Teacher Workshops

Group Photo From Journeys Through Music Teacher Workshop, December 2011
Participants of the Journeys Through Music Professional Development Teacher Workshop during December 2011.

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The Ellis Island Immigration Museum offers a wealth of information and resources for teachers. Take time to explore the museum if you are able to visit, or explore the website if you can't—it has plenty of information and resources for your use. Have fun exploring!

Teacher workshops are offered occasionally at Ellis Island. See below for the description of a workshop offered previously. Future teacher workshops will be announced here.

If you would like to be on the National Parks of New York Harbor mailing list for future workshops, please e-mail us your contact information.


Sample Teacher Workshop

Exhibit Panels from the new Journeys Exhibit (1st Floor Main Building) describing how the Banjo, the Accordian, and song have helped new immigrants and have influenced culture in the United States.
Part of the new exhibit, "Journeys: the Peopling of America," focuses on music and is the inspiration for the emphasis on music in this workshop.

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Journeys Through Music

Examine how immigrants have used music to help preserve cultural traditions and family life in America. Participants will begin their day at Castle Clinton National Monument and take the ferry (free for participants!) to Ellis Island where they will go on a special tour of the Immigration Museum, examine primary sources, and learn from a scholar about how immigrants use music to maintain cultural ties to their new home. Participants will also receive digital resources for use in the classroom. Find new and engaging ways to bring the stories of immigration alive in the classroom!

This workshop is being offered in collaboration with the National Parks of New York Harbor and funded through the National Park Service's History and Civics Program. The History and Civics funding was appropriated to establish a pilot program for the teaching of American history and civics in the National Parks.

Press Release

On December 11th, 2011, Ellis Island launched the second of a four-part teacher workshop in collaboration with the National Parks of New York Harbor Teacher's Workshop and funded through the National Park Service's History and Civics Program. Entitled Journeys through Music, the workshop illuminated on how immigrants have used music to maintain cultural traditions, past and present.

Thirty-five educators from the Greater New York and New Jersey area attended the workshop on a chilly Sunday morning. Journeys through Music began with a brief introduction of the musical traditions at Castle Clinton by Ranger Laura Brennan. The day continued with a tour of the main building by Rangers Melissa Magnuson-Cannady and Peter Wong, which included relatable examples that teachers can bring back to the classroom. Journeys: The Peopling of the America 1150-1890 Exhibit, the inspiration for the workshop, helped teachers foster connections to the stories of pre-Ellis Island immigration.
Barry Moreno delivered a presentation on the accordion and its relationship with immigrant culture. Moreno traces the influences of the accordion in Polka and its Eastern European's origins to the instrument's current popularity with immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Ranger Peter Wong orchestrated Finding the Beat, an educational activity that helped teachers connect to the importance of music and cultural identity in the classroom. The program included excerpted clips of Ellis Island immigrants who recall their experiences with traditional music. Teachers also actively interacted with musical instruments important to immigrant communities like the mandolin, fiddle, accordion and banjo and experimented with how the instrument might play an important role in immigrants' lives. Following an interactive discussion, the teachers listened to musical group, GIRSA, and their song "Immigrant Eyes," that demonstrates how future generations have looked back and paid homage to their immigrant ancestors. Finding the Beat concluded with an eight-member band playing traditional Irish music. Led by Pete O'Dougherty, the group played traditional Irish songs for a ninety-minute set in the Great Hall.

Ellis Island's Education Department would like to thank the park's superintendent, Dave Luchsinger, Patti Reilly, the Superintendent at Governor's Island and the head of the NPNH Education Committee, Irene Roberts of the New York Mandolin Orchestra, GIRSA, Pete O'Dougherty, the Chief of Maintenance at Ellis Island, Danielle Summa, Janice Stewart, and Ebony Wright, Park Guides at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island and especially, Miriam Bader, Director of Education at the Tenement Museum for their generous time, support, and help with the workshop.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Ellis Island Museum of Immigration
Statue of Liberty National Monument

New York, NY 10004


(212) 363-3200

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