opportunity to review teacher evaluations from the workshop, I thought I’d take the opportunity to report on the impact that our annual program has on participants and how it shapes what and how they teach their students.

Summer Teachers Institute Flyer 2015

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute flyer

This year marked the 11th anniversary of this annual program. Since its inception in 2005, it has been a joy to have the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of dedicated educators willing to give up part of their summer vacation in order to enhance their pedagogical skills on a difficult topic. What is always interesting is that the program attracts both new participants each year as well as repeat attendees (including a handful that have participated for more than 5 years!) While it is challenging coming up with new program content year after year that meets the needs of teachers who are new to teaching Holocaust history and literature as well as those who are more seasoned, we are fortunate to have access to an incredible group of scholars and master educators who facilitate sessions on a wide variety of topics.

A total of 38 people representing many different schools and disciplines participated this year. The majority represented public schools (including Baltimore City and Baltimore and Harford Counties). Other participants teach at  while independent, Catholic and Jewish congregational schools as well as universities and we had one home-school educator.

While the fact that so many teachers elect to return year after year is one measure of the high quality of the program and the many benefits it offers, we also conduct surveys that provide us with valuable feedback. This year’s evaluations provided us with insightful feedback. Nearly all the sessions were rated by participants with the highest marks. Teachers also expressed their appreciation for the quality of the presenters and the abundance of resource material that they received. The following are sample participant comments.

*I liked how we started with Auschwitz film and survivor story, then went backwards to discuss the history.

*Agenda was well developed and followed. Guest speakers were well versed in the content and kept the group involved.

*Superlative speakers who provided different visions of Auschwitz- informative, great presenters.

*I know from talking with Louise (Gezcy) that there was a last minute change in the program. You did a wonderful job making it work so smoothly.

*It is great to hear from the practicing educator. Thank you for your great energy, Louise (Gezcy)!

*Wow! What an inspiration Bluma (Shapiro) is! To have gone through what she did, yet be willing to share her story and teach important lessons about life is simply amazing. She is a portrait of perseverance, forgiveness, and positivity!

*A blessing to meet living history! Thanks.

*I could listen to Shiri (Sandler) all day! A marvelous presentation, not just about the background of Auschwitz, but how to read photos and artifacts! Great job!

*A wealth of information. A very concise history of Auschwitz, the Jewish community, and what the Germans chose it. Very interesting! Very interesting lens of looking at Auschwitz before it became the death camp. Shiri is very energetic and knowledgeable. Thank you! Great resources.

*[Heller Kreshtool] was a pleasure! Great decision to place her as the last session. Refreshing perspective I hadn’t considered much.

*The story of a child of survivors is critical to how we now teach the Holocaust.

*Doesn’t matter how many times I visit (the USHMM), it’s still powerful.

*This was an excellent opportunity (presentation by Dr. White and Dr. Cohen) to discover how to teach complexity and depth in investigative skills to our students.

*Very useful information (Centropa presentation)! Amazing website full of information! Liked being given time to play around with the website. Novel theme: show whole person, not just person as victim.

This was an excellent opportunity (conversation with Fr. Bob and Rabbi Josh) for guided dialogue with the presenters as facilitators.

Great overview of 4 graphic novels! Good reasons to use graphic novels. Also gave novel recommendations for children. Dynamic speaker (Josh Headley)!

Thank you, and your staff, for another insightful Summer Teachers Institute!

Thanks again for this amazing experience. The institute was great and I feel lucky that I was able to participate.

Because our Summer Teachers Institute meets the qualifications of both the Maryland State Department of Education as well as Baltimore City Public Schools  for high quality professional development (in order to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we are able to offer participants professional development credit. In order to be eligible for the credit, they must turn in a written reflection (for MSDE credit) as well as an implementation plan (i.e. lesson plan, for Baltimore City). These reflections and teaching plans provide another measure for assessing programmatic impact as they demonstrate which aspect of the programs are most useful for teachers and which resources they plan on using. It was gratifying to learn from this year’s submissions that teachers plan on integrating content from each session as well as many of the websites, books and lesson plan resources they received. Evaluations and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program sponsors, Jerry and Judy Macks, the Klein Sandler Family Fund and the Conference for Claims Against Germany for making our Summer Teachers Institute possible and for enabling us to reach out to such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable classroom resources.

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

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Three Days Later and This is What I Learned

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by

Yesterday afternoon, Rachel Kassman (Development and Marketing, Intern Wrangler, and Official Candy Provider), asked me to write a final blog about the Summer Teachers Institute (STI) that occurred a few days ago. In a nutshell, the STI is an annual workshop that provides educators the tools and resources to teach the Holocaust to their own students. The topic changes, and this year, the focus was on Auschwitz. I helped prepare for it by doing administrative tasks such as making copies and folders for each participant, but this is really our Deputy Director, Deborah Cardin’s baby.

Summer Teachers Institute Flyer 2015

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute flyer

In the last 24 hours, I began thinking about all the things I could ramble about and decided to keep the spotlight on the purpose of this workshop: the educators and their students. One of my post-STI duties was to go through the teacher evaluations and analyze the results. The evaluation was in the form of a survey broken down by each session with attendees marking a 1 for the lowest score to a 4 for the highest score. Here are some statistics for you:

*100% of the participants gave Louise Géczy, the Senior Project Coordinator at The John Carroll School, the highest score citing her presentation to be “valuable” and “eye-opening.”

*100% of the participants gave the highest score in their overall experience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and the tour of their permanent exhibit.

*95% of the participants gave the two highest marks (3 or 4) on all the sessions on the first day, 92% of the participants gave the two highest marks on all the sessions on the second day, and 89% of the participants gave the two highest marks on all the sessions on the last day.

*When responding to survivor testimonies and what participants saw at the USHMM, the words “powerful,” “moving,” and “touching” were commonly used.

*When responding to speakers, the words “informative,” “knowledgeable,” and adjectives such as “wonderful” and “fascinating” were commonly used.

Image of entrance sign at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“At first, I thought this would be relatively simple, as I’ve visited before and studied the Holocaust rather extensively. But touring the exhibits brought me to pieces emotionally, and I can definitely relate to my students’ upheavals in studying the Holocaust.”

To end this blog post, here’s a short anecdote for you:

On the second day of STI, the location of the workshop was being held at the USHMM. STI provided buses at two stops, but I chose to meet the group at the museum since I would be staying in DC after. On that particular morning, I either forgot to set my alarm or slept through it, waking up late and scrambling out of my house. By the time I arrived two hours late sweating, and rushing through the metal detector, a very nice security officer pulls me aside and simply states he needs to do a random inspection. Instinctively, I start opening my purse, but he says it’s not necessary. Instead, he grabs a special piece of paper, rubs it on my red Rebecca Minkoff, and feeds it through a machine.

“Can I ask what that does?” I ask timidly.

“It checks your bag for explosive residues, which yours does not have,” he says as he’s reading the results.

I don’t think much of it as I hurriedly searched for Deborah in the lobby. During lunch, I tell the other interns about what happened, knowing I feel something but unsure of what that emotion exactly is. Someone jokes, “It’s because you’re Asian! None of us got randomly inspected.” But what I felt wasn’t a race issue- I’m used to being stereotyped. As the interns approached the main entrance of the museum to re-enter after lunch, I notice two security or police officers walking around outside and three more managing the security inside. That’s when I knew what that feeling was.

Photo of the interior of the Permanent Exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Permanent Exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In all of the museums I’ve visited, none has a tighter security than the USHMM. I felt such sadness and disheartenment that this place of education and living memorial has to be strict in security due to antisemitism that still occurs today, 70 years after the end of World War II. At the same time, I felt hopeful that I was attending a workshop with dedicated and passionate educators who were spending three days out of their summer vacation to learn how to better teach their students.

So, to Rev. Robert Albright, Judith Cohen, Louise Géczy, Dr. Lauren Granite, Josh Headley, Heller Kreshtool, Shiri Sandler, Rabbi Josh Snyder, Joseph White, and every single educator who attended at least one day of this year’s STI: thank you, thank you, thank you, for loving our younger generation. To me, you’re not just teaching about the pain and atrocity that occurred years ago, but you’re fighting antisemitism, and teaching kids how to be compassionate and kindhearted.

For other educators who could not join us this year, here are some resources from this year’s Summer Teachers Institute:

Centropa: Where Jewish history has a name, a face, a story

USHMM: Resources for Educators

Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

Graphic Novels recommended by Josh Headley:

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen

Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco

Palestine by Joe Sacco

Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, and Marc Lizano

Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv by Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, and Koren Shadmi

IMG_0993A blog post by Education Intern Eden Cho. To read more posts by interns click HERE.

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Performance Counts, July 2015: Education at the JMM – A Year in Review

Posted on July 10th, 2015 by

The beginning of summer marks the end of the school year- the time when the education department reviews its activities of the past year to see how our programs and resources have the impacted students, teachers and adult audiences.  We wanted to take the opportunity to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Number of Students:   We are pleased to report that we had a successful year serving close to 4600 area school students from Maryland public, independent, and parochial schools (including Jewish day and congregational schools).  Our breakdown of school attendance is as follows:

Public Schools

District Students Served Number of Schools
Baltimore City 1855 16
Baltimore County 134 4
Frederick County 76 1
Howard County 23 1
Montgomery County 42 1
Prince Georges County 42 1

 

Independent and Parochial Schools and Others**

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 47 1
Baltimore City 855 19
Baltimore County 37 2
Carroll County 5 1
Frederick County 31 1
Harford County 250   1*
Montgomery County 15 1

 

*Outreach program at John Carroll High School where area high school students from more than a dozen schools participated in Lessons of the Shoah.

 

** We had visitors from Central High School –Philadelphia, PA  and Stockton University-  Galloway, NJ

 

Jewish Day and Congregational Schools 

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 44 1
Baltimore City 124 4
Baltimore County 561 5
Harford County 14 1
Howard County 124 5
Montgomery County 67 3
Prince Georges County 28 1
Other*** 82 4

 

*** Visitors were from Washington DC, Forest Hills, NY, and Diller Teens from Ashkelon, Israel

Educational Programs and Activities

T he JMM education department continues to provide high quality educational resources that align with Common Core goals and objectives that enhance the social studies curriculum. Education programs include field trips and tours of our historic synagogues and changing exhibitions, and  outreach programs in the classroom such as our successful Immigrant’s Trunk living history program (students learn about immigration history through dramatic one-person plays based on the real lives of real life immigrants  who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century). Other programs include enrichment activities such as art projects and creative writing workshops.  We also have History Kits and archival explorations on a number of topics available for school groups.

The Amazing Mendes Cohen Education Activities

Using puzzle pieces as the motivation and hook for students- the education department created two separate activities for both elementary/middle school and high school groups using puzzle pieces to engage students.  Our younger visitors were given blank puzzles and explored their own identity using the puzzle pieces from the exhibition describing different attributes of Mendes Cohen.  How was Mendes Cohen a family man?  How are you part of a family?  How was Mendes Cohen a patriotic American?  How are you a patriotic American? Where did Mendes Cohen travel?  Where have you travelled?  How was Mendes Cohen a civic advocate? What are some ways that you demonstrate being a civic advocate?  The students loved filling in their puzzle pieces and then putting the actual puzzles together and sharing with their friends and family.

The older students were also given an activity that involved looking at the puzzle pieces describing the attributes for Mendes Cohen.  They were challenged to find the supporting evidence in the text panels of the exhibit to help them understand the many facets of Mendes Cohen.  In addition to these activities, all of the students enjoyed the interactive activities in the exhibit- especially the powder magazine and the world map stringing activity.

Students loved racing against the clock to ensure that the powder magazine did not explode and learning about the names of countries and cities throughout Europe and the Middle East where Cohen travelled. Another exhibit highlight for students was the section of the exhibit where they learned about the story of Cohen creating a flag for his trip down the Nile, viewing the actual flag he created and then making their own flag to hoist up the mast. In addition, to these activities done in conjunction with the exhibit, the education staff put together  a curriculum for teachers that includes lesson plans for elementary , middle and high school audiences.

Living History Performances:

Both school and adult groups scheduled living history performances both on-site at the Museum and at offsite venues throughout the year.  These living history performances, portrayed by professional actors, tell the story of actual Jewish immigrants to Baltimore.  Below is a breakdown of performances this year.

Living History Character Number of Performances Audience
Ida Rehr 18 790
Bessie Bluefeld 5 322
Mendes Cohen 16 836
Saul Bernstein 1 26

 

Professional Development for Teachers and Museum Professionals

Professional development for teachers continues to be an important component of our educational program. We served more teachers this past year than in FY 14 (503 in FY 15 as compared to 439 in FY 14) with workshops devoted to topics including immigration and American history, world religions, Holocaust, and working with primary sources. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute remains a popular professional development opportunity for teachers. Below is the breakdown of districts and those served.

 

District Number of Workshops Audience
Baltimore City 3 90
Baltimore County 1 40
Harford County 4 157
Prince Georges County 2 170
Montgomery County 1 45

 

In addition to these workshops, the JMM education staff attended and facilitated two workshops at the AASLH – American Association of State Local History Museums in St. Paul, MN and also the MSCSS – Middle States Council for Social Studies in Gettysburg, PA.

Kudos to our Volunteer Docents and Museum Educators:

The education department has been privileged to work with committed volunteer docents and museum educators throughout the year in an effort to facilitate our education programs.  Kudos and thank you to  volunteer docents  Barbara Cohen, Harvey Karch, and Lois Fekete in working specifically with our school age audiences.  Special thanks to the amazing museum educators who have also helped promote our education programs. … Virginia Steiner, Jessie Gordon, Arielle Kaden, Emma Glaser, Sean Schumacher, Carolyn Bevans, Kelly Suredam, Abby Krolik and Graham Humphrey.

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