NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 4, 2013

'Teaching Whittier' launched in tandem with National Poetry Month


Newburyport Daily News

---- — AMESBURY — The Whittier Home Association in Amesbury is celebrating National Poetry Month by introducing a special curriculum honoring the life and legacy of poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier.

Several years in the making, the curriculum was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services. It was created to facilitate and promote a connection between the Whittier Home and local schools and the community through engaging, historically relevant and fun educational programming.

"Teaching Whittier" can be downloaded for free from the Whittier Home's website, www.whittierhome.org. Museum officials say the three-part PDF package provides printable instructional materials, programming and a walking tour designed to help teachers, historical societies, librarians and museum curators share Whittier's place in the pantheon of writers who shaped history with their pens and their deeds.

In particular, officials say the curriculum is designed to offer a variety of activities, lesson plan supplements and materials for use in a classroom setting and/or on a site visit. Worksheets, ideas and projects can be used as building blocks in tandem with a field trip to the Whittier Home, or can stand alone as complimentary curriculum-based materials and information, they say.

"Oftentimes, Whittier is not recognized except as the man who wrote the magnificent poem, `Snowbound,'" Whittier Home Association president Cynthia Costello said in a press release. "His place in the abolition movement and his vocal and heroic stand against inequality must be remembered as well."

The "Teaching Whittier" curriculum features a script developed specifically for students, but anyone with an interest in Whittier's life is welcome to download the materials as well. The materials in the binder provide preliminary information enabling educators and their students to become familiar with Whittier and the artifacts before they pay a visit to the museum. Once on-site, museum docents will guide visitors through a more meaningful tour.

"Our first implementation of this curriculum will be with Amesbury's eighth-graders when they come to visit in June for annual History Days," Costello said.

By placing the curriculum on the Whittier Home Association website for free download, Costello said her organization hopes to expand its reach throughout the world, fulfilling its mission to be a nonprofit, educational organization striving to engage diverse audiences in the life story of Whittier in his roles as Quaker, writer, legislator and an abolitionist.