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.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Middle and High School Distance Learning Social Studies Resources (Mostly NOT Montana History)

Last week was OPI's second week of hosting "Remote Learning and Sharing Sessions". Bonner middle school teacher and 2019 TOY Dylan Huisken, Power 6-12 social studies teacher Merrick Parnell and I hosted the session on 6-12 Social Studies and will be coming together to host another virtual gathering on Tuesday, April 7, at 2:00 p.m.
I hope you can join us. In the meantime, Dylan has been posting resources on his web site for his students to use--but who's to say your students can't use them too? Check out both the Distance Learning dropdown and the What We Are Studying Dropdown for links to websites, PowerPoints, videos, articles and more on topics from "prehistory" to ancient Rome to the American Revolution to the Civil War.

Merrick was gracious enough to also put together a list of sites and assignments he's been using to engage his students.

You can find more on OPI's Remote and Online Learning Resources page--including meeting notes for previous sessions (on social studies but also other topics) and a list of all the meetings scheduled for next week (including special meetings for Hutterite colony teachers, low-tech ideas, and using Google Classroom). 

Other Ideas Worth Mentioning

Former Colorado TOY, techie, Teaching with Primary Sources guru, and middle school teacher Michele Pierson shared some of the resources she's been turning to. The one-page tutorials on Pear Deck and Screencastify and the free US history resources listed on the Colorado Department of Education webpage seemed particularly useful to me.

You've probably heard by now that Montana PBS is offering educational K-8 programming during school hours on its station. What you may not know is how many remarkable documentaries are available to stream on their website, including several that look good for government classes, including For This and Future Generations (about the 1972 Con Con) and Jailed for Their Words: When Free Speech Died in Wartime America (which I've seen) and Wild by Law and NatureBack from the Brink: Montana's Wildlife Legacy, and Guns in the Big Sky (which I haven't).

Interested in becoming part of history?

MHS Archives has posted two surveys (one for adults and one for students) about living through this historical time. For COVID-19 diary assignments, check out these from the UC-Berkeley History-Social Science Project. They include high school, elementary school, and SPED versions among others.

Civic Online Reasoning 

I've touted this before but I think it's more important now than ever. Two very smart people recently shared with me the "good news" story of dolphins swimming in the Venice Canal. Sadly, it was yet another example of "fake news." It's true that water in the canal is cleaner now, without the tourists, but the dolphins video they saw was actually taken in southern Italy, not in Venice.

The Civic Online Reasoning curriculum will help your students (and you) learn how to avoid fake news while becoming more internet savvy (knowing that even the most savvy can get caught up sometimes). Even if you can't use the entire curriculum with your students, you might want to have them look at pieces, including videos from the ten episode "Crash Course" Video playlist on "Navigating Digital Information," created by the smart and entertaining John Greene.  (Accessing the curriculum requires registering for a free account. The John Greene videos can be accessed by anyone.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

And Yet More Resources as We Turn to Distance Learning


OPI is hosting remote learning sharing sessions using Zoom. There are multiple subject areas and grade levels to help accommodate K-12 educators and administrators. Check out the schedule here (and note especially the 6-12 social studies sessionTuesday at 2:00 p.m., led by former Teacher of the Year Dylan Huisken (Bonner) and Power 6-12 social studies teacher Merrick Parnell (I'll be there too). Sessions will not be recorded (but OPI is providing lists of resources mentioned). Here's how to tune in: 
Meeting ID: 649 930 052
Dial by phone: 1 406 444 9999

I'm also intrigued by the sessions on "low tech," pre-K to grades 2, and the technology related one (using Google Classroom, Office 365/Teams/OneNote for Remote Teaching.)

MontanaPBS is now dedicating its daytime weekday schedule to Montana state standards-aligned educational programming provided by MontanaPBS and the Office of Public Instruction. The new 6:30am to 5:30pm weekday schedule includes specific blocks of time for pre-K through 8th grade levels and covers subjects, including English language arts, social studies, science, math, and Montana history. MontanaPBS’ regular primetime schedule is not affected by this change.


I asked April Wills, a second grade teacher in Bainville and a Montana History Teacher Leader, for ideas to share with elementary teachers on good resources for distance learning. Here's how she responded:

I love these sites to engage students' interest and set the tone for our learning: 

These sites are easy to navigate and allow for students to access information outside of a textbook.

VisitMT allows for students to watch Montana TV, which is like going on virtual field trips to places around out state. There are also vimeo clips for Montana tribes.

I like to use these in the format of webquests. Quest Garden is a great resource for some premade webquests and a place where you can also make your own.  There is no “set” way to do a webquest, in my opinion, so don’t feel locked into this example process. 

A few ways to collect feedback or responses from students:
  • Answer garden
  • Pear deck slides
  • Kahoot
  • Google forms

Some other great apps to create and teach amazing virtual lessons include:
  • Educreations
  • Explain Everything
April is willing to Zoom with you if have questions--email me and I'll put you in touch.

Monday, March 23, 2020

More Resources and Hints for Teaching Online

OPI is hosting Open Office Hours March 23-26, where folks will be discussing and sharing distance learning resources for a variety of subjects and grade levels! Check out subject areas, times and simply click on the zoom link, or call in, to join the meeting! I'll be co-hosting three social studies sessions (one for K-5, one for 6-8, and one for 9-12) on March 24, so please come with ideas to share. These sessions are designed to provide teachers from across the state to brainstorm, share what's working, and ask fellow teachers for ideas and help!

OPI has also created a Online Learning website, where they are sharing information for teachers and students--including information about online privacy considerations.  

Here's what else I know:

A teacher contacted me to let me know that her school had blocked YouTube on the chrome books they lent students, so her students couldn't access the Montana Mosaic videos. About five minutes later, the Education Director at PBS contacted me about the resources they were making available on their site--among them Montana Mosaic!

Bite-size clips of other Montana history related videos are also available on PBS Learning Media (some with lesson plans), including
Glasgow Middle School teacher Laurie Enebo had this to say about the Montana: Stories of the Land online tests:

I have always given the tests as open-book, but I have also required the page number where they found their answer(s) within the chapter. The students can narrow their search by using control F on their device while they are in the online textbook and typing in key words from the test questions. I provide the page numbers for my Sped students.
Elementary school teachers: I'm wondering if you can do anything with Songs from the Indian Reading Series (on YouTube) and the Indian Reading Series books themselves? (Or is computer and internet access too much of a problem?) Links to all are in this OPI Unit.

Billings elementary librarian Ruth Ferris is asking her fourth and fifth graders to keep diaries, writing one to four sentences a day, noting that this is a historic time, just as the 1918 flu epidemic was. She plans to share quotes from 1918 diaries with her students and provide daily prompts, both of which she will post on her blog for other teachers to use if they wish. Ruth has also gathered primary source resources on the 1918 flu epidemic in Montana, which she has posted to the TPS [Teaching With Primary Sources] Teachers Network. To access these you have to set up an account with TPS, but it is free. Among the resources she posted is a link to A Fluey Diary, which was written by an MSC (now MSU) student, during the 1918 flu, which I think is appropriate for high school students. If you have your students read this and come up with questions about it, would you share them with me so I can share them out? 

Speaking of flu, I liked this Library of Congress lesson plan and primary source set, "Pandemic and Civic Virtue: The Red Cross and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918."

Glenn Wiebe has suggestions on his blog of resources--both tips for online teaching and good websites (like Doc Teach from the National Archives that you can use.)

Keep your suggestions coming! This is a crazy time for all of us, and I'm eager to do whatever I can to support you as you support your students!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Online Resources for Difficult Times

Many schools are talking about doing online schooling to contain coronavirus, and we'd like to help. The problem is, we have close to zero expertise in online delivery.  I'm very interested in crowd-sourcing what's working for you (or even what you are trying.) So, if you have time in between completely transforming your lesson plans, email me and I'll share it out.

Meanwhile, here are a few preliminary thoughts about the resources and lesson plans we have posted on our site.

1. At the suggestion of Dillon teacher Kim Konen (thanks, Kim!) we've changed most Montana: Stories of the Land worksheets into editable PDFs so students can type their answers directly on the documents. The exceptions are worksheets where students are asked to graph data or label maps, and worksheets where they are told to record their answers on a separate page since there isn't room on the sheet itself. To do this, I had to remove the lines for students to write on. If you print the worksheets, let me know if this is a problem for your students. I *could* post two versions (ones with lines and ones without) but hope that isn't necessary.

2. Of course, all chapters of Montana: Stories of the Land, along with online tests, and Teaching with Primary Document assignments are available online. (The tests make most sense as open book tests anyway.) Remember: If you are using the online tests to SAVE a copy to your own Google drive. Otherwise, i'll get your students' answers.

3.  Most of our lesson plans are written with the assumption that learning is social and teacher led. That means that they are challenging to do alone, so you might consider using elementary worksheets/lessons with middle school students and middle school worksheets/lessons with high school students. Almost all of our lesson plans have all the resources needed to complete the lesson online, including worksheets, PowerPoints, and readings. You can use AdobePro to extract the PDF pages with the readings and recreate worksheet questions using Google Docs. I'm guessing the more creative activities (say “An Artist’s Journey: Transform a Painting into Poetry”) might work better than some of our other lessons.

4. All twelve Montana Mosaic: 20th Century People and Events are available to watch on YouTube. Each episode is about 20 minutes. Most have two segments that are about 10 minutes each. All of them use original footage, historic photographs, and interviews with historians to explore important moments in Montana's twentieth-century past.

5. Now might be a great time to check out our Digital Projects, including Montana and the Great War (for which we have a scavenger hunt), Virtual Tours of the capitol and Original Governor's Mansion (an Interior Scavenger Hunt for the Original Governor's Mansion is available on pages 47-48 of the OGM footlocker User Guide), Digitized Newspapers (see past posts for ideas on how to use these), Women's History Matters (which can be used with this poetry lesson), Historic Montana (which has information on historic properties in almost every Montana county), and Montana Place Names (used with the lesson plan Mapping Montana--but that requires access to a state map--I bet you could have students chart their route on Google maps, though.)

6. I was introduced to Mission US through the online game Cheyenne Odyssey, which I think is really good (fun and good history.) None of their other games relate directly to Montana but seem like they might be a good way to learn about American history, from the American Revolution to the Great Depression. Also not Montana-history related is this list that OPI's Donnie Wetzel Jr. on Facebook of education companies offering free subscriptions during school closings.

7. Finally, one of my favorite education bloggers, Larry Ferlazzo, came up with this list of The Best Advice on Teaching K-12 Online (If We Have to Because of Coronavirus)

Please share what's working for you! And if there are ways we can support you (additional web quests using our resources, for example), let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Good luck--and know I'm thinking about you and your students!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Link Roundup

Usually, my posts have a theme, and I guess this one does too. The theme is "stuff that made me think."

Whenever I read something I think is particularly interesting, I copy the link to a file. Today seemed a good day to share them with you. Most--but not all--of them are about IEFA or Montana, past or present. Hopefully, there's something here that makes you think too.

"Montana's Grand Prairie Experiment," Montana Free Press, February 20, 2020.

Women. Then Selena Disappeared.’ New York Times, January 20, 2020. (Lesson plan includes links to articles.)

Coal plants are closing across the West. Here are the companies sticking with coal," Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2020

"A Student Found an Ancient Canadian Village That's 10,000 Years Older than the Pyramids," Archaeology World, August 16, 2019

"Ulysses S. Grant Launched an Illegal War Against the Plains Indians, Then Lied About It," Smithsonian Magazine, November 2016

"The Everything Town in the Middle of Nowhere: How the tiny town of Roundup, Montana, became a hub in Amazon’s supply chain," The Verge, November 14, 2019

"Rich Treats: Stories of Food from Eastern Montana," an online exhibit from the Montana Historical Society

"Mexico mammoths: Human-built woolly mammoth traps found in Tultepec," BBC, November 7, 2019 (they are approximately 15,000 years old!)

"Animated Maps Reveal the True Size of Countries (and Show How Traditional Maps Distort Our World)," Open Culture, April 25, 2019

"A once-powerful Montana mining town warily awaits final cleanup of its toxic past," Washington Post, February 9, 2020

"Hamilton researchers join coronavirus fight," Montana Standard, February 6, 2020. (Learn a little bit about the history of the Rocky Mountain Labs.)

"Bill aims to address Native American voter disenfranchisement," Durango Herald, February 11, 2020, and "‘What’s old is new again’: Advocates say tribal voting hurdles remain," February 12, 2020.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Professional Development Opportunities Just Keep Coming

If you are looking for in-person PD this spring in summer, we've got you covered with one-day workshops in Butte, Great Falls, Helena, and Billings. I'm also pleased to share information about a week-long seminar in Billings sponsored by TOLI.

One-Day Workshops

The Montana Historical Society will be working with local museums/archives to present two workshops for educators in April. Join us in Great Falls, on April 21, 2020 or in Butte, on April 23, 2020 for "Integrating IEFA: Interdisciplinary Approaches," for activity-based history and plug and play lessons. If you live within a short drive, you won't want to miss this workshop led by award-winning teacher Jim Schulz. Learn more and register.

What's Hot in History! A Summertime Workshop from the Montana Historical Society will be held in Billings on June 8, 2020. Join Montana Historical Society staff and members of the Teacher Leaders in Montana History program for classroom tested techniques, resources, and lesson plans guaranteed to engage your students. Check out the schedule and register.

On June 25, 2020, MHS will host the National World War I Museum in Helena for “WWI 360: Teach Like an Ace,” an interactive, interdisciplinary forum designed to last 360 minutes (six hours). This seminar—funded by the United States World War I Centennial Commission—will highlight the resources of both MHS and the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Register.

Week-long Seminar

Once again, Browning teacher Brenda Johnson and Billings educators Marcia Billedeaux Beaumont and Lacy Watson are teaming up under the auspices of The Olga Lengyel Institute to offer "Worlds Apart but Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All," in Billings from June 14-20, 2020. Designed for upper elementary through high school teachers, the seminar is FREE and includes selected books and teaching materials, lunches and most dinners. Low cost dorm housing is an option, mini-grants of up to $1,000 is available to graduates, and participants can receive 3 graduate credits for $135. Brenda hinted that this may be the last year they offer this workshop, so if you've been meaning to go, apply now.

Here's more information:

Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All is designed for individuals and teams interested in finding relevance for today in Holocaust Education and Montana-mandated Indian Education for All. In this experiential, inquiry-based seminar, participating educators will discover ways to find connections between these two topics.

Sponsored by The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI), the seminar will explore the past, including the impact of policies issued during the Holocaust and U.S. policies that have affected Native peoples in this country. The seminar will also focus on the present, as participants consider the roles – perpetrator, ally, bystander – individuals choose for themselves in their daily interactions with one another, as well as stereotypes and biases that influence interactions in local schools and communities today.

Educators will be asked to envision the world they hope their children will live in and design an action plan to help their classroom, school and/or community move toward that ideal. Program highlights include field experiences from the Billings Jewish community and the Native peoples of Montana.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Nominate a colleague who does great work

The 31st Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award will honor the Montana History Teacher of the Year, grades 7th-12th.

Nominations are due by March 31, 2020.

Montana principals, superintendents, fellow teachers or librarians from public and private  schools statewide are requested to nominate a 7th-12th grade teacher in their school who is doing an exemplary job in teaching Montana history during the 2019-2020 school year.

This is the 31st year the winner will receive the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award honoring the Montana History Teacher of the Year.  On even numbered years the Award is given to a teacher at the 7th-12th grade level.  On odd numbered years it is given to a teacher at the 4th-6th grade level.

Nominations may be emailed to Norma Ashby Smith, Award Coordinator, at ashby7@charter.net.  Nominations should include the nominator’s name, school, address, phone number, email; teacher’s name, grade, school, address, phone number and email.

All nominees will receive an entry letter with the deadline for returning  their entry by May 13, 2020.  All nominees will be notified by May 22.

Nominated teachers will be asked to submit two letters of support, one from their nominator and one from a student and a one page statement detailing why they enjoy teaching Montana history, how they engage their students in learning, how their Montana history course recognizes cultural diversity and anything else they’d like to share about their class or methods.

The winner and his or her class will be honored at a ceremony in the State Capitol on Friday, Nov. 6 at 10 a.m.  The winner will receive a plaque and $3,500 toward classroom materials, field trips, speakers and anything else that will enhance their teaching of Montana history.

The program is sponsored by the Montana Television Network, the Montana History Foundation and the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society.

Contact Ashby with any questions about the award or the nominations process at 406-453-7078 or at ashby7@charter.net.