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Summing Up a School Year with Brooklyn Connections

Jun 24, 2014 8:29 AM | 0 comments

The 2013-2014 school year has proven to be a truly banner year for Brooklyn Connections.  We're pleased to have partnered with over 2,000 students in 70 classes from 30 schools in Queens, Manhattan and of course, Brooklyn.

Students from PS 131 before their visit to the Brooklyn Collection in January

Throughout the year, Connections staff supported students by teaching Common Core-aligned research skills, including note-taking, text and photographic analysis, outlining, and writing a research question or thesis statement.  All partner schools visited the Brooklyn Collection at least once and an educator visited each class five or more times -- that's over 350 in-class visits this year!  After the students learned the necessary skills to do authentic historic research, they worked on a project that incorporated oral, written and visual components.

11th and 12th grade students from the Academy for Environmental Leadership in May

Celebration and Exhibition

The annual end-of-year celebration and recognition ceremony was held on May 23rd in Central Library's Dweck auditorium.  All projects were put on display and one student or group from 12 of our 30 partner schools presented their Brooklyn Connections project to an audience of over 130 people.  After all speeches and presentations were finished, each student and teacher was given a certificate of participation and a small gift as a token of our appreciation.

Students from PS 66 presenting their project about Weeksville at the end-of-year celebration

The Brooklyn Collection's current exhibit is a sampling of our students' work.  Our annual exhibit highlights the creativity and originality conveyed in our students' final projects, which ranged from the highly academic to the wildly creative.  Research topics included the abolitionist movement, neighborhood history, architecture, city planning and famous Brooklyn residents.  Students produced exhibit boards, models, plays, research papers, slideshows, movies, scrapbooks and more.  These projects reflect not only a significant amount of research, but also the unique personalities of our students.

2013-2014 student exhibition on-view throughout the summer

Professional Development

We're continuing to work hard to offer high-quality teacher professional developments for teachers in New York City.  This year, we held an open house and tour for teachers in October; an in-house student-teacher professional development with CUNY College of Staten Island and Brooklyn College; a professional development about local history in December with author and former Kingsborough professor John Manbeck; a full-day workshop with author and historian Brian Purnell about the Civil Rights Movement in Brooklyn and a tour of Green-Wood Cemetery for Brooklyn-Queens Day (a Department of Education mandatory staff professional development day).  Over 100 teachers, administrators and pre-service teacher attended these sessions.

Teachers touring Green-Wood Cemetery on a rainy June morning

Teachers exploring our Civil Rights and CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) materials

Attending and presenting at conferences is crucial for our professional development and also informs the public and our colleagues about the Brooklyn Connections program.  We attended several conferences this year, including the National Council for History Education in New Mexico where I was awarded with the prestigious Paul A. Gagnon Prize -- an award bestowed to an educator who contributes significantly to promoting history education in the United States. We also presented at the New York City Librarians Conference, New York City Museum Educator Roundtable Conference and most recently the New York State History Conference at Marist College where Ivy Marvel, Manager of Special Collections, presented about the Brooklyn Eagle digitization project with Newspapers.com.

In the Media

On May 7th we were featured on a News12 segment. Eighth graders from Brooklyn Prospect Charter School visited the Brooklyn Collection while a reporter followed our tour from the reserve room to the open browsing section of the Collection.  Students were in the process of obtaning resources about World War II and while looking through our resources, a student found his great, great grandfather in one of the Brooklyn city directories.  It was truly a special visit.

Future Funding

We are pleased to announce that we have received a $400,000 grant from the New York Life Foundation to continue our efforts of teaching authentic historical research to students around Brooklyn for the next two years.  You can read the official press release here.  This is in addition to our current funding from the Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, David and Paula Weiner Memorial grant, the Tiger Baron Foundation and Epstein Teicher Philanthropies.

We're currently accepting applications for partner schools for the 2014-2015 school year.  If you are or know a teacher, librarian or administrator in a middle or high school, please consider applying or forwarding the application.

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