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Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Posts Tagged ‘museum education’

Wrapping up the Classroom in Residence pilot project

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 by

Guest blog by Lena Yacyshen, Classroom-in-Residence Coordinator

In December we posted a blog about a new education project we would be launching in the spring. Now that the Classroom in Residence pilot project has wrapped up, we can share a little more about our experience and the activities students participated in during their museum residency.

Students learning about Chilliwack’s historic downtown and making comparisons between the old and new architecture.

The Classroom in Residence Project is different from other museum education programs in that it is week-long and immerses students in the museum, Chilliwack’s history and community. We hosted two elementary school classes during the pilot project. The students learned a lot and made strong connections throughout the week, and we also learned a lot from them too. These two pilot classes have helped lay the foundation for the project moving forward and have also demonstrated the value of the project to School District #33.

Each day students participated in different activities in the community and at the museum. In the afternoon students were given time to slow down and reflect on the mornings events in personal journals. This kind of open ended assignment not only helps build students’ critical thinking, writing and drawing skills but also allows them to document their learning in a personal way. This balance of learning new things, (and having new experiences) making connections with what has been learned in the classroom while taking time to slow down, reflect and consolidate learning is an essential aspect of the project.

What did the week look like?

Day One: Students were given an extensive museum tour and shown around Chilliwack’s Historic Downtown.

Day Two: Students spent the morning at the archives learning about how material culture informs us about time, place and culture and the importance of preserving and having access to local documents. Students also used primary sources to examine land settlement over time in Chilliwack and learned how to conduct basic local research.

Students using primary sources to look at land settlement and development over time in Chilliwack.

Day Three: Guest speakers from Stó:lō Nation and Sq’éwlets Fist Nation discussed the current exhibit and other aspects of Stó:lō culture and history such as transformation/ origin stories and the impact of residential schools. In the afternoon students visited the library for a tour and an introduction to all the activities and learning resources available at no cost.

Day Four: Students were given a behind the scenes tour of The Chilliwack Progress’ newsroom and learned about local news from their award-winning journalists. Later, students created their own group newspaper, basing production on what the Progress’ team taught them.

Day Five: Museum staff gave a lesson on exhibit creation/design and students mocked up their own exhibits for the museum. Students finalize their best journal entry from the week and installed their own exhibit out of their entries (come by the museum before June to see it!). That afternoon, students hosted an open house for their parents and School District staff where they gave museum tours and showcased what they had been learning throughout the week.

Lessons Learned

Students captivated by (Albert) Sonny McHalsie’s story telling.

At the end of the week students were excited about all the new discoveries and connections they made in their hometown, and they wished the residency could have lasted longer. Students came away with a strong sense of place and a deeper understanding of many topics because of their unique experiences. Learning first hand from important Stó:lō community members and Elders allowed students to truly understand the hardships this community has faced, but has also given them a sense of the beauty and strength of Stó:lō culture. Learning behind the scenes at the library and newspaper gave students insight into how these institutions meet the needs of our community and contribute to our sense of place. Learning about Chilliwack’s past and present helped participants feel connected and more invested in our community. Program participants could see the museum (and all museums) as a place for living culture where there are links between the past and our contemporary environment. These collective experiences instill curiosity and a love of learning and we feel strongly that the students we have worked with will become life-long learners who are invested in their community.

A word from the Coordinator

My time at the museum as Classroom in Residence Coordinator has whizzed past me because of the fun, challenging and dynamic nature of the position. Everyday I learned multiple new things about myself, Chilliwack’s history and community, education, museum practices and more. I have been interested in pursuing a career in education outside of the traditional classroom, being unsure of what form that would take this type of local and collaborative approach to education has been eye opening for me. I can’t wait to see how the Classroom in Residence Project evolves over time- the possibilities are endless and the students that get to participate are truly lucky.

Developing Local History Kits: Flooding Chilliwack

Posted on: February 14th, 2018 by

Over the last half year I have been working on a third Local History Kit for teachers to use in the classroom. Last spring I worked with our team of SD33 teachers to create lessons around Flooding in Chilliwack. The kit focuses specifically on the floods of 1894 and 1948 which are well represented in our collection.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, April 21, 1948, page 5.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, April 21, 1948, page 5.

Flooding has affected many aspects of life in the Fraser Valley. Over the last 150 years since colonization it has resulted in major changes to the landscape around us. Dykes surround many areas of our city and the once Sumas Lake is now drained and pumped into the Fraser River, in part for ongoing flood protection. Learning about the historic flooding in the area helps us to understand the efforts that are made today in flood protection and gain a better understanding of the man-made and natural changes in our landscape.

The new kit has students exploring a variety of aspects of historic flooding in Chilliwack. In Grades 1 and 2 students can explore historic photographs to find out how a community comes together during times of emergencies and what changes after a major flood. In Grade 5 students explore the changes to First Nations communities when they were made to settle permanently on reserves, often in unprotected flood zones. In Grade 6 students can look at the consequences of living on a floodplain and investigate emergency preparedness today.

Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, June 2, 1948, page 8.

“Fight to rescue stock” Chilliwack Progress Newspaper Clipping, June 2, 1948, page 8.

The primary source reproductions in this kit span a wide variety of media, from official reports from the Fraser Valley Rehabilitation Authority to personal handwritten accounts. One of my favourite documents we uncovered during our research is a handwritten account of the 1894 flood by Rory Knight, who lived in Popkum at the time of the flood. At the end of his account he writes, “There was no such luck as no school for Gertie and I as we had Miss Harris and we went to school every-day,” [AM 0029]. Being able to share personal and local stories like this is what makes these historical events really come alive for students and helps them connect to the bigger ideas they are studying in school.

If you’re interested in exploring more about Flooding in Chilliwack you can check out our online exhibit Flooding Chilliwack: A History of High Water. I also found K. J. Watt’s book High Water: Living with the Fraser Floods an invaluable resource while beginning our research for this kit, the book can be accessed in our reference library at the archives.

The Flooding Chilliwack kit will be available to book in schools in April 2018. Booking can be done online through our shop or by phone at 604-795-5210.

Pilot Project to take place in the New Year

Posted on: December 20th, 2017 by

If you’ve been to the museum in the last month or so you may have noticed a new face around the office. Lena Yacyshen has joined us as our Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator to help us launch a new education program this spring. Lena is joining us through the Building Careers in Heritage grant which helps to provide new graduates with work experience in heritage. She’ll be helping to coordinate this new project over the next few months.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

Lena Yacyshen is our new Classroom in Residence Project Coordinator.

The Classroom in Residence Program

This new pilot project aims to offer local students and teachers a chance to move their classroom to the museum for a full week of school. The program is designed following the concept of the Campus Calgary/Open Minds programs in Calgary which have been using local locations as learning spaces for students for over a decade.

The program brings a classroom into the museum for a full week of place-based and hands-on learning. Students will be interacting with the Museum and Archives collection, visiting community members and establishments, and putting what they have learned in the classroom to practical use. The program will aim to foster strong critical thinking and writing skills through careful observation of our local surroundings, while helping students to build a deeper understanding of their community. With our historic downtown and many community and cultural spaces close by, we will be able to learn, explore and reflect at these important spaces.

During their week here, students will be focusing on slowing down and taking time to observe and reflect on their surroundings. Using journals to record their observations, they will have a record of their experiences at the museum and archives to use for further learning back at their schools. By the end of their residency, they will have a strong understanding of Chilliwack’s rich history and of the variety of places they can explore within their own community.

Getting Ready

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Students will be using journals to record their observations.

Over the next few months, myself and Lena will be getting ready to launch the pilot program. We are working with two SD33 classes alongside the classroom teachers to develop an engaging program for the residency. We’ll be pursuing funding opportunities to bring the classes here for little to no cost and we’ll be looking to connect with the community to expand the reach of the pilot.

Learning from other successful projects such as the museum school program at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives, the Beyond Classrooms network in Kingston, ON and the Museum School network in London, ON, we’re hoping to be able to open the Classroom in Residence program to more classes in future years.

What are we looking forward to?

“Often when I have classes visit the museum for a 1-1.5 hour program I don’t have the time to answer fully students’ questions about what they see here at the museum and about the work of the museum itself. I’m looking forward to helping the Classroom in Residence take a deeper dive into the resources we have here and gain a meaningful understanding of our community and its history.” – Stephanie

“I am excited to show our Classroom in Residence students that the classroom is not just confined by their school’s physical walls and that learning opportunities are all around us. I am thrilled that Chilliwack and our community’s history will be used as a platform for learning and investigation for students. I believe it is valuable for students to experience education styles that put emphasis on slowing down and carefully observing, while relying on critical thinking and problem solving to complete a task. I also strongly believe this model will get students more excited about education both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, because of the sense of pride students get in applied learning.” – Lena

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Find out more about the educational theory behind the Classroom in Residence program by checking out this post by long time educator David Barnum for the University of British Columbia: http://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2017/05/open-minds-constructing-learning-in-the-community/ .

Are you a teacher in Chilliwack interested in taking part in the Classroom in Residence program? Feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected]

Something Completely Different

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by

And now for something completely different!

One of the things I most love about running summer family drop-ins is the flexibility they offer visiting families. It’s interesting watching a simple concept we decide to focus on for a week become something completely different when the variety of voices that join in change and adapt it.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

For the past two weeks we took over our upstairs programming room (we call it the Chambers Gallery as it’s the room where city council used to sit when this building was city hall) and transformed it into a cardboard City of Chilliwack. It was a simple idea, we’d map out an area around five corners, including some of the historic buildings in (roughly) the correct space. The rest we’d leave open, setting up tables of craft supplies for inspiration and creation stations for our visiting city builders.

Sometimes all you need to do is provide a small spark for inspiration and the creativity follows. We didn’t try to create an accurate representation of five corners from any one era, but let our city builders (visiting families and children) decide what the city needed. Some of the buildings were recognizable, staples of downtown like The Bookman, complete with Nietzsche watching in the window, Sticky’s candy and even a “Boozeny’s” (Bozzini’s). But other additions were wishful like the two cupcake factories that popped up and the house that opened up to the front door of Sticky’s. By the end of the two weeks of cardboard city we had connected (pipecleaner) power, streets filled with interesting businesses and people scattered throughout.

Is this all silliness?

Well yes, but maybe not all silliness. This is an informal learning environment – we had an idea of what might be learned from co-creating a cardboard city with our visitors, but there was lots of room for new discoveries. Not only did our visitors pick up on the few historic buildings we put in place beforehand and wonder about their history, but they were inspired to add something that they wanted to see in the city too. Ok, so maybe two cupcake factories is a little unrealistic, but what if we were inspired by our (real) city in the same way our visitors were by the cardboard city?

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

As our cardboard city grew and changed over the two weeks it was interesting to hear some of the conversations it sparked and listen to the enthusiasm of visitors. I’ll leave you with the words of one of our more reluctant city builders when he first saw the city, “Ok, this is pretty cool.”

 

While cardboard city may be over, we’re still offering a great line-up of activities throughout the summer. Check out our Summer Family Drop-in schedule!

Back to School

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by

Students of all ages have been packing up their school bags and heading out to school this week. This past month we’ve been getting ready for the school year as well by reviewing and updating our school programs. We offer programs with a local history twist that align with the BC Curriculum. If you’ve been booking with us for years or are new to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives school programs, we have some updates for you!

New this year:

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Our Five Corners program has been adapted to fit with the Grade 1 and 2 Socials Curriculum and expanded to include more communities in Chilliwack. This program is now named ‘My Community’. When booking, teachers may choose a community focus for the presentation, Five Corners and Yarrow are currently available. We will be updating with more options as the school year progresses.

Our Full Steam Ahead program for Grades 4 and 5 has been updated with a new activity to help students learn more about the Cariboo Gold Rush and its impact on our own community.

Guided Exhibit Tours are available for all grades when our new temporary exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App, opens. As well, Guided Walking Tours of downtown Chilliwack will be available in May and June of 2017.

From October – May we will be offering a program for Grades 4+ based on our current exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App. This program takes students on a journey through the changes in photography over time and includes a hands-on activity.

Book online and learn more about our programs here.

Is there a specific local history topic you are interested in exploring with your students? You can always contact me with your questions or program requests at [email protected]

We’re looking forward to the 2016-2017 school year!