Teachers at Nightingale take pride in bringing their subjects to life inside the classroom for students in Kindergarten through Class XII. When appropriate, those subjects can be highlighted in exciting and eye-opening ways by venturing beyond the blue doors into the wider world. Students in all grades participate in field trips throughout the New York City metropolitan area and beyond as a way to explore a particular aspect of their curriculum in greater depth. In this way, people, places, or moments in history, are enhanced in a way that adds to the robust class discussions and close readings that are already happening.
Class II recently traveled to the Queens Museum in Flushing to augment their year-long study of New York City’s five boroughs. They began their studies by examining flat maps of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as looking at online maps in their technology classes. But the expansive sprawl of the city took on new life when they arrived at the Queens Museum and were able to observe the 3D panorama of New York City. Originally built in 1964 for the Worlds’ Fair, the model was created on a scale of 1” to 100’ and boasts over 850,000 buildings. Students took a tour of the panorama with a museum educator and then made their own cardboard models of a city block.
As Nightingale’s student body continues to reside in an ever-expanding geographic area, it is important for students to have a greater understanding of the city they live in. Viewing all five boroughs at once gives students a sense of connection to each other and helps them understand where their classmates and teachers call home. Next up for Class II: an in-depth look at New York City’s transportation system which will include a subway ride to downtown Brooklyn and a visit to the NYC Transit Museum.
Included in the Class VIII American history curriculum, is a year-long study of memorialization. Students examine the intersection between history and memory, which culminates in a capstone project requiring students design their own memorials for an individual of their choice. Specifically, they are to choose someone who was largely missing from history. As a result, this often leads students to select figures who are women or members of marginalized groups. To understand the power that designers have to determine how an event or a person will be viewed indefinitely, Class VIII traveled downtown to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum earlier this month.
Students began their tour inside the museum, where they walked in small groups with a self-guided tour manual written by Ms. Amanda Goodwin, Chair of the History Department and Associate Head of Middle School. This document detailed key parts of the museum such as how the World Trade Centers were built, the importance of the Slurry Wall, and the Memorial Hall, which is one of the many memorials on site that commemorates the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Students were then permitted to walk through the rest of museum at their own pace to view the In-Memoriam exhibit and the Museum exhibit, the latter of which takes the viewer through the entire day of 9/11 and includes thousands of original artifacts. With a deeper knowledge of the details behind this tragic event, the students took in the reflecting pool memorials outside. They learned about the history behind the design, “Reflecting Absence” by Michael Arad, how the names are arranged on the panels surrounding the pools, and the significance of the oak trees planted throughout the memorial. They then had time to walk around the South Pool at their own pace before making their return to Nightingale.
Class VIII will continue their study of memorials during an overnight class trip to Washington D.C. later this year where they will serve as tour guides for their classmates through prominent monuments and memorials. The research conducted on these field trips will inform the design, writing, and oral presentation of their memorialization project.
When asked about her thoughts on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, one student shared, “My big takeaway from this is it to live life to its fullest, always take risks, and always be open to new things and people. The value from this trip was not only to show how individuals were affected, but also to show how people as a whole were affected. Memorials are so important to be able to carry on people’s legacies, especially those who didn’t live their life for long.” For many students, this particular memorial was so significant because it highlighted an event from the recent past, which helped them to understand the impact and value that memorials can have in the present day.