Philadelphia School Teachers Share New Curricula Inspired by Penn Museum’s Native American Exhibition

In the busy months leading up to the opening of Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now, curator Lucy Fowler Williams took on one additional project: she agreed to lead a group of School District of Philadelphia teachers, K-12 educators, in a class on the upcoming exhibition, through the University of Pennsylvania's Teacher Institute of Philadelphia Program. Tuesday evenings from January to May 2014, Dr. Williams met with a dozen teachers in the Penn Museum. The classes regularly featured Native American special guest speakers and first-hand opportunities to explore material culture, history, and contemporary perspectives in Native America.

It was an eye-opening experience for Dr. Williams, who shared her perspective on the program in a recent Penn Museum blog post.KMiddleton web

On Wednesday, June 11, 4:00 pm, the teachers returned to the Penn Museum for a special Open House celebration, and this time it was their turn to share what they learned and how they processed that information. Each had 5 minutes to introduce their Curriculum Units and materials developed for elementary, middle school and high school classes, inspired by the Penn Museum's Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now exhibition.

From "Poetry in the Present Tense," to "Understanding Native American Music," from "Fact Versus Fiction: Christopher Columbus and Thanksgiving" to "Geography of the Lenape Diaspora" and "Math through the Eyes of Pueblo Peoples," the creativity and ingenuity of curricula was on display.

"We were allowed exceptional access to the Museum and its resources, including a different and authentic guest speaker every session, and exposure to actual artifacts in the Museum's collection," said Sydney Coffin, an English teacher at Edison High School. "It was fascinating, enriching, and a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Native American Voices exhibitKRadebaugh web from the inside out."

Lea Elementary School teacher Kathleen Radebaugh also praised the program.

"This was my first year attending Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, and it was an honor to experience such a dynamic class about Native Americans. Our professor, Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams, is an incredibly intelligent woman who introduced us to a wealth of knowledge and resources. I cannot wait to teach my unit in the fall and have my students come visit the exhibit," she said.

The Teacher Institute of Philadelphia (TIP) is a unique academic professional development partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and the School District of Philadelphia, whose goal is to improve the quality of classroom teaching in public schools in West and Southwest Philadelphia, through a sustained academic professional development effort. Information on the program is online:

Photos (top to bottom): Penn Museum Collections Assistant Jim Moss and Curator Lucy Fowler Williams listen as Longstreth Elementary teacher Keysiah Middleton presents her new curriculum unit inspired by the Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now exhibition. (Photo: Penn Museum) Lea Elementary School teacher Kathleen Radebaugh presents "Fact versus Fiction," her new curriculum inspired by the Penn Museum's Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now exhibition. (Photo: Penn Museum)


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