Monday, September 15, 2014

Favorite Middle School Lessons

Last week I shared elementary teachers' answers to the following prompt: “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” As promised, here are the answers we received from middle school teachers to the same question.

Chronicling America
Librarian Pam Roberts in Huntley is enamored with the digitized newspapers on Chronicling America, and for good reason "We used them for class visits/lessons in Home Ec - Advertisements on Baby/Child Care items; English - Opinions and Facts; History of the West - Upper Grade Social Studies - the Trial of Tom Horn; Social Studies - American History - scavenger hunt."

Amy Williams, who teaches Special Education at Polson Middle School, wrote: "I introduced beading (making beadwork- loom, peyote stitch, eventually straight stich) to my students this year (Native and non-Native..tis IEFA afterall!!). I will absolutely carry this through next year to focus on the art of relaxation (social) as well as planning a design (math) and follow through from start to finish (dedication, goal setting, patience, pride- life long skill).  I will add more lessons relating to different traditional and contemporary designs, as well as designs important to the artist, or to the person the gift is intended for.  We discussed the importance of respect, integrity and creative expression as well as making a design your own, not copying exactly from someone else."

Massacre on the Marias - Document based analysis from the MHS.
Elizabeth Campbell from North Star (Rudyard), used MHS's lesson plan on the Marias Massacre. "Students interpret the events based on differing accounts."

Flathead Allotment Lesson
Jennifer Graham, from Philipsburg, wrote: "A four square activity with maps from the Flathead Indian reservation showing land being taken away over time.  GREAT activity that I will do over and over and over again." You can find a good description of how to use a four-square on pages 4-5 of the "Inside Anna's Classroom study guide". You can receive a set of the amazing maps she refers to by emailing Pete Gillard.

Treaties of Fort Laramie Dissection and Debate
Sally Rohletter, from Fair-Mont Egan School, wrote: "Students were each given an individual article from at least one of the two Fort Laramie treaties to summarize for the rest of the class, then they worked collaboratively in small groups to analyze the differences between the treaties and decide why the changes may have occurred. They finished with a class discussion about better solutions that may have benefited everyone without bias."

Reports on Indian Topics and a Field Trip
Karen Degel, sixth grade teacher at Twin Bridges, wrote: "My students researched and wrote 600-800 words reports on one of the following subjects:  Jim Thorpe, The Battle of the Little Big Horn (from the Native American perspective), Battle of Lone Mountain, Pow Wows, Native American stories.  The reports were excellent, but even better, they had a much greater understanding when we took our field trip north to Havre and the Bear Paw National Battlefield."

Birchbark House
My 6th grade literature class had an awesome time reading and studying The Birchbark House this year. (See OPI's Model Teaching Unit for grades 5-8.)

Model Gold Rush Town
Trout Creek teacher Wendy DosSantos, has her 7th-8th grade Montana history students build a model gold rush town: "we create a model of a fictional gold mining town (roughly based on Bannack, etc.).  The students discuss what type of buildings would exist in their town.  After brainstorming, they choose the buildings they will model with Popsicle sticks.  In conjunction, we write  western, gold mining stories that take place in the town they have created. The model from last year is still on display in the library this year.  All the kids throughout the school have enjoyed seeing the model."

Cowboy Poetry
Whitehall Middle School teacher Kim Konen has her students writing cowboy poetry: "For the stockmen, livestock and open range unit I had the students write cowboy poetry.  The kids had a blast writing these since most of my students are from ranching families!  I played some cowboy poetry from Baxter Black and some great cowboy songs from Michael Martin Murphy and Red Stegall and the Bunkhouse Gang!" (You can find a Cowboy Poetry lesson plan here.

Native American Biography
Wendy Maratita, who teaches at Harlem Junior/Senior High School, has her 8th grade students write a "book".  "They are told to pick a modern Native American to write their book on. I usually tell them from 1950 to the present.  This way they get an idea of what Native Americans are doing in a more modern era.  They are usually surprised to see athletes, singers, actors and various other artists, as well as politicians and activists. They are given what each part of the book is (frontispiece, end papers, title page, chapters, glossary, etc) and they write a book about their person."

Evelyn Cameron Unit
Cindy Hatten, from Frank Brattin Middle School in Colstrip, wrote: "I taught a lesson on Evelyn Cameron.  I used the video on her, besides reading 2 books on her.  I put in for 'One Class at a Time' and was awarded a $300.00 scholarship.  With this I was able to take the entire 7th grade class on a trip to the Prairie County Museum and the Evelyn Cameron Gallery in Terry MT." (The movie she is referring to is "Evelyn Cameron: Pictures from a Worthy Life." The Montana Historical Society also recently posted Evelyn Cameron's diaries from 1893 to 1928 (and transcripts!) online as part of the Montana Memory Project. The diaries chronicle her daily life: the books she read, the chores she completed, the social events she attended, and, along with Cameron's photographs, provide a great glimpse into daily life on the agricultural frontier.)

Montana: Stories of the Land Worksheets
John Joyce, from the LaSalle Blackfeet School, wrote: "I often used the primary source worksheets from the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook. They were invaluable in helping students identify key points of information and interpreting the value of primary sources in drawing conclusions about different times, places, peoples, and events." (John may have been talking about the Learning from Historical Document units we created for almost every chapter of the textbook (See this one, from Chapter 7: Two Worlds Collide, for example. ) Or he may be referring to the skill-based worksheets we created--two per chapter--many of which ask students to analyze primary sources, for example, this one from Chapter 13: Homesteading.

Butte, America DVD
Jolene Onorati Manning, who teaches 8th grade U.S. history in Golden, Colorado, uses the DVD Butte, America to teach about the industrial revolution, immigration and unionization across America.  Jolene discovered the DVD when she joined us for a weeklong, NEH-funded educator workshop, "The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West." You can see some of the lesson plans teachers who attended the workshop created here. We'll be offering the workshop again this summer--stay tuned for details.

Other teachers submitted some very intriguing ideas anonymously:

Google Maps
"Mapping history through the use of google map and google earth placemarks."

"I taught a lesson on the importance of pemmican to Montana Indian tribes and I had my students make their own as an in class project."

Didn't have time to do the survey but have a great idea to share--a lesson you love, regardless of who created it? Email me at mkohl@mt.gov and I'll include it in a future post.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Upcoming National History Day Webinar from the Library of Congress

Just a quick note to share the invitation to this free NHD Teacher Webinar—because it combines two of my interests: National History Day and Women’s Suffrage.

Date: September 16, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM EST

Did you miss the last webinar? Watch it online here.

For more on National History Day in Montana see this post about it, visit the Montana Historical Society’s NHD page or visit the Montana State NHD page. This year’s NHD contest will be in Bozeman on March 28, 2015. Interested in learning more? Cathy Gorn, NHD director, will be speaking Thursday morning at MEA-MFT conference, following which there will be an hour NHD institute: Thursday, October 16th, 9:00 - 11:50 AM. Both talks are sponsored by MCHCE. Can’t make the institute but are interested in participating, contact Montana’s NHD director, Gallatin Gateway grade 8 teacher Michael Herdina.    

For more on women’s suffrage in Montana (including resources) see the Suffrage tab on Women’s History Matters.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reservation Ambassadors Are Looking to Engage Your Students

If you teach at an off-reservation school, there's a good chance that most of the encounters your students have had with kids from reservation schools are at sporting events--when fans and players are geared up to root for the home team. In general, such competitions are NOT particularly conducive to developing cross-cultural understanding. Wish there were way to foster positive peer-to-peer interactions between on and off-reservation students? Now there is.

Arlee teacher Anna Baldwin (author of many of the Mining Childhood lesson plans I talked about last post) is also the advisor to Arlee High School’s Reservation Ambassadors Club. The club’s goal is to develop understandings, build relationships, and dispel misconceptions about reservations and reservation schools in Montana. Members of the Reservation Ambassadors are looking to partner with classes and clubs at off-reservation schools to engage in text-based discussions and other group activities.

As I understand from Anna, the Ambassadors are interested in collaboration with middle and high school classes. For example, together the club and classroom teacher might select a film for students to watch or an essay for them to read—and then both your class and members of the Reservation Ambassadors could come together (live or via skype) for a discussion. The idea is to create opportunities for interaction and cross cultural communication. The Ambassadors are not interested in giving large, assembly-style presentations.

If you're interested in partnering with the club in your off-reservation school in person or via skype, please email club adviser Anna Baldwin at abaldwin@arleeschools.org

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mining Childhood Lesson Plans

Offering a child-centric view is one way to make history more real to students. Our newest resource will help you do just that.

Published by the Montana Historical Society Press, Mining Childhood: Growing Up in Butte, Montana, 1900-1960 offers a child’s-eye view of the Richest Hill on Earth. The book's premise is that children were keen observers and active participants in community life, and childhood accounts of work, play, family, schooling, ethnicity, and neighborhood life offer fresh perspectives on Butte.

We've posted five excerpts (ranging from 5 to 45 pages) as PDFS for free download.
We've also posted six Common Core aligned lesson plans, five of which were written by 2014 Montana Teacher of the Year Anna Baldwin and include reading strategies that you might want to adapt for use with other complex texts. We thought the reading strategies she used in her fourth grade lesson on "Play Places in Butte" so interesting that we filmed her modeling the lesson with the help of fourth grade teacher Dan Ries and Mr. Ries's students at Arlee Elementary School.

Check out the lesson plans (two elementary, two middle and two high school), the videos, and the text excerpts on our Mining Childhood Classroom Resources page. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Favorite Elementary Montana History, IEFA or Heritage Education Lessons

Every spring, I survey readers, both to get feedback on how to make Teaching Montana History better, and to gather everyone’s favorite lessons so I can share them with the group. I love learning what has actually worked in the classroom—and being able to share teacher-approved lessons—so, without further ado, here are answers from elementary teachers to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” Stay tuned for future posts featuring the answers from middle and high school teachers.

Mapping Montana, A-Z. Jennifer Hall, who teaches fourth grade at Eureka Elementary wrote: “I love the Mapping Montana:  A-Z lesson.  My students really get into the project and compete to find the most miles as they travel from city to city.  It's a great way for them to learn map-reading and about our great state as well.” (Although you can teach this unit using the online resources, and maps ordered from Travel Montana, you might also be interested in ordering the Montana Place Names mini-footlocker, which includes 10 copies of Montana Place Names book.

Archaeology/Montana tribal history. Jan Clouse, who teaches fifth grade at Target Range School, wrote: “Students decorated clay pots with information about a MT tribe. We used the 5 themes of geography to decorate the pots. Then I broke the pots into large pieces and buried them. The students excavated another groups' pot and deciphered what they could learn about that culture from the potshards.” (For other archaeology lesson plans, see the footlocker Stones and Bones or the Montana Ancient Teachings curriculum. I really like the Montana Tribal History Timelines Julie Cajune created as a starting point for studying tribal histories.)

Digitized Historic Newspapers. Sarah Schmill, who teaches 5-8 social studies at Potomac School, wrote: “At Thanksgiving time, a lesson idea came across using old newspapers to look at then and now.  I used it with 5-8th students; they enjoyed the initial lesson idea, then really got into looking at the old papers/ads.”

Marla Unruh, librarian at Broadwater Elementary School in Helena, also had her students research in historic newspapers: “I used the online edition of the Helena newspaper for Dec. 20, 1889, to compare with a current edition.  Students were impressed with the advertisements of yesteryear and enjoyed comparing them with today.  We looked up price equivalents, names of clothing items then, etc. We talked about the need for woolen underwear in homes with no central heating.” (For more on Chronicling America, a joint project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, see earlier posts here and here.)

Missoula Bicycle Corps. Kathy Gaul, who teaches fourth Grade at Frenchtown, wrote: “I taught a small unit on the bicycle corps out of Fort Missoula. This was taught in connection with using the Cavalry footlocker (Cavalry and Infantry: The U.S. Military on the Montana Frontier). I used a couple of books, one was called Iron Riders. I also used a DVD on the bicycle corps that I got at Fort Missoula. Next year, I am also going to include a guest speaker from Fort Missoula.”

Buffalo and County maps. Bonnie Boggs, fifth grade teacher at Garfield Elementary in Miles City, wrote: “IEFA.  Study of the buffalo and making buffalo robes for story writing: (paper sacks)  Also, making a giant Montana map of the counties: cutting them all out and being able to put it all back together again like a puzzle.  Filled an entire bulletin board.  Kids learned locations very quickly.” (A great source of information on hide drawings is "The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives". A copy was donated to every Montana public school library, or you can find the curriculum online.)

Comic Life Presentations on Montana Reservations. Linda Lynch, librarian at Central-Lincoln Elementary in Helena, wrote: “Reservations of Montana was taught as a collaborative project with the fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Susan Robinson.  Students had to find the original areas used by the tribes, their current reservation area, their type of government, the reservation population, what industry was available on each reservation, what type of college was available, and what type of natural resources were unique to each reservation.   They created a ComicLife presentation to share with others.  Each ComicLife had to include primary source pictures.”

Birchbark House. Traci Manseau, at Deerfield School, wrote: “I taught the Birchbark House this year and found it wonderful and full of lots of writing.” (See OPI's Model Teaching Unit for grades 5-8.)

Montana Reservations/Montana Indian Reading Series. Shana Kimball, who teaches third grade at Kessler Elementary School in Helena, wrote: “We use the Montana maps that I received at a workshop a couple of years ago. We identify all of the reservations in Montana as well as cover lots of other great map skills. There are many good read alouds and legends that we share in 3rd grade tied to the tribes in Montana.”

Cindy Glavin, Media Specialist at Big Timber Grade School, also likes the Indian Reading Series. She wrote:” I use the Northwest Reading Series a lot with my [fourth grade] students as well as a number of the books that OPI have sent our library. I use these story to teach about oral story telling with my students.  We discuss the importance of oral story telling in Native American culture. I then have student create their own ‘how something came to be’ stories and share them with their classmates around a fire pit.” (OPI donated copies of Northwest Indian Reading Series books to Montana public elementary school libraries. We also lend out classroom sets as part of the Montana Indian Stories Lit Kit footlocker, via our traveling footlocker program.)

Other educators contributed anonymously:

Sharing oral tradition and historic photographs: “Since most of my students are Northern Cheyenne, I teach a lot of history and culture, much of it from oral tradition. With the younger students, I often have related coloring pages for them to work on while I speak, or I type a story in simple words and have them read it out loud--often having the boys read one paragraph then the girls read the next one, so they can all practice reading aloud.  I also give out copies of old photographs taken on the reservation, and we discuss where and when they were taken, then they can take them home and share them with their parents--many of the photos depict their grandparents and great-grandparents.”

Historical photos and historical fiction:  “A lesson in Montana history about the gold mining in Montana.  Linking the gold rush in Alaska with the Eric Hegg photos and the book by Will Hobbs Jason's Gold and how Montana's gold discovery led to the statehood of Montana, mining, and the European and Asian influences we have here in Montana.” (Last year another teacher also told me about her project having students read the fictional Jason’s Gold, about the Klondike Gold Rush. After her students finished the novel, they used the database of Hegg photos from the University of Washington library to search for an illustration. They then wrote a photo caption and found a quote in the book that the photo illustrated. I loved this idea and worked with a teacher to adapt it for her high school students as they read Fools Crow. I bet it could work well with many other books--both historical fiction and autobiography/memoir.)

Footlockers: “Montana Historical Society footlockers to use in the library.”

Still looking for ideas for teaching Montana history at to elementary students? You might find this post, Teaching Montana History in Fourth Grade, useful.

Didn’t have time to do the survey but have a great lesson to share—one you love, regardless of who created it? Email it to me at mkohl@.mt.gov and I’ll let folks know.

Stay tuned for Favorite Middle and High School lessons in the next weeks.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Montana History Conference Scholarships

Don’t forget: We have travel scholarships available to teachers (and students) wishing to attend the 41th Annual Montana History Conference (held this year in Helena) September 18-20. 

In recognition of the territorial sesquicentennial, this year’s theme is Montana Milestones. In recognition of the women’s suffrage centennial, this year’s educator workshop will focus on teaching Montana women’s history. Scholarship applications are due September 3.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

National History Day Theme for 2015: Leadership and Legacy in History

I'm breaking into the summer break to let you know next year's National History Day theme: Leadership and Legacy in History . At least one teacher told me she thought it would be useful information to have this summer as she prepared for the next school year, so I thought I'd blast out the information statewide.

National History Day projects are a great way to better align your history curriculum to the Common Core. (More on that here).

The theme "Leadership and Legacy" can apply to almost any era of history: Montana topics could include people (like Chief Plenty Coups) or organizations (like the Women's Christian Temperance Union). It can be a lens through which to study military history (Sitting Bull), environmental history (the leaders who left us the legacy of the Wilderness Act), political history (Governor Dixon and the Mine Metals tax), labor history (Frank Little), or social history (the leadership of women's clubs in the creation of Montana libraries). The theme works equally well for American and World history subjects. And remember, neither the leader nor the legacy has to be a good one--there's plenty of room to study the jerks of history as well (I'll let you name your own--since one person's jerk is another person's hero.)

My understanding is that next year's state contest will be held in Bozeman in March or April. As the Montana Historical Society has the last two years, we'll be offering a $500 prize to the student project that best uses historical newspapers digitized through Chronicling America. We also have bibliographies that students can use as starting points for projects.

I know that the Montana Council for History and Civics Education is bringing the director of NHD to speak at MEA in Missoula and will also be hosting a session on the benefits of adopting the NHD model into the classroom. (Check them out on Facebook and Pinterest).

High school teachers and librarians might also be interested in taking the graduate course that NHD is offering beginning in September 2014. The class is for teachers and librarians "who want to implement a project-based curriculum into their secondary classrooms using the framework of the NHD program. The course will provide practical advice as well as pedagogical strategies. Teachers will earn three graduate credits from the University of San Diego while creating classroom-ready materials customized to the needs of their students."
  • Course Dates:  September 15, 2014 to December 15, 2014
  • Cost:  $600 (includes graduate credits and all materials)
  • Click here for complete details or register.
  • Registration is limited and will close on Friday, August 15, 2014.