This Week’s Reads: We are Tomorrow’s History

Museum Reads header image

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with colleagues about history recently: appreciating it, analyzing it, reinterpreting it for a new generation, and collecting it for future generations.  Clearly, I’m not the only one having these conversations, especially as we are in the middle of a lot of newsworthy current events.

Here are a few interesting reads on being part of history, and preserving it:

New York Magazine: Museums Across the World are Collecting Women’s March Signs

The Boston Globe: Professors stash rally signs to preserve a piece of history

Art Museum Teaching: Museums Marching

 

 

Media literacy, election years, and museums

20160223_105437 (2)

The Massachusetts museum advocates outside Senator Warren’s office, Museums Advocacy Day 2016

Last week was #MuseumsAdvocacy2016, hosted by the American Alliance of Museums down in DC. It was several days of training, talking about museum issues, sharing big ideas, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, and talking to legislators and their staffers about everything from STEM education to charitable giving tax deductions. It was about 250 people participating in the ardent practice of democracy, and it was awesome.

And this week was Super Tuesday. (More ardent practice of democracy, for good or ill. I got to the polls 5 minutes after they opened, because when I was little, my parents took me voting with them like it was an adventure. Still is, mostly because I understand the stakes better now.)

Most people say the ads and the terrible behavior of both candidates and supporters are the worst part of election years. While that’s often true, this year I also marked with sadness President Obama’s last State of the Union.  If you missed it, for whatever reason, I do encourage you to check it out, because it was one of his better examples of hopeful oratory. I’ve linked to the White House above because they’ve got a bunch of the quotes, infographics, and other extras that were included in the enhanced livestream, which make for good nuggets around which to build a discussion, should you happen to be teaching civics, graphic design, or media literacy this week. (Please teach some media literacy this week.)

Media literacy has been a long-held interest of mine: an essay I wrote about it was part of the web resources for PEM’s Eye Spy: Playing With Perception exhibit, and elements of those same visual/critical thinking skills ideas also worked themselves into the teacher guide I wrote for middle and high-school based on the same exhibit. In an election year like this one is shaping up to be, where paying attention to the kinds of language candidates use gives you a lot of information about who they are and what they’re trying to do with their platforms, it’s important for educators in both classrooms and museums to step up their game around teaching those critical skills. Otherwise, who’s to notice when one candidate gets an overwhelming amount of media attention for no critically apparent reason?

That’s why I was pleased to find out recently that the Newseum launched a new resource for educators and students centered around the history, roles, and responsibilities of the press, with lesson plans, curriculum links, and activities for both the classroom and trips to the museum itself. I didn’t make it to the Newseum on this most recent trip to DC, but I enjoyed it when I was there several years ago, and it’s on my list for another look next time. (I’ll have reviews of the places I did visit in the next post or two.)

Here are a few recent ‘museums in the news’ articles to get you started, in case you want something other than election coverage to read:

 

 

Trees in the News

Allison Elizabeth Taylor's marquetry piece, Brooklyn Navy Yard, currently on view at the Peabody Essex Museum

Allison Elizabeth Taylor’s marquetry piece, Brooklyn Navy Yard, currently on view at the Peabody Essex Museum

I spend a lot of time noticing trees these days.  It’s not just that we’re having a beautiful foliage season, or that I’ve been looking forward to Branching Out for over a year–suddenly it seems that there are stories about trees all over the airwaves, be it TV, radio, or wi-fi.  Here are a few of the arboreal articles that caught my eye in the last week or two:

Norway pays Liberia to halt deforestation – apparently there’s a link between deforestation and the current ebola outbreak, in addition to all the other nastiness that comes from clearcutting.  Kind of makes you love Norway, though, doesn’t it?

Trees and climate change – It turns out that trees are as individual as people when it comes to tolerance for heat, drought, and other forms of extreme weather.

NPR celebrates fall colors (still time to submit your photos!)

And one tangentially related, though not limited to trees:

 If We Cared about the Environment like We Care about Football – An incident or two of bad language, but still funny in that sort of painful way.

Do you have any cool news stories (or opinion videos) about trees?  Share them in the comments below!

Learn Vocabulary and more with the New York Times

Every now and then I run across a link that is just too cool to wait for an appropriately themed post, and today is one of those days.

Today I discovered The Learning Network, a blog on education hosted by The New York Times.  This extremely active blog uses content from NYT as the basis for lesson plans, quizzes, activities, and other materials directed at both teachers and students across all academic disciplines.  You can investigate their archives based on subject matter (grammar, social sciences, math, etc.) or by type of activity (word of the day, ‘6Q’s about the news,’ poetry pairings, etc.), or search the blog for a specific topic, article, or event.

One of the currently featured posts is “Twelve Ways to Learn Vocabulary with The New York Times,” full of neat trivia regarding the main NYT website itself (did you know that double clicking any word in an article will bring up dictionary definitions of that word?), lesson suggestions on content based analysis (even for the sports pages!), and opportunities for student writing.

This blog and some other cool resources I’ve encountered will soon be showing up on the re-organized resource pages here at Brain Popcorn, so stay tuned!