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.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ideas and Resources Gleaned from the Montana History Conference Teacher Workshop

We wrapped up a successful educator workshop and history conference last week (thanks to all who came)! Among the highlights of the workshop for me were presentations by Anna Baldwin and Shawn Orr (Arlee) and Phil Leonardi (Corvallis).

Anna (who teaches high school) and Shawn (who teaches elementary) talked about allotment and shared techniques for getting students to look at this difficult issue. These techniques included “jigsawing,” a “tea party,” and using a “four-square.”  Shawn has a lesson plan that spells out jigsawing in more detail, as well as links to full text of the Flathead Allotment Act, the document we analyzed as a group.

For the “tea party”—we each received a snippet of the act that opened the Flathead Reservation to homesteading and then we walked around the room sharing our snippets while trying to figure out what the document was. It was a great exercise to pique our curiosity. Anna led us in using a four square, a simple graphic organizer that asked us to analyze documents and reflect on how each piece of new evidence changed our thinking on a topic. The Educator’s Study Guide for the film Inside Anna’s Classroom, which Anna made with the Center for American Indian Policy and Applied Research, has detailed descriptions of the foursquare (pp. 4-5) and tea party (p. 12). That study guide should be posted at caipar.org soon--or email me at mkohl@mt.gov and I'll send you a copy.

High School teacher Phil Leonardi introduced us to many resources for researching homesteaders and understanding homestead life. These included Percy Wollaston’s reminiscence, Homesteading, Evelyn Cameron photographs, promotional brochures, and the PBS reality t.v. show, Frontier House. He also shared some of the projects he conducts with his students—finding falsehoods in promotional brochures, writing postcards home illustrated by Cameron photos, using Google Earth to “locate” an ideal homestead, and researching an individual homesteader’s experiences. Then he turned us loose to explore the tools historians (and his students) use: Montana Memory site, BLM GLO Records, and Ancestry.com. Phil’s exercises are on his classroom homepage; some of the resources he mentioned in his talk are gathered here.

There’s no duplicating the amazing enthusiasm and expertise these presenters shared at the workshop in an email--but the resources are worth sharing regardless, especially since we’re commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act this year.

Are you doing anything special in your classroom around the anniversary?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tools for Teaching with Historic Photographs

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about using primary sources in the classroom in which I asked readers how (and why) they used primary sources in the classroom (and what some of the difficulties were).

Fourth grade Frenchtown teacher Kathy Gaul responded: “I think for those of us that teach lower than middle school grades, it is quite a challenge.  Many primary source documents are too wordy and complicated for our kids.  I have found photos to be the most engaging primary source for my 4th graders.  Even when I am super excited about something, telling them ‘This is the actual whatever!!’, they aren’t that impressed. I don’t think they have lived long enough to have much of a perspective on history.”

I’m always glad to hear what resonates with students. So in honor of Kathy’s email, I’d like to share with you two new tools I’ve discovered for teaching with historic photographs.

  • Crop It. Crop It is a four-step hands-on learning routine where teachers pose questions and students use paper cropping tools to deeply explore a visual primary source.
  • Primary Source Thinking Triangle Activity. According to the creator, “This activity requires students to use higher level thinking skills as they interact with a primary source image. The thinking triangle also gives students practice in the visual equivalent of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) reading anchor standard 2.” I was incredibly taken by this simple tool for pushing students to look deeply at images and the Thinking Triangle is a new contender for my favorite primary source analysis tool. (If one of you would volunteer to try it with your class and let me know how it goes, I’d be VERY appreciative.)
Want to incorporate more historical photographs into your lesson plans? You may also find these earlier posts of use:
Library of Congress also offers an online training module on analyzing historic prints and photographs. You can earn 1 OPI renewal unit on completion of the module. Find the link on our Online Professional Development page. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Lesson Plans/Resources High School

Last spring, I asked your colleagues: “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson, project, or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.”

Here are the answers from high school teachers:

“National History Day was great. Most students really enjoyed it.” Anonymous. Find more about National History Day here.

"I don't know if it is ‘best’ but students enjoy putting Slade on trial. We read Dimsdale's chapter and Twain's version.  He is found guilty perhaps 50% of the time.  If students do it right, we have a decent discussion of life in the 1860s.  We then discuss the sources (did the authors have motives) and then examine the textbook (Montana: A History of Two Centuries).  On what sources did the textbook writers rely?  Does that make a difference?" Bruce Wendt, Billings

"The Surrounded, by D’Arcy McNickle; Playing for the World: The 1904 Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School Girls Basketball Team." Kathryn Holt, Havre [OPI has a model unit on the Playing for the World DVD.]

“I used Playing for the World (PBS) to compare and contrast life at the boarding schools when reading the novel When the Legends Die by Hal Borland.” Anonymous

“I use the teaching trunks throughout the year.  I also use parts of the IEFA teaching model for the book Killing Custer, by James Welch.” Michele McGuigan, Thompson Falls

"Presenting a video regarding a Navajo rug and its authentication process.  The lesson discusses the taboos that were crossed when the rug was originally crafted in the early 1900s. This leads into a discussion and a journal entry or CRT style essay. What concerns should the owner address?  Compare the rug to the video of the Chief's blanket. How are they similar (beyond their colors and designs)?  How are they different?  Which video provided information that you found most interesting and why?
Navajo Rug Link
Chief's Blanket Link
This was an activity that I was assigned through an NAS online course at MSU last fall."  Kathleen Hughes, Dodson Public Schools, Resource Setting

“Crow Culture through storytelling and drumming. We read three chapters of Parading through History: The Making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935 by Frederick Hoxie. In the chapters we discovered our history and culture through the Crow who lived in this place.” Bill Shannon, Livingston [Editorial comment: Hoxie's book is great scholarship, and I'm very glad to see it being used in high school.]

“Plant pages listing medicinal uses of native plants. Cooking with native plants. Applying lessons of yesterday with those of today." Nancy Scott, Northern Cheyenne Tribal Schools

“I used the Library of Congress FSA photos depicting discrimination to introduce awareness to students of blatant anti-Indian sentiments and to compare that segregation to other racial discrimination in the U.S.  I created an activity for analyzing the pictures to prepare for a unit using To Kill a Mockingbird.” Tom Thackery, Roundup

“In my Montana History class, students read the Lewis and Clark journals and then they read writings from various Indian perspectives about L&C. They created a movie of their own interpretation with digital podcasts and their own photographs—hard to describe but met the criteria for IEFA, definitely.” Anna Baldwin, Arlee, 9-12

"I really liked the notice of the Bakken article in the Helena paper. A compare/contrast with Butte history is engaging. Custer Battlefield Lessons-Multiple Perspectives [There are several lesson plans that do this including this one from Gilder Lehrman and this one from OPI." Joe Kusak, Bozeman High School, 11th grade

“Using the Eloise Cobell case as the central example students explore the Dawes Act, the pros and cons, and how it still has an effect on us today.” Gary Carmichael, Whitefish, 11th grade

"I found Shawn Orr's lesson on the Hellgate Treaty of 1855 very valuable. Using the Socratic Circle approach to group learning lent itself to great analysis and discussion.” Patrice Schwenk, Missoula, 9-12
"I taught the ‘Blood on the Marias’ lesson plan. I also required my students to write 4-5 page, MLA-style papers with at least three citations per page and at least eight sources total answering one of two questions about the Baker Massacre: ‘Why did Baker attack Heavy Runner's band?’ or ‘How did attitudes to the event change over time and how did geography and ethnicity influence perspective?’ (Because we live in Helena, I required my students to do research at the Montana Historical Society Research Center.) I will definitely do this lesson again. And, I discovered that our principal Greg Upham is a direct descendant of Chief Heavy Runner—so he came and talked to the class, which was an amazing connection!" Jill Van Alstyne, Helena

And that’s it for recommendations from your fellows--unless I get new recommendations from some of you (nudge, nudge).

P.S. September 28 is the deadline for applications to participate in this year’s Big Read for My Antonia and Girl from the Gulches. Details here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Favorite Resources/Lesson Plans for Middle School

Last spring, I asked your colleagues: ““Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson, project, or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.”
Here are the answers from middle school teachers.

"I taught a get-to-know you lesson in September using Winter Counts that went well. As a school, three other teachers and I collaborated to bring a group of students to SKC for some lessons created by future educators enrolled in classes there. I hope to do both again next year." Anonymous

“I had the best time with my kids this year handing out a Montana map and having them explore it.  They asked lots of questions and it turned into a quiz to see how many towns I could locate when they asked me the name of them.  There were 3 towns I couldn't do - Olive, and two others down there in SE MT.  This turned into a great game of stump the teacher and I also found out how many kids had connections across the state with historical family information.” Anonymous

“Alzada to Zortman [Mapping Montana: A-Z] was a really useful tool. It was a good way to start the school year and get familiar with our great state!” Tedi Bishop, Dutton/Brady, 6-8

The best Montana history project I taught was the Project Archaeology Shelter unit. It covered so many aspects of history/MT history and was a lot of fun.” Pam Carey, Three Forks

"My favorite MT history lesson is my ‘Famous Montana Person Portrayals.’ The students research and dress up as a famous person in MT history, and present this as if they are actually that person.” Anonymous

“My favorite IEFA lesson/unit was about ‘the true story of the first Thanksgiving.’  I did this unit with the middle school English teacher, and we used the book 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.  This was an excellent lesson and the kids were engaged and enjoyed it." Anonymous

“The best Montana history lesson I taught this year was based around Montana’s mining history. Students also were able to visit Butte and make radio commercials for the World Museum of Mining.” Anonymous, 6th grade

“A high school English teacher and I cooperated on teaching a unit about code talkers as a literacy/history lesson for 7th graders. One highlight of the unit was when we invited in a WWII vet who told us about his experiences in the Pacific and was familiar with the Navaho code talkers.” Norma Glock, Columbus Middle School librarian.

After reading chapter 7 of Montana: Stories of the Land, I asked students to create a picture with these instructions: “Choose one tribe for this project. Create a picture expressing how your tribe handled the continuous invasion of the Euro-American. Use traditional style of Indian art. (Art examples in this chapter.)" Anonymous

“I did a GPS/Google Earth tipi ring project recently, in which the students located and marked the tipi rings from various farms in the area and put them onto Google Earth. They had a BLAST!” Brian Petchl, Scobey, 7th grade (Stay tuned for separate post on this that includes Brian’s tips for making this successful.)

P.S. Not specific to teaching Montana history but highly relevant for middle school teachers: I recently read two posts by middle school teacher Shannon Carey about strategies for teaching history that I really liked. The first is about the importance of teaching academic vocabulary. The second is about tools for getting students to practice talking about history using academic language. She teaches English language learners—but I thought her ideas were relevant to all middle school students. What do you think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

After Using the Primary Source Analysis Tool: What's Next?

I spend a lot of time encouraging teachers to use primary sources in their classrooms. See for example this post, this post, and several others tagged “teaching with primary sources.”

I’m still a true believer. But I’m starting to have some questions.
  •  Will an out-of-context exposure to a primary source stick with students?
  • Will it teach them much of anything about history and the historical process?
  • Will it engage them in higher level thinking and cause them to wrestle with perspective and point of view?
  • Will it create empathy for the people who came before them, or make them fall in love with studying the past?
Not necessarily—and that’s a problem. Sometimes I think that those of us who work in museums and archives are too quick to believe that the issue is ACCESS. We think that if students just had access to primary sources, they’d fall in love with studying history, just as we have. But it isn’t magic and simple exposure isn’t enough. (Probably those of you who work in classrooms are slapping your foreheads in mock surprise, saying “what else is new?” If so, please bear with me—we all have our blind spots.)

So, what are best practices for teaching with primary sources? Ideally, primary-source based lessons will stick with the students. Through them, students will learn about history and the historical process. They will engage in higher level thinking. They will wrestle with issues of perspective. They will gain empathy and they will fall in love with studying the past.

How do we get there?

The Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources blog has some useful suggestions in a post, “Primary Source Analysis Tool: What’s Next? Further Investigation.” The post is short and thought provoking—definitely worth reading.

I’d also be interested in hearing how YOU do it. Are your goals for using primary sources the same as the ones I listed above or are they different? And, either way, how do you use primary sources in your classroom to reach your larger educational goals?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Favorite Elementary Lessons and Resources

Last spring (before the listserv went on hiatus) I sent out a survey that included this question: “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson, project, or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.”

Thanks to all who responded! Listservers shared a lot of good ideas, which I will divide up into a couple of posts, by grade level. So, without further ado, some of your fellow teachers’ favorite elementary lessons/resources:

“We did Mapping Montana A-Z this year. The kids were so thrilled taking their road trip across the state.  They were amazed at some of the names they found—even though some of the towns were just down the road from us.  It is a keeper!” Kristin Hopkins, Bozeman, 4th grade

Tammy Elser’s unit on Jim Thorpe (Joseph Bruchac’s Jim Thorpe: Bright Path) using the Jack Gladstone song “Bright Path.” Anonymous [This lesson is available online and was donated to public school libraries.]

“I loved using the OPI IEFA Blackfeet star/creation lesson with my 4th graders.  We turned off the lights and let them spread out on the floor and view the DVD like the night sky.  They loved it.” Cindy Gavin, Big Timber [Both the Blackfeet Star Stories and Crow Star Stories were donated to public school libraries. They are also available online:
Boarding school trunk from MHS [‘To Learn a New Way.’ Order here. View the Teacher’s Guide, including lesson plans here.] I also use my own trunks to teach each reservation.” Andree Anderberg, Helena, K-5 librarian

“I teach a lesson that integrates traditional Crow designs into geometry. After learning the different designs used by the Crow in their beadwork, students look at examples of various Crow beadwork to identify geometric shapes.  Students then create their own design following the traditional Crow designs.  This lesson teaches about geometric shapes, symmetry, and Crow culture.” Anonymous

“I most definitely will let my students research a Montana topic of their choice. They research  their topic and then make travel brochures on their topic. They present these in a ‘walking museum’.” Genelle Hocevar, Great Falls, grades 3-5

“I like interaction and hands-on learning within the fifth grade classroom, so we made parfleche bags to hold all the Montana History materials we made. It was a great extension for the IEFA lessons as well. I have already been doing this project each year but will most definitely continue it.  The kids love making them, and I like the way everything is neatly kept tucked inside.” Bonnie Boggs, Miles City, 5th grade

“The lesson I taught about the effect of boarding school mandates on Montana tribes was very effective. I read excerpts from picture books and biographies about the boarding school experience. Then I had the students visualize someone coming into their own home, pulling them out, telling their parents that the children must attend school far away from home and that they wouldn't see their children again for many months or years. Next, I had the children write about how they thought it might feel. Then we discussed the experiences of what happened after children arrived at the schools, again reading excerpts from books. I asked them to think of any experiences that they'd had in their own lives that were akin to what happened to those children. I think they all realized that what happened to those kids was so horrible that we hopefully wouldn't experience much that was comparable.” Anonymous, 5th grade

It’s not too late to share what you’ve learned. If you have a favorite resource/lesson, send it in by emailing mkohl@mt.gov.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Educational Mini-Grants for Conservation and Restoration Projects

Call for Conservation Mini Educational Grants
The next deadline is September 15, 2012
The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) offers grants up to $500 to fund conservation and restoration activities for K-12 students and adults. 

To be considered for a grant, a school teacher or program manager must submit a written application directly to the local conservation district, and depending on the conservation district requirements, an individual may be required to attend a meeting to explain the project. If the conservation district agrees to sponsor the grant application, it will be forwarded to the DNRC. 

An online directory of Montana Conservation Districts will help your organization locate the conservation district office in your area.  If you have questions, contact Linda Brander,  (406) 444-0520. 

Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana, Inc. (SWCDMI)
Call for Section 319 Mini-Grant Applications
Deadline September 28, 2012
Using federal Clean Water Act Section 319 funding from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana, Inc. (SWCDMI) is seeking to fund local education and outreach efforts that address nonpoint source pollution or water quality issues. Under the FY 2013 mini-grant program, $21,000 is available. Mini-grants for up to $2,000 will be awarded. Applicants must provide a minimum of 40% in non-federal local in-kind or cash match. Applications will be reviewed by a funding recommendation panel from the Montana Watershed Coordination Council’s Outreach & Education Committee that includes individuals from a range of organizations.
Applications should be mailed and e-mailed to:
Attn: Jan Fontaine
790 Colleen Street
Helena, MT 59601

PPL Mini Education Grants
Deadline  November 15, 2012 through January 31, 2013
PPL’s $1500 grants are geared toward projects that enhance established classroom curricula, academic standards or support extracurricular activities.  Funds can be used to pay for transportation costs, substitute teachers, materials, planning time for educators, to name a few.  An invitation to submit an application will open on November 15, 2011 and the closing date for the grant to be received will be January 31, 2012.
If you have questions contact Lisa Perry (406) 237-6914.