A Note on Links: When reading back posts, please be aware that links have a short half-life. You can find working links to all of the MHS resources on our Educator Resources Page.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Two great looking summer PDs

Deadline extended! You have until June 13 to apply to become a Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts

August 4-10, 2019 (Pablo), plus ongoing online component throughout the 2019-2020 school year and April 2020 Capstone weekend (Livingston)

This incredible year-long program develops teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms. We are currently recruiting 18 educators to join the 36 educators who have previously completed the Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts program. This initiative supports training cohorts of educators to serve as coaches, mentors, and advocates in their schools and communities for an arts-integrated approach to teaching and learning. The program consists of a week-long residency at the Salish Kootenai College, completion of a field project (including a $300 materials reimbursement for their projects), and a final Capstone weekend in Livingston, MT in April 2020. Funded by an NEA Artworks Grant and a partnership between the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and the Montana Arts Council (MAC), this program is in the 4th year of providing high-quality professional learning and leadership for teachers across Montana. 
Application link here. 


Program information and frequently asked questions.

NEW! Free Professional Development Opportunity: Art’s Contribution to the Conservation of Public Lands and National Forests in the West


August 25-29, 2019 in Cody, WY and Emigrant, MT
Contact: Gretchen Henrich, 307-578-4061 or gretchenh@centerofthewest.org
  • Learn how to access, save, and present primary sources and additional resources from Library of Congress, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and National Museum of Forest Service History.
  • Create products such as lesson plans, activities, and supplementary curriculum that can be used with students
  • Collaborate and network with teachers across the country.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the National Museum of Forest Service History, and the Library of Congress are offering a free professional development workshop focusing on the question  “How did art drive the American conservation movement and the development of National Forests and public lands in the west?” In this unique workshop, participants will focus on art as primary sources including photographs, advertising posters, original artworks, images, and object databases.
The workshop will take place both at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY and also in the beautiful Paradise Valley in Emigrant, Montana. Travel stipends are available.

Monday, June 3, 2019

See you next fall if not before...

This blog is going on hiatus for summer break--unless something time sensitive comes along that is so good I can't bear not to share it.

If you are changing schools, please subscribe using your new address! We'd hate to lose touch.

If your travels bring you to Helena this summer, please stop in and say "hello." And of course, don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you as you prepare for your classes next fall: mkohl@mt.gov.

Do know that there's still time to complete our annual survey and to share your favorite lesson. (Need more incentive? I'm adding a prize for the 57th respondent.)

Whether through the survey, an email, or if your vacation takes you through Helena, I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. Missing the blog already? Browse back posts. Use the labels on the right-hand side to browse general areas (IEFA) or the search bar to search by keywords (primary sources). And if you have time this summer, consider taking some online professional development to learn more about Montana history and teaching resources while earning OPI Renewal Units.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Summer Reading

Before I shut Teaching Montana History down for the summer, I decided to look back at what our most popular posts have been. I found the results interesting, and thought you might too. And I thought the list might be especially useful for new subscribers, who want to dig into the archives during summer break.

Teaching Montana History in Fourth Grade (April 28, 2014) is a post that I wrote in 2014, trying to imagine a fourth grade curriculum. In 2017, I revisited the topic with Teaching Montana History in Fourth of Fifth Grade, Take 2. I think this second take is better than the first, even though it hasn't gotten as many life time hits. So if you are interested in the topic, that's where I'd start--and then I'd check out "Montana Today: A Geographical Study," a new unit we created to kick off an elementary classroom's study of Montana history.

In 2016, I discovered Evidence Analysis Window Frames, a primary source analysis tool--Evidence Analysis Window Frames created by Glenn Weibe, self-described "social studies nerd, consultant, tech guy," and author of the blog History Tech. You all are obviously as enamored by them as I am, because this is my blog's second most read post of all time. 

Teaching Indian Literature and/or Literature about Indians, also from 2016, asks "Should we teach fictional books about Indians by non-Indian authors?" 

These older posts have an advantage when it comes to the numbers game--they've been around longer so more people have had a chance to read them. Here are some of the most read posts from the last year:
My favorites are always the posts summarizing your best lessons, which you share with me when taking the annual year-end survey (there's still time--and prizes to be won! Please take a moment to complete the survey now.) Here are last year's answers to question, "Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource you taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what." 
P.S. There are still spots in "Making It Real: --A Montana Historical Society Workshop for Elementary and Middle School Teachers," June 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Helena. Participants will earn 6 OPI Renewal Units. Learn more and then register.





Monday, May 20, 2019

Get your Learning On

Looking to learn more Montana history this summer? Consider watching our lecture series, "Montana History in 9 Easy Lessons" and "Montana History in 9 More Easy Lessons." Both seasons start with the earliest history we know about through archaeological evidence (about 13,000 years ago.) Both seasons hopscotch through major topics (the fur trade, mining, ranching, homesteading, the treaty period, boarding school era, the Great Depression, the Relocation and Termination era, the Cold War) to modern times. 
We have two lectures left in "9 More Easy Lessons," which you can watch on our live-stream (or in person if you are in Helena), 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. 
  • Transportation historian Jon Axline will present On the Road Again, which will look how cars and trucks in transformed Montana after World War II, on May 22. 
  • Professor Emeritus Harry Fritz will explore "Montana's Triple Revolution," the formative period between 1960 to 1975, on May 29.
You can catch all past episodes--including these after they air--on our YouTube channel (and lots of other great presentations as well). For the 9 Easy Lessons series, we've arranged for you to receive an OPI Renewal Unit for each lecture by taking a simple quiz (really writing a short reflection) after watching.

Happy learning!

P.S. We are providing a free in-person PD as well, June 24 in Helena. Learn more here.P.P.S. Don't forget to take  our short end-of-the-year survey and help us improve. Need added incentive? I'm adding a prize for the 57 respondent.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Looking forward to fall: Apply for a Montana History Conference Scholarship

Save the Date! The Montana Historical Society is putting together an amazing program for the 46th Annual Montana History Conference, "Keeping Up with the Past!" The conference will be held in Helena, September 26-28. Renewal units will be available for both the Thursday educator workshop and all conference sessions. (Check here in June for more details.) We hope you’ll consider attending!

As in past years, we will be offering travel scholarships for both teachers and students.

About the scholarships: Funded by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the scholarships will consist of full conference registration plus a $275 travel/expense reimbursement. All teachers and students in Montana’s high schools, colleges, and universities are eligible to apply (residents of Helena and the vicinity are eligible for the conference registration scholarship but not the travel reimbursement).

Teacher recipients must attend the entire conference, including Thursday’s Educators Workshop and the Saturday sessions. Student recipients must commit to attending all day Friday and Saturday, including a Saturday tour.

Preference will be given to

  • Teachers and students from Montana’s tribal colleges;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s on-reservation high schools;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s community colleges and four-year universities;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s small, rural, under-served communities.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. September 8, 2019.  Awards will be announced the following week. Applying for a scholarship is quick and easy. Apply online.

P.S. Please don't forget to take our short online survey. Help us improve our offerings and maybe be a winner (prizes to the fifteenth, thirty-first, forty-second person to complete this survey.)

P.P.S. Don't forget: Registration is open for our upcoming workshop, Making It Real: A Workshop for Elementary and Middle School Teachers, to be held on June 24, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Learn more about this workshop, and then register to attend this exciting professional development opportunity (6 OPI Renewal Units available).

Monday, May 6, 2019

Take our survey--and maybe win a prize

May 8 is the last day of school for Rapelje. Congratulations, Rapelje teachers and students. You made it!
As yet another school year winds to a close, I’d appreciate getting your feedback. I’d also like to gather information on what has worked for you in the classroom, so I can share it with other teachers next year.
Would you be willing to take a short online survey? If so, click here.
Need a little incentive? I’m offering prizes to the fifteenth, thirty-first, forty-second person to complete this survey.
P.S. Don't be confused. The survey refers to the listserv because the way the information on this blog is delivered to most people, but the Montana History and Heritage Education Listserv is the same as the Teaching Montana History Blog.
P.P.S. I'll continue posting for a little while now since most of us still have more school ahead of us--but wanted to get the survey out in order to reach everyone.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Prose (or Paintings) into Poetry

I almost missed National Poetry Month! But poetry is good all year round, a fact I was reminded of while talking with (now retired) teacher extraordinaire Jim Schulz the other day. During our conversation about ways to use textbooks to teach students (rather than using textbooks to, well teach textbooks), Jim mentioned a strategy for getting students to analyze and summarize information that had never occurred to me: asking them to write found poems.

Jim suggested starting this type of activity by answering an "analysis question," one that asks students to "examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes" and to "make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations." Key words, according to the handy Bloom's Taxonomy flip book I keep at my desk include "analyze, compare, dissect, inspect, categorize, contrast, motive, discover, examine." To get students to engage in analysis, that same book suggests posing questions like "What conclusions can you draw," "what's the relationship between," "what motive is there," "why do you think"... 

Jim also suggested using a relatively short section of the textbook for this exercise, rather than an entire chapter. Here's a sample assignment I created based on the idea, using the section "The Dawes Act: Allotments Subdivide the Reservations," from Chapter 11 of Montana: Stories of the Land.)
Using the text (including sidebar quotations, posters, image captions, etc.), on pages 219-222 of Montana: Stories of the Land, create a found poem that answers the following question: What conclusions can you draw about the policy of allotment?
I tried the activity myself just to see if it would work and one thing I noticed is that to write my found poem I had to reread the pages several times; this repeated exposure to the text reinforced my understanding of the topic and my ability to recall specific details.

This isn't the first time we've suggested poetry activities; asking students to write poems about history or using historical sources has the benefit of encouraging close reading, analysis, and a better understanding of perspective and point of view. 

I talked about "Poems for Two Voices" in a post some time back, after which Billings librarians Kathi Hoyt and Ruth Ferris created a lesson plan using the technique and excerpts from speeches by Crow chief Plenty Coups and Lakota chief Sitting Bull. 

Ruth is also the person who first introduced me to found poetry--she wrote a lesson plan for using it with historic newspapers (particularly with Montana's first newspaper, the Montana Post). You can find that lesson on page 23 of the Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan Study Guide.

“An Artist’s Journey: Transform a Painting into Poetry” (grades 1–7) asks students to examine several Russell paintings using their five senses, before choosing one painting to use as an inspiration for a poem. (If you teach at a Montana public school, your school library should have received the Montana's Charlie Russell teaching packets we created, of which this lesson is a part; we also posted all of the material in packets on our website).

Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-6)  asks students to research specific Montana women (by reading biographical essays) and to use the information they gather to create biographical poems. Through their research (and by hearing their classmates’ poems) they will recognize that there is no single “woman’s experience,” women’s lives are diverse, and that people can make a difference in their communities.

What's your experience with integrating poetry and social studies? Let me know and I'll share it with the group. 

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for Making It Real: A Workshop for Elementary and Middle School Teachers, to be held on June 24, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Learn more about this workshop, then register to attend this exciting professional development opportunity (6 OPI Renewal Units available).