Thursday, December 18, 2014

Common Core and Images

I have long believed that we should teach students to apply close reading strategies to primary sources, including visual sources like photographs and that, conversely, having students work with visual sources gives them an important (and accessible) opportunity to practice close reading.

TPS-Barat (whose work I mentioned in this recent post) created this useful comparison between Common Core Reading Anchor Standards and Image Analysis Skills that I pull out every time I need to persuade someone that having students analyzing images is real, worthwhile work. 

So it was great to see the video Applying Common Core Habits to Arts Lessons on the Teaching Channel recently. It focused on teaching students to use close reading habits and asking/answering text dependent questions when they look at art. 

Looking for other tools that use images to help students practice close reading (and make evidence-based claims)? I'm completely enamored with Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique discussed in more detail here

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chronicling America Rocks. Oh--and Happy Chanukah

Hanukkah starts tonight, so just for giggles, I decided to search "Hanukkah" and "Chanukah" in the Montana newspapers digitized as part of the Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities Chronicling America project.

I found two articles from the Anaconda Standard, both about programs (one in 1897 and one in 1898) put on children by attending the Butte Bnai Israel congregation's religious education program .

Montana is one of the 39 states participating in Chronicling America. Right now, issues from 38 Montana newspapers are online and searchable by key word. Newly available are

  • Bozeman Weekly Chronicle, 1887-1888
  • Great Falls Daily Tribune, 1919-1922
  • Neihart Herald, 1891-1901
  • River Press (Fort Benton), 1905-1914 

There will be even more titles available by the end of 2015, including the Dupuyer Acantha (1894–1899), Ekalaka Eagle (1910–1915), (Hamilton) Western News (1900–1910), Whitefish Pilot (1908–1912) and the Wibaux Pioneer (1907–1914).

Want to know more about Chronicling America and ways to use it in the classroom? This post from last March is a good starting point: Searching Chronicling America

EdSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanities site for educators, also has great resources for using Chronicling America, including tutorials and lesson plans.

For more on Hanukkah, see last year's post, my Favorite Montana Hanukkah Story--and Resources to Teach It.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On Buffalo Jumps and Depression Era Photos: Cool Stuff I've Seen Lately

No theme this time--just info about some cool resources I've seen recently.

Buffalo Hunters

I was fascinated by this article, "The Buffalo Chasers: Vast expanses of grassland near the Rocky Mountains bear evidence of an extraordinary ancient buffalo hunting culture" published in Archaeology, about research being conducted on the Blackfeet Reservation. (For those of you who use the textbook, the article complements Chapter 2: People of the Dog Days).

According to the article, many scholars historically believed that the Blackfeet only constituted themselves into well-organized tribes after the arrival of horses and guns. This new research on buffalo jumps pushes the development of a complex political society back to 900 A.D. and better reflects the tribes' understanding of its own cultural development. “We have 11 separate, elaborate drive-line systems in just a 20-mile stretch of Two Medicine River. That took coordination and a level of planning for the future that haven’t normally been associated with nomadic people in this part of the world,” archaeologist Maria Nieves ZedeƱo explains. The article continues:
The Old Women’s Phase people did not leave behind elaborate burials or evidence of long-term storage facilities, signs that archaeologists have typically used to measure the social complexity of prehistoric societies. Scholars therefore believed that these buffalo-hunting people were essentially simple foragers, without any of the complex political arrangements that organized farmers to the east or the fishing cultures of the Northwest Coast had. “Bison hunters have been dismissed as being not as sophisticated as other cultures,” says Royal Alberta Museum archaeologist Jack Brink, who excavated at Canada’s Heads-Smashed-In, a noted buffalo jump. “There was this idea that they were opportunistic hunters skulking across the northern plains. But what we’re finding is that their way of life was complex and thought out in ways that reflected powerful social controls. http://www.archaeology.org/issues/155-1411/letter-from/2587-letter-from-montana-buffalo-jumps

Depression Era Photographs

Jumping ahead a millenia, a new resource from Yale and NEH, Photogrammar brings together 170,000 images by photographers employed by the Farm Securities Administration and Office of War Information from 1935 to 1945. The images (all owned by the Library of Congress) are searchable by keyword, and you can filter your search by state, county, city, date, and photographer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Techniques for Analyzing Primary Sources (aligned to Common Core)

TPS-Barat (Primary Source Nexus Teaching Resource Blog) has great stuff--including a "Thinking Triangle" Graphic Organizer that I often use for photo analysis. 

Here are two articles they published that I thought were particularly interesting and could be widely adapted.

For Middle School and High School Students

In "Determining the Main Idea of a Text," high school teacher Glen Jensen, outlines his technique for having students analyze complex primary sources (in his case, President Franklin Roosevelt’s first inauguration speech).  It's worth reading his description, but here's a summary:

  • I gave them time to re-read the text and underline the five most important words. (If students are having a hard time selecting five words, you may suggest that they look for words that will answer the five Ws.)
  • Through class discussion, they chose the best five words. 
  • Then students write a sentence that tells the main idea of the passage using the five words they chose or the five circled words the class agreed were best.
  • As a class, they chose the best sentence. 
  • Then students rewrite that sentence using informal or street language. Creating these slang sentences allow students to relate historical texts to contemporary times while requiring them to climb to the top of the cognitive thinking ladder. The students also find this activity to be engaging and fun. 

For Elementary Students

In Analyzing Primary Sources: Sensory Exploration, TPS-Barat introduces its Sensory Exploration Graphic Organizer

"The sensory exploration graphic organizer is a great way to introduce students, especially younger ones, to primary source analysis. It also helps with vocabulary development. Encourage students to write to fill in each column for each sense. After, you may have students create a poem of their choice using the words they brainstormed; they may choose to write the poem from the point of view of someone outside the image or from a person, animal, or thing inside the image. If students drew images, have them combine their images into a pictograph to which they will add spoken word."

For National History Day

TPS-Barat has also created a number of really useful posts on National History Day, including several that provide primary source sets relating to specific topics that fit this year's theme (Leadership and Legacy in History); one that details the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; and one that reviews tech tools for creating citations. Find them all here

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Useful Facebook Pages

Facebook is great for cute baby pictures, recipes and political rants--all of which I enjoy on my feed. But more and more I find Facebook useful for work related material. My Facebook reading isn't systematic--it is recreational--but I'm finding a lot of great recreational content related to teaching, history, and primary sources--some of which I pull out and feature here, but most of which I enjoy privately.

If you are on Facebook, here are a few history oriented pages you might want to check out and like/follow:

Montana Memory Project: https://www.facebook.com/MontanaStateLibrary.MMP

  • For almost daily posts featuring really cool Montana primary sources 
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian: https://www.facebook.com/NationalMuseumoftheAmericanIndianinDC  
  • For links to articles on contemporary Indian issues and artists, cool artifact photos, and even your Mayan horoscope
U.S. National Archives: https://www.facebook.com/usnationalarchives
  • For "Documents of the Day"from the serious (Rosa Parks' fingerprint card from her arrest) to the frivolous (a picture of President Harry Truman pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey). Also for info re online professional development opportunities.
  • For photos and other featured items from their collections

Montana Historical Society: https://www.facebook.com/MontanaHistoricalSociety

  • For tidbits about Montana history, pictures of cool artifacts, documents, and historic buildings, and interesting links.

Montana Women's History Matters: https://www.facebook.com/montanawomenshistory

  • For short posts on Montana women's history with links to longer essays
What are your favorite work-related Facebook pages? 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West and Other Summer PD from the NEH

It's cold outside (-9 this morning in Helena)--so what better time to start thinking about summer!

Next July, the Montana Historical Society is once again offering an NEH  Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers workshop: The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West, 1862-1920.
Teachers (scholars, in NEH parlance) will travel to Montana  from across the country to spend a week visiting Bannack, Virginia City, Butte, Anaconda, and Helena to learn about  the mining West and ways to better teach with historic places and primary sources.  Instruction and materials are free and NEH provides a $1,200 stipend to help pay travel expenses, including hotel rooms, meals during the week, and travel to and from Helena. 
“The Richest Hills” offered an amazing week of learning last time around (you can read what past scholars have said about the experience here and see some of the lesson plans they created here). Each time we offer the workshop we fine tune it, and we expect that 2015 will be the best year yet. 
We encourage applications from Montana teachers—but you should know that the application process is very competitive (we had 250 applicants for 80 slots last time). Additionally, NEH requires that equal access be given to applicants coming from out of state and encourages projects to consider geographic diversity as part of their selection process. The good news is that there are LOTS of really cool, free offerings this summer in addition to “The Richest Hills.”
Through various NEH summer programs for teachers, you can spend a week in Atlanta studying the Civil Rights movement or in New York City studying the Gilded Age. There are longer programs too: imagine spending five weeks in Madrid, Spain, learning about Spanish art and literature (stipends are higher for longer programs to help cover costs.) Programs that include Indian Education for All content include
Please help us spread the word about “The Richest Hills” and take a look at all the other NEH workshops available. 
Applications are due March 2, 2015.

A full list of summer 2015 courses is available here

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Indian Ed for All through Photo Analysis Activity plus a Poster Contest

What a pleasant surprise to open my TPS Western Region newsletter and see the article, Primary Sources in Action with Ruth Ferris. A Billings elementary librarian who has collaborated with us on many lesson plans, including Thinking Like a Historian and Montana’s State Flower: A Lesson in Civic Engagement, Ruth was featured for a Gallery Walk she created for Chief Plenty Coups State Park's Day of Honor. For the walk, she chose pictures from several different reservations to show the differences and similarities of the horse culture in Montana.  

According to Ruth, "The pictures selected were all taken during the late 1800s to early 1900s. They represent many of the tribes and reservations in Montana. I then put together a lesson that dealt with photo analysis, and could be completed independently by participants. This lesson met Essential Understanding #1 for Indian Education for All [“There is great diversity among the 12 tribal Nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments.  Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.”].  

Ruth also took a map of Montana that shows the Montana reservations, identified each picture by tribe and posted it near that reservation. "When I used the lesson with my younger students I provided greater scaffolding." 

Friends of Chief Plenty Coups Association has posted Ruth's lesson, "Hoofprints and Heartbeats," as she modified it for elementary students on its site. In addition to the photographs and resources for scaffolding are links to a variety of primary source analysis tools and a tutorial on the why and how of "Gallery Walks."

On a related note: The Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction is conducting a poster contest for middle school students (grades 6, 7, and 8) regarding What Does Indian Education for All Mean to you.  Submissions are due Dec. 22, 2014. Find out more here.