Historians from the New York State Museum visited Howard L. Goff Middle School earlier this month to co-teach a lesson with Social Studies teacher Kelyn Snyder about Fort Orange. The lesson included artifacts from the 17th century Dutch settlement, which was located in what is now Albany, and followed an educational guide that Mrs. Snyder helped create last summer in collaboration with the museum.
Students were able to view three-dimensional artifacts, digital images of archaeological collections and video interviews with content specialists. Then they completed worksheets and activities to demonstrate what they had learned about the historical site located just miles from where they live.
“Often, history is seen as far removed from the daily lives of 7th grade students so I like to try to bring local history and artifacts to our classroom as often as I can,” Mrs. Synder said. “The students seemed much more engaged and attentive once they realized the artifacts from the museum were found under 787 and Broadway in Albany! Using our local history helps bring the events alive and makes it seem less distant from their own experiences.”
The Fort Orange project was funded by the Dutch Culture USA program administered by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. Additional essential support was provided by the Archives Partnership Trust.
“The New York State Museum is grateful for the opportunity to bring our Fort Orange Educational Guide to Goff Middle School students,” said Kathryn Weller, Director of Education and Visitor Services at the New York State Museum. “Helping students make meaningful connections with the research and collections of the State Museum is a key part of our mission. Thanks to Ms. Snyder’s dedication and support, we worked with her to bring the world of New Netherland and Fort Orange to her students and helped them understand what their own community was like in the 17th century.”