Highlights from the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute

Posted on August 16th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Director of Learning and Visitor Experience Ilene Dackman-Alon shares highlights of this year’s Summer Teachers Institute. This annual educator training has become a core part of the JMM calendar.  It has never been more important to enable teachers to effectively share Holocaust history in their classrooms and our program has never been stronger!

~Marvin

Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!


Attendees of the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute: Women and the Holocaust

Last week, August 5-7, the 2019 Summer Teachers Institute (STI) brought together a community of learners to explore best practices in teaching Holocaust education.   The community of learners included over 45 teachers from public, Jewish and private along with a few JMM Board members, staff, volunteers and interns for the 3-day professional development opportunity. This year’s SOLD-OUT program, Women and the Holocaust, provided participants with new ideas as well as new program and education resources to help make Holocaust Education more meaningful for students. The following are program highlights!


Day 1

Our first day convened at the Jewish Museum of Maryland with a brief tour of the exhibits, Stitching History From the Holocaust and Fashion Statement.  Following the gallery tour, Linda Medvin, Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education presented on the theme of Women and the Holocaust.  The group examined the many different roles that women play during their everyday lives – their “Universe of Obligation,” and how this sense of obligation pushed women to make sacrifices and accept challenges during the war.  One of the highlights of the session was watching the short film Pigeon provided by Facing History and Ourselves, followed by a discussion of obligation. Linda provided resources and materials to help illustrate ways in which women were perpetrators, resistors, rescuers and victims during the Holocaust.

After lunch, JMM Board member, Nancy Kutler shared her mother’s (Hannah Rath) personal story of survival growing up in Germany.  Nancy shared with the group that her mother was sent to a ghetto in Riga, Latvia, then to various camps — and ultimately to Stutthof.  Following the war, Hannah met her future husband, George Rath, a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp, and the two headed for a new life in the United States and married in 1947.   Nancy shared with the group that her mother spent a lot of time in schools sharing her personal story of survival.  Nancy found letters from school children after her mother’s death, and this was the catalyst that inspired Nancy to continue to share her mother’s incredible story.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend different sessions in the afternoon.

JMM educator, Marisa Shultz, presented a lesson on using historic newspapers in the classroom in connection to the USHMM’s exhibit, Americans & The Holocaust.  We debuted the Anne Frank oculus tours of the secret annex in Amsterdam provided by the Anne Frank Center USA; and our teachers had the opportunity to go on tours of the historic synagogues and meet with Jessica Fink, librarian at the CJE Lending library.


Day 2

Day Two found us in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibits, we were able to tour a new exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust before the regular opening hours of the Museum. The exhibit examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped American attitudes and responses to the threats of Nazism and Hitler’s regime during the 1930’s and 1940’s, revealing how much information was available to Americans at the time. We were fortunate to travel to DC with Howard and Esther Kaidenow, both survivors of the Holocaust who shared with the group their experiences of survival during the war.  Esther came to the United States and was placed in a Displaced Persons Camp is Oswego, New York which is highlighted in the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit.

After lunch, we travelled to Beth Shalon Synagogue in Columbia where we had the privilege to meet Edith Cord, who shared her experiences growing up in Vienna, Italy and France in her attempt to go into hiding and escape the terror of the Nazi regime. Mrs. Cord’s story is one of strength, and determination as she told her story of survival and the lessons, she learned the hard way.  Mrs. Cord spoke about how she rose above the difficult circumstances that transcend hatred, how she was able to find meaning in life and how it is important to protect our freedoms.  She shares her experiences and the lessons learned the hard way: how to rise above difficult experiences.


Day 3

Day Three took place at the American Visionary Museum in connection to the exhibit, Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family on display through 2024.  The exhibit highlights the beautiful tapestries that Esther Krinitz created illustrating her childhood years growing up in Poland during World War II. Esther’s daughter, Bernice Steinhardt opened the morning highlighting the work of Art and Remembrance, a non-profit organization that uses art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience, and to foster understanding and compassion for those who experience injustice.   Bernice shared the 30-minute documentary, Through the Eye of the Needle that examines the life of Esther Krinitz and how she survived the Holocaust as a teenager and how she came to tell her life story in a series of 36 fabric collages and embroidered panels.

Following the film participants split between the opportunity to go on a tour with Bernice and view the collages or go to a session that highlighted the resources and lesson plans that were prepared by Claire Tesh and lmnoeducation, LLC.  In connection to the exhibit.   All participants loved viewing the collages and felt that lesson plans were wonderful resources for the classroom.

During lunch, Rebecca Hoffberger welcomed our attendees and spoke about the fabric installations and her vision for the next five years as the works are displayed at AVAM.  Our afternoon session consisted of a Story Cloth Workshop where attendees tried their hand at storytelling by creating their own fabric collages.  Following the workshop, our teachers had the opportunity to share their personal stories and fabric creations with one another.


We make sure to collect evaluations from participants after each day of the Summer Teachers Institute. We were delighted by the responses and feedback we received, here are just a few:

>“Since this is my first time here @ STI, I’ve loved everything.  Thank You!!!”

>“I enjoyed the timeline activity that showed that things didn’t just happen overnight.  I think this will be great to share with our students.”

>WOW!!!  Edith is a phenomenal speaker as well as a sharp, power and inspirational person.  She should be a TED talk!”

>“I am so happy to learn that this exhibit will be here for years.  I intend to bring my daughters before it leaves.  I connected to so much today, especially the level of love for humanity.”

>Everything about Esther’s story was phenomenal.  I really enjoyed the museum’s director’s discussion as well.”

I also received this lovely email from a participant:

“I just wanted to thank you and your staff for your efforts and for the outstanding program that you developed for this past Summer Teachers Institute.  The Institute offered a large variety of engaging and informative options for examining the topic of Women and the Holocaust.  The speakers were well-prepared and passionate about their subjects.  The activities were enriching and hopefully some will be applicable to the classroom.   The timing of this program during the Nine Days preceding Tisha B’av made it even more meaningful as this is the time of year, we focus on tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.”

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 (to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we can offer participants professional development credit. To be eligible for the credit, teachers 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 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 and many of the websites, books and lesson plans they received. Evaluation and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program partners: Baltimore Jewish Council, American Visionary Art Museum and MSDE for their help in planning this year’s program. We are also grateful to our program funders, Judy and Jerry Macks and Family and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr., Foundation for enabling us to reach out to such a such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable training and classroom resources.


 

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Reflections from the Second-Floor lounge of the USHMM

Posted on August 20th, 2018 by

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

Entering the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., I felt as though I had entered a building that could have been located anywhere in the world. I was separated from the hustle and bustle of tourists moving between their destinations across the National Mall. Having arrived prior to the Museum’s opening, our group from the Summer Teachers Institute collected on the stairs in the Hall of Witness. I immediately knew that the Museum’s design would have a strong impact on my visit.

STI participants standing at the bottom of the staircase in the Hall of Witness. The staircase is often thought to look like a railroad track. (Want to hear more about Summer Teachers Institute? Check out Ilene’s recent blog post here.)

Different components – including the exhibit floor plan, color of the walls, light levels, scents, and sounds – within a space culminate together to influence a visitor’s experience. These elements are carefully curated by the team at USHMM. The architecture of the USHMM was not designed to reference any specific site or structure. Rather through a collection of carefully selected materials and features, the architecture eludes to the history shared inside the Museum. It is meant to evoke reflection and memories.

The lounge located after portion of the permanent exhibit The ‘Final Solution’ – 1940 to 1945 dedicated to ghettos and death camps, is an example of how a carefully curated space impacted my experience.

The second-floor lounge is a clean white space. This space, with a few benches along the wall, is where I encountered artist Sol LeWitt’s wall drawing “Consequence.” But first, let me back up a few steps. Before entering this lounge, I walked through the “Tower of Faces.” The “Tower of Faces” is a three-floor-high component of the permanent exhibit. The tower is filled from floor to ceiling with photos of families and individuals. Consisting of approximately 1000 reproduction photos, this tower is devoted to the Jewish community of the Lithuanian town of Eisiskes. This community was massacred on September 25th and 26th, 1941.

“Tower of Faces.” You can learn more about this component of the USHMM’s permanent exhibit here.

I walked out of the “Tower of Faces” feeling saturated by images of families, couples, and individuals. I saw a glimpse into these people’s personal lives and their unique stories. After exiting this tower, I was confronted with Sol LeWitt’s artwork on the wall of the lounge. The artwork is composed of five monumental squares set on a black background. Each square is a different color: purple, yellow, blue, red, and orange.. In the center of each colored square is a smaller grey square with a thin white border.

Sol LeWitt’s “Consequence” located in the second floor lounge in the permanent exhibit at USHMM.

The result is four colorful portrait frames with nothing in the middle of them. Unlike the tower immediately prior, there are no faces, no families, no personalities, and no stories. They are void. They emit emptiness.

This space provided me, and other visitors, an opportunity to reflect. To digest the information presented in the permanent exhibit. The artwork “Consequence” is poignant. Taking up the entire wall, the artwork embodies that overwhelming sense of loss.

There are numerous spaces throughout the USHMM and each is designed in an incredibly thoughtful manor. While my experience in the second-floor lounge heavily resonated with me following my visit, I am certain that when I visit again I will find another element carefully curated that impacts my experience as a visitor.

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Highlights from the 2018 Summer Teachers Institute

Posted on August 17th, 2018 by

A shorter version of this post was shared via our JMM Insights e-newsletter on August 16, 2018. To read past editions of JMM insights, click here. To read other posts by Ilene Dackman-Alon, click here.


Last week, August 6-8, the 2018 Summer Teachers Institute celebrated a milestone, it’s “bar/bat mitzvah” year, in that for the past 13 years, a community of learners have come together to learn about best practices in teaching Holocaust education.  This year 30 teachers from public, private and parochial schools along with a few JMM Board members, staff, volunteers and interns attended the 3-day professional development opportunity.

This year’s program, Lessons of the Shoah: Primary Sources for the Classroom, provided participants with new ideas as well as new program and education resources to help make Holocaust Education more meaningful for students. The following are program highlights:

Day 1

Our first day convened at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Howard Libit of the Baltimore Jewish Council and Marvin Pinkert, JMM Executive Director gave welcoming remarks to the group. Mary Johnson of Facing History & Ourselves opened the program and asked participants to think about the 1st anniversary of the white supremist rally in Charlottesville, VA.  She posed the question; how do we discuss this event with our students and how do we teach our students not to be apathetic and to be engaged in the conversation?  The topic was a natural segue to Mary’s presentation about the rise of Nazism during the 1920-30s.    Mary spoke about Doris Bergen’s Four Stages of the Holocaust and gave the teachers suggested readings to take back to the classroom from the Facing History curriculum.   The teachers participated in classroom activities to illustrate the four stages.

Following the break, the teachers heard survivor testimony from Mr. Herbert Hane, who shared his experiences growing up in Adolf Hitler’s Germany.  After lunch, we focused our learning on the thousands of people trying to leave Europe during the rise of Hitler and Nazism.   The teachers watched the JMM’s short documentary, Lives Lost: Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1933-1945 and learned about the exhibition that uncovered the stories of more than 3000 Jewish refugees that were able to make a new home for themselves in Baltimore with the assistance of many local Jewish residents.  The teachers also participated in an archival exploration activity that is a popular resource for classroom teachers in helping students use more critical and analytical skills. At the end of the day, each teacher received a copy of the JMM’s 2017 publication, Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project.

Lives Lost: Lives Found Archival Exploration, JMM L2003.63.3 courtesy of Rudolph Cohen.

Day 2

We spent our second day in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibits, we also were able to tour a new exhibit, Americans and the Holocaust.  The exhibit examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped American attitudes and responses to the threats of Nazism and Hitler’s regime during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

The exhibit reveals how much information was available to Americans at the time and asks why rescuing Jews did not become a priority, except for a few individuals who took the risk to help.  The afternoon presentation by USHMM scholar, Rebecca Erbelding, focused on an on-line resource created as a companion to the exhibition.  Dr. Erbelding demonstrated many valuable features of the website which includes a vast array of educational resources.

Afternoon session with Dr. Rebecca Erbelding.

Day 3

Day Three took place at Towson University/Baltimore Hebrew Institute, with Dr. Hana Bor, Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone Professor sharing her research findings on The Impact of the Summer Teachers Institute: Teaching and Understanding the Holocaust.

Following the presentation, the participants toured the exhibition, Vergissmeinnicht – Forget Me Not on display in the Cook Library at Towson. The exhibit highlights the lives of 25 children that grew up in the Franconia area of Germany.

Ashley Todd Diaz- Head of Special Collections and Joyce Garczynski, University librarian gave an overview of the exhibit to the teachers.  Teachers were able to try out the sample lessons on iPads in connection with the exhibit.    Dr. Fred Katz, who is featured in the exhibit, spoke to the group of his experiences growing up in Germany but also about his later work as an author and sociologist. After lunch, the teachers headed to the University’s Special Collections and Archives.   Elaine Mael and Ashley Todd Diaz gave the teachers a presentation about the rich holdings that are available at the library in Holocaust education.

The day concluded with Goucher College professor, Dr. Uta Larkey giving a presentation, Working with Film in Holocaust Education.  Participants watched the Oscar winning film Toyland.

Each day of the Summer Teachers Institute, the teachers and participants submitted evaluations.  We were delighted by the responses and feedback we received from teachers. Comments such as, “very in-depth discussion of the 4 phases of the Nazism and the Holocaust.  Love the chronology activity with the anti-Jewish laws on notecards. Mary is very engaging and makes people think!  I loved that she modeled exactly how we could teach in our classroom.” “Mr. Hane’s story is spellbinding! A truly amazing man!”  “Some things I knew, but so much more I had no idea was going on in America, Great resource to know about!”  “Fabulous.  I’m so excited to bring this to my school. I’m sure our history teachers will use this exhibit too.”  These remarks demonstrate the extent to which our Summer Teachers Institute provides a high-quality educational experience for teachers.

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 (to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we can offer participants professional development credit.  To be eligible for the credit, teachers 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 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 and many of the websites, books and lesson plans they received.  Evaluation and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program partners: Baltimore Jewish Council, Towson University, the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education and MSDE for their help in planning this year’s program. We are also grateful to our program funders, Judy and Jerry Macks and Family and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr., Foundation for enabling us to reach out to such a such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable classroom resources.

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