A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way……

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by

Okay, I am the first one to tell you that the winter weather has put a damper on the daily happenings at the JMM.  Over the past few weeks, field trips, outreach programs and professional development workshops for teachers were all cancelled due to school closings, icy conditions and frigid temperatures.  However, there was a “ray of sunshine” that happened last week that will keep us warm until spring comes in a few weeks.

A little ray of sunshine...

A little ray of sunshine…

Last Tuesday morning at 9:30a.m., I received a phone call from the President of Mercy High School, a Catholic school located in Baltimore City.  The faculty and 11th graders were planning a field trip that morning to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC but decided against it due to the weather forecast. They were wondering if they could bring 84 students along with the teachers and chaperones to the Jewish Museum of Maryland instead.

Museum Educator Carolyn Bevans works with students.

Museum Educator Carolyn Bevans works with students.

My first reaction-OMG!  My second reaction – I went into command mode.  I asked the teachers what the students were learning about with regard to Holocaust studies.  I spoke to the JMM’s education staff and volunteers about the possibility of hosting such a large group and the logistics behind hosting the group.  We were all in agreement to “go for it” and within the hour we welcomed Mercy  High School to the JMM!

Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945 photo activity.

Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945 photo activity.

We divided the group into two sections. One group visited the Lloyd Street Synagogue and learned about the history of the building and the different immigrant groups that used the building, which was used as a Catholic Church at the beginning of the 20th century.  The students also learned about Jewish rituals and customs that take place inside the synagogue.  The other group stayed inside the Museum and watched a short movie about the JMM’s exhibition, Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945. Following the movie, the students looked at images that were depicted in the exhibition and used critical thinking skills to find meaning in the posters.  After an hour, the groups flip-flopped so that everyone had an opportunity to participate in both activities.

Visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The education staff was pleased with the decision to host the group, especially in this instance when the bad weather was to our advantage.  With all school groups, we give the teacher an evaluation form to fill out about the education experience.   I received the evaluation form back from the teachers but I also received this lovely email… along with lovely posies……  A little kindness  really does go a long way….

IMG_20150307_120933901Dear Ilene,

Many thanks for the warm welcome you extended to our 84 Mercy High School juniors, faculty and parents today!  I am deeply grateful to you and your staff and volunteers for offering a wonderfully enriching experience to our students with less than an hour’s notice!  I learned today that most, if not all, of the students visiting the museum had never been inside a synagogue.  What a gift you gave to them!

I hope that this is the beginning of a new partnership for Mercy High School with the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  In the meantime, if we can be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call upon us.

Best regards,

Mary Beth Lemmon ‘85

President, Mercy High School

 

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

 

 

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National History Day and the JMM Judge

Posted on February 19th, 2015 by

NHD logoFor the second consecutive year, the JMM education department was invited to participate as judges at various school-level competitions for National History Day. For those of you who don’t know, National History Day (NHD) is a lot like a science fair, but for history. According to its website over half a million elementary and middle school students participate in the competition each year. Students can work by themselves or in small groups to research an historic topic that fits each year’s theme. They can then present that topic in a number of ways: an exhibit (the classic trifold), a poster, a website, or even a theatrical/dance presentation. A winner is chosen from each participating school, who then goes onto regional competitions, and then finally, the national competition, which is held each year at University of Maryland’s College Park campus.

The contest encourages students to develop not just research skills, but also critical thinking and presentation skills. I think it’s a wonderful idea for getting kids excited about history—since they get to choose their own topics—and to practice or be introduced to these crucial skills that are often skimmed over in schools that are strapped for resources and time.

Similar to last year, JMM was invited to judge at several of our partner schools, including Morrell Park and Mount Washington Middle. We are truly honored that these schools consider us to be such an important part of their communities!

Last year, Ilene Dackman-Alon and I both participated as judges in the Mount Washington Middle School contest, but this year, Morrell Park’s conflicted with it, so we divided to conquer. She went to Morrell Park, and I went to Mount Washington.

Being a veteran judge was helpful this time around. I remembered that I’d run out of space to write my notes last year, and so I made sure to have some spare paper to write on. The teachers at Mount Washington also found their experiences from last year to be helpful because they announced some organizational changes this year that definitely helped make things go a bit smoother. For example, this year, instead of being assigned to judge several different types of presentations in different rooms, my team of three judges was assigned to judge only exhibitions which were all housed in the gym.

Theme Book CoverIt was clear that the school had made an effort to reach out to all kinds of community partners for the event, which was great to see. Just in my little team, we had an educator from the Maryland Historical Society as well as the Director of Programs at the Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL).

As always, I had a great time seeing what these students could accomplish! The year’s theme was “Leadership & Legacy”, and there were even a few students who decided to be very creative with that theme. One in particular stood out because the group decided to research McDonald’s as an example of bad leadership and legacy! Their project detailed how McDonald’s was a leader in the fast food industry by peddling cheap and very unhealthy food, which in turn was affecting the national childhood obesity rate. I was impressed with their ability to look at varied sources and to create a supportable, but still interesting, argument.

Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in my duties as a judge (it’s not easy!) that I completely neglected to take pictures!

abby krolik A blog by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts from Abby, click here.

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The Immigrant’s Trunk Goes to Preschool

Posted on February 11th, 2015 by

Exploring the Immigrant's Trunk.

Exploring the Immigrant’s Trunk.

A few months ago, Bet Yeladim, a preschool in Howard County inquired about the Museum’s preschool educational offerings.  We quickly scheduled an outreach program  for late January –and the education staff got busy making sure that the Immigrant’s Trunk for Preschool was in tip-top shape and ready for 50 preschoolers.

The JMM received funding from the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Education Fund to create a preschool program in connection with our very popular Immigrant’s Trunk program.  The Immigrant’s Trunk program was created for elementary and middle school students to help them make concrete connections to historical immigration.  An interactive trunk filled with photo reproductions, artifacts and a curriculum give teachers the tools to teach about immigration in the classroom.

Piecing together a photo puzzle.

Piecing together a photo puzzle.

In order for the Immigrant’s Trunk to be developmentally appropriate for 3-5 year olds or preschoolers,  we created a trunk filled with interactives that included sewing cards, memory games, threading spools, and reproductions of  period clothing.  These hands-on materials  are intended to help younger ones understand the story of brave  Ida (a Ukrainian immigrant who arrived in Baltimore in 1913) and her journey across the ocean, so that she could meet her older sister Minnie who lived in Baltimore (The Golden Land).

Playing a matching game using objects from the trunk.

Playing a matching game using objects from the trunk.

As soon as we entered the classrooms the preschoolers were immediately curious about the trunk and its contents.  We explained that we worked at a history museum and immediately the children thought we worked at a museum that told stories about dinosaurs. We explained that we were going to tell a story about a brave young girl who travelled on a boat and that the trunk was filled with items that the young girl took with her on the trip.  We asked the children to brainstorm some things that they would bring with them on a long trip.  These children would be well –prepared.  Their answers included medicine, towels, food, and toys.

The children listened intently to the tale of young Ida travelling all by herself to meet her big sister.  They learned how Ida dragged her trunk with her up the plank of the ship and how she had to sleep in bunks in the “belly” of the ship, and the only thing she had to eat was watery soup and boiled potatoes.

Getting the wiggles out!

Getting the wiggles out!

The children demonstrated empathy when they learned that Ida’s tummy felt sick on the boat during the storms crossing the ocean.  They children were excited as they heard how Ida sailed on the ship up the Patapsco River and saw the American flag waving at Fort McHenry, and they were excited that she would be reunited with her older sister, Minnie.   The students learned how Ida made a life for herself in Baltimore- she went to school, worked as a seamstress and eventually married Daniel Rehr.  The trunk filled with inter-actives, photo reproductions and artifacts, along with storytelling and songs, helped to reinforce the children’s understanding of Ida’s heroic journey across the ocean to Baltimore and her new life she made for herself in Baltimore.

It's a hands-on learning experience!

It’s a hands-on learning experience!

To learn more about the JMM’s Immigrant’s Trunk for Preschool, and other education materials and resources on immigration, and field trip opportunities for students in grades (PreK through 12), please contact the JMM’s Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon at 410.732.6400×214; or idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org

ilene A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts from    Ilene click HERE.

 

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