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, January 31, 2013

Summer Professional Development Opportunities

Hard to believe it’s time to start thinking about summer—but deadlines for national summer workshops are fast approaching. Here are a few options to dream about.

Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes – Teaching with Primary Sources
The Library of Congress is now accepting applications for its 2013 Summer Teacher Institutes in Washington, D.C. The five-day institutes provide educators with tools and resources to effectively integrate primary sources into K-12 classroom teaching, focusing on student engagement, critical thinking, and construction of knowledge.

Tuition and materials are provided at no cost. Breakfast and lunch are also provided. Participants will be responsible for transportation to and from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and any required overnight accommodations. Educators and school librarians of all grade levels and subject areas are encouraged to apply. More information here.

Application deadline: February 4, 2013

The Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History 2013 Teacher Seminars.
These weeklong seminars offer graduate credit; the seminars, room and board are free. The Institute also offers a $400 travel scholarship. Their options are varied—from broad overviews (“A Visual Approach to Teaching American History” and “American Women from the Colonial to the Modern Era) to more focused seminars (“The American Civil War through Material Culture—K-8 Teachers Only” and “The Era of George Washington.”) See a full list of their offerings (and find information on applying) here.
Application deadline: February 15, 2013

NEH Summer Programs for Teachers
Through various NEH summer programs for teachers, you can spend a week in Jackson, Mississippi, studying the Civil Rights movement, four weeks in Berlin, Germany, and Prague, Czech Republic, studying the 1989 peaceful revolutions, five weeks in Siena, Italy, studying Dante, three weeks in Monterey, California, studying John Steinbeck, or two weeks in Hamilton, New York, studying abolitionism and the underground railroad, among many other options. See a full list of their offerings (and find information on applying) here. Tuition is free and the NEH offers a substantial travel stipend to help cover your expenses.
Application deadline: March 4, 2013

Closer to home, the Northwest Council for Computer Education will be offering two-day workshops on Teaching with Primary Sources this summer. Dates and locations TBA. I’m sure there will be lots of other good workshops in Montana too—I’ll let you know about them as I find out.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Montana History Conference Coming to Sidney (Plus Other Upcoming Workshops)

I know next September is a long way off, but I’m crazy excited that the 2013 Montana History Conference will be held in Sidney. Appropriately, the focus will be “Boom and Bust: Extracting the Past” We’re recruiting presenters now. If you have done research on a topic related to “boom and bust,” consider submitting a session proposal—and spread the word to others you know. The deadline for proposals is February 15.


And, regardless, pencil September 19-21 on your calendar—especially if you live in eastern Montana. Thursday is always a special educators’ workshop. Friday and Saturday will be filled with interesting sessions and tours. OPI Renewal Units are always available for all sessions, and often we have money to offer travel scholarships. Stay tuned.

P.S. Looking for professional development opportunities further west (and happening sooner)? The Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference will be held February 25-26, 2013, in Helena. (If you come, stop by our exhibit table and say hello.) Registration information here.

WM-CSPD also has some great-looking workshops coming up, including “Intro to Explore the River - An Integrated Curriculum Grounded in Place and Inquiry” (offered in February in Missoula and Kalispell) and an online course, “HeartLines Engaging Students with Tribal Materials and Common Core Skills.” More information here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Resources for teaching and assessing "Historical Thinking" (and, incidentally, meeting Common Core standards)

To prepare for a workshop I’ll be giving in Billings February 6-7 on Literacy in Social Studies and the Common Core, I’ve been haunting a website called “Beyond the Bubble.” 
Created by a Stanford University professor, “Beyond the Bubble” suggests ways teachers can use primary resources to create “innovative assessments that gauge historical thinking in easy-to-use, classroom-friendly ways.”
Historical thinking is a big buzzword these days. It basically means “reading, analysis, and writing that is necessary to develop our understanding of the past.”

Beyond the Bubble’s assessments require students to demonstrate both “historical thinking” skills and historical content knowledge by asking them to perform the following tasks:
  • Sourcing (asking students to consider who wrote a document as well as the circumstances of its creation. Who authored a given document? When? For what purpose?)
  • Contextualization (asking students to locate a document in time and place, and to understand how these factors shape its content.)
  • Corroboration (asking students to consider details across multiple sources to determine points of agreement and disagreement.)
All of their assessments align with the Common Core—and provide interesting models that I think can be adapted to create assessments for Montana history classes—or any history class.
Those of you teaching American History might also want to check out Stanford’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum, with 75 lessons, each revolving around “a central historical question” and featuring “sets of primary sets of primary documents modified for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities. This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on issues from King Philip's War to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.”
You may also want to check out the Historical Thinking Matters website, which offers four investigations of central topics from post-civil war U.S. history, with activities that foster historical thinking and encourage students to form reasoned conclusions about the past. 
P.S. It is NOT too late to register for the Billings workshop, where we’ll be delving more into historical thinking and literacy in social studies. The deadline has been extended to this FRIDAY, January 25 for both the Billings workshop and our sister workshops in Helena (focused on fracking to address literacy in science and technical subjects) and Missoula (focused on health—also to address literacy in science and technical subjects.) Requirements for bringing a partner have been waived—and there’s sub money and other perks—so check it out and join us if you can.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Consider Applying for the Dave Walter Fellowship

The Montana Historical Society Research Center is pleased to announce the availability of the 2013 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, 2013 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, 2013.

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/research.aspx.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Top Ten Survey, Surprises

I’ve already written two posts looking at the results of the Top Ten Events in Montana History Survey that eighty readers took last December: Top Ten Survey Results and Survey Results, Part 2.

But I’ve had such a fun time looking at the results, I wanted to talk about them a little bit more, especially about what I found surprising in the results. So—in no particular order, here’s what surprised me:

1. That there wasn’t more consensus—we were all over the board on what we thought was important.

2. That not only did Indian boarding schools not make it into our collective top ten, they didn’t even make it into the top 30.

  • To my mind, the boarding schools’ long term impact has been astounding, particularly in terms of language loss. So it was interesting to me that I was one of only 15 people who put boarding schools in my top 10.
3. That the Great Depression didn’t rank higher.

  • This might have been because I called it the Great Depression, instead of the New Deal, or because I gave 1920s drought, rural electrification, dams, and the Indian Reorganization Act their own categories. But it was the Great Depression/New Deal that paved Montana’s roads, built the Fort Peck Dam, revitalized Montana’s labor movement, initiated farm subsidies and social security, grew state government, and increased the role of the federal government in Montana. So how could it only have garnered 22 votes?
4. How little the twentieth century seemed to matter, according to this survey. The Homestead Boom and the 1972 Constitution were the only two twentieth century events that made it into our collective top ten.

  • I don’t think that Montana today would be recognizable to Montanans from 1899. The corollary is that there must have been major twentieth century events that transformed the state. But for the most part, we focused on the 18th and 19th centuries. This might have been a flaw in the survey. It was awfully long, and if you were like me, you probably had already chosen most of your top tens before hitting 1900. And, if you were like me, you probably didn’t want to go back and change anything. Alternately, it might be that we gravitate toward what we know, and we mostly teach 19th century history when we teach about Montana.
5. That Indian history made the top ten (with negotiations of treaties, introduction of the horse, and destruction of the bison), but no specifically Indian issue made the top five.

  • Why is that surprising to me? Well, from 12,000 years ago to 1805, Montana was entirely populated by native peoples. And from 1805-1855, it mostly was. On the other hand, perhaps this was another flaw in the survey. I’m guessing that people chose one issue to stand in for a number of issues so as to save slots—and that this split the vote. For example, I selected diseases for my top ten list---but I left off the introduction of the horse (which was equally important, to my mind). Instead, I used “disease” to stand in for the Columbian exchange generally. If I had taken the survey ten minutes later, I probably would have chosen horses and ignored disease. Ditto, treaties, creation of reservations, etc.
How were you surprised?

P.S. To learn more about the survey itself, see this initial post.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nominate an Elementary Teacher to Win the $10,000 National History Teacher of the Year Award

Do you know a fabulous K-6 teacher who does a particularly good job teaching American history to his or her students?

If so, consider nominating him or her for the Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year Award.  “Any full-time educator who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible. American history may be taught as an individual subject or through social studies, reading, language arts, and other subjects.”

The nomination form is quick and easy. Deadline for nominations is Feb. 1. More on the Gilder Lehrman website.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Spring Professional Development Opportunity

As teachers begin implementing the Common Core State Standards, an exciting new program offers regional workshops focused on Literacy in Social studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (LISSTS). With onsite regional workshops and an online course focused on Digital Research, LISSTS is a great opportunity for training.

The workshops and course are free and the registration deadline (January 15) is fast approaching. For dates and details go to http://www.mus.edu/writingproficiency/index.asp, where you can also register online. We encourage districts to send at least two teachers (from two content areas, or a librarian and a teacher) and for participants to attend the workshops and take the online course; however, these are not required to participate.

I’ll be presenting at the workshop in Billings, which focuses on literacy in social studies. We’ll be looking at perspective and bias, with an emphasis on the homesteading era.

Dottie Susag, whom many of you know, will be presenting at the workshop in Helena (Literacy in Technical Subjects)—the Helena workshop will investigate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as a model for reading and writing strategies.

The Missoula workshop will focus on Literacy in Health Science by exploring issues in obesity.

Register or find more information here: http://www.mus.edu/writingproficiency/index.asp

P.S. When the University system began promoting this, they said that schools must send pairs of teachers (an English teacher and a subject matter teacher)—but they’ve changed the requirement. While they still prefer teacher pairs, it is no longer a requirement for participation. Originally, the online course was only going to be available for those participating in the physical workshops, but they think they will have enough spaces so that individuals can register separately for the online digital researc workshop.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oral History in the Classroom

Oral history is a great tool to use in your classrooms. Interviewing elders can bring the past alive like nothing else can. Oral history projects can also improve school-community connections, improve student confidence and communication skills, increase student respect for their communities, offer students a genuine opportunity to make a contribution to preserving history, and engage students in historical thinking (for example, looking at issues of objectivity, memory, reporting, and bias.) 

Oral History in the Classroom is a great resource to help you embark on a classroom oral history project. Created by the Montana Historical Society’s Oral History Program, this handy pamphlet includes the information you need (from legal forms to classroom exercises) to teach your students to conduct oral histories.

The Montana Historical Society Oral History Program also loans digital recorders and transcription machines for two weeks at a time on a first come, first serve basis. Its equipment loan form is now online.

Do you have access to a digital recorder but struggle with transcribing interviews? MHS Senior Archivist Rich Aarstad just clued me into Express Scribe Transcription Software.

This nifty free program allows you to control audio playback using 'hot' keys, and offers other valuable features for typists including variable speed playback. (Express Scribe will try to sell you a foot pedal and/or get you to upgrade from the free to the professional version), but Rich says, “don’t bother. The free version with the hot keys works great.”)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Survey Results, Part 2

The results of the survey on top ten events in Montana history are in. Eighty people participated in this very informal survey and many had trouble limiting themselves to ten events. One person even chose 33 "top ten" events out of the 39 events listed.

Sixty people out of the eighty who took the survey placed the discovery of gold and the arrival of the railroads in their top ten. Only fifty put homesteading there.

The least influential events, according to the survey, were county splitting (with one vote) and the Cold War and Progressive era reforms, like initiative and referendum (which each received six votes).

Only two twentieth-century events made the "top ten" list when I didn't artificially break the survey at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century mark: homesteading (with 50 votes) and the 1972 constitutional convention (at 38 votes). Is that because twentieth-century votes are really less significant, because people had already used up their votes by the time they got to the twentieth century, or because most of us know more about pre-twentieth-century Montana? Food for thought for sure.

The full results are here and additional charts are below. I'm curious to know: What about these results surpise you, if anything? (More on what I found surprising in a later post.)
P.S. Several people thought the survey would be fun to share with students, perhaps with some modifications:
  • “This was a fun exercise, and great to do with your students since it gives the teacher a chance to see how they are thinking, categorizing, and evaluating history through how they support their selections.
  • “The question is valid, particularly if students have to justify their answers in writing. However, I would be very interested to find how they would link these events in a web of causation.”
For those who want to use this with your students, you can find the survey on Google Docs. Go to the "File" menu, then coose "Make a Copy." I think this will make your own copy of the survey (If this doesn't work, please let me know). To edit the form,  go to the "Form" menu and choose "Edit form." Alternately, consider having your students come up with their own categories, based on the material you've covered in class.

P.P.S. If you missed the post "Top Ten Survey Results, Part 1," in which I shared people's comments, you can find it below.