Museum of History News

Thinking inside the box: One distance-learning resource

The Museum of History supports as many as 20 volunteer interns over the course of a year in a variety of opportunities. Catherine Linton is a rising senior at Western Carolina University and has been spending her summer term in the Education Section.

History-in-a-Box: Hands-on resources for teaching North Carolina history
History-in-a-Box, by the North Carolina Museum of History: Colonial North Carolina kit
Bring the North Carolina Museum of History to you with our History-in-a-Box kits—lesson plans, reproduction artifacts, audios and visuals, and activities that tie North Carolina history with language arts, science, math, and visual art! For information, visit our web page or follow the program on Twitter.
Source: North Carolina Museum of History

History lives through those who want to keep the past alive and want to reach out to people who may think history is boring or irrelevant. This is why I enjoy interning with the Education Section of the North Carolina Museum of History.

Here, I am constantly surrounded and inspired by people who strive to make history fun for the public. History does not have to be boring, and it shouldn’t be! Staff members and volunteers working in this section help to organize events and programs that reach out to the public in interactive and innovative ways to teach history in a new light.

I work under Chelsea Weger, Distance Learning Coordinator at the museum, whose main responsibility is to administer the History-in-a-Box program. This program sends prepared boxes, or “kits,” to schools so that teachers can have hands-on resources to use when teaching North Carolina history.

Most boxes contain

  • lesson plans created to guide teachers about using that specific kit to teach that particular aspect of North Carolina history;
  • reproduction artifacts, such as a haversack, similar to those used by Confederate soldiers, in the North Carolina and the Civil War kit;
  • DVDs that show the past in action or help explain the past, such as the Friends in Liberty: North Carolina and the American Revolution film (and, usually, an accompanying teaching guide) included in the Colonial North Carolina kit;
  • CDs of music that relate to the kit’s subject or time period: as examples, North Carolina from the Mountains to the Sea: The Coastal Region kit contains samples of beach music, while the Everybody’s War: North Carolina and World War II kit has samples of jazz;
  • relevant issues of Tar Heel Junior Historian magazines;
  • games, such as the Cherokee butter bean game in the Colonial North Carolina kit; and
  • other fun activities

one of my favorites is the gold-mining activity in the kit North Carolina from the Mountains to the Sea: The Piedmont Region.

History-in-a-Box: Hands-on resources for teaching North Carolina history
History-in-a-Box, history resources from the North Carolina Museum of History
Among other duties, Education Section summer intern Catherine Linton assessed and refreshed History-in-a-Box kits after their return, checking for broken, damaged, or missing items.
Photo by Chelsea Weger.

All these pieces combine to give students a better idea of what it was like to live in North Carolina during various times of the past. For example, in the Colonial North Carolina kit, students can play with a whirligig game, to learn what colonists did to pass time, or use a recipe, to learn about making corn bread. Or, in North Carolina from the Mountains to the Sea: The Mountain Region, students can use a step-by-step guide to create their own cornhusk doll.

Through my internship, I assist with refreshing the kits—going through them with a checklist to make sure all the items and teacher materials are accounted for, and if any items are broken or missing, I replace them or make a note so that any materials needed can be ordered—as well as modifying other distance-learning materials to help the museum prepare for ongoing outreach programs during the upcoming school year. I also assist in managing the History-in-a-Box Twitter account (twitter.com/HistoryInABox), attend relevant meetings, and work on converting some program materials for the museum’s virtual distance-learning classes to reusable on-demand PDFs.

But that’s information for another post!

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