Teaching Iowa History
program Recognized Nationally
Since 2014, the Iowa
Museum Association, an educational membership association serving all Iowa
collecting and educational organizations, has been developing, piloting and
implementing a program that combines the power of authentic artifacts held in
museum collections with Iowa history lessons, to support Iowa educators as they
implement new Iowa Social Studies Standards.
Teaching Iowa History
harnesses the stewardship and educational power of museums, which care for,
preserve, and document the art, history, and culture of Iowa and combines the
objects in museum collections with grade-specific standard based lessons. The project has grown to include a database
of historical objects for use in illustrating lessons, as well as an
ever-growing collection of lesson plans, historical essays, and links to
additional instructional resource supports.
Perhaps even more
impactful, is the strong partnership between Teaching Iowa History key partners
that include all Iowa museums, the University of Northern Iowa, Geographic
Alliance of Iowa, Iowa History Center at Simpson College, Graceland University,
Iowa PBS, Iowa Department of Education, and University of Iowa Museum Studies
Although the Iowa Museum
Association considers Teaching Iowa History to be in its first
phase of development, Teaching Iowa History resources are accessible to
all at TeachingIowaHistory.com, a site hosted by Rod Library, University of
Northern Iowa. The program has become a model for the museum industry and
garnered national attention when it was featured in the American Alliance of
Museum’s Education & Interpretation blog on September 9, 2019, in Meeting
Educator Needs, Serving Museums: A Model for state museum associations.
Teaching Iowa History
On Tuesday, February
25, Teaching Iowa History was recognized at a ceremony during the
American Alliance of Museums Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.
American Alliance of
Museums President Laura Lott presented an Advocacy Leadership award to Cynthia
Sweet, Director of the Iowa Museum Association, in recognition of her work as
the Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association to launch and implement the
Teaching Iowa History program.
the presentation, Lott said, "We know that museums are uniquely positioned
to partner with schools and other community organizations on student learning.”
Lott went on to recognize the project as a “model program in the field” calling
it a “valuable educational partnership” that spotlights the “essential role of
museums as core K-12 educational partners.”
an audience of almost 400 museum advocates from across the nation, Lott went on
to emphasize her passion for museums'
role in formal PreK-12 education - and their unique contributions to,
especially, students' learning, saying, “That's why I'm such a staunch
supporter of Iowa Museum Association's Teaching Iowa History program, a
super-smart, statewide project that equips K-12 educators to teach Iowa history
using primary sources from the state's museums and historical societies. Teaching
Iowa History raises awareness of the collections held in Iowa's museums and
the important role of museums in preserving and making available primary
sources of information about Iowa's people, communities, and role in the nation
and in the world. It's an exemplar of
the role museums can play as core K-12 educational partners. I am truly over-joyed to present this 2020
Advocacy Leadership Award to Cyndi Sweet, Executive Director of Iowa Museum
Association for this ground-breaking work."
Sweet noted the success
of the program to date is due to the support of a broad coalition of
individuals and organizations, noting in particular the early contributions of
Iowa Museum Association board members, then-University of Northern Iowa Public
Historian Dr. Leisl Carr-Childers, and Iowa Department of Education Social
Studies Consultant Stefanie Wager, in helping hone the vision for the project,
and the support of Heartland Area Education Agency, which understood and
supported the vision.
Sweet also noted the
importance of participation by historian Dr. Thomas Morain, Graceland
University, Chad Christopher, University of Northern Iowa, Dr. Chad Timm,
Simpson College, Dr. Heidi Lung, University of Iowa, and Rob Green, University
of Northern Iowa Web Developer III & Practicum Instructor, noting that each
plays an essential role in creating the instructional resources being
Sweet highlighted the
participation to date by over 100 Iowa museums who have shared objects from
their collections and their historical context.
As Teaching Iowa History continues to grow and develop, Sweet
hopes to see museums in every Iowa county participating in the project,
providing educators with easy access to information and objects to illustrate
their lessons. https://iowamuseums.pastperfectonline.com
Teaching Iowa History program was made possible in part by a major grant
from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor,
and supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa Historical
Resource Development Program. The
program was made possible by matching funds provided by forty individuals and
organizations, without whose support grant funding would not have been available.
mission of the Iowa Museum Association is to work in the interests of Iowa
museums to build organizational capacity, advocate to heighten awareness of the
field, and foster community.
museums include art centers and art museums, botanical gardens, children's
museums, historic sites, history museums, historical societies, living history
sites, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, science and
technology centers, and zoos.
more information about the Iowa Museum Association, visit: