Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tenement Museum - Ellis Island to Orchard Street

Tenement Museum is a resource for US History teachers that I've seen on a number of blogs and in Twitter posts recently. Since I am soon to be teaching immigration and urbanization in one of my classes I thought that it was time for me to check out the Tenement Museum.

The Tenement Museum can best be described as an interactive virtual museum. Students select a male or female character for their passport from Europe to Ellis Island. Once at Ellis Island students learn about the process of legal immigration. Eventually students make it to the Orchard Street tenement where they have to choose an occupation as well as make choices regarding living conditions. At the very end of the exhibit, students can write a post card to their friends and family back in Europe. Throughout the journey, students see short video clips featuring "Victoria Confino" who explains to students what they are seeing and reading.

Applications for Education
The Tenement Museum is a great resource for teaching elementary and middle school students about life as an immigrant living in turn-of-the-20th century United States cities. The language and format may seem a little "too childish" for most high school students, but I am going to give it a try with one my special education class.