Every Family Has a Story to Tell

Posted on June 19th, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!


When students from Annapolis Area Christian School visited this past May, they had a special guest visit with them. Students used their imagination and went back in time to 1941 where they met Ida Rehr, a Ukrainian immigrant who made the journey to Baltimore in 1913 and went on to work in the garment industry. Ida came to talk with the students about her experiences as a Jewish immigrant to the United States

Ida’s story is one of many stories about Jewish individuals immigrating to Baltimore that can be found in the collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Immigrant’s Trunk: Ida Rehr is performed by actress Katherine Lyons of one of the JMM’s Living History Performances. During this performance students are immersed in a real, first-person account bringing to life stories of immigration that they are learning about in the classroom.

Annapolis Area Christian School students meet Ida Rehr to hear about her journey.

A performance rich with content, Annapolis Area Christian School students were able to connections to their own lives. A personal favorite is when Ida shared her family heirlooms with the students.

Ida pulled two silver candlesticks from her trunk. She asked the students why did she choose these candlesticks above anything else she could have taken? Students chimed in with answers. Maybe she took them to sell if she needed money? Maybe because they provided light and warmth? Maybe to light on the holidays? Maybe to light for Sabbat dinner?

Ida lights the candle sticks that she brought with her.

Ida said that these candle sticks were in her family for a long time. They were an heirloom, passed down from generations. They were a reminder of her family.

Ida asked students, “What do you have in your house that has been passed down?”

Again, students’ hands shot up in the air with answers. Students told Ida about their great grandmother’s china, a uniform from World War II, a grandfather’s army canteen, family photographs, their grandmother’s recipes, silverware from a great-grandmother. A teacher even shared about their hutch that was their grandmother’s.

“Why not buy new furniture?” Ida asked, “Why do we save these things and take care of them and bring them when we move?”

“Because they are special,” responded a student.

“You know someone who had them before,” suggested another.

“To never forgot your family,” added another.

Ida shared that when she asked that question to another students, they had responded, “it is your legacy.” And when Ida asked what they meant by “legacy” the students said it was “a memory that you carry in your heart.”

Ida went on to share with students the menorah that her mother packed for her. She carried it all the way to America.

Students were able to ask Ida Rehr questions about her experiences.

In 1913, when Ida was seventeen years old, she decided to come to America. She left her family, her home, and her country to come. While it was not an easy trip, she was able to have a better life.

Ida’s story was brought to the Museum by her granddaughter. Everything in the story is real. Her granddaughter received an assignment at school to interview a family member. Over several visits, she interviewed Ida. Ida wrote down on notecards pieces of her story. The family made a scrapbook and included photographs. Like Ida’s story, the JMM houses numerous stories brought to us from family members.

Every family has a story to tell. Ida asked the students, “What might your family’s story be?”


Ida Rehr is portrayed by Katherine Lyons. 


Living History Program performances are available for schools, public and private events and can take place at the Museum or outside venues. The cost for the living history program is $300 plus mileage reimbursement at $0.50/mile. To schedule a Living History performance or to learn more, please contact Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator, at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org or call 443.873.5167.


 

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Object-Based Learning at the JMM

Posted on May 30th, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!


With students growing up in an ever-increasing digital world, museums offer object-based learning that powerfully engages them in an authentic experience.

What is object-based learning? Simply put, it is using objects to facilitate learning. An object can be a kippah, a t-shirt, or a synagogue. Objects provide a direct link to the past. They are vehicles for stories. Sometimes a single story. Sometimes multiple stories. The JMM has over 12,000 objects – just imagine all the unique stories they tell about Jewish Marylanders.

The JMM’s original exhibit Fashion Statement has several never-before-exhibited objects from our collections. These objects tell stories from the late 1880s to the present day. Not all of the stories for these objects could fit into the exhibit, you can read more about them here. 

Visually, an object provides only a few clues to tell what it is and why it is important. This limited initial information provides students the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. Guided analysis of objects invites students to have an active role in the process of discovery. Students are encouraged to look at an object with curiosity. They are asked what they notice and what they wonder about an object. They “read” the object for clues about the story it tells.

During our Fashion Statement educational program, students from Annapolis Area Christian School made observations about the items of clothing on display. Students noticed whether the item is clean or dirty. Why does it have a stain? They noticed that the object is small. How old do you think someone was when they wore this?  

As a tangible remnant of the past, objects make history real and relatable for students. Using objects to facilitate discussions enables students to develop different skills, including observational skills, inquiry skills, and the ability to draw conclusions. Rather than being didactically told the correct answer, students communicate with each other to come to a consensus. Leading the discussion and asking questions as a group builds a sense of confidence in students, making them active participates instead of passive listeners.

Students from Northwood Elementary School discuss their observations before collectively deciding what the best answer to the question is.

During the education program for Fashion Statement, once students made observations about an object, they thought of open-ended questions that they would want to ask the person who wore the item. This encourages students to think about another place or another time when the object was being used. This curiosity is encouraged and transformed into creativity when students write stories about their objects.

Students are challenged to consider what we can, and what we can’t learn (without doing some extra research) from objects. Furthermore, in the Fashion Statement exhibit, students consider what we can, or can’t, learn about people through their clothing. What parts of someone’s story we can learn, and what parts we are still curious about.

Students from John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School worked together to create stories of their objects from Fashion Statement.

Looking at the objects on display in Fashion Statement, students made connections to their own lives. Do they like the item of clothing? Would they wear it? What does their clothing say about them? What can’t others learn about them from their clothing?

Object-based learning provides a tangible connection to a story. It directly connects to a person, place, time period, or event. Rather than reading a book in their classroom, students “read” an object to answer questions and draw conclusions about the past and present. The process of asking questions (and figuring out which questions to ask) about an object is just as important as discovering the answers.

The JMM houses numerous everyday objects that tell the stories of Jewish Maryland. Everybody has a story to tell. What everyday object would you choose for future students to use to learn about your story?

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Creating A Unique Field Trip About the Jonestown Neighborhood

Posted on May 16th, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!


Back in March, the JMM received an email from the Middle School Principal, Mr. Golon, at The Friends School of Baltimore. This email led to an exciting opportunity for the education team at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Mr. Golon was in the midst of planning a new experience for his 8th-grade students. Planning a 2-day “deep dive” field trip into the students’ home city, he was looking for experiences that would encourage his students to think about the different narratives represented in Baltimore. Requests like these energize our education team. We love the opportunity to tailor a program to the learning goals of educators and create meaningful experiences for students.

This request gave us an opportunity to explore our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit programs in a new light. Our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit is an immersive experience that acts as a platform for students to be introduced to the immigrant community living in the neighborhood around the Museum known as Jonestown. Through a melody of immigrant’s voices, students explore what life was like in tenement houses, the working conditions in sweatshops, and the hustle and bustle of Lombard Street. This scavenger hunt activity focuses on the first half of the exhibit, from the 1880s to about the 1920s.

The Friends School of Baltimore students’ visit empowered JMM staff to explore a new perspective of the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, thinking about the Jonestown neighborhood.

For the Friends School of Baltimore’s visit, we wanted to explore the relationship of the different cultural and religious communities that made this neighborhood home and what students could learn from the neighborhood’s history. Mr. Golon wanted students to consider two questions:

>What do the historical narratives of African-American and immigrant communities in Baltimore teach us about where our city has been and where it is going?

>What are some of the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the Jonestown neighborhood of our city?

We developed a scavenger hunt centered around these questions. One that would encourage students to consider the different nationalities of immigrants living in Jonestown, the relationship between African American community members and their neighbors, and why the Jonestown neighborhood needed multiple houses of worship. We also wanted students to look at how the neighborhood changed beginning in the 1930s. Using the quotes from residents present in the exhibit, students would consider how the community felt both when the Flag House Courts opened in 1955 and when it was eventually demolished; how the riots in 1968 impacted Lombard Street; and how the community worked (and is working) together to revitalize the area.

Students worked in pairs to complete the new version of our Voices of Lombard Street scavenger hunt that explored the changing history of the Jonestown neighborhood.

We wanted students to step out of the exhibit and into the neighborhood itself. While on a neighborhood walking tour, students would learn about the history of Jonestown. Walking down Lloyd Street, students would be able to compare the past and present. Peering down East Baltimore, students would see the McKim Center, the original Friends Meeting House, the Phoenix Shot Tower, and both the existing and future Helping Up Mission buildings. Stopping in front of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue students would learn about the Jewish community that made Jonestown home. They would also see the vacant lot where Smelkinson’s, a kosher dairy, resided before it was burned down during the riots of 1968.

The walking tour around the neighborhood encouraged students to see how the urban landscape of Jonestown has evolved and is still evolving.

The neighborhood walking tour would encourage students to gain a better sense of place and make connections between the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and the community that exists today. Students were asked to think about the opportunities that exist for Jonestown and what role the residents and businesses can play.

Students also shared their learning with each other and considered challenges, strengths, and opportunities found in Jonestown.

Mr. Golon first reached out to the JMM in March and in May we were delighted to be one part of their two-day field trip. This JMM experience, designed specifically with a “deep dive” into the Baltimore community in mind, culminated in asking the students, “What do you think it means to be part of a neighborhood?” Here is a selection of their responses:

>To be connected, and that each neighborhood has its own culture

>It means to be part of a community, to be together as a whole, working through things.

>Be a good citizen, speak up

>Forms community, everyone can feel safe, communicate

>A place where people live and houses stories

>It brings people together and gives them a sense of home

>It means to be a family and to live in history

>Help others, to contribute

>Open, inclusive and committed, sharing

>Unity

>Change

The Friends School of Baltimore was piloting a new year-end field trip for their 8th-grade students, and that opportunity gave the education team at the JMM to the ability to try something new as well. Thank you to Mr. Golon and The Friends School of Baltimore for letting us support your students as they explored their city and the communities, both past and present, that make it unique.

8th grade students exploring Baltimore in May. 

Their visit also included: Homewood Friends Meeting House, Blue Water Baltimore, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Lanes, Baltimore City Council, Baltimore Inspector General’s Office, Mayor’s Office of Sustainable Solutions, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and McKim Center. We were proud to be a part of this group of organizations supporting their learning.


Have an idea for a field trip? We are happy to tailor our programs to your classroom learning. Please contact Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator, at pwoodhouse@jewishmusuemmd.org or 443-873-5167 to start building a great experience for your students.


 

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