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Monday, October 31, 2011

Lesson Plans on Mining and Primary Sources

Last summer we hosted an NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers. We called it “The Richest Hills, Mining in the Far West, 1865-1920.

During the workshop we brought 80 teachers (forty during the first week and forty during the second) from across the country to Montana. We took them to Virginia City, Butte and Helena, where they went on walking tours, engaged in hands-on activities (analyzing photographs, historic structures, immigration records), and listened to experts talk about mining and its impact on Montana. At the end of the week, the teachers who attended the workshop created lesson plans inspired by their experiences.
These lesson plans are now online: http://www.archiva.net/richesthills/richesthills_11_projects.html 


Most of them deal with some aspect of Montana’s mining history—but not all of them do. (The assignment was to create something you would actually use in your class, using some of the strategies or information you gained during the week.)

They include lesson plans for Kindergarten through Grade 12—and were written by elementary, history, language arts, technology, and science teachers. Some are 50 minute lessons, others are multi-week units. Many include links to primary sources, some of which were digitized specifically for the lessons. (Newspapers reporting on the Speculator Mine Disaster, anyone?)

Here are a few examples:

Linda Oesterle, Orchard Park, New York , “Long Ago and Today” (Kindergarten): Students will examine photographs of the past and present to determine the subjects and to determine the differences/similarities between today and long ago.

Michelle B. Major, Rome, Georgia, “Perspectives from the Gulches” (Grade 8): Students will evaluate primary source material (photos, newspapers, census, maps, court records, reminiscences, etc.) and use them to write a journal detailing life in a typical boom-and-bust mining town of the 1860s.

Mark Johnson, Shanghai, China, “The Chinese Experience in the American West” (Grades 11-12): Students will investigate a 1870s murder mystery by analyzing primary and secondary sources. In so doing, they will gain research and analysis skills while deepening their understanding of American immigration policies, the gold rush, the transcontinental railroad, American foreign policy, and the Chinese experience in the West. (Digitized resources for this lesson are here: Resources.)

I didn’t get to issue a prize for the last contest (favorite tech tool) because I didn’t get seven responses. Undaunted, I’m going to try again, hoping it will encourage some of you to explore these lesson plans: http://www.archiva.net/richesthills/richesthills_11_projects.html

So—for the prize: Which of these lessons do you find most intriguing (or which are you most likely to use)? Prize (a Charlie Russell Journal) goes to the FOURTH person to email me an answer at mkohl@mt.gov.

Happy hunting.



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