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Monday, January 30, 2012

Historic Map Resources


One request we’ve gotten over the year is for more map resources.

The Society recently opened an exhibit, “Mapping Montana: Two Centuries of Cartography”—which will be on display into May 2012.

All of the maps in the exhibit are available online through the Montana Memory Project as part of the Mapping Montana and the West collection, which includes maps from both the Montana Historical Society and the University of Montana Library.

University of Montana also has its maps displayed with a slightly different interface here.

We’re making the resources more accessible—now we need your help!

  • How can you see using these maps in the classroom? 
  • What, if any, types of lesson plans would you like to see developed to aid their use? 
  • Would a PowerPoint of the maps be useful, following along the lines of the exhibit? 
  • Would you like to see specific  maps linked to specific chapters of the textbook? 
  • Focus questions for particular maps? 
  • Or???

We’re all ears—so, please send us your thoughts.

P.S. You can find the National Archives’ document analysis worksheet geared toward analyzing maps here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teaching Disasters


Last Monday, I read a story in the Helena newspaper about flooding near Townsend.

It made me remember the really devastating floods last year—and other earlier floods.

It also reminded me that disasters can be important “teachable moments” and offer a way to engage students in larger questions. For example:

  • What role did policy and human decisions play in either exacerbating or mitigating the disaster (e.g., building codes and earthquakes; zoning regulations and the construction of dams for floods; federal policy for fires)?
  • How did infrastructure (or lack of infrastructure) help or hinder disaster response? 
  • Do disasters affect everyone equally or do race and social class play a role in who suffers most? 
  • How did the community pull together in the immediate aftermath of a disaster? 
  • Did the disaster change policy, and if so, what were the consequences, both intended and unintended?
  • What should be the role of government in community planning and disaster relief? For example, should people be allowed to build in the woods? If they do, and there’s a forest fire, should the government spend resources on protecting private property?

Interested in pursuing this topic further? Here are a few references/links:

The Educator Resources Page for Chapter 12 (“Logging the High Lonesome”) of  Montana: Stories of the Land has lots of links discussing the 1910 fires and fire policy.

MHS has also created this bibliography on fire policy for students doing research.

The USGS has gathered information on earthquakes in Montana from 1925 to 2007.

Montana The Magazine of Western History published an article on how the 1964 flood affected the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, “Montana’s Worst Natural Disaster,” by Aaron Parrett (Summer 2004): 20-31 (check your library).

The Helena Independent Record put together a photo gallery, “Montana’s Flooded Past.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Museum School Partnerships



Can you help me? 

In March I’m presenting a talk titled “Working with High School Students—Benefits and Pitfalls” at the Museums Association of Montana’s annual meeting. The talk, which could equally have been titled "Beyond Fieldtrips," focuses on how to create successful museum-school partnerships. 

The idea is that in a true partnership, the students can gain valuable experience and make a genuine contribution to their communities. I'm talking about how:

  • in Great Falls, students in the Gifted and Talented program curated an exhibit on the history of area schools. It was displayed at the Great Falls History Museum which brought many visitors (e.g., the students' relatives) to the museum for the first time. 
  • in Roundup, students copied, captioned, catalogued, and archived historical photographs from the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum, to allow the public greater access to the images while protecting the originals.
  • in Chester, students worked to get two buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • in Columbus, tenth-graders created a booklet, The Crow Tribe’s Influence in Stillwater County, which complements an exhibit at the Museum of the Beartooth and is being distributed at the Museum.
  • in Red Lodge, students in the middle school computer classes transcribed oral histories for the Carbon County Historical Society.

If you’ve been part of a museum-school partnership (whether effective or not), please email me. I’d love to visit/correspond and collect more examples of what works—and what doesn’t. 

Below is the session description: 

Museums across Montana have partnered with schools and students to improve their collections and exhibits, while instilling a commitment to community and sense of stewardship in the upcoming generation. Museum-school partnerships take time and planning to be successful, but at their best, they can
  • offer students the opportunity to engage in “authentic” work for “authentic” audiences—not just for a grade; 
  • help connect students to their community and give them the chance make a contribution to its well-being 
  • provide opportunities for students to engage in original research 
  • provide willing workers for museums
  • create a new audience for museum exhibits and local history

Learn how other museums have engaged high school students in meaningful work, the steps you need to take to create successful projects, and both the promises and pitfalls of cooperating with schools and with individual high school students.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Native Daughters Curriculum Companion


In a recent post I mentioned the website Native Daughters. What I didn’t know then, but do know now, is that the Nebraska Department of Education’s Multicultural Division created a curriculum companion for the project, which you can download for FREE from their website.

Here's their description:

Dedicated to spotlighting Native American women who have defied odds, broken the mold of stereotypes and brought the powerful traditional role of the Native American woman into the twenty-first century, the Native Daughters Project is a first of its kind created by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. These women create laws, create movies and write stories that weave tradition with technology. They fight crime on the front lines and corruption in the court rooms. They heal minds and bodies. These women make beautiful bead work and music and blaze trails by breaking gender constraints and leading their tribes. And until now, their stories were untold.  Teachers who know that engaging students is just as important as complying with state standards. This curriculum was written for teachers. Content rich, standards aligned, engaging lessons are just a click away. And don’t fear, so is all the background knowledge you will need to teach your students about these Native Daughters.    

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

National History Day--It's Not Too Late


Planning on having your students participate in National History Day this year? 


If so, check out this website that Montana City middle school teacher Moffie Funk put together this webpage to help her students learn more about the program.  It is a great resource for students creating NHD projects.


Encourage your students to contact the History Team Commandos at MSU-B. This valuable resource can provide support, access to academic articles, and more—making your job easier and your students’ projects better. 


Make sure to contact Tom Rust and let him know your students plan to participate.


Unsure about the NHD but want to learn more? 


Start with Moffie’s website. It’s a good introduction for teachers, too. 


Visit the National History Day website, the Montana National History Day website, or the Montana Historical Society’s NHD website


Remember: You can do NHD in your classroom—the contests are optional.


Contact NHD coordinator Tom Rust, trust@msubillings.edu or 406-657-2891 for answers to your questions. 


Consider volunteering as a judge at a classroom competition near you, at one of the regional competitions in Billings (March 17) and Travelers Rest State Park in Lolo (March 31), or at the statewide competition in Helena (April 21). There’s nothing like judging to get an inside view of NHD—and figure out whether NHD is right for you and your students.


Decidedly not interested in NHD? 


Check out this  article on the value of the research paper. National History Day is *one* way to encourage research, analysis and inquiry, but it is not the only way.


Stay tuned for future posts on completely unrelated topics.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Indian Education for All Resources and Opportunities


The January edition of the Indian Education For All Newsletter included a call for proposals to present at OPI’s Indian Education Division’s upcoming Best Practices conference in Billings, Feb. 27-28—if you have great lessons to share, consider submitting a proposal. (Be forewarned: The Jan 15 deadline is coming fast!)


Speaking of Indian Education for All, below are some articles and websites that have made me think, and other IEFA-related resources that seemed worth sharing.


Students Respond to ABC’s “Children of the Plains.” Kids on the Rosebud Reservation define themselves in a short YouTube video: "More Than That." 


Native Daughters is a site created by University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and students that features stories, profiles, and multimedia projects about a diverse group of Native American women: healers, warriors, story tellers, lawmakers, leaders, environmentalists, and artists. 


The New York Times published an interesting article on Crow photographer Adam Sings In The Timber, whose work documents everyday life on the Crow reservation.  More on the idea that “"It often seems as if America has only two frames through which to view its Native culture: ceremony and pageantry or poverty and addiction" here


The Arlee School District has a number of really interesting lesson plans posted on its website, including Shawn Orr’s 1855 Hellgate Treaty lesson (described in earlier posts). 


The Gilder Lehrman Institute has posted an interesting high school lesson plan, “June 25, 1876: An Interpretation of an Historical Event,” by Bruce Lesh. Focused on the debate over naming the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the lesson plan asks students to analyze images, primary and secondary sources to consider how events from the Indian Wars be commemorated by the federal government. 


Primary Source Network offers another approach to teaching the battle, providing many links to primary sources while proposing that students “compare U.S. newspaper coverage of the Battle of Little Bighorn with eyewitness accounts from Native Americans who were there.” See “Comparing Reports: Battle of the Little Bighorn.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Dave Walter Research Fellowship


The Montana Historical Society Research Center is pleased to announce the availability of the 2012 Dave Walter Research Fellowship.  


This fellowship will be awarded to two Montana residents involved in a public history project focused on exploring local history. The award is intended to help Montanans conduct research on their towns, counties, and regions using resources at the Montana Historical Society. Research can be for any project related to exploring local history; including exhibit development, walking tours, oral history projects, building history/preservation, county or town histories, archaeological research, class projects, etc.  Fellowship awards of $1,250 each will be given to two researchers.


Recipients will be expected to:
travel to the MHS to conduct research 
spend a minimum of one week in residence conducting research 
provide a copy of their final product or a report on their completed project to the MHS Research Center 


Applications for the Dave Walter Research Fellowship are evaluated on the following criteria:
suitability of the research to the Society's collections 
potential of the project to make a contribution to local history 
experience in conducting local history research 


The application must include a cover letter; a project proposal, not to exceed 3 pages in length, describing the research, including the specific collections at the Montana Historical Society that you intend to use; a 1-2 page resume, and a letter of recommendation.


Applications must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2012, and sent to: 
Dave Walter Research Fellowship Selection Committee
Montana Historical Society
PO Box 201201
Helena, MT 59620-1201


Applications can also be submitted via email to mhslibrary@mt.gov. Applications submitted via email must be received on March 1, 2012.  


Announcement of the award will be made in early April. Questions about the fellowship should be directed to mhslibrary@mt.gov or 406-444-2681.


For more information about the Dave Walter Research Fellowship or the Montana Historical Society and its collections see: http://mhs.mt.gov/home.aspx

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog




I am sometimes asked how I find the time to identify the resources I promote through this blog. Do I spend most of my working day surfing the internet? Well, actually, no. 


But I do subscribe to a few listservs and blogs, which I cherry pick for your enjoyment. 
Among them is the Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog, dedicated to promoting the most effective techniques for using Library of Congress primary sources in the classroom. 
Among my favorite of their recent posts is Snow Stories in the Library of Congress Primary Sources


My other best source of material are those among you who forward me interesting links. (You know who you are and thanks!) You can join the team. If you come across a resource, idea, have a great teaching tip, don’t be shy—drop me a line. 

Online sources for historical images, documents, videos, and audio



Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you did not resolve to spend less time online—if you did, this post is not for you.

The rest of you, however, might find this link, sent by Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Ferris, interesting.

The link is to a post by David Bryne, who blogs at freetech4teachers.com. Titled “9 Sources for Historical Images,Documents, Videos, and Audio”, it includes some great links (along with useful hints for using those links).

Byrne recommended several sites I had not yet explored, like the Library of Congress’s National Jukebox (music from all eras) and The Travel Film Archive, “a collection of hundreds of travel films recorded between 1900 and 1970.” (A search of Montana revealed a 1900 silent film clip of a train arriving in Helena and six promotional films for Glacier, from the 1920s through 1950s.)

Other links Byrne recommended were old favorites, including Google Books, described in his post as “one of my go-to places for old books and magazines.” I use Google Books often for historical research—it is a great tool for all of us who don’t have easy access to a research library, and it’s amazing what you can find.

For example, try typing in Month Day Montana--e.g., July 14 Montana--into the search field in Google Books and then skimming the entries that pop up. In this instance I learned that, according to Montana: History of Two Centuries, miners uncovered significant placer deposits at Last Chance Gulch, on
July 14, 1864. (I discovered this neat trick when I was looking for “this day in Montana history” items).

Or enter a company name—I did this recently with Crane and Ordway (a plumbing company that built a warehouse in Billings in 1920) and uncovered a full text version of their 1922 periodical, The Valve World.

Happy surfing—and make sure to come up for air.