Written by Kate Smith
Schools are struggling to make field trips to our local history sites for tours and programs due to reduced funding. Students in our areas are not getting to see and hear firsthand the information provided at our sites. Educators and historical organizations are trying their best to come up with ideas for reaching the youth in their areas.
If you find your organization having trouble drawing students to your site, consider taking your site to the classroom. Many teachers are happy to host representatives from local historical organizations in the class. Massillon Museum educator Jill Malusky has developed some great programs designed for reaching out to students who are not able to visit on field trips.
Here are Malusky’s five tips for reaching students in the classroom:
1. Be flexible on your topic
Develop a program that can bring attention to and generate interest in your site, while focusing on different topics that help teachers meet requirements. Teachers may ask for programs on historical themes or topics like the Underground Railroad, local history, primary/secondary sources or upcoming exhibits. You can focus on these themes while drawing attention back to your site.
2. Be engaging
Plan to have images, objects or activities on hand. Again, these can relate to your site or a specific program at your location. Something as simple as a journal can help relate a program about primary and secondary sources to the history you share at your organization.
3. Be age and class appropriate
Be sure to send the best person to effectively communicate with the age group. The teacher or professor may be interested in information from your program helping to meet education requirements.
4. Make your site a must see
Showcase your site in a way that makes the students want to visit on their own.
5. Make it easy
Historical organizations are often out in the community trying to make contacts, develop events and learn from each other. Take this practice a step further and reach out to local teachers. Make them aware of the programs you can present, and make yourself available to work with them. Malusky also suggests checking with local foundations, as funding for bussing or to equip you with materials for your presentation may be available.
While it may take a little extra effort, the result of students loving history and being interested in your museum is well worth it!