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?

1 comment:

  1. FYI: MHS Archivist Jeff Malcomson will be presenting “Historical Anniversaries as Teachable Moments,” at the upcoming MEA conference. More information here: http://teachingmontanahistory.blogspot.com/2012/10/are-you-going-to-mea-or-mcel-we-are.html