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PBL Museum Curriculum - What are you looking for?

Andrea Simmons I am the Education Director of a small contemporary anthropology museum.

I am working on the curriculum for our newest venture, an eTour, to debut during the 2011-12 school year. This will be a tour of the museum filmed in segments that teachers can access via the web and it will cover the countries/continents/people groups that the museum covers.
As our museum is physically located in the Dallas area, and DISD schools are emphasizing STEM and PBL, I'm trying to tailor my curriculum to focus on those ideas.
My big question is: what are the school districts and teachers - not just in Dallas - looking for in a curriculum from a museum? Are you wanting ideas that you can adapt to your students/district/state requirements? Are you wanting a full-on put it in your hands curriculum that you can just print and go?
I realize that each teacher/district/state will need to adapt for their specific standards, but I'd like some input from teachers working in the classroom with PBL about what they'd like to see.
Thanks so much!!
Best,
Andrea
International Museum of Cultures

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Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

Museum curriculum and support

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Hi Andrea,

As a teacher who visits a lot of museums, I have found that most support materials published by museums are poorly written, often untested, and have tenuous connections to both the content of the museum exhibits and the standards they purport to be correlated with.

What I look for in lesson ideas: real things for kids to do!

Hands-on lesson plans using easily available materials are most helpful to me. I have also used story-based materials, in particular a spoken word recording of a story describing daily life in ancient Egypt provided by the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. My students responded very well to that and learned a lot of helpful vocabulary which allowed them to enjoy the exhibit more fully.

Beware of lessons which allow students to do nothing more than read or write or listen to a teacher describe something. Look for ideas that get students moving, talking to one another, and (as much as possible) using the real tools of science.

Can you send replicas of artifacts to schools as a previsit lesson aid? Can you invite students to create a sound track for the webtour of a gallery? How about a scavenger hunt which encourages students to look through online feeds to the galleries in hunt of specific objects? Feature an object without documentation and invite students to "tweet" a description of its use or provenance.

BTW, I have found that most museums do not share with students the ways in which they make decisions about how to display objects. My students are interested in what will make people focus on some things and not others. Why not feature some museum science? Design your own gallery?

Thanks for asking...

mk

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