The 2014-2015 school year has proven to be yet another great year for Brooklyn Connections. We're pleased to have served nearly 2,000 students in 76 classes from 33 schools in Queens, Manhattan and, of course, Brooklyn.
Throughout the year, the Brooklyn Connections staff continued to support students by teaching 21st century learning skills and aligning our skill-based lessons with the Common Core Standards. After students learned and understood the research skills, they completed a project that had a visual, oral and written component. Students also visited the Brooklyn Collection at least once throughout the year.
Two Brooklyn Connections students. We're pleased to have Sydney (right) as our intern this summer!
In July 2013, we were awarded a two-year grant for the creation of the David and Paula Weiner Social Movements Curriculum. We researched and wrote an eight-module curriculum that focused on social movements in Brooklyn and New York City, ranging from child labor and labor unions to environmentalism and LGBT rights. We piloted the modules in several classrooms and we’re looking forward to continuing to use the curriculum for years to come. All eight modules are on our website.
We had the honor of working with the Department of Education this year on its new project, Teen Thursdays. In collaboration with Brooklyn Public Library’s Youth and Family Services department, we hosted dozens of students in two of BPL’s branches -- Canarsie and Crown Heights -- where we taught research skills in an after-school setting. Students researched filmaking in the 1920s and the Crown Heights Race Riots. You can see one of the completed projects here.
We’re continuing to add lesson plans, project packets and other resources to our website. Check back soon for new material!
National History Day
National History Day (NHD) is a national competition for 6-12 grades focusing on American history. We worked with three schools who entered the NHD competition at the Museum of the City of New York where Brendan and I were judges (note - we did not and were not allowed to judge our students’ projects). While we didn’t have any winners this year, we are not defeated. Our competitiveness is ever so heightened and we will see a winner next year!
NHD project about Walt Whitman: The Bard of Democracy
Celebration and Exhibition
This year we held two convocation ceremonies in the Central Library's Stevan Dweck Auditorium. On May 8th we were honored to host two of our funders, the New York Life Foundation, which last year awarded us a two-year $400,000 grant, and Jon and Belle Weiner, who awarded us a two-year $100,000 grant to complete the David and Paula Weiner Social Movements Curriculum. Our second convocation was held on May 22nd. In total, we welcomed over 350 teachers, students, parents, and honored guests to the convocations. Projects were put on display in the Dweck lobby and students presented their work on the Dweck stage.
Students from St. Savior Catholic School presenting their Civil Rights projects at the convocation
This year’s exhibition “Our Brooklyn” showcases a sampling of our students’ work. Research topics included neighborhood history, famous Brooklyn residents, landmarks, social movements, and more. Students produced exhibit boards, models, plays, research papers, slideshows, movies, and scrapbooks. The exhibition will be on display until September 5, 2015.
Brooklyn Connections 2014-2015 exhibition
A few select student projects are also available on our website, including projects completed by students from Pratt Institute.
This year we hosted seven teacher professional learning (PL) events. Topics included immigration, LGBT, food, and the civil rights movement. Over 180 teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches, and administrators attended our sessions. Next year we will once again host at least seven PL events, check back soon for our full calendar of events. In addition to our school year PL events, this summer -- along with BPL's Youth and Family Services department -- we will be offering teachers a two-week long professional learning seminar called "Teacher Lab." This NYC DOE-approved, credit-bearing course will meet for 24 hours and carry two credits that can be applied toward a teachers' 30-and-above salary differential.
Attending and presenting at conferences continues to be 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 St. Augustine where we informed our audience on how to conduct local history projects using archives and libraries. We also presented at the Museum of the City of New York’s Social Activism Conference and New York City Museum Educator Roundtable Annual Conference.
In the Media
In October, Brendan, our Education Coordinator, was featured on CUNY TV's Brian Lehrer Show where he spoke about one of our lesser-known collections, The Brooklyn Digest magazine, the Brooklyn Collection and Brooklyn Connections.
Finally, we’re pleased to debut our new Brooklyn Connections promotional video which was produced by Meerkat Media.
We're currently accepting partner school applications for the 2014-2015 school year. If you are or know a teacher, librarian or administrator in an elementary, middle or high school, please consider applying or forwarding the application. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @BKLYNconnect.