Monday, November 23, 2015

Teaching with Historic Photos

Did you know? The Montana Historical Society has added 650 Evelyn Cameron and 577 L. A. Huffman photographs to the Montana Memory Project! This means you and your students can access amazing pictures documenting the eastern Montana, like this one taken by L. A. Huffman between 1910 and 1930 (MHS 981-836):

These photos join many other collections on Montana Memory, including 555 stereographs by N. A. Forsyth. taken from circa 1901 to circa 1911. mainly of Butte.

For ideas of how to use historic photographs (and for other sources of great images) check out some of these posts, including this one that describes the Crop It tool and this one that talks about using images to complement literature studies.

Looking for ready-made lessons? Check out  Picturing the Past: Understanding Cultural Change and Continuity among Montana's Indians through Historic Photographs, a two-day learning activity designed to complement Chapter 11 of the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook, and the Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan.  

And one more cool thing. Techies among you probably already know this, but I just found out that Google Images will search images. Go to Google Images. Click on the the camera icon, enter the photo URL or drag and drop and image from your hard drive (or phone) into the search box. Voila! (I learned this cool trick from Glennw at http://doingsocialstudies.com/. It is a great blog--worth checking out.) I'm imagining online scavenger hunts and other cool activities using unidentified photo sets to introduce a new unit. What are you imagining?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yes--Even More on Chronicling America

We've run three posts on Chronicling America over the last few weeks (you can find them here, here, and here)--four if you count the post about our new lesson plan, Hazel Hunkins, Billings Suffragist, which relies heavily on articles found in Chronicling America, Why? Because Chronicling America is that cool. I promise we'll move onto other sites and resources soon--but I did want to share some of the ideas teachers sent in about they've been using Chronicling America in the classroom.

Elementary teacher Debbie Crow, wrote: We used Chronicling America and the Silver State Post Archives "to research our little town of Garrison from 1860 to 2015. We made a huge timeline that we placed in our hallway. We have a spaghetti dinner this Friday night when we will show the community."

Dale Alger, the librarian in Roundup, shares articles he's found on the local radio station, KLMB 88.1 FM (available on the internet at fm88roundup.com). (Could your students do this, either for your local radio station or your local newspaper? When she taught English in Chester, Renee Rasmussen used to assign her students the task of finding a “This Week in History” article from the newspaper archives, and getting it to the local paper, which published it as a weekly feature (sponsored, if I remember, by area businesses). I believe each student or pair of students signed up at the beginning of the year to be responsible for a specific week, and they missed their deadline at their peril.)

I also wanted to share a great portal to lesson plans and tutorials that just came to my attention: NDNP (National Digital Newspaper Project) Extras. NDNP Extras has links to helpful tips for searching, webinars and podcasts, and vetted lesson plans--including, as of two weeks ago, Hazel Hunkins! They also link to a nifty page Montana's NDNP staff has created: Extra! Montana News, 1864-1922. The page has interesting Montana topics, from Anti-Chinese Discrimination to the Extermination of Wolves, each with links to Montana newspaper articles, to help you answer the question "How did Montana papers cover the news while it was happening?"

Finally, I wanted to alert ambitious high school teachers of the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers Data Challenge. The challenge: to "create a web-based tool, data visualization, or other creative use of the information found in the Chronicling America historic newspaper database."
NEH invites members of the public to produce creative web-based projects demonstrating the potential for using the data found in the Chronicling America website, available at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.  ...
What are we looking for?  NEH encourages contestants to develop data visualizations, web-based tools, or other innovative and interesting web-based projects using the open data found in Chronicling America.  ... Entries should uncover trends, display insights, explore a theme, or tell a story.
The Library of Congress has developed a user-friendly Application Program Interface (API), which can be used to explore the data contained in Chronicling America in many ways.  You can learn more about the API at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/about/api.  Entrants must use this API to access the data, but are welcome to use existing software or tools to create their projects.
Submissions are due between October 28, 2015 and June 15, 2016, and the NEH is awarding prizes (possibly up to three separate K-12 Student Prizes of $1,000 each.)  Read more here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Celebrating Indian Education for All

Did you see the article in the fall issue of Teaching Tolerance that touts Montana's commitment to Indian Education for All? 

After reading it and feeling proud of our state, I realized it had been a while since I had posted specifically about IEFA. To paraphrase, the price of progress is eternal vigilance. 

In no particular order, here are some interesting IEFA-related materials/opportunities I've seen lately.

Humanities Montana has some great IEFA-related Speaker in the Schools programs. At no cost to your school, you could bring to your classroom Richard Ellis (author and retired history professor) to talk about "The Changing Image of American Indians in Film," Director MusEco Media and Education Project and elementary teacher Scott Prinzing  to talk about "American Indian Music: Even More Than Drums and Flutes," or historian and folklorist Nicholas Vrooman to talk about "The M├ętis in Montana History," among others.

Reservation Ambassadors, a student club at Arlee High School that meets with or Skypes with students in other areas in an effort to break down stereotypes, has a Facebook page on which hey posted a link to this thought-provoking poem, "Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question," by Diane Burns. It is one of the texts they've used to "to launch discussion and encourage frank conversations about stereotypes and reservation life." (You can ask them to meet with your class by emailing club co-advisor Anna Baldwin at abaldwin@arleeschools.org.)   

Indian Country Today recently ran this article in anticipation of Thanksgiving: "Beyond the So-Called First Thanksgiving: Five Children's Books That Set the Record Straight."  

"Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today’s True Native Americans" is an article that features the photography of Matika Wilbur, a high school teacher who, "Weary of stereotypical representations of Native Americans, ... is determined to photograph every federally-recognized Native American tribe in the country."

That article reminded me of the work of Crow photographer Adam Sings in Timber, whose images of every day Crow life was featured in the New York Times. Typically, as the Times reporter notes, "America has only two frames through which to view its native culture: ceremony and pageantry or poverty and addiction." But--as Sings in Timber's photos show, "there is so much more...."

I'm reminded by all the sources above how important it is not to relegate American Indians to the past but to emphasize that Indian people and Indian tribes remain an important part of our present.

I'm quite proud of our IEFA lesson plans, but because we are a historical society, most of them deal with ... well, history, and mostly with pre-World War II history. (Two exceptions are Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes Lesson Plan and "Mining Sacred Ground: Environment, Culture, and Economic Development on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.") So I'm asking you: What are your favorite lesson plans that focus on post-World War II (or better yet contemporary) Indian life and tribal issues? 

Interested in reading more about IEFA? Check out these past blog posts.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Looking for More Inspiration?

A subscriber recently wrote me to ask for suggestions of history-related sites/history education related sites.

Natasha and I have already told you about Chronicling America. Here are some others:

Teachinghistory.org bills itself as "A single destination for K-12 American history content, teaching methods, and current research." It has quick links for elementary, middle, and high school teachers, lesson plan and website reviews, and suggestions for best practices. 

Stanford History Education Group is changing the way history is taught with its "Beyond the Bubble" assessments of historical thinking and its "Reading Like a Historian" American and World history document-based lesson plans, now aligned to the Common Core.

A site I've recently discovered (and only because Ruth Ferris used it as a model for our newest 8-12 lesson plan, "Hazel Hunkins, Billings Suffragist) is History Labs.History Labs offers model lesson plan and a template to build your own lesson plan, one which asks an “overarching question,” builds background knowledge, and has students conduct source work in order to present and support their interpretations. Pretty spiff!

And, of course, there's our own website, Montana Historical Society Educator Resources. We've reorganized the page recently. In addition to multi-faceted resources like the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook, the Hand's-on History Footlockers, or Montana Mosaic: 20th Century People and Events, we've divided our lesson plans into the following categories: 

  • Indian Education for All Lesson Plans  The Montana Historical Society has produced a number of lesson plans to help your students grasp the Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians while learning more about specific Montana history topics.
  • Integrating Art and History  Discover lesson plans on Charlie Russell, Montana's Cowboy Artist; Plains Indian pictographic art; and Plateau Indian beaded bags.
  • Teaching with Primary Sources  Discover the many lesson plans the Montana Historical Society has created that provide students an opportunity to analyze primary source material, including artwork, photographs, letters, diary entries, historic newspapers, and more.
  • Mining History Lesson Plans and Resources  Discover a wide array of resources for studying mining history, including a study guide to accompany the reminiscence, Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, and a lesson plan to help students explore historic digitized newspapers.
  • Teaching with Biographies  Find links to online biographies as well as lesson plans that ask students to investigate remarkable Montanans. 
  • Women's History Resources and Lesson Plans Discover an abundance of material on Montana's women's history, including fascinating stories, intriguing photographs, and detailed lesson plans.
  • Civics and Geography Looking for a lesson that explains the electoral process, provides an example of how laws affect individuals' lives, or introduces your students to Montana geography while improving their map reading skills? Find them here. 
If there are other categories you think would be useful (for example, Teaching with Images), let me know and I'll see what I can do. And send me a link to your favorite history/teaching site and I'll include it in a future post.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chronicling America and Lesson Plans

It's Natasha again, with another installment on Chronicling America (see my earlier post here).

Two weeks ago I directed you to the EDSITEment website, which has lots of lesson plans divided by subject and age, as well as lesson plans focusing specifically on Chronicling America resources. However for this post, I’d like to highlight a lesson plan that I heard about at the NDNP conference.  The presenter was a 9th grade social studies teacher from North Carolina. 

The lesson concept was simple. She took a description of an event from the textbook, and then she found several newspaper articles from across the country that described the event from different perspectives.  

She divides her class into groups. Each group gets the textbook description and one of the newspaper articles.  Then each group discusses how the textbook differs from the article, including questions like 

  • What information is missing from the textbook entry? 
  • Do you think the textbook account should be re-written? Why or why not? If so, how would you change the textbook?
After group discussion, the whole class comes together to share their conclusions. This is also an opportunity to discuss why there are often radically different accounts of the same event, which leads to a discussion about bias and attitudes.

We went through this activity ourselves with an entry on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The four articles (available here) were wildly different. One focused on the legal implications, a second on a resolution by the Women’s Trade Union League, a third on the lack of safety preparation, and a fourth on the most sensationalist details. In spite of being right after lunch, it was a really engaging activity which generated really interesting discussions.

This lesson plan could easily be changed to any event using the Montana: Stories of the Land.  As an example, Chapter 16 – Montana and World War I, 1914-1918 describes Jeannette Rankin’s vote against the US entering WWI. 

Most of Rankin’s friends supported the war, including her brother, Wellington, who was her closest advisor. Feminists wanted her to show that women could be as tough as men. Yet Rankin had run for Congress because she believed that if women gained political power, they would stop wars. She did not want to be the first woman in American history to vote for war.
When her turn came, Rankin stood up. “I want to stand by my country but I cannot vote for war,” she said. Only a few other members of Congress shared her view, and the resolution to enter World War I passed overwhelmingly.
As you can imagine there is a lot of national coverage of this vote. I did a fairly quick search on Chronicling America searching "Jeannette Rankin" as a phrase with "war" and "vote" as further search terms.  From the results, I’ve chosen a few to show the range of coverage. Some articles, describe her as "trembling, obviously badly frightened, and with a sob in her voice" or "Her evident grief and the signs of a mental struggle, brought cheers from warrior and pacifist alike". Some newspapers say very little about her in their coverage of the vote, while others focus on how Jeannette's vote will impact the suffrage movement. One of my favorite responses to the vote is a letter to the editor entitled "Good for Miss Rankin!".  In it, the writer although disagreeing with Jeannette’s position has an interesting view of how her vote disproves the anti-suffrage supporters’ views on how politics will change women.  Lastly, here is an article from the Daily Missoulian, which could be used to compare to the textbook description of Montanans' reactions.  

In an example of how looking at newspapers leads to additional ideas, I found an article from France reprinted in two different newspapers under different titles: France Chivalrously Excuses Miss Rankin and France Applauds Jeannette. It might be interesting to give some students one and some the other, have them discuss their article in a small group before bringing them all together to discuss how the headline influenced their interpretation. 

I had a lot of fun putting this together, and I hope you and your students find it a useful activity--or food for thought as you develop your own activities using ChronAm.

P.S. [Martha chiming in] A shortcut for finding multiple newspaper articles on specific Montana history topics is to visit Extra! Montana News, 1864-1922.This page has a selection of interesting topics, from Anti-Chinese DiscriminationBison Hunting and Extermination, and Barbed Wire to Extermination of Wolves, the Great Fire of 1910, and Statehood, Under each topics there are a list of newspaper articles, so you can see how the press reported on these events and issues at the time they occurred along with suggested search terms for more information. This makes it a great for resource for a teacher trying to recreate the exercise Natasha outlines above--but also a great resource for student research projects, including for National History Day!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Veteran's Day Is Coming

I'm hoping 7-12 grade teachers have taken a look at our new Reader's Theater lesson plan, "Letters from Home: Montanans at War." (If not, do not click through NOW to read more about this lesson here or download it here.) I can't wait to get some feedback from classes using this!

But what do we have for teachers in younger grades?

Consider introducing your students to Minnie Spotted Wolf, one of the first Native American women to join the Marines. Spotted Wolf served during WWII as a heavy equipment driver. Ruth Ferris of the Billings School District just shared with me a remarkable, and surprisingly respectful comic about Spotted Wolf. Called "One Little Indian," it was published in the October 1944 issue of Calling All Girls. The cartoon celebrates Minnie Spotted Wolf's decision to enlist while recalling her early years growing up on a ranch near Heart Butte on the Blackfeet reservation. You can download the comic and learn more about Minnie Spotted Wolf in the links above or by watching this one and a half minute video, produced by the Department of Defense.

Looking for other resources? Check out our footlocker: The Home Fires: World War II. The user guide is online and, like all of our footlocker user guides, it has materials that can be used without ordering the traveling trunk. (And consider bringing the traveling trunk into your classroom later this year.)

P.S. Ruth Ferris told me that she'll be leading a free workshop on Montana Warriors on Saturday, February 27, 2016, from 9-4 at MSU-B in Billings. At this workshop, she will share resources for teaching about Minnie Spotted Wolf, Joe Medicine Crow, and Louis Charlo (all of whom served during WWII). But don't wait that long to introduce yourself and your students to Spotted Wolf's story.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

One of my new favorite blogs, Doing Social Studies, turned me on to the fact that StoryCorps is hosting "The Great Thanksgiving Listen."

Open to everyone, The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national assignment to engage people of all ages in the act of listening. The pilot project is specially designed for students ages 13 and over and as part of a social studies, history, civics, government, journalism, or political science class, or as an extracurricular activity. All that is needed to participate is a smartphone and the StoryCorps mobile app.

StoryCorps has been around for awhile--perhaps you've heard clips of interviews on public radio. Their mission is "is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters."

What’s cool about the Great Thanksgiving Listen?
  • It encourages intergenerational communication.
  • Conducting interviews will allow students to understand differences in historical and contemporary perspectives—and to examine one of my favorite essential questions: “What’s changed and what’s remained the same.”
  • Participants will be able to upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
  • “In one holiday weekend we will capture an entire generation of American lives and experiences.”

If you haven't heard of StoryCorps, do yourself a favor and check out your website. If you teach students ages 13 and above, and are interested in having them participate in the "Great Thanksgiving Listen," check out #theGreatListen 2015 website to download the Free Teacher Toolkit.

Note: StoryCorps recommends introducing the project at least two weeks prior to Thanksgiving—so now’s the time.

P.S. A number of oral historians I know are ambivalent about StoryCorps or at least want to make clear that StoryCorps interviews are NOT oral history. If you are interested in conducting an oral history project with their students, a good place to start is with the Oral History in the Classroom primer. We’re working on creating an oral history footlocker—which will include digital recorders and lesson plans. Stay tuned.