Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using historic photographs to complement the study of literature

I've talked to several teachers who've had success integrating historic photographs in their students' study of historical fiction.

Jason's Gold (the story of a journey to the Klondike gold rush) is based in part on the authors' research in the Hegg Photograph Collection. So it's no surprise that Hegg's photos make perfect illustration for the novel. A teacher (I'd give credit, but I'm drawing a blank on the name) told me that she had her students visit the Hegg photo database after they'd finished the novel to choose a picture (or three) to illustrate different chapters. She asked them to choose a quote to demonstrate what passage they were illustrating and to write a paragraph about the historical image.

Jill Van Alstyne of Helena High had her sophomore honors students visit the Montana Historical Society Research Center as part of their study of Fools Crow. They had several tasks (see here), but one of them was to find a historic photograph that illustrated a way that non-Indian immigration to Montana changed the world that Montana Indians knew. The actual assignment, called "My Home Montana" is copied below:

My Home Montana
Different people throughout time have called Montana “home.” For example, the Pikuni band of Blackfeet in the 1800s made their home in northern Montana, and their lives in connection to the land are described by James Welch in his historical novel Fools Crow.
How did white immigration into Montana change the world that natives knew? Find one photograph that illustrates an aspect of this transformation. Answer the following:
  • Who took the photo (if known)?
  • When and where was it taken (if known)?
  • For what purpose do you think this photo was taken? (advertising, family history, documentation, etc.)
  • How does the photo illustrate this transformation? (Write one paragraph)
  • Staple your paragraph to the photocopy of the photo you chose and turn it in for 35 points.
Have you had success using historic photographs to enrich your study of literature? Let me know what's worked in your classroom, and I'll share out.

For more ideas for teaching with photographs, see here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Great PowerPoint-based Lesson Plans

Last year we revamped our website. I tried to be conscientious about updating all the links that broke as a result, but last week, while preparing for the MEA-MFT educator conference, I realized that the links to download the PowerPoints haven't been working. We've fixed these now and I highly recommend both lessons for fourth grade and up.
"Picturing the Past: Understanding Cultural Change and Continuity among Montana's Indians through Historic Photographs" is a two-day learning activity designed to complement Chapter 11 of the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook. The activity challenges students to examine historical photographs while considering issues of cultural change and continuity over time.
The Montana Historical Society created the lesson plan "Railroads Transform Montana" to complement Chapter 9 of the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook. The lesson -- which includes a PowerPoint presentation -- emphasizes the how trains affected the social, economic, and physical landscape of Montana.
We do our best to keep our links up to date, but I need your help. If you ever come across a broken link in material the Montana Historical Society has produced, please let me know. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

IEFA sessions at MEA-MFT

Jennifer Stadum at the Indian Education Division of OPI created this handy list of all the IEFA related sessions she could find at MEA-MFT. Thanks, Jennifer!

MEA-MFT: IEFA Related Sessions Cheat Sheet


K-12 MCCS for Mathematics with IEFA – Justine Jam
08:00 AM - 08:50 AM      SHS206
This workshop is to provide “processes and proficiencies”, which includes problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. Integrating IEFA within a culturally relevant context allows students to investigate mathematical reasoning and apply the concepts to solve problems in everyday life, society and the workplace.

Montana Indian Poetry-Themes and Strategies – Dorothea Susag
* (Offered once Thursday and once Friday)
09:00 AM - 09:50 AM      MCAD05
Using Birthright—Born to Poetry: Montana Indian Poetry, participants will practice reading/writing strategies that meet MCCS while they make connections between lessons/texts/units they teach and poems in this collection. Each will receive a copy of the collection.

Analyzing Historic Images to Meet MCCS (7-12) – Deb Mitchell
10:00 AM - 11:50 AM      SHS246
Deb Mitchell, Program Specialist at the Montana Historical Society will demonstrate analysis of historic images through Visual Thinking Strategies along with the importance of learning to source images, and aligning to meet MCCS for grades 7-12.

The Round House: A Book Trailer – Anna Baldwin
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM      MCAD05
Arlee HS students’ collaborative project, a digital book trailer for Erdrich's The Round House, will showcase their critical thinking about the plot and characters and demonstrate how digital literacy can simultaneously address the Common Core standards and Indian Education for All.

Saving Lives with IEFA – Mike Jetty
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM       SHS244
Saving lives with IEFA. Affecting more lives than all other preventable deaths, tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death, annually killing 1,400 Montanans. The tobacco industry spends $27,000,000 marketing in Montana yearly. Use IEFA content to show students how culture, media, technology, and tobacco marketing influence choices.

Native People of the North - Donna Love
01:00 PM - 01:50 PM       SHS502
From time immemorial Native Alaskans have lived a subsistence lifestyle getting everything they needed from nature. Explore the main groups of the Far North and how they lived before "first contact" (with Europeans), including food, shelter, clothing and where they lived.

Information Transfer the Key to Human Development – Tim Ryan
02:00 PM - 02:50 PM       Auditorium
Human Development is based on effective transfer of knowledge and information. From our ancestors beginnings on this earth we have been passing down the knowledge to keep ourselves safe, comfortable and prosperous. Will we be able to continue in light of future doom? TEK or Traditional Ecological Knowledge maybe the answer.


Indian Sports Mascots and Critical Literacy – Mike Jetty
02:00 PM - 02:50 PM       SHS244
 “What’s the big deal with Indian mascots, why don’t they just get over it?” This session will examine the hegemonic forces that helped shape the current social environment that allows for ongoing stereotypical portrayals of American Indians. The workshop will provide resources and strategies for teaching contemporary American Indian issues.

Native Games of the North - Donna Love
02:00 PM - 02:50 PM       SHS502
From time immemorial, Alaskan Natives have lived a subsistence lifestyle gathering everything they needed from nature. They developed games of strength, endurance, balance, and agility to stay fit through the long winter months. Join author Donna Love to learn about these unique games.

Mentoring, Achievement & American Indian Students - Glenda McCarthy
02:00 PM - 02:50 PM       MCAD13
We will present information about successful programs at Senior High to better engage and support American Indian student achievement, including a teacher-student mentoring program, targeted tutoring and celebrating culture throughout the school.

Contemporary American Indian Issues – Terry Kendrick
03:00 PM - 03:50 PM       MCAD13
This session will address ways to incorporate current issues in Indian Country and tribal sovereignty into the classroom.

Reading a Treaty--Loss and Survival – Dorothea Susag
04:00 PM - 04:50 PM       MCHB01
Using DVD clips, Montana Indian poems, and portions of “Agreement [regarding the Fort Belknap Reservation] made Jan. 21, 1887” participants will use reading/writing strategies to understand perspective and the ways underlying meaning of treaties impacted Montana’s Indian People and how those people have survived.


Indian Music: Even More Than Drums & Flutes - Scott Prinzing
08:00 AM - 09:50 AM      MCHB01
While drums and flutes are still important in American Indian culture, Native musicians have made significant contributions to virtually every major genre of music, including jazz, pop, rock, country western and hip-hop. Recent video profiles of Montana Indian musicians produced by Scott Prinzing for OPI will be featured.

Crossing Boundaries: IEFA Visual Arts K-12 Lesson – Teresa Heil
08:00 AM - 09:50 AM      SHS186
View the newly created IEFA visual arts model lesson and explore selected components from the learning plan. Discuss how it meets MT Standards for the Arts, IEFA Essential Understandings and also cites MCCS for ELA. Gain access to new resources which encourage students to gain knowledge about MT Indian tribes.
Montana Indian Poetry-Themes and Strategies – Dorothea Susag
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM      MCAD05
Using Birthright—Born to Poetry: Montana Indian Poetry, participants will practice reading/writing strategies that meet MCCS while they make connections between lessons/texts/units they teach and poems in this collection. Each will receive a copy of the collection.

Reaching Native students, Teaching Native Content – Molly Joyce
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM      MCAD17
How can we provide students with authentic literary voices that resonate with their own lives? What are the challenges? In this workshop, we will share ways to overcome censorship issues, particularly with American Indian texts, and we will share online resources and strategies for engaging students that address the MCCS. We will uncover how the integration of IEFA can lead to deep understandings of text.

Wanji Oyate Education Cohort Speaks Out - Jioanna Carjuzaa
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM      MCAD11
Wanji Oyate Education Cohort provides academic, personal, career, and financial support and guidance to American Indian pre-service teachers at MSU. In this session Wanji Oyate members share the barriers and successes they face as well as their experiences with Indian Education for All on their journey to joining the teaching corps.

Fort Peck PlaceNames: Integration and MCCS – Jennifer Stadum
11:00 AM - 12:50 PM       SHS243
Using the Fort Peck PlaceNames Curriculum participants will experience culturally relevant instructional practices to teach about the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation. They will gain strategies to integrate the Common Core ELA standards and use primary documents that are significant to the tribes.

Class 7 Native Language Teacher's Best Practices - Terry Brockie
03:00 PM - 03:50 PM       MCAD13
This sectional is an opportunity for Class 7 Native Language Teachers to present & share methodology of what they are doing in their respective classrooms and develop a working network or possible association of Class 7 teachers statewide. Teacher are encouraged to bring examples of their work.

Check out all the great Montana Writing Project Offerings, too!
The NWP keynote speaker is SONDRA PERL!!! Treat yourself to this amazing teacher/author’s presentation on Thursday, October 16, 10:00-11:50 at MCHB06.
10/17 –Thursday (MWP and IEFA Integration)
Heather Bruce – Writing and IEFA: 9:00-10:50 MCHB11
Casey Olsen – Stillwater Co. IEFA Driving Tour: 3:00-3:50 MCHB06
Casey Olsen – Framework for Teaching Argument: 4:00-4:50 MCHB06

Thursday, October 9, 2014


If you are attending MEA-MFT's educator conference this year, we hope you'll stop in at the exhibit hall to see us. We also hope you'll consider attending one of the sessions Montana Historical Society staff are participating in.

On Thursday, I'll be participating in an institute from 9:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. MCAD16: "Starting National History Day in Your Classroom." Presenting with me will be Cathy Gorn, director of NHD, Tom Rust (fromer Montana NHD coordinator and MSU Billings history professor), and Michael Herdina (Eighth Grade Teacher, Gallatin Gateway, and current Montana NHD coordinator).

Also on Thursday, from 10:00 a.m.- 11:50 a.m. in SHS246, my closest colleague and partner in crime Deb Mitchell will be presenting "Analyzing Historic Images to Meet MCCS." Deb "will demonstrate analysis of historic images through Visual Thinking Strategies along with the importance of learning to source images, and aligning to meet MCCS for grades 7-12."

Later on Thursday, from 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. in SHS247, Deb will present "Classroom Learning using Primary Documents and Objects." Here's the description: "Learn about the newest revamping of our footlocker program at the Montana Historical Society, Immigration:Coming to Montana. This footlocker is the first of many footlockers at the Montana Historical Society to be updated with new tools and lesson plans to serve you and your students in the classroom."

Senior Archivist Rich Aarstad will be presenting "Yes, We are a Teachers' Union" on Friday 10/17 from 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. in MCAD16. "This sectional is an overview of the creation of the Montana Education Association, the Montana Federation of Teachers, and the evolution of both organizations within the broader context of Montana's labor movement."

Later on Friday, Rich will be joined by government records archivist Jeff Malcomson in "The Blood was Still Hot: A Historical Debate." (10/17, 1:00 p.m.-1:50 p.m. MCAD13). This "in character," fictional debate between Wilbur F. Sanders LRJ & Samuel Word LDJ regarding MT Territorial politics got rave reviews at our recent history conference. The presentation will also discuss creative ways primary source documents can be used in the classroom.

It would be hard to choose between "The Blood Was Still Hot" and MHS Reference Historian Zoe Ann Stoltz's presentation at the same time (in MCAD 11): "Teaching History with Montana Foodways." Luckily, Zoe Ann is also repeating her talk from 3:00 to 3:50 p.m. Zoe Ann's presentation will "explore the endless lesson opportunities available through discussion and study of Montana Foodways." According to Zoe, "Everyone eats, everyone knows someone who cooks, and everyone craves grandma's cookies. While foods present a universal commonality, they also offer insights into our unique ethnic heritages and changes in scientific understandings as they relate to food preparation and preservation."

Lots of good sessions to choose from! I'm looking forward to hearing about the great work teachers are doing across the state, catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

p.s. I just received a note from Sam Mihara, who grew up as a former prisoner at the Wyoming Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp and is now a lecturer at the University of California. He will be giving a keynote speech on Thursday, October 16 at 1:00 PM in the auditorium and will also be part of an all day Friday, October 17 workshop (8-3:50) at Fort Missoula, What an amazing opportunity to be learn from someone who lived this history.

Monday, October 6, 2014

More on Columbus Day--and Favorite Lessons

Cheyenne Aldrich of Billings had this great idea in response to my recent Columbus Day post. "I turned the table around and asked my 11th grade US History students to prepare a lesson plan on how they thought Columbus should be taught. They got to decide what age they wanted to "teach" and what would be appropriate for that age to learn."

She also sent in some lesson suggestions in response to Favorite High School Lessons

Multiple Perspectives: One of my favorite lessons that I have students do is to look at multiple perspectives of the Battle of Little Bighorn. My "hook" is to have the students look at the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company's depiction of the Battle. I usually begin the discussion with something like "what does a beer company have to do with Custer's Last Stand?"  It seems to be a fairly nice way to get seniors to talk about perspective, biases, agendas, intentions (all of the words history teachers love) without them even realizing it. Then I have the students complete the Multiple Perspectives Assignment using the resources found on this website: http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listmultipleca.html 

After a couple days of looking at the different resources we usually end up with a nice discussion of the Battle but also about the idea "What is history?" if every event has at least this many (most are left out) different perspectives, biases, agendas, intentions, etc. how do we know what really happened? And if we don't know what "really" happened what's the point in studying history at all?

One lesson that never disappoints: This one could be used for any era, but I usually use it in relation to allotment, homesteading, the Dawes Act, etc., is to have the students write a reverse poem. Here is the example that I show the students:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA 
This poems seems to resonate strongly with students and sets the bar high...these are really hard to do! Try it with your students! For homesteading it might read dreams one way and realities the other. Another idea my be to read one way for the Dawes Act and another way against the Dawes Act. We share our poems together in class and discuss the historical significance behind each poem. Each time that I have done this in class there has been a "goosebump" moment. I think students realize how hard it is to do, so when it is done well by another student they have some appreciation. Here is an example of one that a student did pertaining to the Battle of Little Bighorn. Can you tell the two different perspectives? (Read it forward. Then read it backwards.) Oh and because I try to "practice what I preach" here is mine. When you read it down it is meant to be the perspective of  Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) to his son Inmatóowyalahtq̓it (Chief Joseph) and then, reading up, it is son to father.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Columbus Day Is Fast Approaching

It’s been a few years since I’ve written a Columbus Day post, but that’s because I don’t have much new to offer. Still, I had a recent request for ideas on how to teach the holiday, so I thought I’d reshare this 2012 post, which still feels relevant for those looking for material on Columbus (or the Columbian Exchange). 

Not mentioned in that post are the very good resources from the Zinn Education Project on "Rethinking Columbus" or this recommendation from Ginny Weeks from Blackfoot Community College: "Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, is a good book which I have read to classes on Columbus Day.  It's very well written, easy to read aloud, and appropriate for children, but it works for all ages.  Here's link to information about it."

If you have other suggestions for recognizing Columbus Day, do send them along and I'll share with the group.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Primary source based lesson on Montana's landless Indians

It's been seven years in the making, but good things are worth the wait. I'm pleased to announce that  "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction" is now ready for classroom use. This  week-long primary-source based unit designed introduces students to the history of the landless Métis, Cree, and Chippewa Indians in Montana between 1889 and 1916, while giving them an opportunity to do their own guided analysis of historical and primary source materials.

The curriculum asks students to wrestle with issues of perspective, power, ideology, and prejudice and to closely examine the role of Montana newspapers played in shaping public opinion toward the tribes’ attempts to maintain economic independence and gain a land base and political recognition.

Intrigued? Here's some other notes on this curriculum:

  1. It is primary-source rich. The unit includes over fifty photographs, newspaper articles, oral history excerpts, and letters. Even if you don't have time to teach the entire unit (and you may not, see point 6), I'd encourage you to download it to look through the primary sources to see if you can integrate just a piece or two into your curriculum. 
  2. It is aligned to the ELA Common Core and Essential Understandings. Worksheets demand students read closely, interpret words and phrases and especially tone, assess point of view, integrate content presented in diverse formats, delineate and evaluate claims, and compare how different texts address the same topic.
  3. It deals with difficult subject matter. Many of the primary sources are shockingly, eye-openingly racist; even as reading them can be uncomfortable, studying these unvarnished accounts can give students a deeper understanding about our shared past. 
  4. We say the unit is appropriate for grades 7-12 but because of the difficulty of the subject matter, the quantity of material, and the complexity of some of the texts, it might be more appropriately used in high school and college classes than in middle school. (I'd love to check this perception--so if you teach this--at any grade level--let me know how it goes.)
  5. It tells a story most of us don't know. This is worth reading, whether you teach it or not, to gain new knowledge of an under-told history. 
  6. It is long--141 pages long. The unit is designed to "jigsaw"--so different groups of students are responsible for mastering and presenting different aspects of the lesson. Nevertheless, it will take six days (or possibly a week with homework) to complete the unit. 
I'm very excited about this unit--and very curious about how it plays in the classroom. Whether you teach the unit as it is designed, just copy a few of the primary sources to teach, or just read it for background, I'd LOVE to hear from you. Email me your thoughts at mkohl@mt.gov.