Elementary Students Host Public ‘Virtual Museum’ Opening

The third and fifth grade curators of William D'Abate Elementary School on a field trip

Across the Brown MAT programs there is much conversation about real world learning and authentic assessment. What does that look like? Two Elementary MATs worked collaboratively with their mentor teachers and fifty two students in their spring student teaching practicum at William D’Abate Elementary School to provide one example.

Liz Carr and Beau Poppen-Abajian planned a social studies unit that sought to address stereotypes and misconceptions their students had of American Indians. As part of the unit, students did a scavenger hunt of the Tomaquag Virtual Museum, hosted arts educators from the RISD Museum, an anthropologist from the Heffenreffer Museum Culture Caravan, and took field trips to the RISD Museum and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. After several months of research, analyzing artifacts and discussing primary source videos, it only made sense that all of this work would lead to having the third and fifth graders create their own virtual museum to demonstrate their learning, utilizing their growing knowledge of American Indian culture and helping to develop skills with technical writing, curation and digital technology.

Although the students were creating a virtual museum, Liz, Beau, and their mentor teachers Carmen Rodriguez (3rd grade) and Amy Lopes (5th grade), thought it was important for the museum to be exhibited publicly. The students were on board, prepared and dutifully practiced presentations, were assigned roles and responsibilities, and invited guests for the public opening of the “D’Abate Rooms 205 and 206 American Indian Virtual Museum.”

On April 11th, family members, Brown University faculty, city officials, Providence School District administrators, D’Abate students and staff, and others from the community attended the opening. Students gave presentations and toured guests through their virtual museum exhibit on laptops spread throughout the commons. After presenting to several groups, each followed by Q&A, students served refreshments and closed out the virtual museum opening, which was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. Liz, also known as Ms. Carr at D’Abate, says that several guests described the students, their presentations, and the exhibits as “very professional,” and that “the students were beaming with pride.” Now that sounds like real world learning and authentic assessment.

Visit the virtual museum here to see the important work done by the third and fifth graders. Don’t forget to leave a comment for the curators!

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