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, March 28, 2013

More about Historypin, WhatWasThere, Railroads, and a Request

Teacher Michelle Pearson wrote to share her experiences with Historypin and WhatWasThere in response to my recent post. It sounds as if WhatWasThere has lower barriers to access but Historypin has great functionality once you learn how to use it. Or, as Michelle put it:
“I have used both of these in the classroom and I find them to be immensely engaging with students and worthwhile. The Teaching with Primary sources team has used them as well and has had some success with the What Was There site too. History Pin can be confusing. It is not a site to try and use at the last minute. Take some time with it and use the videos and explanations to build a collection or project. Patience is key to opening up real possibilities. My students used History Pin to create their own virtual field trip this week. http://www.whatwasthere.com/ is a great tool and we have used it with our field study groups and classrooms to support preservation education as well. I could literally not keep my students ( 8th grade) away from it. They love it and are using it as a launch point for some local research as well as contributing to it for a local history project.”
In response to my recent post on resources for teaching about railroads, Jim Bruggeman from the Montana Council for History and Civics Education recommended “Richard White's recent new book Railroaded; the Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, which puts the American railroad industry and economic development of the late 19th century into a broad perspective. I would recommend it highly as a background study for anyone teaching about the railroads of the last and previous century.”
The book has a companion website, which includes maps, interviews with Richard White (though I couldn’t access those when I tried recently), maps and charts. Because I work at the Montana Historical Society, I can sometimes put blinders on when it comes to thinking about Montana history. But, of course, train tracks don’t stop at the state borders, and the companies who owned the railroads all had bigger fish to fry elsewhere. It can be easy (for me, anyway) to forget that Montana is part of a larger world, but the best study of Montana history recognizes its ties to larger themes in American history (just as the best teaching of American history looks at how those themes play out right here at home.)
Along those lines, I’m looking into posting PDFs of articles originally published in Montana The Magazine of Western History (with discussion questions) relating to women’s history that could be used in American history classes. High school/college teachers: I’d love your input. Click here to take a short survey to let me know which, if any, of these articles you might assign to your American history (and/or Montana history) students.
Speaking of Montana The Magazine of Western History:
1. I have someone looking to donate a set of magazines, from the 1970s to the present to a school who would use them. You would need to pick them up in Helena. Interested? Email me: mkohl@mt.gov.
2. Did you know we already have some articles posted (with discussion questions) on our website? Some time ago, we created study guides for four special issues:

Monday, March 25, 2013

History Pin and What Was There

I’ve been hearing a lot about two sites that are linking geography, history and technology by attaching historical photographs of buildings, landscape, and landmarks to present day maps: Historypin and WhatWasThere. Both are fun to explore, and for the tech savvy, both provide opportunities to contribute images. I can imagine working to post photos on either site would make a great classroom project.

WhatWasThere is fun for everyone—and for the tech savvy, contributing to this crowd-sourced site would make a great classroom project. Per their website, What Was There “is an excellent resource for geography, history, and fun. It connects historical photos to Google Maps, letting you see what places looked like in the past. You can tour locations, browse photos and even upload your own historical photos…. The WhatWasThere project was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past. … The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps). So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!”

Last time I checked, there were 53 images uploaded for Helena. One cool feature is that What Was There lets you see images in Google Maps street view. It doesn’t place them exactly at same angle on Google street view—and it is “crowd-sourcing” so it may not be 100% accurate, but it is still crazy cool.

Historypin is another “collaborative website where google maps and google street view is combined with user contributed photographs in order to provide the viewer with a doorway to the past.” According to its website, “Historypin is a way for millions of people to come together, from across different generations, cultures and places, to share small glimpses of the past and to build up the huge story of human history.”

One cool feature of Historypin is their featured projects, which include everything from “Amazing Grandparents” to “Olympic Memories.” Historypin is backed by Google and they have worked hard to partner with museums and schools. The National Archives, for example, has a HistoryPpin project and HistoryPin has created a page for teachers that suggests uses in the classroom, topics to explore, and provides case studies on how schools are using the program.

From the little exploration I’ve done of each, both sites seem great—but I haven’t spent much time on either. I did find an interesting review that compares the two.  Has anyone incorporated either of these sites into your classroom? If so, weigh in with a review.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lessons on Railroads and their Impact

Remember that survey many of you took to identify the top ten events in Montana history? When I asked folks to take the survey, I promised that I would write up blog posts on resources for teaching some of our collective top tens. So, as promised, here's the first installment on teaching resources--this one on the railroads, which tied for first place with the discovery of gold with sixty out of eighty votes. (More on the results here.)

As always, a good starting place for lesson plans is the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Teachers Guide, where we've not only posted free PDFs of every chapter of our award-winning middle school textbook, but have also posted worksheets and links to lesson plans and other interesting web resources. For railroading, you'll want to see Chapter 9: "Railroads Link Montana to the Nation, 1881-1915."

My favorite lesson plan associated with this chapter is a PowerPoint lesson we created called "Railroads Transform Montana," which emphasizes the how trains affected the social, economic, and physical landscape of Montana.

Railroads are important for many reasons, including their effects on Montana tribes. Most of the treaties and agreements negotiated were negotiated by the government on behalf of the railroads. A worksheet that emphasizes this can be found in the Chapter 9 material. The American Memory Project has put up maps that document the Indian Land Cessions from 1784-1894 (U.S. Serial Set 4015). You can browse by tribe or by state/territory. I've never had much success using these maps--but you might be more technologically adept than I am (and more map literate--maps are a weakness of mine.)

Looking for information on some of the Chinese and Japanese workers who constructed much of the railroad? The Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs created a 29 minute video, From the Far East to the Old West: Chinese and Japanese Settlers in Montana. If you can still play VCRs, check your library. Copies of the video and study guide were distributed free of charge to all Montana public schools.

The Mansfield Library created an online exhibit called  Immigrant Montana. In the section "The Iron Horse Cometh," it included many railroading relating documents, from pamphlets to payroll accounts.

Another reason the railroads were so transformative is because of its promotion of homesteading. Here you can find a link to the full text of a Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Montana Homesteading Brochure (plus some background information), and here you can find Great Northern "Map of Montana's homestead lands: taken from records of United States land offices at Glasgow, Havre, Great Falls and Lewistown, January 1914" (which is half informational map/half sales brochure).

Of course, railroads were essential to the development of the mining industry. I haven't been able to find a lesson plan on this specifically, though we do touch on it in the "Railroads Transform Montana" PowerPoint.

Often overlooked when talking about railroads are the short lines. Jon Axline's article, "Something of a Nuisance Value: The Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad, 1905-1953," published in Montana The Magazine of Western History's special Transportation Issue, looks at the history of one Montana shortline. And we've even created discussion questions for it to make it easy to use in a high school class.

Are there any great resources I've missed? If so, send them my way and I will share in a later post.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Structured Academic Controversy, Take 2 (plus Travel to Turkey)

My recent post on Structured Academic Controversy generated some good responses--including links to additional useful resources.

Tammy Elser emailed " Sounds a bit like Socratic Circles, which I like a lot. A fine tool for promoting rich and thoughtful discussion on challenging and complex issues." She suggested I point teachers interested in learning more about Socratic Circles to “an outstanding video example on the DVD produced by Julie Cajune's HeartLines Project, Inside Anna's Classroom. It has been purchased and sent to every [public] school library.” Anna Baldwin, the Anna in Inside Anna’s Classroom, also created a study guide that further explains the technique.

Mike Scarlett responded: "I use this strategy in my methods courses and I was involved in an international civic education program that utilized it as well. A great resource for those wanting to incorporate into their teaching can be found at http://www.deliberating.org. Although the site was designed for use by that particular program, it still has a wealth of resources on current issues that may be of interest to teachers of civics, in particular."

On a completely unrelated note: a listserv subscriber asked that I tell high school teachers on the list know about the Montana World Affairs Council’s upcoming “Discover Turkey” teacher workshop for K-12 educators in Bozeman. “This year, 4 teachers that attend the “Discover Turkey” teacher workshop held this spring will be selected to travel to Turkey this summer on a study-tour with other teachers from across the US. She wrote about her trip to Turkey: “All expenses are paid for 2 weeks of first class travel in Turkey except your travel to the nearest Turkish Air hub. I’ll never be the same again.” Registration deadline for the Bozeman Discover Turkey Workshop is March 26.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Havre and Billings area Professional Development Opportunities, Free School Program from Humanities Montana, and the Montana Heritage Orchard Program

After my vacation I returned to find an in-box full of interesting ideas/opportunities, which I share with you below.

Museums Association of Montana is meeting March 21-23, 2013 in Havre. The conference is geared for museum professionals, but there are two workshops on Thursday, March 21st, that may interest teachers:
  • 8:00-12:00- Weaving the Story of Place, and Archaeology Toolkit for Museum, Presenters: Crystal Alegria and Nikki Dixon-Foley. Participants will be introduced to the field of archaeology, provided tools for working with archaeological sites and artifacts and information on state and federal laws that govern cultural resources in Montana. You will receive tools in the form of ideas, educational activities, and a curriculum guide called “Intrigue of the Past.” Limit- 20 participants. Cost- $30.00
  • 1:00-4:00- Indian Education for All and Montana’s Museums, Presenters: Justine Jam and Mike Jetty. This interactive session will focus on reading and discussing primary and secondary source documents to gain a better understanding regarding how Federal Indian Policy has ongoing impacts for Montana Tribal Nations and Peoples. Limit-30 participants. Cost- $20.00
  •  Renewal credits are available. Find information and register here or call Deb Mitchell @ 406-444-4789 or email dmitchell@mt.gov.

Humanities Montana has a great program called Reflect: Community Readings & Conversations. The program aims to facilitate useful, lively discussion about personal and organizational values, and about how civic and service-oriented groups make choices and respond to the needs of their communities by using short, though-provoking readings to coax discussion among participants. They are looking to expand this program into middle and high schools that already integrate some type of service learning component into their curriculum. If you are interested in learning more about how this free program might be used within schools or any other community organization, contact Samantha Dwyer (samantha.dwyer@humanitiesmontana.org).
Montana State University Extension is working across the state to identify and preserve heritage orchards: fruit orchards of at least five trees that are at least sixty years old. After MSU identifies these orchards, they plan to add them to an interactive map located on the MSU Extension web site, where the map user will be able to click on each location and read about the history of each location. A list of all the identifiable cultivars at each location will be provided as well. Each location will receive a sign that can be placed at the entrance of the orchard or property that will identify it as a “Montana Heritage Orchard”. In addition to recognition, MSU Extension will work closely with each landowner to preserve the existing trees, and propagate offspring for future generations to enjoy. Finally, in addition to recognition, preservation and propagation, the project will work to foster agro-tourism around these orchards for land owners who are interested. And, those landowners interested in participating in propagating some of the trees will receive a portion of the grafted offspring for sale or planting purposes if desired, and a portion of any revenue that may be associated with it. MSU Extension will work closely with each orchard location on all aspects of the project. Identifying and researching the history of heritage orchards seems to me to be an interesting potential heritage education project. More information on the program, including contact information, is here
Montana Indian Education Association is hosting its annual conference April 11-13, 2013. This year’s Conference theme, “Leading the Change in Indian Education: Our Culture and Traditions are our Strength,” is dedicated to investigating issues and best practices as we share frustrations and innovative approaches to ensure that Indian students at all levels of the educational system receive a high quality education that prepares them for the future they envision. More information here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Structured Academic Controversy

As the mother of a very argumentative teenager, I hate debate. That’s a little strong, and is an example of the categorical thinking I’m about to criticize. In reality, I’m sure there’s quite a bit of value to formal debates. Nevertheless, they seem to me to encourage black-and-white thinking and to undermine the best parts of talking about hard ideas: to gain deeper, more nuanced understandings of the issues, whatever those issues might be.

That’s why I was glad to see this Teachinghistory.org post on an alternative to classroom debate called “Structured Academic Controversy,” which the article defines as “discussion that moves students beyond either/or debates to a more nuanced historical synthesis.”

I can see this working for all sorts of Montana history topics, for example, the appropriate limits of free speech in wartime (see Chapter 16, “Montana and World War I,” of the Montana: Stories of the Land companion website for links to good information and primary sources).

If you try this approach in your classroom, let me know how it works.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Who in your community has made a difference preserving and promoting Montana history and heritage?

The Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees is seeking nominations for those who best exemplify an ongoing dedication and commitment to preserving and educating Montanans about their history and heritage.

The Trustees will select a person or group from western Montana and one from eastern Montana for these awards that celebrate the best in preservation of Montana’s heritage.

The annual Heritage Keepers Awards will be presented at the Montana History Conference Sept. 19 through 21 this year at the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney Sept 19 – 21.The theme of this year’s conference is “Boom & Bust! Extracting the Past.”

“Hundreds of people across the state work tirelessly every day across Montana to preserve the special stories and places that make their communities and areas unique,” Trustee Chairman Steve Lozar said. “This is our highest award and our chance to say thank you on behalf of all those who cherish Montana history and heritage.”

Anyone can make a nomination of a living individual or currently active group that has demonstrated commitment to a significant Montana history goal that results in projects, objects or property that contribute to the general public’s Montana history knowledge or education. The nominees should show a commitment to their goal beyond the confines of making a livelihood.

Those that can be nominated can include cultural groups, artists, educators, authors, genealogists, historians, preservationists, archivist and historical groups and clubs.

Criteria for judging includes how well the nominee’s project enhances, promotes and encourages the interest within its particular area. Those areas include historic building preservation, research, historical literature, fine art history, historical reenactments, and efforts that promote, encourage and educate future generations to keep the legacy of Montana history alive.

Nomination forms and instructions for the Montana Heritage Keepers Award are available on the Society web page as is a list of past award recipients.

If you have specific questions or need more assistance call MHS Development and Marketing Officer Susan Near 406-444-4713 or email snear@mt.gov. The nomination form must be submitted no later than April 1.