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:

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