Within the last five years, classes in which I have explicitly developed document-based questions using two artifacts from the museum displays have done significantly better than peer classes that did not have the museum experience as part of their program. This would indicate that their authentic study of artifacts, illustrations, and diagrams as part of the museum experience improves these test-mandated skills.
“Through access to the Internet, students can visit as many museums as they want to online. They can view museums related to their units, without leaving their classroom or spending a dime.”
For students to create their own model of an actual cultural organization not personally experienced, represents a challenge; anticipating an adult audience visiting classroom exhibits at the museum presents another challenge. Anticipating family and local community as audience helps students write, speak, communicate and create classroom museums. Classroom museums authenticate English language arts standards. With Technology. Through access to the Internet, students can visit as many museums as they want to online. They can view museums related to their units, without leaving their classroom or spending a dime. Three museums in New York City that offer online tours and plenty of resources include the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (www.cmom.org/), the New York Historical Society (www.nyhistory.org/web/) and the Museum of the City of New York (www.mcny.org/).
[The Museum in School program encourages teachers to] identify online experiences offered by the museum, to identify activities or links for the students to review and to provide the students with time and opportunity for a directed cyber visit to the exhibit. If a particular class comprises students who have learned to conduct online searches and evaluations using a teacher- designed or student-designed rubric, teachers should leave the identification of appropriate museums to the students, making it even more investigatory, critical and analytical reading-centered —and student-owned.
Thereby, neighborhood and international museum- going students can expand their explorations of multiple world-class museums from their classroom. The Internet levels the cultural resources inequity through museum URLs. Urban students who may live near museums rarely have time to visit many accessible local cultural sites unless their families are museum-goers. Through the use of online sources the cultural awareness of all students — including those from small towns or rural isolated communities — is broadened.
As a teacher, I would rather have the Louvre museum or Tate Collection online than wait to raise money to take my class or myself there to research the French Revolution or check out Henry VIII. [The students can broaden their cultural awareness now and later visit the museums in person. In fact,] one of my former students from 10 years ago stopped me on the street to tell me he had finally seen the San Francisco Exploratorium (www.exploratorium.edu/) after we toured it online for a Leonardo da Vinci Project.