When I applied for the Institute, my goal was to find ways to better engage my students in American History, but the Media teacher hiding in me (how much fun that one year was!) is super excited about the deconstruction of media and how the media creates messages for consumption.
The day started in the exhibits. One group went upstairs to see the First Amendment and News History galleries, while my group visited a Civil Rights gallery (some of the resources from the Civil Rights gallery can be explored here). Our task was to consider how the media can shape public perception of a social movement. I was amazed and excited by considering this exhibit in this way. The images are compelling:
All images from Newseum.
These images don't capture the message of media's shaping the public's perception, because at the beginning, I selected these images because of either the idea of power/police presence, or racial separation. But this got an idea kicking around....
We then broke for lunch. As a teacher used to cramming it all in in twenty minutes, I had some time to go explore the museum. They have a really great exhibit on Pictures of the Year. I didn't take pictures of these, but they are amazing. The photos were broken into a number of categories; the most striking were tucked in a corner: natural disasters and terrorism. While there was a beautiful photo of a lion, and a super focused photo of a professional football player, the humanity that was captured in these photos is astonishing.
Next, one of Newseum's archivists came in to share some more Civil Rights era resources. These were all print resources, from newspapers to magazines, and included an 1808 newspaper page that included both runaway slave ads and an ad for the sale of "two-hundred Congo slaves." The idea here was to construct a museum exhibit using four of these pieces; what a great lesson this was! As I thought more about what we were doing, it made me think of a course I took in college about the creation of memory. What a great starting point for students to have a conversation about which stories we tell and which we omit, how we construct the story of American history.
We next were given the opportunity to meet with another teacher to plan a lesson using Newseum's resources. My partner and I went up to explore the First Amendment and News History gallery, and threw out a bunch of ideas. A lot of them didn't work out, between the reality of the resources or the execution of our ideas, but we decided to focus on a common unit we teach and to create a lesson plan that uses the resources to explore how the media was used to create the social/political/economic movement of the American Revolution. In this context, we found a bunch of super interesting newspaper sources that work so well for this theme. We found a Pennsylvania newspaper that stopped printing in protest of the Stamp Act. A political cartoon (which I've used in class) drawn by Paul Revere in response to the Intolerable Acts. A description of Lexington and Concord as "unmolested, unprovoked, wantonly and in a most inhuman manner..." I think we have a great plan put together, so the next step is to go through all the resources and put it all together!
We also went outside to check out the view:
What a great day!
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