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, March 2, 2021

Nominate a Great Teacher for the Centennial Bell Award

It's been a tough year. Everyone is overwhelmed. But that's all the more reason to nominate a teacher for the 32nd Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award honoring the Montana History Teacher of the Year. Your amazing colleague deserves some recognition! And you can complete the nomination in less than two minutes. Maybe in less than one minute if you're a fast typist. 

Montana grade school principals, superintendents, fellow teachers or librarians from public and private schools are asked to nominate a 4th-6th grade teacher who has done an exemplary job teaching Montana history during the 2020-2021 school year.  

The winner and his or her class will be honored at a ceremony in the State Capitol on Statehood Day, Monday, November 8, 2021.  The winner will receive a plaque and a $4,000 cash prize toward library and classroom materials, field trips, speakers and anything else that will enhance learning in the classroom.  

How to Submit a Nomination

To nominate a teacher, send an email with your name, school, address, phone number, email address, and the nominee's name, grade, school, address, phone number and email address to Norma Ashby Smith, Award Coordinator, at ashby7@charter.net.  Deadline for nominations is March 30, 2021. 

Nominated teachers will be asked to submit two letters of support —
one from their principal, superintendent, fellow teacher or librarian, and one from a student. In addition, nominees should submit a one-page letter that details why they enjoy teaching Montana history and how they adapted their teaching of Montana history due to the covid-19 lockdowns. Judges will consider how nominees engage their students in learning, how their Montana history course recognizes cultural diversity, as well as anything else the nominees would like to share about their class or methods.

Nominees will receive further instructions on how to submit this material. Deadline for submissions is May 5, 2021. 

More about the Program

This 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 and the 1889 Coffee House in Helena. 

Contact Norma Ashby Smith of Great Falls, Montana, with any questions about the award or the nomination process at 406-453-7078 or at ashby7@charter.net

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Share What You Know and Learn New Things


Hooking Students on Montana History

The theme of next month's online PD/sharing session is Hooks! Are you looking for ideas you can use to excite your students? Do you have a great primary source, story, or strategy for bringing Montana history to life that you'd be willing to share? Either way, I hope you'll join us on March 16, on Zoom, from 4-5 p.m. for "Hooks: Humor, Story and Other Ways to Bring Montana History to Life." Register here.


Looking for Presenters

Want to help make sure there are great social studies offerings at the MFPE Educator Conference in Great Falls? Submit your application to present at the October 21-22, 2021 MFPE Educator Conference in Great Falls. 

Great Falls will be a hybrid conference offering both virtual and in-person sessions. Due to the uncertainty with the COVID pandemic, MFPE could change the platform at anytime.


Last Call

...to take our very short survey on integrating Montana's African American history into your classes. Take the survey and be entered into our prize drawing. I'll be drawing the winning ticket on March 1.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Grant Funds for Education

Our new development director came across this link to the Town Pump Foundation's Montana Education Grants. The foundation supports summer reading programs, field trips--maybe they'd pay for your bus to come tour the museum, once it is safe to travel--and much more. Check the link for more information if you are looking to fund an educational opportunity for your students.

Monday, February 15, 2021

More IEFA Links

 A few weeks ago, I posted an "IEFA roundup" and of course, I immediately came upon more links to share.

But first, don't forget that tomorrow we're hosting a sharing session from 4:00-5:00 p.m: "Montana's First Peoples: Essential Understandings." (1 OPI Renewal Unit will be available.) Register here.

And now onto the resources!

I discovered the first ones from MSU-B's Storytelling Series. The first week, Billings school librarians Kathi Hoyt and Ruth Ferris shared classroom resources before turning the stage (or rather zoom call) over to Phillip Whiteman Jr (N. Cheyenne). One of the links they shared was to the Native Memory Project, which collects "stories, histories, and cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples, early settlers, ranchers, and others with strong historical ties to the cultural landscape of the American West, especially those that pass on knowledge which is in danger of being lost or forgotten." The Wyoming-based project features short videos, including ones by Crow elder Grant Bulltail, who we recently lost to COVID. My favorite feature is its "Memory Map," which connects the stories to particular places.  

The second week of MSU-B's Native Storytelling Series featured former Montana poet laureate Henry Real Bird (Crow), and Ruth and Kathi focused on poetry resources including, of course, OPI's Birthright: Born to Poetry - A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry and the video series featuring poets reading their poems as well as a map created by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Muscogee) of Native poets

Speaking of OPI's Indian Education Division, they have a surprising number of videos, which are great ways for you to bring Native speakers into your classroom. Check out, for example, the eleven-minute video, Gathering Prairie Turnips with Roger White, or the two-minute "What is Indian Sovereignty?" with Ray Cross (a really good, concise definition for upper grades of a complicated term). 

I also recently learned about a new self-paced course from Gilder Lehrman, "American Indian History: Recasting the Narrative | Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History."  Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone), professor of history and American studies at Yale, leads the course, for which you can receive a certificate of completion for 15 hours. The course costs $29.99 for affiliates ($39.99 for everyone else)--I could be wrong, but I believe that any teacher can sign their school up to become an affiliate at no cost.  

Finally, the American Indian Library Association has created a reading initiative called Read Native 21--a game, per Kirkus Review, "that asks readers to seek out books and other resources in a variety of categories. The kids' challenge is laid out like a bingo game, with a grid of 2 squares promising a great deal of variety for readers." It's worth reading the Kirkus article for book suggestions that meet the challenge. I printed my challenge sheet. Will you join me? 


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Every Month Should Be Black History Month

If you incorporate African American history into your classrooms (and I certainly hope you do), how do you relate it to Montana? And what resources do you need to do a better job teaching your students about Montana's African American history? These are not rhetorical questions! We  really want to know, so I created this simple survey--take a few moments to help us out and have your name entered into our prize drawing. Act now to shape future resources from MHS and for a chance to win. I'd appreciate it!

Meanwhile, if you are looking to incorporate more Montana African American history in your classroom, check out these resources:   

P.S. Don't forget to register for our upcoming PD, "Montana's First Peoples: Essential Understandings. It will be held February 16, 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Register here.  


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Integrating Montana History into US History

We've been hosting monthly meet-ups for teachers to share different ideas and resources around a variety of topics. Next session is Tuesday, February 16, from 4-5, where we'll be talking about Indian Education for All. (Register here). 

The last session focused on how, why, and when U.S. history teachers should incorporate Montana history into their American history classes. Despite technical difficulties (user error on my part), the conversation was interesting and I thought that some of you who weren't able to come would appreciate hearing about the resources and ideas. 

In general, attendees agreed that highlighting the connections between national (and world) events and Montana made them more interesting to their students. Here's some of the ways to bring the story home: 

Big Fork high school teacher Cynthia Wilondek shared resources on Montana and World War I, including a county history project her students did that looked at the Flathead Valley during the war. (If you want to do a similar project for your county, email me.) She also talked about having students build what she called "over under timelines"--a technique that allows students to compare two  places at different times (e.g., Montana and the larger US during the Great Depression) OR two different time periods (she often has students compare the 1920s and 1960s.  

Miles City elementary teacher Kelsey Kerney talked about using Visual Thinking Strategies to analyze cowboy photos she found in the new Coming to Montana unit we just published for fourth grade Montana history.  

I shared one of my favorite lesson plans: "Letters Home from Montanans at War." Designed for 7th-12th, and perfect for a Veterans Day presentation, this three-to-five period unit asks students to work in groups to read and interpret letters written by soldiers at war, from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom. After engaging in close reading and conducting research to interpret the letters, they perform the letters as reader’s theater. Check out this teaser for the lesson plan, which pairs visuals from the Military Museum at Fort Harrison with excerpts from an email written by Captain Cory Swanson from Iraq in 2005.  

I can't remember who introduced the topic, but we spent quite a bit of time on the digitized newspapers from Montana and ways to use them in the classroom--from having students go shopping in the past to having them investigate a particular era (the Great Depression for example) by having them look for something fun to do AND for something about the Depression or New Deal. One project we did NOT talk about--but should have--is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's project History Unfolded, which asks "teams of citizen historians to uncover what ordinary people around the country could have known about the Holocaust from reading their local newspapers in the years 1933–1945." They have educator resources available to implement this project in the classroom.)

For this session, I created this list of resources I thought could help you tie commonly taught eras/topics to Montana. It's a work in progress--and I'm happy to add additional ideas (and share them through here) if you send me your best thoughts.   


Teaching Montana History is written by Martha Kohl, Outreach and Interpretation Historian at the Montana Historical Society.




Thursday, February 4, 2021

Interested in Local History? Apply for the Dave Walter Research Fellowship

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce the availability of the 2021 Dave Walter Research Fellowship.  The Fellowship will be awarded to up to two Montana residents involved in public history projects focused on exploring local history. The award is intended to help Montanans conduct research on their towns, counties, and regions using resources at the Montana Historical Society. Research can be for any project related to local history, including exhibit development, walking tours, oral history projects, building history or preservation, county or town histories, archaeological research, and class projects. Each fellowship includes a stipend of $1250.  For additional information and application instructions, please visit https://mhs.mt.gov/research/about/fellowships/walter.

Applications must be sent as one PDF document to mhslibrary@mt.gov no later than March 15, 2020. Announcement of the award will be made in mid-April. Questions should be directed to Roberta Gebhardt, Research Center Manager, at rgebhardt@mt.gov

If you have an interest in local history, consider applying!