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February 11, 2014

Young Historians, Living Histories- Today’s Stop: Oklahoma City, OK!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the first of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network. 

Asian Pacific American youth representing the Young Historians, Living HIstory after completing a workshop

Asian Pacific American youth representing the Young Historians, Living History after completing a workshop

Early this August, I had an extraordinary opportunity to join Smithsonian Affiliations as an intern directly assisting with the Young Historians, Living Histories grant. After a few weeks of researching the project, I spoke with Leah Craig, Curator of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, an Affiliate in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma History Center is one of nine Affiliate museums selected to receive the YHLH grant funded by the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Grant program. Additional Affiliates include Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA), Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX), Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH), Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI), Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA), Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC), Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA), and Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR).

This program is an educational initiative designed to engage underserved youth in Asian Pacific American communities by incorporating the use of digital media to produce oral histories. Being an Asian American myself, I was particularly thrilled at the chance to be involved in a project that hit so close to home. The Affiliates have collaborated with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) to provide essential curriculum guidelines that will be used to train educators to implement youth workshops. Participating Affiliates have recruited Asian Pacific American students to attend workshops at the museums. Middle and high school students will learn a variety of 21st-century skills, methods of community outreach, and digital storytelling to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of Asian Pacific American history and culture.

Director Leah Craig leading one of many workshops on Asian American history

Curator Leah Craig leading one of many workshops on Asian American history

While the Affiliates were busy recruiting students, Craig had already begun to lead a team of 20 gifted and talented students from Norman High School through active learning workshops. The workshops covered essential editing, filming, interviewing and a lesson in Asian Pacific American history with the help of teachers Margaret Wadleigh, LaRadius Allen, and Moving Image Archivist Corey Ayers. Students that participated in the workshop came from diverse cultural backgrounds and were placed in groups that encouraged them to share their stories and ideas as they began their transformation into historians seeking stories within the Asian Pacific American community.  At only 1.9 percent, Oklahoma’s Asian American population isn’t large but according to the U.S. Census Bureau it includes a variety of Chinese, Korean, Pilipino, Burmese, and Hmong communities with significant Vietnamese and growing Indian communities. The program has enticed the young historians to become curious and research the immigration stories that attracted Asian Americans’ very first settlement into Oklahoma such as the Land Run in 1889.

Shoulder to Shoulder-- Oklahoman students eager to learn the film making processes of oral histries in a workshop led by Moving Image Archivist, Corey Ayers

Shoulder to Shoulder– Oklahoman students eager to learn the film making processes of oral histries in a workshop led by Moving Image Archivist, Corey Ayers

Craig boasts that “by conducting the oral histories students are helping us collect the history of our community from people with whom we may not have any other way to collect their stories.” Students were challenged to reveal the hidden struggles and accomplishments that Asian Pacific Americans in their own families/personal network had endured while en route, discovering a part of them that was never truly appreciated. Wadleigh, one of the two mentoring teachers, observed that the oral history element of this project engaged the students in a way that activated their “emotional” skills, skills that helped them discover powerful stories that couldn’t be told through any textbook.   Look forward to future posts under the YHLH Series as we begin to unravel the unique stories hidden across the nation “oh the places we’ll go” when we’re looking!

February 26, 2013

Repurposing the Museum: Using Digital Tools to Re-engage Young People

On Tuesday, June 11, we’re kicking-off our 2013 Affiliations National Conference with an inspiring keynote address from Stephen Brown, President and Executive Producer at Mobile Digital Arts and General Manager of the New Learning Institute.   

Student using mobile technology in an exhibit.

Photo courtesy Smithsonian EdLab.

Conference attendees will hear Brown discuss the ways museums can be repurposed by young people with the new digital tools at their disposal. He’ll focus on museums and informal learning spaces, and the ways that they are connected to youth interests both inside and outside of school. He’ll also approach the idea of how exhibits can be jumping off points for civic engagement, interest-based learning, and the way these activities are enhances through the use of digital tools (mobile devices and apps, social networks, and media production).  

Make sure to mark your calendar to join us at the 2013 Affiliations National Conference! 

steve_brown2About Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown is President and Executive Producer at Mobile Digital Arts (MDA) and General Manager of the New Learning Institute. MDA was formed to improve young people’s access to digital arts programs and computers; to support teachers and community leaders eager to integrate digital arts within their classrooms; and to develop and share youth-based programs that make thoughtful, innovative use of the latest digital technologies. MDA uses film and video production to showcase and advocate for innovative educational practices, digital media programs, and 21st-century approaches to learning. Pearson Foundation’s New Learning Institute funds and develops engaging, personalized, project-based programming for young people and professional development for educators emphasizing the use of digital media.   

Brown produced Reborn, New Orleans Schools, a feature documentary about the school reform movement after Hurricane Katrina; A 21st Century Education, a series of twelve short films about innovation in education; and Digital Media and Learning, twelve short films profiling the work of leading researchers, educators and thinkers on the impact that digital media is having on young learners. Brown is also producing an on-going series of films with the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) about the world’s best performing educational systems. 

Digital Media, New Learners of the 21st Century, produced by Mobile Digital Arts, aired nationally on PBS in February 2011.  

Brown is currently producing Is School Enough?, a one-hour program for PBS about the ways that young people are participating in their communities, both on- and offline.  

Formerly, Brown was a business development manager, product planner and MSN producer at Microsoft. He has been a publisher of adult educational programs at Learning Network and a producer for WOMAD, a music and dance festival founded by Peter Gabriel. 

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, 202.633.5304, for more information. Click here for 2013 Conference hotel information, agenda and registration.

July 17, 2012

Mission Possible: Bridging the Gap

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern Lisa Hung (University of California, Irvine) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share her experience with us. Here, Lisa reflects on what participating in these workshops meant to her. 

Writing 6 word stories that interpret what we see in this piece to spark our creativity, an example of the lively classroom environment EdLab promotes.

She looks up and directs her attention to the front of the room, cringing as she hears the sound of cars zoom across the board with each title. With each chunk of text, she winces at the click of the typewriter flying in from the left of the screen letter by excruciating letter. We’ve all been there; the mess of slides horribly incorporating sounds and effects on a PowerPoint presentation in attempts to bridge the technological gap between students and teachers. Kim Skerritt and Jeff Meade mentioned during the last EdLab workshop, if you don’t feel that the technological aspect of the project will add to the assignment then leave it out.

I was once that girl prefacing each blog I had written for this series, distracted and driven by routine. I’ve been in classrooms where the homework and projects were pulled directly out of the books and listened to lectures in which the material reiterates the textbook verbatim. At the end of the EdLab workshops, we all sought to create our own mission based projects and asked ourselves, as teachers; would we find joy in grading these assignments?Ultimately, what I love about the EdLab workshops is that it does an amazing job integrating our community, interests, and learning while remaining modern. EdLab conducts the workshop in a way that allows for a safe space for the educators to explore and experiment – but it doesn’t end at that, these workshops take the product of our missions and shares them with the public.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum debriefing after a mission.

21st century technology can be attributed to the idea of mission-based learning in order to create a lively and interactive environment in the classroom. The various Smithsonian museums proved to be wonderful resources that can be utilized in our educational development. As someone who is a visual learner, being up close and personal with the paintings allowed me to better absorb information and apply it to my school and community. I have been able to liberate myself from the stereotypes many people have of Generation Y – and instead, allowed myself to embrace the blessings of this generation and use it to my advantage to create a classroom that aspires towards activism.

Looking for more information about the Smithsonian EdLab program? Click here.

July 5, 2012

Beyond the Walls of the Classroom: Mission Accomplished

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer interns Lisa Hung (University of California, Irvine) and Neema Amadala (University of Calgary) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share their experiences with us. This is the third of four guest posts in their “Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom” series.   

Beyond the Walls of the Classroom: Mission Accomplished
By Lisa Hung

Eyes glued to the ground, trying to make her way to the metro without stopping, and occasionally glancing up to verify her surroundings she barely catches glimpses and snapshots of her fast-paced life. At what point do we slow down? It seems that this walk to the metro and the texting in class has become a microcosm for the way many people depict our society to be – distracted, single track minded, and driven by our technology and need to get from point A to B. We end up focusing more on our destination as opposed to our journey, what do we miss when we overlook our surroundings, or more importantly, our community?

The brochure from one of the groups’ presentation.

Day three of EdLab’s workshop required the attendees to step outside of their comfort zones and in 100 degree heat – and we did just that. Art can be a participant in and even a catalyst for conversations about conflicts. Our mission was to design a catalyst that illuminated a local conflict by going into the streets of DC, identifying a need or a problem in the community and developing a plan for how we will get people to care about and work to solve these problems. Being a native of California, I was unsure of the local issues in DC, but being on the streets and truly taking a deep look at everything made me realize that I didn’t need to look far to identify a need or a conflict. If everyone could go around for just one day to identify a simple need and act on it, even if it is for a single individual, we could be stepping into a world filled with moral courage. For example, we had one group focus on raising awareness for the needs of bike racks in a city filled with commuters. Using multi-media tools, they created a brochure, tweeted and called several communities of cyclists, and gathered comment cards to take action and work to solve the issue. Interestingly, some organizations responded to a few tweets and phone calls were returned. This shows how far simply acknowledging and voicing a concern can take you.

This mission was such a wonderful way to have your kids do more than community service. Instead you have them acknowledge an issue, research it, and allow them to find the passion in it themselves. Besides, what’s the point of learning without application and what’s the point in developing critical thinkers without providing a safe space to think? By applying service learning, we can build a bridge between the students and their communities, and what better way to learn something than to tackle an issue in your very own backyard? This mission is not just a task for our educators and students to learn great lessons, but it is something we can use to put a face and a name to the issues we are confronted with.

Stay tuned forthe final blog in our EdLab series! And for more information, contact the EdLab team at npm.mobilelearning@si.edu .

 

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