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Assembling And Making Connections With Museum Texts

Author : endeavor Guangzhou

Submitted : 2010-08-18 05:40:22    Word Count : 522    Popularity:   124

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To prepare for Bedford tours, the museum sent teachers extensive brochures and other resources, most of which were centered on printed text. These resources were often designed much like subject area textbook pages and similar to resources available through the Internet (e.g., the Peace Museum website, www .peacemuseum.org; White Sands Museum and Missile Park webpage, see Figure 1).

These materials were distributed by the Bedford Museum Education Department electronically and on paper to teachers planning visits to the museum with their students. In addition, Meredith Polk, the museum Merrell Shoes(http://www.merrellonsale.com) executive director, explained during an interview.

When you arrive at the museum you are given these guides [she spreads out several museum guides and picks one up]. And this is one called Big Cats at the Bedford. It uses the approach of taking an image of a jaguar or lion and tracing it through all the collection. So it's a printed piece that kids go through and look for things, kind of like a treasure hunt, and hopefully we get them to look closely at the objects by asking them to find certain things.

There was little evidence, however, that teachers used these museum resources. For instance, on the morning prior to their Bedford Museum field trip, none of the adolescents from MCA, a participating school of the investigation, could identify where they were going or topics that they would possibly encounter. Further, when I asked Madeline, the Mumby Middle School gifted teacher mentioned earlier in this article, about how she followed up on her class's museum excursion, she responded, Um, we, we, I really don't. It's just, this is just sheer enjoyment. And just letting them be able to see the things we talked about and experience the things, like the mummies. They're so mysterious. They get to see several of them and the exhibits are great! We have several things at our school that [are] just strictly for Ancient Egypt and because the librarian knows that we spend a lot of time on Egypt she gets a lot of books that they can do, hands on...I think there's like something like The Case of the Mummy's Curse and several other books like that. And you know, we can't go to Egypt, so this is the next best thing!

There could be a number of reasons for not taking advantage of the printed resources, such as school time restraints, as reported by participants. Like Periwinkle and Chastain, Madeline's response suggests a preference for seeing and taking pleasure in the museum. Nonetheless, it was clear through the study that the Bedford spent much time, energy, and money designing, producing, and Merrell(http://www.merrellshoesstore.com) attempting to disseminate these resources. In fact, one approach taken by the Bedford, as museums, was to bring content to schools and other audiences through museums on ?wheels, an important resource for educators to con-rider. In this vein, the Bedford is part of a growing network of museums that have produced virtual spaces where visitors can inscribe meaning from multiple text forms using diverse and new communication technologies. Table 2 provides exemplars of virtual museum learning spaces offering literacy resources for educators and students.

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