Museum offers help for teachers during pandemic

Tags for Museum offers help for teachers during pandemic

A boy studying at home with a tablet and doing school homework.

News release details

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is working to help teachers deliver at-home learning about human rights. A new section of its website, called the “COVID-19 – Learn at home” page, was launched this week.

Among the new educational initiatives is a free virtual lesson for high school students (modelled after a pre-existing Museum school program), where CMHR program interpreters interact with students in real time, online from their homes. 

The Museum has also adapted its unique Be an Upstander online learning resource for Grades 5 to 8. In addition to the interactive web site, it now includes a new introductory video for students, filmed in the Rights Today gallery, and an adapted teacher guide with lesson plans for students learning from home.

“Teachers are looking for innovative ways to connect students with interesting educational materials,” said CMHR Education Program Manager Lise Pinkos. “Our programs are credible resources, developed with advice from teachers, that align with provincial curricula in Canada. They can help students meet expected outcomes for English Language Arts, French or Social Studies – or even be used for subjects like Art and Music.”

Many educators have also been using the Museum’s recorded virtual tours as learning experiences for their remote classrooms. Teachers will soon be able to access lesson plans to accompany these tours, being developed specifically for a home-learning environment. All resources exist in English or French. Please see the backgrounder below.

The Museum’s education team can also help teachers support students who have challenges accessing online programs. More information can be found on the Museum’s website at humanrights.ca, under the “Education” tab.

More about the programs

  • Virtual lesson with a Museum program interpreter: High-school students can learn about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Supreme Court of Canada in this real-time virtual lesson, adapted from a Museum school program. In this 30-minute experience, a trained guide working from home will challenge students to think about different perspectives on human rights that are considered by Canadian courts. Thanks to the generous support of the Richardson Foundation, this program is available for free. Teachers can contact virtual.visit@humanrights.ca to book time for their classes. 
  • Learning with augmented reality (AR): Students can download “Proclamation 1982” for free from the App Store to learn about Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The app (for iOS only) makes virtual people and objects appear in front of them, along with video, audio and historic images – all telling stories about the journey to the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 which enshrined the Charter – our most important legal document for human rights.
  • Be an Upstander: This interactive resource is designed to help students in Grades 5 to 8 follow the example of well-known human rights defenders and take a stand on issues important to them. After watching a video filmed in the Museum’s Rights Today gallery, students work through an interactive website and learn that they too possess traits of a human rights upstander. Then they’ll be challenged to take tangible steps to create change through a special project. An adapted teacher guide designed for at-home learning includes suggested lesson plans. See an introductory video - will open in a new tab about this resource.
  • Virtual tours: The Museum has posted three different virtual tours that teachers may wish to share with at-home classrooms of all ages. “A Canadian Journey” is a 20-minute tour through aspects of the Indigenous Perspectives and Canadian Journeys gallery, including the story of human rights defender Viola Desmond – who is now on our $10 bill. In “A View from the Top” (10 minutes long) students learn about grandmothers in South Africa raising awareness about AIDS orphans and other exhibits in the Inspiring Change gallery. In “Amazing Architecture” (five minutes long), students will examine outdoor and indoor elements of the Museum building, learning how the architect was inspired by the Canadian landscape and human rights concepts. Lesson plans are being developed to support the first two gallery tours.

Other online educational features

  • Indigenous art and youth visions: Students can explore the Spirit Panels that adorn a circular “basket” theatre in the Indigenous Perspectives gallery. These 13 works of art by Indigenous artists were created after workshops with Indigenous youth and Elders, held in every province and territory by the CMHR and the National Association of Friendship Centres. The website explains each panel through text, photos and videos – including youth talking about what human rights mean to them.
  • Learning about Indian residential schools: The Museum has posted a link to a 90-minute documentary called Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness BlanketThe artist and filmmaker have decided to make it freely available online in order to share the power of storytelling and testimony during this time of fear, uncertainty and social isolation. The Witness Blanket is a powerful artwork by Carey Newman about the legacy of Indian residential schools in Canada. It stands as a national monument to the children. 
  • Mobile app: The Museum also offers a virtual gallery tour through its mobile app, where students can learn about exhibits and architecture through narration, images and video – right on their phones or tablets! In some galleries, the voices of curators and program developers are used to explain their work. This audio tour is available in English, French and sign language. The free app can be downloaded to any iOS or Android mobile device by searching “CMHR: Journey of Inspiration” in the App Store or Google Play.
  • Stories: Many inspiring human rights stories can be found on the CMHR website, covering diverse events and topics from Canada and around the world.

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Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry