Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Summer with HRNM and the ODU TIR Program: Anne Marie Pope

Anne Marie Pope visits fellow TIR Interns at the Virginia Air and Space Museum
This post was written by Anne Marie Pope, ODU TIR Intern and Education Volunteer at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. 

In my short time as an educational volunteer at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, I have learned the value of creativity in education. I am finishing up my Master of Science degree in Secondary Education for English in Old Dominion University’s Teacher Immersion Residency Program. This program is truly unique, affording me many opportunities that are shaping the teacher I will become. After finishing my time as a teacher candidate in Norfolk Public Schools during the 2012-2013 school year, I will begin my career as a full-fledged, bona fide teacher this fall. My experience at the HRNM has pushed me to think creatively in an effort to integrate “Englishy” skills and knowledge from various disciplines while furthering the museum’s goals to reach high school students through its educational outreach program.

My involvement at the museum has been well-timed. Deputy Director of Education, Matthew Eng, has been looking for resources and connections to become involved in the work of history classrooms in Norfolk’s high schools. His belief in the necessity of an engaging education for high school students is evident in his priority to reach these students just as effectively as he already reaches elementary and middle school students. I hope that the relationship that we have formed will be a beneficial one for both the museum and the school system, serving as a bridge between the two. I hope to easily connect him with history educators in my building, providing them with some resources to engage their students in creative ways.

Perler Bead Craft Activity 
Because my concentration is not history, my involvement with the museum’s education department has been highly focused on the integration of reading and writing into the secondary history classroom. Current educational research shows that in order for reading and writing instruction to be truly effective, it must be covered across the disciplines. Rather than categorize close reading, informational writing, and critical thinking as skills for use only in the English classroom, students must see how it applies to every area of study if they are to be well-prepared for the workforce.  Additionally, I’ve been challenged to consider the benefits of the integration of historical thinking into the English classroom. Many English curricula are encouraging teachers to use nonfiction and informational texts alongside the literature they teach. Why not use this opportunity to reiterate what students are learning in their history classes? The use of material in various classes only reinforces its importance in the minds of students.

During my time with the HRNM, my goal became to create projects that integrate these skills for use in both English and history secondary classrooms. These projects needed to be useable by Eng and the educational outreach staff at the HRNM, while engaging students who come from a variety of backgrounds in high-need areas like Norfolk. In the short weeks that I have been here at the museum, with the help of Eng and educational intern Kasey Greer, I’ve been able to come up with some programs that I think will be incredibly beneficial in these educational environments. Each project begins with a visit from a museum educator to the classroom. The lesson given by the educator provides students with the background knowledge they need to know about a topic and serves as a springboard from which students jump into the given project. These projects utilize both primary and secondary texts to teach students about the topic at hand. They require small group collaboration and individual thought to coincide with a variety of skillsets, including both visual and verbal modes of communication and both researched and creative modes of conception. Each project aligns with English 11 and Virginia/U.S. History standards in Virginia, allowing them to easily slip into instruction without disrupting unit pacing and focus. Ideally, these projects will engage students while pushing them to higher levels of critical thinking through reading, writing, and creation.
Family Fun Friday, "HRNM Boot Camp"

In addition to program development, I was able to participate in some of the gallery activities for younger students, including HRNM Boot Camp on Family Fun Friday and various arts and crafts activities. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s dedication to reaching students in unique ways has left a lasting impression on me and has certainly charged my growth as a teacher. I admire the educational staff’s motivation to develop a passion for local history in their students and have been privileged to be a part of the program’s development.

To see Anne Marie's thoughts about the summer experience, go see the first two episodes of "The Internship" on our Youtube page.  Episode 1 Episode 2

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