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?