Thursday, November 3, 2011

Your Favorite Richest Hills Lesson Plans

Last post I asked you to send me the name of your favorite lesson plan from among those created as part of The Richest Hills Workshop. And, to encourage participation, I offered a prize to the fourth person to respond.

I was thrilled at the response. Here are the lessons your colleagues found particularly noteworthy:

Jean Murphy of Havre wrote: “I’d say the most intriguing lesson plan to me was the one by Derek Frieling, St. Joseph, Missouri, 'Miners’ Messages' (Grades 11 & 4).  Letter writing is almost obsolete.  This is a wonderful idea.”
  • The lesson pairs a high school and grade school class. High school students take on the role of miners traveling to the West. Using an online forum, they will write home describing their experiences. Fourth-grade students will write letters of reply, taking on the role of family members of the miners that remained in the East.

Carol Flint of Frenchtown wrote, “My favorite is 'The Poor City on the Richest Hill' by Marla Unruh, Helena, MT.”
  • The Grades 4-5 lesson has students creating a 3-D model representing life in Butte at the turn of the twentieth century as a way to understand how wealth and poverty existed side by side; how the few used their power and what they did with their treasure; and how the many lived in poverty.

Gary Carmichael of Whitefish liked Eric Katz, New Rochelle, New York, 'Linking the West and East in U.S. Industrial Growth' (Grade 11). He said, “It had some political cartoons I had not seen before that I could incorporate into the lesson.”
  • The lesson has students analyze primary and secondary sources to consider connections between westward expansion and natural resource extraction in the West and the economic growth and industrial development of the eastern United States. 

Karin Flint of Missoula (the winner of the Charlie Russell Journal) found three lessons she’s thinking of using:

Pat Nelson, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, “The Role of the ‘Newsies’: New York, Butte, and St. Louis ” (designed for Grade 5—but Karin’s planning to use it with 7th graders)
  • Students will research child labor, the role of newsboys in history, and how children organized to make an impact and improve their own futures. 
Mark Johnson, Shanghai, China, “The Chinese Experience in the American West” (Grades 11-12) Resources (this is the murder mystery lesson plan featured in Monday’s post)

Patrice Schwenk, Missoula, Montana, “Sacred Art: Creating a Frontier Fresco” (Grades 9-12)

  • Students will understand how murals are used to communicate a community’s cultural traditions by examining the frescoed murals painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, S.J., in St. Francis Xavier Church, Missoula.

Ruth Ferris of Billings liked Linda Oesterle, Orchard Park, New York, “Long Ago and Today” (Kindergarten—described in Monday’s post) and 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.

Betty Whiting, not a teacher but a historical fiction writer, was impressed with both “Long Ago and Today” and Mary Zbegner, Factoryville, Pennsylvania, “Using Primary Documents from the History of Montana to Inspire Historical Fiction Writing” (Grades 11-12)
  • Students will examine primary sources about Montana mining communities, 1865-1920, to become familiar with the process of writing historical fiction and to learn how research can lend authenticity to a piece of writing set in a specific age with a different life style.

Erin Oreilly from, I think Missoula, wrote “I find the murder mystery investigation [Mark Johnson, Shanghai, China, “The Chinese Experience in the American West” (Grades 11-12)] the most interesting. It is an idea outside of the box and would be interesting to many students.”

To find these lessons—and more—go directly to this link.

Too hard to remember? You can always go to the Montana Historical Society’s webpage. Then find the “Educator Resources page” in the “Outreach and Interpretation” dropdown menu. This is where we keep the goods. Scroll down Educator Resources until you find the link to “The Richest Hills” along with lots of other resources.

Thanks to all who took the time to comment!


p.s. If you actually end up teaching any of these lessons, I’d love to hear how it goes.

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