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Thursday, May 25, 2017

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 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. (Two prizes remain!) 


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

Monday, May 22, 2017

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.

Evidence Analysis Window Frames describes a primary source analysis tool created by Glenn Weibe, who also runs the blog History Tech.

Teaching Indian Literature and/or Literature about Indians talks about problems with some commonly used literature about Indians by non-Indians and provides suggestions for alternatives.
Top Ten Most Important Events in Montana History was a survey I ran in 2012, asking  people what they thought were the ten most important events in Montana history. Although I'm no longer tabulating survey results, taking the survey is still an instructive and thought-provoking exercise. And you can find out what I learned from the survey by reading these posts: Surprises. Survey Results, and Comments.

Teaching Montana History in Fourth Grade are suggestions I wrote in 2014 for planning your fourth grade Montana history curriculum. It's a bit out of date, but people seem to find it useful. Find newer post on the same topic here.

Favorite High School Lessons and Favorite Middle School Lessons were posts I wrote with your help. As part of the year-end survey, I ask teachers to share their favorite Montana history or Indian Education for All lesson plan. I compile these lessons by grade level (elementary, middle school, and high school) and share them each fall. I love learning what has worked for you in the classroom--and if blog stats are any measure--your colleagues do to. So PLEASE! If you haven't already, take a few moments to fill out this year's survey and share your favorite lesson


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Teaching Montana History in Fourth or Fifth Grade: Take 2

Every year, I'm asked by fourth and fifth grade teachers if we have an elementary level textbook (not yet--but we are slowly working on it) and for suggestions on how to structure their curriculum.

I wrote out some preliminary thoughts on the topic in 2014, which you can find here. I gave it another go recently--this time with the goal of fitting the curriculum into a quarter. I'm not completely satisfied with what I came up with--and would probably write a completely different plan, featuring different resources next week--but I thought some of you might find it useful as a starting point. I'd love to hear what you think--even if it's outrage that I gave short shrift to your favorite Montana history topic (war of the Copper Kings, anyone?).

I'd love a conversation around this--and to be able to share what you are doing with other teachers across the state who are trying to design their elementary Montana history units, so please write me (and attach your curriculum maps). I'll use what you send to inform our work on the long-awaited fourth grade textbook. I'll also respond with any lesson plans/resources I know of on the topics you think need to be emphasized that aren't listed below. Deal?

By the way, when I refer below to footlockers, I'm referring to our Hands-on History footlocker program. Even if you can't order a footlocker to come to your classroom, I highly recommend you look at the User Guides, which include fourth-grade level narratives and lesson plans. We have 21 different titles--only a few are listed below.

Week 1: Montana Geography

o   Video: Introducing the First Nations of Montana to the World, http://visitmt.com/places_to_go/indian_nations/
o   Sovereignty: Use the Rez We Live On videos: http://therezweliveon.com/
o   Have someone from nearby tribes come talk to class about Indians today (including sovereignty, culture, language)

Week 2: Pre and early contact period (could easily be expanded to two weeks)

 Week 3: Treaties and the creation of reservations

 Week 4: The Gold Rush (OR Cattle and the Open Range)

 Week 4: Cattle and the Open Range (OR Gold Rush—or add a week and do both)

Week 5: Coming to Montana: Immigrants from around the World

Week 6: Boarding school/allotment Era (can shorten to 3 days)

 Week 7: World War I (can shorten to 3 days)

Week 8: Modern Montana
  • Women and Sports: Tracking Change Over Time (Designed for grades 4-8) In this lesson aligned to both Common Core ELA and Math standards, students learn about how Title IX (a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education) changed girls’ opportunities to participate in school sports by collecting and analyzing the data to look at change in women’s sports participation over time. (You’ll need to start this in week 6 or 7 to make sure students have time to collect data.)

 P.S. Have you taken the year-end survey yet? Don't delay!
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Slowing down and really looking

Getting students to slow down and really look at an image is always a trick. (Or maybe this is projection. As a word person, I find this hard myself, so I assume it is hard for students as well.)

That's one reason I really like Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). We've incorporated VTS into many of our lessons that require image analysis and for the last several years colleagues Deb Mitchell and Jim Schulz have conducted trainings on this technique across the state.

But there are many other tools to help students slow down and really look. Among them is Crop Ita simple "four-step hands-on learning routine where teachers pose questions and students use paper cropping tools (template here) to deeply explore a visual primary source." The website Teachinghistory.org, where I first learned about Crop It, handily offers a question set for teachers to use with this tool, suggesting such questions as:

Crop to show a what first caught your eye.
Think: Why did you notice this part.
Crop to a clue that tells when this is happening.
Think: What helps us recognize specific times?
Crop to a clue that shows the emotion expressed in the image.
Think: How do colors, lines, and shapes express emotion.
"Zoom-ins" are another approach. TPS-Barat's Primary Source Network published a series of guest posts about this technique--all with different examples. According to Social Studies Specialist Patti Winch, of Virginia, Zoom ins were originally created using PowerPoint. "The first slide of the presentation would show one small section of an image and teachers would ask students to identify what they saw. Subsequent slides revealed more and more of the image, asking students to identify ‘new’ things that they saw." More recently, though, her district has been using Google Forms to post image details AND questions that students need to answer.

Museum educator and sixth-grade Virginia history teacher Alissa Oginsky took direction from the Library of Congress's primary source analysis tool when she created her Google Form Zoom-in.

And seventh-grade history teacher Sara Conyers, also of Virginia, provides step by step instructions for creating a "Zoom-in primary source analysis activity using Google Forms here.

I use Google forms a LOT--for example, to gather responses to our end-of-the-year survey and find it an extraordinarily useful and easy to use (which is saying something as I'm not the most tech savvy person). And speaking of our end-of-the-year survey, please take a few moments to participate. It really helps us improve.

P.S. You can find more ideas for using Google Forms, including creating self-grading quizzes, over at Glenn Wiebe's HistoryTech blog.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Take our year-end survey and maybe win a prize

It snuck up on me! Yesterday was Rapelje's last day of school! That means it is time for my annual, year-end survey.


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 fifth, fifteenth, and thirty-first 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, May 8, 2017

Looking forward to the Fall: the Montana History Conference plus Regional Workshops

Save the Date! The Montana Historical Society is putting together an amazing program for the 44th Annual Montana History Conference, the theme of which is "Montana, 1917: Time of Trouble, Time of Change." The conference will be held in Helena, September 21-23, 2017. 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 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 Hamilton 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 5, 2017.  Awards will be announced the following week.

Applying for a scholarship is quick and easy. Apply online.

Can't make it to the history conference? Jim Schulz is heading back on the road with is amazing workshop, "Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core."

He'll be in Hardin at the Big Horn County Historical Museum on September 29 and Livingston at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum September 30.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

More on RAFT assignments

After reading the post "Raft Writing and World War I," Sue Dailey, a long time middle school teacher, reading specialist, and teacher consultant for Montana: Stories of the Land, wrote an enthusiastic endorsement of RAFT writing that I thought was worth sharing. 
I’m thrilled that you are recommending RAFT writing to your members! ... I used it many, many times in my Montana History curriculum.  The things I like best about RAFT are

  1. the students really need a good understanding of the content to be able to write a good RAFT paper, so all the good study/reading strategies (notetaking, transformation, discussion) come into play before writing;  
  2. it is especially effective when LA/Social Studies teachers are teaming or when the teacher is teaching both LA and history – the LA part is the actual writing instruction and reading sources (e.g. narratives, letter writing, journaling) and the history teacher applies those skills to content; 
  3. RAFT assignments allow students to learn what “voice” in writing means as they take the role of a person involved in events and have the opportunity to show emotion and opinion.  
She also very generously sent some of the RAFT assignments she used when she taught 7th grade Montana history, which you can access here. These include applying to join the Corps of Discovery, a letter home from the Montana gold fields, and testimony for a town meeting hosted by the EPA about drilling for oil and natural gas along the Rocky Mountain Front. She said grading these was a lot more fun than grading traditional essays. Bonus!

If you haven't already, I encourage you to check out the RAFT assignment we created for our Montana and the Great War project. And please feel to email me your favorite RAFT assignment so I can share it to the list.