Celebrating Students, Finding Their Stories

Posted on March 16th, 2018 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights comes to us from Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience.

At the Jewish Museum of Maryland, we are storytellers.

It’s one of the things we do best. Whether the stories of the “old neighborhood, Jonestown,” the voices of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, or one of the thousands of stories of individual Jewish Marylanders, we use story to connect our visitors and audiences to others and themselves. We also help others tell stories. We’re especially interested in helping students and families living in their own communities find and tell their stories. To make that happen, we have been developing partnerships with area schools for years.

Why do we do what we do? How does telling our stories benefit future generations?

Research has shown children who know more about their families display more confidence and are more resilient. Dr. Marshall Duke, a psychologist of Emory University, has conducted research that shows family stories are a critical part of adolescents’ emerging identity and well-being. Family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world.  Research shows children who know their family and community stories have a strong “intergenerational self;” they know that they belong to something bigger than themselves.

In other words, stories connect the past and present to the future.

The month of March is extremely exciting for JMM storytelling. The JMM’s Education department is working on two programs in partnership with area schools and institutions: My Family Story and Morrell Park: PROJECTED. Each helps students develop their own family narrative, through a different medium. Through these partnerships, the JMM has been able to reach to a wider audience. We are a valuable education partner and resource to the larger community. Keep reading for more on both of them.


Earlier this year, area students from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Beth Israel Congregation and Bolton Street Synagogue embarked on an exploration of their own heritage with a project that goes beyond the usual family tree.

Through rigorous research and inspiring creativity, these students have produced beautiful art pieces illustrating their personal exploration into their family roots, and connections to the greater story of the Jewish People.  On March 8th, we held a special opening for My Family Story, celebrating this education initiative in partnership with Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Thousands of other students from around the world are also on their own My Family Story explorations, with the best projects from each school to be entered in Beit Hatfutsot’s international competition later in June.

Over the past months, I have had the opportunity to visit students in their classrooms as they created art to represent their family stories. I loved seeing them point out specific elements to illustrate the research they have done. Their faces shone as they shared their family stories.

I invite you to come celebrate with us the creativity, hard work, and beauty represented in these student-created works of art. The My Family Story exhibition will be on display through March 25th. My Family Story here at the Museum is generously supported by the Ronnie and Alli Russel Charitable Foundation.


Baltimore City Public Schools

In addition to our partnerships with religious schools and day schools, JMM has strong partnerships with five area Baltimore City Public Schools, where we provide a more customized and intensive educational enrichment for students and teachers.

All these programs are offered at no charge to  our partner schools, thanks in part to generous education program donors like the Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, the Maryland State Department of Education, Larry Boltansky, and many of our Museum members.

Through our partnerships, we help students become active learners for the 21st century. As a museum, one of our most critical roles is in helping students build 21st-century skills in the areas of information, communications and technology literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, civic literacy, and global awareness.


Over the fall semester, JMM staff, with the guidance of J. Scott Fuqua (an award-winning young adult author), and Johns Hopkins University film students, have been working with the 8th grade students at Morrell Park Elementary/Middle school on a new, innovative program.Morrell Park: PROJECTED is a year-long storytelling initiative that has helped students gain insight into their personal family stories. Students learned storytelling and interviewing techniques, gaining the skills to interview family and community members. They used what they learned to tell their own stories, creating short film clips using their smartphones. The resulting films will be screened for the public as a way of celebrating the diversity, culture and roots of the Morrell Park community. Morrell Park: PROJECTED is supported by an Excellence Grant from Wells Fargo.

This project has been a transformative experience for many students.In the beginning, many students expressed a hesitancy to speak to their parents. Just a few months later, some of those same students shared that this project has enabled them to talk to family members in ways that they never had before. All of the participating students expressed an appreciation for the family members that shared personal stories of their past. The students are also rightly proud of the short films they have created, of their own learning, and of mastering a new skill on their smartphones.

You can listen to more about Morrell Park: PROJECTED over at WYPR’s “On The Record” here.

I hope you will join us on March 22 at 7:00 p.m., as these eighth graders from Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School walk the red carpet at the Jewish Museum of Maryland to celebrate the premiere of the autobiographical films they’ve created. This premiere is the first component in a two-part series, and we look forward to sharing news of the second part with you in the future.

We hope that you will visit JMM during the month of March to celebrate area students as they share their family and community stories!

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Museum School Partnerships!

Posted on November 10th, 2017 by

Performance Counts: November 2017

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

A museum educator facilitates Hanukkah activities with students at one of our partner schools.

One of the JMM’s education department signature achievements has been its successful museum-school partnership program launched twelve years ago. The JMM piloted the program and worked with four partner Baltimore City schools with great success. The hope of the initiative was to move beyond a one-time annual field trip and one-time classroom activity. The Museum would provide 4-8 programs over the course of the year, in an effort to work more holistically with the school community so that different grades would have access to a variety of our education programs that meet curricular standards.

In each partnership, the JMM’s education staff meets with school teachers and administrators during the first weeks of school to discuss upcoming JMM exhibitions and plan educational programming for the year. The education program is individualized for each school based on the needs of the school. Our education staff strives to create resources and education programs that support the State’s focus on the College and Career Ready Standards in Social Studies and Language Arts along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) goals for student achievement. Independent evaluations, anecdotal and participant-observer reports, direct testing of knowledge, all support the value and productivity of these engagements between the Museum, the school, and the students.

Some of the educational programs that we provide to our partner schools include:

>Dramatic Living History Presentations on the subject of immigration history, American history, Jewish history and culture.

>Student Storytelling Program featuring facilitated storytelling on key themes.

>Resource and Discovery Kits with historical facsimiles and hands-on materials.

>Archival explorations using primary source materials from the JMM collections.

>JMM’s Voice of Lombard Street exhibition on East Baltimore history.

>Hanukkah Activities

>Preschool Immigrant’s Trunk

>Resource sheets relating to changing JMM exhibitions

>Age appropriate guided tours to our historic synagogues

>Joint Field Trip Opportunities with Partner Institutions

>Neighborhood walking tours

During the 2016-2017 academic school year, we provided educational opportunities to more than 1100 students and teachers in our five museum partner schools. These schools include Patterson Park Public Charter School, City Springs Elementary/Middle School, John Ruhrah Elementary /Middle School, Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School and Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle School.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, we are working with the same schools except for Windsor Hills. The principal of Windsor Hills has switched to a new school this year- – and he requested if the JMM could continue the partnership with his new school, Francis Scott Key Elementary/ Middle School. We have also had successful meetings with the Liberty Elementary School and the Baltimore International Academy and we hope to include them as partner schools for the next year.

City Springs students tour Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

So far this year, the education department has served over 450 students and teachers in our partner schools. These education programs took place at the museum but also offsite in the classroom.  This year, Baltimore City Public schools is encouraging middle schoolers to participate in National History Day competitions throughout the city that take place in early 2018. In preparation for the projects, students have to research, analyze documents and primary sources, and use critical thinking skills to reflect their knowledge on the topic that is being researched. For many students, this is the first time they have ever done a research paper.

A popular program for our middle schools has been our Lives Lost: Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945 archival exploration. Students interpret primary sources by studying immigration history of German Jewish refugees that represented a new wave of Jewish immigration in Baltimore during WWII. Students are encouraged to think about the universal conditions of refugees by making connections between US immigration policies in the 1930s and current events. The program was designed to give teachers more resources in Holocaust education.

We have developed new education programs this year that we are piloting with our partner schools.  The Baltimore Book, is a curriculum for 3rd grades designed to teach key civic education concepts and moments from Baltimore history in age appropriate terms and illustrations.  The hope of the book is to get students to begin thinking about Baltimore’s rich history; and that this new knowledge will empower students to take ownership of their city and begin to make it better for themselves, their families, and their community.  Over 150 third graders from John Ruhrah Elementary and Liberty Elementary visited the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Maryland’s first synagogue,  and the Star Spangled Banner Flag House to learn about the rich history of Baltimore and their community.

We recently received funding from the Wells Fargo Excellence Grant to pilot a new education initiative with 8th graders from Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School. Our proposed pilot project, Morrell Park: PROJECTED is a collaborative effort between the JMM and Morrell Park that is intended to provide students with opportunities to learn about sharing their family histories in meaningful ways. With the assistance of J. Scott Fuqua, an award winning young adult author, and Johns Hopkins University film students, our year-long project will teach participating 8th grade students how to interview family members and then develop and share their personal stories with a broader community.

Author J. Scott Fuqua speaks with Morrell Park students.

Students will take part in activities that will help them understand that everyone has a story that can be valued and appreciated. By interviewing family and community members, the students will gain insight into their personal family stories. Classroom study will be enriched as the students learn valuable techniques for conducting oral history interviews and film making. They will learn to tell their own stories and create short film clips using their smartphones. The hope is that at the conclusion of the project, students will gain a better sense of their place within their family and community and feel more rooted in their daily lives.

Two final films will be developed as a conclusion to the pilot program.   One film with showcase the short stories and interviews that the students edited on their smart phones.  A second film will be the actual documentation of working with the students throughout the year in the classroom and in the Morrell Park community.  The films will be screened as a way of celebrating the diversity, culture and roots of the Morrell Park community.  Join us for the premiere screening of MORRELL PARK: PROJECTED  that will  take place on Thursday evening, March 22nd at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Mark your calendars so that you reserve a seat to meet these 8th grade students and celebrate their family stories and the community of Morrell Park.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland