Eastside Connections seventh, eighth graders finish Black History Month virtual museum

NILES – The students in Shanna Lamberton’s classroom at Eastside Connections School have wrapped up their virtual museum project for Black History Month.

The virtual museum allows users to navigate through a “museum lobby” to eight different exhibits where they will be introduced to black and African American Civil Rights leaders, singers/songwriters, athletes, abolitionists, political figures, authors, actors and actresses and leaders in their fields.

Recent figures like ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Chadwick Boseman and Vice President Kamala Harris are featured, along with past figures like author Phillis Wheatley, musician Muddy Waters, and civil rights leaders Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. are included in the museum.

Eighty students in seventh and eighth grade participated in putting together the virtual museum.

“[The students] were really excited to see everything come together,” Lamberton said. “I think it was hard for many of them to wrap their mind around what I was envisioning, so this finally gave them the opportunity to see this project come to life.”

Finalizing the project happened in two waves for the students and Lamberton. The first was to ensure the links worked and spelling, punctuation and grammar were on point, as Lamberton teaches language arts. The second wave was to see it from a student’s perspective.

“They would be introduced to people in our history that they’d never heard of before and learn new things about our past,” Lamberton said.

In her classroom, Lamberton said she leads by example. By doing so, she can set clear expectations.

“I chose to do a slide on author Ta-Nehisi Coates,” Lamberton said. “I love learning about different authors. At the same time, it’s my job to introduce my students to diverse authors and characters, so I was excited about the writing that Coates had done.”

The “exhibits” take the users to each room where they see portraits of each person. The portraits can be selected, as if the user were stepping closer to an exhibit in a physical museum to read more about what they are looking at. The profiles include a portrait, birth date and death date, if applicable, and what they are known for. Some slides include video and audio links, and all have links back to the sources of the information for more reading.

Lamberton said she sent the link out to other teachers in her building, with the hopes of sharing the knowledge her students found and published.

“I hope that they gave their students time to check it out,” she said.

The link to the virtual museum is free and available to the public on the Niles History Center’s webpage at nilesmi.org.

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