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Welcome to the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs. To present and interpret Rhode Island’s past to the public, the Goff Center sponsors tours and programs at the John Brown House Museum, the Aldrich House, the Museum of Work & Culture, and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center. In addition, we create educational materials to be used by students and teachers and provide professional development opportunities for our state’s and the nation’s teachers, thanks to the federal Teaching American History (TAH) grant program, and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission and other sources. We are also generously supported by the private donations of members and supporters like you.

Here’s what’s happening in the Goff Center in 2016:

Rhode Island & National Online Resources

Roger Williams’s Compass 1902.3.1

EnCompass: A Digital Archive of Rhode Island History

The RIHS is currently developing the first unit of EnCompass, a multi-media, digital archive of Rhode Island History in order to provide free access to primary- and secondary-source content that allows teachers to easily connect Rhode Island examples to broader national themes and trends. The textbook will be aligned with current GSEs for Social Studies in RI, and will be targeted toward Grades K-12. In order to deliver the most useful product possible to teachers, it is crucial that we engage their support and solicit feedback from the earliest stages. To this end, we have chosen the topics for the first unit based on data from a 2013 survey of Social Studies teachers conducted by RIHS. When asked which topics would most interest them for primary-source materials, teachers chose Roger Williams and RI’s founding.

With the assistance of eight students from Prof. Jeffrey Johnson’s Public History seminar at Providence College, the RIHS conducted an environmental scan of successful examples of extant digital textbooks and digital archives to collect and synthesize best practices and innovative ideas for this medium. We gathered primary and secondary sources for the proposed unit and conducted brief interviews with scholars that will appear as film clips in the digital textbook. In addition to incorporating primary and secondary sources, the textbook will point to additional sources for further reading (including RI History journal articles), and include approximately 30 images from RIHS collections to work in tandem with written text. These images, along with audio and film clips (featuring interviews with scholars), will appeal to 21st-century students accustomed to learning in multimedia formats. Text and scholar interviews will be original content developed for the purposes of EnCompass, but it will rely heavily on content already developed by historians and educators but never gathered in one archive including oral histories, films, and lesson plans.

As units are completed, the text and materials will be sent to the Providence College Digital Services Lab to be processed and uploaded. EnCompass will be hosted Providence College and accessible RIHS website for free.

This project is made possible through major grant funding from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

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Anchor School Program:

Over the past decade, the Rhode Island Historical Society has worked with more than half of Rhode Island’s school districts through the federally funded Teaching American History grant program. When it was announced that this funding would no longer be available, we set to work to determine how we could best continue to support history education in the state. To this end, we’re piloting a new initiative: the RIHS Anchor School program.

Through the RIHS Anchor School program, we identify one school district each year — in 2015-2016, we’re working with Burrillville School Department – to provide the district’s teachers with professional development training, curriculum assistance, and digitized resources at no cost to them. We provide free school tours to students in the district at our John Brown House Museum in Providence and Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket. In addition, we are working with our key partner organizations across the state to strengthen connections between the schools and the historic sites.

In working with the Director of Curriculum and lead teachers from grades K to 12, we have identified a ground-breaking lesson and/or field experience for each grade that will allow for a deep dive into a major theme or topic at each grade level. For example, in Grades K and Grade 1, students learn about notions of past and present and the differences between how people live today and how they lived many years ago. The robust, hands-on programming at Coggeshall Farm Museum fits that bill perfectly, and teachers are eager for the opportunity to engage their students with the past in such a tangible, powerful way.

For more information about these and other Goff Center initiatives, please contact Geralyn Ducady, Director, Newell D. Goff Center for Education & Public Programs, gducady@rihs.org, (401) 331-8575 x145.