Monday, October 24, 2016

Place-Based Learning in Lansing and Ann Arbor

Our recent excursions into the wider world have taken us to several locations beyond Summers-Knoll.

  • We visited the Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, where we saw two exhibits. One was a large set of maps, old and new, related to the National Park System. Our students made interesting connection between this collection and the Americana I assignment, in which each student designed a trip to a different region of the United States, complete with itinerary, budget, and map. (One student was able to actually take the trip he had designed along with his family.)
  • Another exhibit at the library showed artifacts and information from a 1966 effort to restore and preserve ancient books in Florence, Italy, after a devastating flood. This exhibit substantiated our work in science class on climate change and flooding.
  • Two other trips followed up on this scientific and societal work. We travelled to the Broad Museum in Lansing, Michigan, to visit an exhibit of photographic and video work by Gideon Mendel called Drowning World. Mendel After a docent-led tour of the museum, students traipsed down to the banks of the Red Cedar River, possibly the most striking of all the photos. Here, two of Mendel's photos were mounted in the river itself, the height of the water matched to the height of the floodwater in the photograph.

  • We also went back to the University of Michigan, this time to the International Institute, to visit and review a exhibit of photographs and text called Sinking City, a portrait of Djakarta, Indonesia, a city whose metropolitan area comprises nearly 28 million people. The city's water table is rapidly becoming depleted as the population rises.
  • With an eye toward our work on American government in advance of next month's election, we embarked on a docent-led tour the State Capitol in Lansing. We previewed the tour by identifying the parameters of the three branches of our republic's government as they manifest at the state level. In Lansing, the students saw the headquarters of each, and asked many (great!) questions throughout the tour.
  • We visited the Pop X art exhibit in Liberty Square in downtown Ann Arbor. Here, artists each was able to produce a work steeped in social commentary in a small quasi-shack. Students wandered among the exhibits on a rainy day, adding comments and thoughts where invited to, and otherwise interacting with each artist's wor