Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Tour of Egypt

This post goes out as a big, fat (belated) "Thank You" to our extraordinary educational guide Jill over at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Jill took our first grade class on a tour of Ancient Egypt last month for our final museum visit of the school year.  This was our third visit, having previously explored Greek Mythology and African Art through sculpture, artifact, painting and tapestry.  

Jill conducted our tour with the true spirit of an educator.  This was clearly not her 'first time at the rodeo' as she demonstrated an impressive understanding of how children learn. New information was thoroughly scaffolded with prior knowledge and students were encouraged to ask questions. It is obvious to me when adults respect (and genuinely like) children.  There is a light that shines in someones eyes that my words cannot capture, but is instantly recognized when seen. She was patient, accommodating to our requests and downright fun.

An added bonus on this excursion was that Kimy was able to join us. She has an insightful, creative eye for images and captured most of the photos included below.  

The hour long guided tours include time for the children to sit and sketch some of the artwork and artifacts of their choice.  This is probably the most popular activity of the day (other than lunch in Central Park and a jaunt to the playground).  There is something so wonderful in watching a group of 6-and-7-year-olds focusing on these ancient pieces and rendering it through their eyes and talents. Some of their precious drawings are included in the slide show.

Two days after our visit we got a lovely handwritten letter from Jill who wrote "I'm still smiling when I think of the wonderful children you brought to the museum yesterday!  You are just remarkable - something I've heard from my fellow guides for a long time - and I was so fortunate to spend an hour with you and these exceptional children!"  Sweet of her, no?  She also sent us some follow up materials including a copy of the book 'Who Built the Pyramids'.   

As I have mentioned before, each week Lauren and I choose a poem to read in class.  Our weekly spelling words are chosen from this poem and a videotape is made to put on our class web page.  The poem below, 'Egypt', was our selection for the week.  The ever fascinating scarab beetle with it's dung ball provided much entertainment for the young set.  


mouse (aka kimy) said...

what fun to relive this wonderful day! I loved the way you interspersed the children's drawings in the slide show. they are such a creative, smart and delight group! I'm not at all surprised jill sent a note singing the praises of your remarkable kids!

I hope jill will be able to read this post also - I know she'll enjoy it!

Barbara said...

This was so heart-warming! I love your teaching partner. I can imagine your kids have a hard time leaving your class at the end of the year, assuming they only get to stay one year.

Joy Keaton said...

nice switch from the 'guide' who didn't think your kids were old enough to visit "Greece". Oy! It's heartening to know that that one guide was an aberration rather than the norm at MY museum! :)

Gary said...

Kimy -It certainly took me long enough to get this one up as our trip was on April 1st. Thanks for sending along the CD of pictures and for allowing me to post them. I tried to send an email to Jill but it bounced back to me so I'll have to see if I can contact the museum for her information. Didn't you get her email as well?

Barbara - Thank you. I agree Lauren is fantastic and I often sing her praises on this here blog. We have been co-teaching for the past six years and plan on staying together next year as well (in first grade again). It is always hard letting go of the kids each year. I have looped with my classes in the past but not this year. The nice thing about our school is that it is small so I still have contact with all of my little ones as they grow.

Joy - Yes, the guides at MY museum are mostly fantastic. I think that one difficult guide was indeed the exception. Remind me to tell you the story of a girl going down the large staircase one sunny afternoon, thank goodness she didn't trip - LOL.

Aileen said...

Wow! Now I want to go to Egypt!

Great story- thank you for sharing it with us.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I think there is a special place in heaven for older women who serve as museum docents. I hope to become one some day. It was nice to see the video with the beard update.

la bellina mammina said...

WOW! That looked like a fun, educational trip!


lettuce said...

this really communicates the atmosphere of your day gary, it sounds great. If i was going to teach in school, i'd want it to be your age group too.
I loved their sketches too - some of them are so sketchy and intuitive and just spot on!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

gary - I'll send jill an email - I've been successful emailing here in the past (unless she changed addresses) xxx

Gary said...

Kimy - Thanks! That would be fantastic!

WAT said...

The Beatles in Egypt?! WHERE?!

Oh, once again another new video clip. I love watching you two you know!

Most especially YOU.

Reya Mellicker said...

Your beard looks great!

Beautiful post. I love the temple inside the museum. It really conveys a feeling, doesn't it?

Can't help but always feel a bit sorry for the mummies, though. They aren't supposed to be in a museum. I always find myself apologizing to them for our disrespect.

"Just David!" said...

Those little notes from people really mean a lot! I love watching kids learn, it's incredible to see things thru their eyes! and often hysterical!

Gary said...

David - I agree. It is the little courtesies that still go a very long way in this fast paced world.

Thank you SO much for your support with the Aids Walk. The total raised is now $951! Yippee! I think I shall reach my goal. Thanks!

Reya - You know I never thought about it but you have a good point. These mummies were just minding their own business, enjoying the afterlife in peace, when we came along to dig them up and put them on display. Ouch! But still fascinating (even if it is selfish).

The video was made before I saw you at the maypole dance so I am clean shaven once again. Facial hair is fun to play around with (especially if you are a Backstreet Boy).

Wat - Yes, didn't you know The Beatles were playing in Egypt? Playing with their dungballs that is. (See, I never get tired of saying dungball. Good thing I work with young children whose level of humor is on par with my own.)

dennis said...

Dennis saw a teacherguy on ophrah and he won a big award, like best teacher in the USA but I think you should get that award next time they give it!

Dennis thinks it's nice the kids get to sit and sketch-- and really loook at the art, a good idea.

Gary said...

Dennis - I agree! :)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

sent jill a head's up she is overseas right now - I expect we will hear from her when she returns! have a great weekend!

Independent Scholar said...

Thanks for this incredible site, Gary.



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