Teacher Professional Development at Museum of the West

The Education Coordinator for Museums of Western Colorado has been working with School District 51 K-12 Social Studies Curriculum and Learning Design Specialist, Jessica Miley, to host teacher professional development classes at Museum of the West. The purpose of these classes is to educate 3rd and 4th grade teachers from the district about the resources available to them at the Museum. Each of the four sessions focuses on a different traveling museum kit that is free for teachers to check out and utilize in their classrooms.

The social studies kits contain artifacts and lesson plans for teachers and students to use. The first two professional development classes focused on kits developed by Museums of Western Colorado in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and District 51. The Ancients kit allows students the opportunity to analyze actual artifacts, including projectile points, stone tools, and potsherds from ancient Native American Indian cultures, while Clues from the Landscapes uses historic photographs, documents, and artifacts to teach students about life on the homestead and non-Native settlers to the Grand Valley. Both of these kits were recently redesigned to meet 2020 Colorado State Educational Standards. The Museum also partnered with Grand Junction High School students and their teacher, Lisa Moot, to develop a Mountain Men kit last year. This kit is designed to teach elementary school students about the lives of mountain men through historic documents and museum quality replica artifacts.

These kits have been well received by the teachers in attendance at the classes. During each session, Education Coordinator, Stephanie Lukowski, walked teachers though the contents of the kit and lesson binders. She also led example classes for the teachers. After, they were able to examine the contents of the kits on their own, plan, and ask questions. As a result, all four of the kits have been reserved until the end of the school year.

The final class will be in March. The Museum partnered with History Colorado to house a kit called Moving Day.  In this kit, completely developed by History Colorado, students explore the movement of people across Colorado from prehistory to 1870 and become “experts” on each of these cultural groups including Ancestral Puebloans, Mountain Men, Miners, Utes, Plains Indians, and Hispanos.

The Museum is currently working with Grand Junction High School students to develop a kit on uranium mining, and we also have two paleontology kits that will be redesigned to meet the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards over the summer. These kits will be featured in the teacher professional development classes that will be offered in the fall.