Free social studies teacher training

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

University of Illinois Extension is offering a FREE “An Artifact Speaks” Teacher Training for Social Studies and other youth educators June 24 at Black Hawk State Historic Site

If you have ever been to a museum, you understand the attraction of artifacts.  Greek statues reveal the grace and beauty of the human form; toys from ancient Egyptian tombs show us that all children love to play; and even the small, everyday pieces from a local historical society, like a flour sifter or rolling pin can spark memories of happy holiday meals.  The objects that people make and use immediately connect us to their values and endeavors, their joys and hardships. 

University of Illinois Extension offices throughout Illinois will be offering the loan of educational materials for a new, object-based program called An Artifact Speaks.  The program examines a variety of ancient cultures through artifacts, games, folktales, and hands-on activities.  These materials will be available in the fall of 2015 to instructors, librarians, scout leaders, adult group leaders, and other interested educators. A website with additional materials is also under development.

To put these materials in the best use, University of Illinois Extension will be offering a free, 3-hour workshop to introduce the program on Wednesday, June 24 from 9 am – noon.  It will take place at Watchtower Lodge at Blackhawk State Historic Site, 1510 46th Ave., Rock Island.   It will give participants the opportunity to engage in a selection of program activities.  Illinois K-12 educators are eligible to receive 3 ISBE-approved Professional Development Hours (PDH) for participation in this workshop. Kim Sheahan, Spurlock Museum Assistant Director of Education will lead the course.  It is a world cultures museum in Urbana that is part of the department of the U of I’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Pre-registration is required.  Visit  to register online or call the Rock Island Extension office at #309-756-9978.  The statewide expansion of this program is made possible through the support of a two-year, University of Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative Grant. The grant funds a partnership between Extension and the Spurlock Museum. Kim Sheahan is the grant’s primary investigator.

An Artifact Speaks began as a collaboration between the Museum’s Education Section and Zachary Cain, a 6th grade teacher and Social Studies Building Leader at Edison Middle School in Champaign. “Zach wanted his students to understand how museums work and how much can be learned about a culture by just studying one of its artifacts,” Sheahan states.  “We make observations on both modern and ancient pieces, so the participants understand what artifacts have to tell us—how they speak—about where and who they came from.”

For general information on the An Artifact Speaks program, the content of the workshop, or a full list of workshop locations and dates, contact Kim Sheahan at 217-244-3355 or  To register for the program on June 24, go to  University of Illinois Extension website or call (309) 756-9978.