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Natural History as Narrative: Using Museum Exhibitions and Artifacts to Teach History Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D. Director of Teacher and Student Programs Education Department ebabcock@fieldmuseum.org. Objectives.

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Natural History as Narrative: Using Museum Exhibitions and Artifacts to Teach HistoryElizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D.Director of Teacher and Student ProgramsEducation Departmentebabcock@fieldmuseum.org

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

objectives
Objectives
  • Explain why museums can be exceptional learning environments for elementary and secondary history students and their teachers
  • Describe The Field Museum’s object-based approach to professional development for educators
  • Explore how The Field Museum’s focused field trip framework, professional development initiatives, and primary sources have improved teachers’ ability to teach history (and other subject areas)

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

reflections of an anthropologist on museum based education
Reflections of an anthropologist on museum-based education

© The Field Museum, GN89574_13Ac

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

slide4

© The Field Museum, GN90488_020d

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

reflections of an anthropologist on museum based education1
Reflections of an anthropologist on museum-based education

© The Field Museum, GN89576_12Ac

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museums as exceptional learning environments
Museums as exceptional learning environments

© The Field Museum, GN90507_67d

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museums are one type of informal learning environments
Museums are one type of informal learning environments
  • ILEs allow and promote enculturation of visitors into social practices pertinent to that context (e.g. how to experience a museum)
  • ILEs tend to use primary source objects as teaching tools, rather than text
  • Participation connects learner with a particular identity (girl scout, museum-goer, nature-lover)
  • ILEs tend to promote self-directed learning

--Paris and Hapgood, 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museums are particularly effective informal learning environments
Museums are particularly effective informal learning environments

Museums are “powerful learning institutions” because “they afford unprecedented opportunities to explore, observe and sense a fairly limited set of contextually relevant, highly structured, concrete experiences; all within a socially and physically novel, but safe environment.”

--Falk, 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museum based learning is constructivist learning
Museum-based learning is constructivist learning

If…

Learning is essentially meaning-making;

Meaning making is a social activity; and

The museum experience is primarily a social activity;

Then…

The museum experience is essentially about meaning-making, and museums are especially powerful tools for learning.

--Vygotsky 1978; Hein 1998; Rowe 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museum learning is context dependent

Sociocultural

Personal

Physical

Time

Museum learning is context-dependent

Museum-based learning emerges from the interaction of these three contexts through time:

Personal: motivation & expectations, interest, prior knowledge & experience, choice and control

Sociocultural: within- group sociocultural mediation, facilitated mediations by others

Physical: advance preparation, setting, design, subsequent reinforcing events and experiences

--Lynn Dierking (with Falk), 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

museums represent an exceptional learning environment for inquiry based learning
Museums represent an exceptional learning environment for inquiry-based learning
  • Real world questions or problems
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Multiple ways to demonstrate competence, often through culminating project or artifact creation
  • Requires scaffolding, or a learning framework provided by the teacher that encourages strategic thinking
  • Choice over learning topics
  • Multimodal and multimedia information
  • Pertinent technologies

--Paris and Hapgood 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

constructivist and object based learning theories have infused exhibition design
Constructivist and object-based learning theories have infused exhibition design

Object based epistemology (late 19th-early 20th c.)

  • Arrangement is the interpretation
  • Assumes interpretation is universal and obvious
  • Arrangement reveals natural order
  • Focus is description and classification
  • Focus is on the object

Object based discourse (20th c. to present)

  • Focus is interpretation and explanation
  • Focus is on the relationship between object and visitor
  • Mediating conflicting voices (curator, designer, educator, visitor)

--Evans, Mull, Poling, 2002

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

professional development at the field museum
Professional development at The Field Museum

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

not all field trips are meaningful learning experiences
Not all field trips are meaningful learning experiences
  • Research shows that the average length of time spent by a student at any one exhibit case is just over a minute
  • The vast majority of teachers enter museums with an inadequate or no learning plan for the experience
  • Teachers often feel ill-equipped to teach their students while in museums, preferring instead to rely on museum “experts”
  • The reality is that limited museum budgets preclude assigning a staff person or volunteer to most school groups
  • In 2004, 10% of Field Museum field trip groups received direct education-related services with a museum educator, up from 6.8% in 2002. Still, this is a minority of groups.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the solution is to train teachers to create focused field trips that link to classroom instruction
The solution is to train teachers to create focused field trips that link to classroom instruction
  • Museum-based professional development is essential to achieving this goal.
  • Workshops, in-services, educator guides, Harris Loan materials are the resources we use to train teachers.
  • The focused field trip framework is the foundation of The Field Museum’s professional development instruction.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the field museum provides a range of professional development options for teachers
The Field Museum provides a range of professional development options for teachers
  • Harris Educational Loan Center
  • Teacher Workshops
  • Customized In-Services
  • Free Educator Guides to our exhibitions
  • Strategic Partnerships
    • IIT Math and Science Masters Education Program
    • Museums and Public Schools
    • Field Ambassadors and Core Partners Program
    • Museum Science Partners
    • Cultural Connections

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the harris loan center provides free materials for use at schools
The Harris Loan Center provides free materials for use at schools
  • Items are primary sources
  • Free in-services on how to register and use the program
  • Over 1000 items for loan including experience boxes, exhibit cases, audiovisual materials, and children’s books
  • In 2004, 178,670 teachers and students were served and 3500 items were borrowed

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

harris loan examples dinos and their times
Harris Loan examples: Dinos and Their Times

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

harris loan examples cover your head
Harris Loan examples: Cover Your Head

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

harris loan examples southwest archaeology
Harris Loan examples: Southwest Archaeology

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

teacher workshop and in service examples
Teacher workshop and in-service examples
  • Using Primary Sources in the Classroom
  • Creation Stories from Around the World
  • Biodiversity in the Classroom
  • Destination: Reading
  • Math In-service: How to use the botany hall to teach the Fibonacci sequence
  • Art In-service: How to use the Northwest Coast Hall to teach primary colors, shapes, symmetry, etc.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

examples of educator guides and on line resources
Examples of educator guides and on-line resources
  • Island Biodiversity: An Educator Guide to Traveling the Pacific
  • Educator Guide to Machu Picchu
  • Educator Guide to What is an Animal?
  • Educator Guide to Underground Adventure
  • Expeditions@thefield
  • On-line exhibitions
  • Sue the T.rex website

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

exploring the focused field trip framework
Exploring the focused field trip framework

©The Field Museum, GN87329_6c

© The Field Museum, GN90551_16D

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the focused field trip framework facilitates inquiry based learning using primary sources
The focused field trip framework facilitates inquiry-based learning using primary sources
  • Prescriptive model, (not simply a list of activity ideas,) for structuring a field trip unit that includes a pre-, during, and post-field trip component
  • Provides in-depth guidance for structuring different modes of interaction with “objects behind glass” as well as interactive museum exhibitions
  • Allows for multiple learning styles (Gardner 1983) and group sizes
  • Allows for increasing levels of complexity in learning-analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom 1956)
  • Transferable to any museum setting or informal learning environment

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the focused field trip includes a pre during and post visit experience
The focused field trip includes a pre-, during, and post-visit experience

Pre-visit

Post-visit

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

pre during post field trip activities create a complete learning experience
Pre-, during, post-field trip activities create a complete learning experience

© The Field Museum, GN90551_16D

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

pre during post field trip activities create a complete learning experience1
Pre-, during, post-field trip activities create a complete learning experience

©The Field Museum, GN87329_6c

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the focused field trip framework outlines nine modes of interaction with primary sources

Search and find

Identify, locate

Scavenger hunt

Individual, pair

Recreate the object

Sketch, draw, sculpt, photograph

Scrapbook, photo, picture

Individual

The focused field trip framework outlines nine modes of interaction with primary sources

Mode of interaction

Descriptive verbs

Recommended group size

Sample activity

Describe

Essay, poem, word drawing, class debate

Write, discuss

Pair, group

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the focused field trip framework cont d
The focused field trip framework cont’d.

Mode of interaction

Descriptive verbs

Recommended group size

Sample activity

Compare and contrast

Venn diagram, chart, graph

Compare, contrast

Individual, pair

Categorize

Match, label, differentiate, group

Concept map, experience chart, create a collection

Individual, pair, group

Hypothesize

Problem-based worksheet; hands-on experiment

Test, collect evidence, predict, generalize

Individual, pair

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

the focused field trip framework cont d1
The focused field trip framework cont’d.

Mode of interaction

Descriptive verbs

Recommended group size

Sample activity

Observe and record

Fact-find, take notes, research

Fill-in-the-blank worksheet, note cards

Individual, pair

Create a narrative

Tell a story

Role play, drama, creative writing, create your own exhibit

Individual, pair, group

Construct an argument

Reason, collect evidence, sequence

Flow charts, sequence charts, logic games

Individual, pair, group

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

a case study northwest coast and arctic peoples hall
A Case Study: Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples Hall
  • Hall contains hundreds of artifacts from Northwest Coast and Inupiat communities, collected at the turn of the century.
  • Unique cross-cultural teaching resource because the same curatorial framework is applied to two culture areas which are displayed side by side
  • Setting for a number of professional development workshops on nature/culture interactions and a regular workshop offered each year called Using Primary Sources

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

a case study northwest coast and arctic peoples hall1
A Case Study: Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples Hall

© The Field Museum, A109291c

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

a case study northwest coast and arctic peoples hall2
A Case Study: Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples Hall

© The Field Museum, A109805c

© The Field Museum, A108767c

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

a case study northwest coast and arctic peoples hall3
A Case Study: Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples Hall
  • Themes typically addressed with teachers while using this exhibition:
    • How primary sources are not just documents, but objects
    • How to “read” objects for insights into nature, culture
    • NAGPRA
    • Roles and responsibilities of museums in cultural representation, conservation and collection
    • Interrelatedness of culture/nature
    • How to teach cross-cultural themes and create a sensitive framework for cultural comparison

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

focusing a field trip in the northwest coast arctic peoples hall
Focusing a field trip in the Northwest Coast/Arctic Peoples Hall
  • Teachers are given an overview of basic cultural information about the two groups represented.
  • Teachers are taught how to use objects to spark inquiry
  • They are introduced to the focused field trip framework.
  • They are provided with examples of how to use the framework and are given an opportunity to practice in small groups and report back.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

sample field trip activities for the nw coast hall mapped to the framework
Sample field trip activities for the NW Coast Hall, mapped to the framework
  • Search and Find
  • The raven exists on many artifacts in the Northwest Coast Hall and is an important icon in Native American art. See how many ravens you can find in drawings and carvings on everyday objects and tools, as well as portrayed on costumes and masks.
  • Recreate the Object
  • Sketch your own Raven, Wolf, or Bear mask, using those you see in the exhibition as inspiration.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

sample field trip activities for the nw coast hall mapped to the framework1
Sample field trip activities for the NW Coast Hall, mapped to the framework
  • Hypothesize
  • Based on your examination of the materials used to make the objects in the exhibition, and the plants and animals represented in them, write a description and/or draw a picture of what the ecosystem in that area must be like. Then look for evidence supporting or refuting your hypothesis in some of the films and photographs in the exhibition.
  • Create a narrative
  • Now that you have studied some creation myths and looked at material objects depicting different Northwest Coast legends, see if you can write your own creation myth for the Northwest Coast people that uses some of the same symbolism and key characters.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

object based learning at the museum can be extended with the harris loan program
Object-based learning at the Museum can be extended with the Harris Loan program

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

harris educational loan program cont d
Harris Educational Loan Program, cont’d.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

observations
Observations

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

teachers are not necessarily familiar with the concept of primary sources and how to use them
Teachers are not necessarily familiar with the concept of primary sources and how to use them
  • While it may be common sense to librarians and anthropologists that objects are imbued with meaning and “tell stories,” this is a new idea to some teachers.
  • While it may be common sense to exhibit designers that exhibits tell stories with objects, this is also a new idea to some teachers.
  • Real artifacts and specimens represent an essential teaching resource that can be effectively combined, but not replaced, by digital media.

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005

an anthropological approach to teacher education has been helpful in
An “anthropological approach” to teacher education has been helpful in…
  • Identifying teacher and student needs
  • Modeling human behavior to create the focused field trip framework
  • Incorporating anthropological concepts into new education materials and teacher training
  • Educating teachers about ethical responsibilities re. representation of “the other”
  • Explaining the cultural diversity with the theme of “Common Concerns, Different Reponses”

2005 ALA Conference June 25, 2005