FEATURED PROJECT: Build a Virtual Immigration Museum to Learn About History

 

Educator: Karalee Nakatsuka teaches U.S. History at First Avenue Middle School in Arcadia. In a collaborative project between their history and ELA departments, Mrs Nakatsuka’s students interviewed immigrants to America, and created interactive virtual museums to tell their immigrant stories.

Goals:

  • Get first-hand experience of immigration and the conditions that pushed immigrants out of their home country as well as the conditions which  pulled them to America.
  • Learn how to conduct an oral history interview
  • Develop digital production and presentation skills using multiple content creation tools

 

Tools used:

  • Google Slides, WeVideo, Animoto, Storyjumper or ScreenCastify for documenting immigrant story
  • Flipgrid for sharing reflections on immigration
  • Google Tour Creator to visualize the immigrant journey
  • ThingLink for creating an interactive virtual museum presentation

 

Background: From tri-fold boards to interactive images

Early on, Mrs Nakatsuka and the First Avenue Middle School 8th grade team started hosting an Ellis Island Day to give her students an opportunity to reflect on what it was like to immigrate to America.

Students took the information they learned from their oral histories and created tri-fold boards, introducing their immigrant’s experience to their classmates. On Ellis Island Day, they placed the boards in a classroom and designated this space their “Immigration Museum” where students had the opportunity to visit the museum and learn about their classmates’ stories.

This was a great activity, but it had its limitations:  

  • Many students ran out of time and couldn’t finish viewing the displays
  • Absent students and community members missed out on visiting the “Immigration Museum”
  • Display boards were bulky, challenging to set up and take down,  and students were limited in what they could share on each panel.
  • Absent students missed the opportunity to view their fellow students’ projects.  

 

Project idea: Student-created virtual museums

After Karalee started using ThingLink, she was inspired to teach her students how to document their work and create their own virtual museums. The process was organized into six tasks:

  1. Select a person with an immigrant story for the interview
  2. Conduct interview
  3. Write up interview
  4. Prepare a presentation and a movie/animation of the immigrant story
  5. Create a customized background image for the Virtual Museum –including a directory of embedded information
  6. Tag the Virtual Museum with ThingLink and include:
  • A picture of the interviewee
  • A picture or video of a meaningful artifact to the immigrant
  • A video highlighting one aspect of the immigrant’s experience (e.g. MyMap, PuppetPals, Animoto, WeVideo, Powtoons, Storyjumper)
  • A map tracing the immigrant’s journey
  • A slides presentation of the immigrant story (using information from their Oral History interview)
  • A Flipgrid video reflection of the immigrant story, and optionally
  • An audio or video capture including the immigrant’s voice.

This list of materials became the directory that helped viewers navigate the museum.

 

 

 

 

Finally, teachers can collect all of the individual virtual museum links into one starting image.

Compared to the three-fold cardboard display, virtual museum presentations had the following benefits:

  • They can be shared with everyone. This means absent students, community members, parents and fellow teachers can visit student museums even if they cannot attend the annual Ellis Island Day.
  • Students can include more information in their virtual museum–pictures, movies, their English oral history presentations, Flipgrid videos and more.
  • Provides  students opportunities to use and practice 21st century skills

 

Tips or comments for colleagues:

  • Previous knowledge of ThingLink will ensure student success.  Provide opportunities for students to use ThingLink throughout the school year. Scaffolding will ensure a successful product.  
  • Collect the personal museum urls from students on a Google Form and use these links to tag in the main room of the museum.
  • Create a ThingLink tour by linking multiple images; the students will be able to “travel” through the different countries/continents as they visit their schoolmates’ virtual museums.

 

Karalee’s testimonial:

“ThingLink provides endless opportunities for both student and teacher to bring history to life. It engages students to practice and develop their 21st century skills as they collaborate and problem solve during the creation of their museums. And unlike the tri-fold presentation boards of the past, student content is not limited, and the end product can be shared outside of the confines of the four walls of our classroom. ”

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