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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Stipends for Summer PD

It's January, which means it's time to start day-dreaming about summer--and particularly summer opportunities to recharge and reconnect with your love of history and the humanities through professional development. 

I'm a huge fan of the NEH's Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers, which offer tuition-free opportunities for K-12 educators to spend between one to four weeks on in-depth study of a humanities topic. NEH stipends of $1,200-$3,300 help cover expenses for these programs, which next summer include Discovering Native History along the Lewis and Clark Trail (Billings to Bismarck), Teaching Native American Histories (Martha's Vineyard and Cap Cod, MA), Re-Enchanting Nature: Humanities Perspectives (Helena), and The Battle of the Bighorn and the Great Sioux War (in Billings). You can find a list of all the different options from Shakespeare to the Civil Rights Movement to the The First Amendment in 21st Century America here. (Deadline to apply is March 1, but applications are competitive and typically require written recommendations, so start early!)

NEH isn't the only organization that provides dynamite teacher workshops.  The Gilder-Lerhman Institute of American History also is also offering a series of workshops this summer, including one on Westward Expansion, led by western history rock star Patty Limerick. (Program is free plus participants are offered a $400 stipend to reduce travel costs. Deadline to apply is February 18--and there are hoops to jump through to be eligible, so start early!) 

Once again the Montana Network of Holocaust/IEFA Educators is hosting "Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All. The seminar is for all educators, grades 4 through college professors, who are currently teaching or interested in teaching the Holocaust and/or the Indian Education for All. Held on the campus of MSU-Billings, June 9-15, 2019, this intensive, inquiry-based seminar bridges past and present. Participants build background knowledge about the Holocaust and IEFA and gain writing-based classroom strategies for building community and processing difficult information. The seminar is free (three graduate credits are available for $135) and includes copies of selected books and teaching materials, lunches and most dinners, several field trips, and the opportunity to apply for mini-grants of up to $1,000. Low-cost dorm housing is available.

Finally, a colleague asked me to let folks know about the USS Midway Museum's Institute for Teachers in San Diego: The Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. Participants receive a $1000 stipend plus travel support, instructional materials and meas aboard ship. They have never hosted a Montana teacher and are very eager to recruit one (we're one of only 6 states they haven't touched and they are going for fifty.) Application deadline is March 4.




Monday, January 7, 2019

"Jigsawing" the Textbook to Make Room for Primary Source Investigations (Plus Links to Fur Trade Resources)

Friends in Billings are designing a new semester class in Montana history, which has led me to think more about how I would build on the material we have available--particularly our award-winning textbook Montana: Stories of the Land--to teach Montana history. (Because, as we all know, a textbook, no matter how good it is, is not a curriculum.) Over the next few weeks I'm going to expand on a few ideas. I hope they will have immediate practical application for some of you teaching Montana history, while also providing some models that can be applied to other courses.

The first idea comes from Great Falls teacher Jana Mora, who created  her Montana Fur Trade: Four Square Primary Source Lesson Plan as part of a three-year Teaching American History professional development program coordinated by the Montana Council for History and Civics Education. Jana designed her lesson for grades 9-12, but I think it is adaptable to middle school classes as well.

Jana asked students to look at a variety of sources--journals, pictures, stories, and biographies to explore four specific areas in depth before creating a four square display with the information they uncovered.

One thing I particularly love about her lesson is her use of  "jigsawing." Jana assigns groups of students different parts of Chapter 5, "Beaver, Bison, and Black Robes: Montana's Fur Trade, 1800-1860."  Each group becomes an expert on their section. Then she reorganizes the groups so that an expert for each section is in each group and can teach the other group members. That way, everyone gets all the information from chapter 5 without having to read the entire chapter. This make sure that everyone has basic background while freeing up time to dive into primary sources.

Jana required each student to examine two journals and two pictures. Under the journals, the students create "dialectical journals, creating a dialogue by selecting phrases they find important or interesting and writing a reaction for each phrase. For each image students complete an image analysis worksheet she created called "Stepping into a Picture."

Each day of the project, Jana ends the class with a brief discussion, during which she asks, "What did you find out today that you didn't know or that challenges something you thought you knew?" What a great question! She also has students tie what they learned that day back to essential questions she posed at the beginning of the lesson plan. (Her questions included "How did beaver change the history of Montana?" "In what ways were the Indian people involved in the fur trade?" "What induced the shift in the marked from beaver to bison?" and "Who were the 'Black Robes' and what influence did they have on Indian living in Montana during this time?")

After all students have completed their four squares (which show the journals and pictures and their analyses), students complete peer evaluations, rotating and responding to each others' work. I love this part, too, because it engages students in even more sources and asks them to note connections and ask questions. Finally, students write a paragraph summarizing the overall significance of the fur trade and responding to the essential questions that kicked off the investigation.

Jana's lesson plan includes detailed instructions, a rubric, and list of likely primary sources, so it's more or less plug-and-play for Chapter 5 of Montana: Stories of the Land (though, of course, you'll want to check the links). But it is also a great model for other topics, because it balances
  1.  the need to provide background information (students can't do a good job learning about a topic or analyzing primary sources without it) with 
  2. allowing students to conduct their own investigations and 
  3. having students spend time experiencing primary sources, which is often what brings history alive.
Do you have other successful strategies for accomplishing these (sometimes competing) goals?  If so, tell me about them so I can share.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Take an IEFA Online Book Club Course for Graduate Credit

Western Montana Professional Learning Collaborative is offering two more IEFA book clubs, starting in January.

The Boarding School Era, January 7 - March 10, 2019. 30 OPI renewal units or 2 graduate credits. Registration fee: $175 (graduate credits an additional $155.)

Read and explore books focusing on the Boarding School Era including My Name is Seepeetza, Shi-Shi-Etko, Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, and Sweetgrass Basket. This course is offered online through a Moodle platform. It is divided into weekly “modules.” It is designed for kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers.

Learn more and register here.

The History of the Flathead Reservation, January 14 - March 3, 2019. 30 OPI renewal units or 2 graduate credits. Registration fee: $175 (graduate credits an additional $155.)

This online Moodle course explores the history of the Flathead Reservation by studying the following texts:

  • In the Name of the Salish & Kootenai Nation: The 1855 Hell Gate Treaty and the Origin of the Flathead Indian Reservation
  • A Brief History of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille Tribes 
  • Salish People and the Lewis and Clark Expedition 
  • Coming Back Slow: The Importance of Preserving Salish Indian Culture and Language

Learn more and register here

P.S. Best wishes for a joyful 2019.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Give the Gift of Recognition

Happy winter break! If you have time between caroling, skiing, and roasting chestnuts on an open fire (does anyone actually do that?), I hope you consider nominating an amazing teacher you know for one of the following awards. After all, what better gift to give someone you admire than the gift of recognition?

The nomination process for the 8th Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All is open from now until January 24, 2019. Please take the time to nominate someone whom you know that is an outstanding Indian Education for All Advocate. And while you are at it, register to attend the 13th Annual Indian Education for All Conference, March 2-3, 2019, Carroll College, Helena, MT.

Gilder Lehrman is looking for nominations for state and national History Teacher of the Year. Any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible for consideration. American history may be taught as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts. Nominees must have at least three years of classroom teaching experience and show

  • A demonstrated commitment to teaching American history (including state and local history)
  • Evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom
  • Effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary sources to engage students with American history. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It's not (necessarily) Montana history but...

StudentCam is C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation. This year students in grades 6-12 are asked to create a short (5-6 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the new 2019 competition theme, "What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience." With cash prizes totaling $100,000, C-SPAN awards prizes to 150 student documentaries, and over 50 teacher advisors. Entries may be submitted no later than Sunday, January 20, 2019.    

I went to look at some of the videos the students have created in the past (impressive!) and the first one I saw was No Trespassing: Seeking Justice for Native Women, which begins with an interview with Montanan and Northern Cheyenne tribal member Gail Small.

On some level, the project reminds me of National History Day in that it asks students to create a product (in this case a documentary) around a theme. If you are interested in this type of project-based competition but teach history rather than civics, you might want to think about National History Day. You can learn more about this year's NHD theme, "Triumph and Tragedy in History," at the National History Day website. You can learn more about next spring's regional and statewide competitions at the Montana NHD site. (The state competition will be held in Bozeman on March 30, 2019. And there are projected to be FOUR regionals this coming year.) Finally, you can learn about the cash prizes offered by the Montana Historical Society for the best Montana topic and the best use of digitized newspapers at the our NHD page.

This year's theme is made for Montana history. For example:
  • Triumph: The construction of the Fort Peck Dam, the invention of the Holter heart monitor, the creation of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
  • Tragedy: the Montana Sedition Act, the Hard Winter of 1886-87, the Speculator Mine Disaster, Indian boarding schools, the Marias Massacre. 
  • Triumph and Tragedy: Homesteading boom and bust, construction of the transcontinental railroads, the creation of Glacier National Park, Butte: the Richest Hill on Earth, Cobell v Salazar (the mismanagement of Indian Trust Funds and Blackfeet banker Elouise Cobell's campaign to set things right). 
Find a few starting points for researching Montana topics here. Of course your students don't have to do a Montana history topic. You can incorporate NHD into any history course you teach (and remember--you can make it work for you by limiting student topic choices to the eras/geographic regions your class focuses on.

Questions? Contact Montana's NHD coordinator and Plentywood social studies teacher Michael Herdina, who is both the brains and the brawn behind NHD's resurgence in Montana. 

P.S. To write this post, I spent a little time exploring the Montana National History Day website, which is well worth to time. It is there I found a link to this Framework, created by the National History Day Minnesota. Some of it is specific to Minnesota but a lot of it will be useful to you--especially if this is your first time incorporating NHD into your curriculum. It includes graphic organizers, lesson plans, readings, and more.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Travel Back in Time

I think the digitized newspapers on Montana Newspapers and Chronicling America are the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even the best thing since before sliced bread. 

Never explored them? Stop reading RIGHT NOW (I promise, we'll be here for you to come back to), click on this map, and choose a newspaper close to where you live. Then go to an early paper published on your birthday (or during your birthday week). 

Are you back? Good! Find anything interesting? Did you get sucked into exploring? I thought so! 

The fact is, I've never met anyone--kid or adult--who didn't like to read historic newspapers. They are, as my colleague Zoe Ann Stoltz says, the closest thing we have to a time machine.

That's why I was so pleased to learn from our Digital Projects Librarian Natasha Hollenbach that the Montana Historical Society has new content available (and a total of 579,875 pages!) to search and browse on the web site Montana Newspapers
  • The Thompson Falls Public Library has finished their huge push to make the Sander County Ledger/Sanders County Independent Ledger available. With this addition of the Sanders County Independent-Ledger (1925-1929) the whole surviving run from 1917 to 1963 is now available. Unfortunately a gap since exists from 1921 to 1924 but as far as we know no copies of these issues have survived. This particular date range is a great addition, since it was a new find which had never been microfilmed. 
  • Hellgate High School has added the Hellgate Lance (1964-1982 and 2013-2017) to their previous run of 1983-2008.
  • The Lewistown Public Library has made possible the addition of the Fergus County Argus (1920-1929), which adds to their contribution of Lewistown papers.
  • Celebrate the addition of a new city with Grass Range Review (1917-1923), made possible by the Grass Range Community Foundation. 
  • The River Press has made it possible to extend the date range for The River Press another 19 years, so 1889-1902 and 1915-1976 is now available.
  • The University of Montana Western and the Dillon Public Library has added three years of the The Dillon Tribune (2013-2015). Dillon now has papers available from 1883 to 2015!
Montana Newspapers is one of two sites where Montana's digitized newspapers reside free of charge for researchers. The other is Chronicling America, where in addition to many other titles, you can find The River Press (1880-1888 and 1902-1914) and the Fergus County Argus (1886-1906). 

Looking for ideas on how to use these with your students? Here is a past post about activities I conducted with third through fifth graders in a gifted and talented class. Here's a post from Natasha on Using Historic Newspapers to Increase Student Understanding of World War I and here's yet a post on Resources to Help You Use Chronicling America. Looking for more inspiration? Edsitement has more suggestions for you.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Montanans respond to climate change

Did you know that "Since 1950, Montana temperatures have warmed 2.7 degrees, the fastest in the nation?" I didn't. So how are Montanans responding?


The Montana Climate Assessment website begins to answer that question. If you are interested in climate change or teach about human-environmental interaction, this site is golden. It includes information on both on how climate change is affecting Montana AND information on how Montanans are dealing with it. 

For example, check out this six-minute video on climate change and flooding, and how the Musselshell community worked together to respond to the Musselshell River's 2011 flood and rebuild infrastructure based on data. 

Or this six-minute video on how climate change is affecting agriculture and ways farmers and ranchers are adapting. 

Or read about how entomologist Diana Six is thinking about climate change and what it should mean for forest management practices. Here's a preview: "A management strategy of the future may be looking at what’s left behind after beetle kill or drought, asking why, and seeing what can be done to promote the survivors' genetics reproducing." 

Here are a few other resources on climate change's affects in Montana. The New York Times recently published this article on climate change and Yellowstone, "Your Children’s Yellowstone Will Be Radically Different." And the USGS has a website on the retreat of glaciers in Glacier National Park, along with a link to this repeat photography project, and this video designed for 9-12 classrooms, in which a climate scientist answers questions about climate change and the park.