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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New: Montana Biography Page Designed for Young Student Researchers

I know a lot of teachers have students create “wax museums” or do other biographical projects, especially in fourth grade. That’s why I’m very pleased to let you know that we’ve created a special page for students doing biography projects.
We gathered a diverse list of subjects—48 in total—half men, half women, 27% Native American, with representatives from the nineteenth, twentieth, and even twenty-first centuries.

The list includes authors (B. M. Bower, Frank Bird Linderman, and D’Arcy McNickel), athletes (skier Eric Bergoust and bronc rider Allice Greenough Orr), pilots (Esther Vance), musicians (Jean Wrobel and Taylor Gordon), medical professionals (Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail, Dr. Caroline McGill, and Huie Pock), politicians (Burton K. Wheeler, Jeannette Rankin, Mike Mansfield, Maggie Smith Hathaway), religious (Sister Providencia Tolan, “Brother Van,” and Father DeSmet), veterans (George Oiye, Minnie Spotted Wolf), visual artists (Charlie Russell, John Clarke, Fanny Cory Cooney, Edgar Paxson), lawyers (Ella Knowles Haskell), business owners and copper barons (Sarah Bickford, Mattie Castner, William Clark, Marcus Daly, and Frederick Heinze), tribal leaders (Earl Old Person, Robert Yellowtail and Chief Charlo) and many more.

We’re particularly pleased that we were able to provide links to two different sources for each subject to facilitate meeting Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.9: "Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably."

We’ve provided links to the Montana Biography page on both the Educator Resources and Student Resources pages of our website.

Take a look and let me know what you think. More importantly, let me know what your students think.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More links on IEFA, Montana Chinese, and a bonus: Montana ghost towns and almost ghost towns

A couple of recent posts have led folks to send me links to other resources.

Responding to my recent post on IEFA resources for high school students and teachers, Brian Shovers wrote: “You might want to take a look at a recent interview by Bill Moyers of Sherman Alexie (Spokane Indian poet/writer) on PBS entitled, “Living Outside Tribal Lines.”

In “Resources for Teaching about the Gold Rush,” I provided links to information and lesson plans on Montana’s Chinese. Ellen Baumler pointed me toward two good additional sources:
Ruth Ferris pointed me to the Mai Wah Society’s new blog. The Mai Wah Society and Museum is dedicated to preserving Butte’s Chinese history.

Butte historian Richard Gibson, who’s the mastermind behind the Mai Wah’s blog, has also started a blog for the World Museum of Mining

Because this is a sort of hodge-podge post, I thought it would be ok to throw in a site related to no recent posting, but which I thought was cool: Lost and Found Montana, a website with videos about 18 towns the Montana Department of Transportation wanted to take off the map.

Happy surfing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Resources for Teaching about the Gold Rush

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 second installment on teaching resources--this one on the discovery of gold, which tied with railroads, receiving 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 the gold rush, you'll want to see Chapter 6: "Montana's Gold and Silver Boom."

I'm a big fan of the graphing worksheet we posted with this lesson, which asks students to graph population growth and to think about the reasons for why the boom occurred.

I also really like the Learning from Historical Documents Unit we've posted featuring Emily Meredith's 1863 letter from Bannack, describing life in the gold fields to her father. Among her other comments is this gem: "I don’t know how many deaths have occurred this winter but that there have not been twice as many, is entirely owing to the fact that drunken men do not shoot well."

If you are looking for a hands-on activity, try the lesson plan that involves panning for gold on page 35 of the user guide for the "Gold, Silver and Coal" footlocker. It's a bit complicated to set up, but it is definitely worth it.

I wrote in my last post about Chronicling America and our the gold-rush era focused lesson created by Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Ferris: "Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom."

I also mentioned the new educator guide we've created for Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan. This highly a readable memoir details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Montana mining frontier, as well as her later life on the Flathead Reservation as the wife of Indian Agent Peter Ronan. The Girl from the Gulches Study Guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate this book's use in the classroom. You can download a free PDF of the portion of Girl from the Gulches that contains Mary's memories about Bannack, Virginia City, and Helena.

Montana State Parks has created an Indian Education for All lesson focused on Bannack titled "Contradictory Worldviews: Placing Montana’s Gold Rush into a Tribal Historical Perspective" for grades 6-10. You can download it from their IEFA lesson plan web page.

There's also lots of good material on the Chinese who came to Montana during the gold rush, including an inquiry based lesson (that starts with a murder) created by Mark Johnson. Digitized primary sources used in his lesson, "The Chinese Experience in the American West," can be found on the "Richest Hills" website (you'll need to scroll down or search Mark Johnson to find the link).

Other good sources on Chinese placer miners include "No Need to Rush: The Chinese, Placer Mining, and the Western Environment," by Liping Zhu, published in Montana: The Magazine of Western History (posted with a discussion guide).

Finally, "German Gulch" is a website focused on the archaeological finds from German Gulch, a 19th and early 20th century mining area near Butte, Montana. The collection contains some of the most significant Chinese artifacts recovered in Montana. Look under "Education" for additional links to the history of Montana's Chinese.

Wow. Lots to choose from.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Extra, Extra! More Montana Newspapers Are Now Available through Chronicling America

As many of you know, Chronicling America is one of my favorite sites. The Montana Historical Society is actively digitizing Montana newspapers. The good news is that we have just added an additional 7 titles (and 25,000 pages) of historical Montana newspapers (1865-1922) to the Chronicling America web site. The new titles are:
  • Great Falls Tribune, 1885-1896
  • Daily Missoulian, 1909
  • Harlowton News, 1909-1914
  • Libby Herald, 1911-1913
  • Montana Plaindealer (Helena), 1906-1911
  • Philipsburg Mail, 1887-1901
  • Yellowstone Monitor (Glendive), 1908-1912
This is in addition to the thousands of pages we already had posted from the Anaconda Standard, Butte New Age, Colored Citizen (Helena), Daily Yellowstone Journal (Miles City), Fergus County Argus, Mineral Argus (Maiden), Montana News (Lewistown), Helena Independent.

Every word is full-text searchable, and every page can be freely viewed, zoomed, cropped, copied, or printed. One caution—some of the pages on these new papers can be slow to load. The Library of Congress says that load times will improve as more pages are cached. (For a page to be cached, someone has to look at it first. So do your part for researchers everywhere and get exploring!)

Of course, new technology is always a little daunting, and in Chronicling America, as with all large digital collections, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for—especially at first. TPS Barat’s blog, which focuses on primary sources from the Library of Congress, has just put together a very useful post “Advanced Search Tips: Chronicling America Historic Newspapers” that can make your (and your students’) research more fruitful. 

If you are looking for even more guidance, consider using one of the lesson plans we’ve created with Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris.

“Thinking  like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom”  asks students to explore daily life in Virginia City during the gold rush before the coming of the railroad, using the following essential questions: “How has life changed and how has it remained the same? How does transportation affect daily life? What would it have been like to live in Virginia City during the gold rush?”

Three additional Chronicling America lesson plans were included in the new study guide for Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan. Two of them can be adapted to use without reading the anchor text and can easily be adapted to other time periods. “What Can You Buy? What Could Mary Buy?” has students looking at advertisements today and in the 1860s, and choosing presents for themselves and their family. The second, “Found Poetry,” asks students to create a found poem, based on an article from the Montana Post.

Looking for a really simple entry into the newspapers? Ask students: What was happening on your birthday 100 or 75 years ago? Or have them play newspaper bingo.

Many other folks are also creating Chronicling America lesson plans. See here for more details.

Monday, April 15, 2013

IEFA: High School Resources/Current Events

I’ve seen several interesting material lately that I thought might lead to good discussions, particularly in high school classes—all relate to Indian Education for All.

The first is this New York Times article about the possible sale of the Wounded Knee massacre site.
The accompanying slide show is also very interesting.
The second, also a New York Times article, is about urban Indians (particularly in Minneapolis): “Quietly Indians Reshape Cities, Reservations.”

Moving way back in time is this short video by one of my favorite historians, Colin Calloway, who answers the following questions in brief.
  • What was the North American West like before Europeans arrived? [1:12]
  • How did Indian societies adapt to the arrival of Europeans? [3:14]
  • How did horses change the lives of Native American women? [1:19]
  • How did interactions between Indian and European groups in the West change after 1800? [2:58]
  • How is the term “westward expansion” problematic? [3:00]
  • What things do historians have to consider when they analyze Native American primary sources? [1:47]
  • How do Indian primary sources contribute to our understanding of westward expansion? [1:47]
  • In Indian societies, what is the purpose of a myth or legend? [1:38]
  • How does the Kiowa smallpox legend contribute to our understanding of their history? [3:13]
  • Why are Indian views sometimes left out of the history of the West? [2:02]
  • Why is it important to incorporate Native American perspectives in U.S. history? [3:42]

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Black Gold and a Request for Information

I’m completely fascinated by the website for Black Boom Gold: How Oil Changed North Dakota. It has stories from many perspectives, as well as a place for viewers to share their own stories.

Part of my fascination is that I have yet to see the boom firsthand. That’s going to change. I’ll be presenting an educator’s workshop in Miles City on June 21 and speaking in Sidney at the MonDak Heritage Center on June 22. And I’ll get an even better chance to explore eastern Montana and what the boom means at our history conference next fall: the 40th Annual Montana History Conference will be held in Sidney, September 19-21, 2013. The theme, appropriately, will be "Boom and Bust: Extracting the Past." Please save the date (and get your hotel reservations early at the special Montana History Conference rate.)

Eastern Montana teachers: We always host an educator workshop the first Thursday of the conference. I’m pulling together the program now. Is there anything in particular you would like to learn more about? If so, please email me: mkohl@mt.gov.

On another note entirely: A few weeks ago, I asked high school teachers to help me choose women’s history related articles, originally published in Montana The Magazine of Western History, to digitize along with discussion questions for use in the classroom. I only received one response. Please help us shape our priorities. If you would NEVER use an article from Montana in your classroom, I need to know that too (if it isn’t useful, I don’t want to devote resources to it.) So—Please take two minutes to take our short survey (which includes a box for “None of the Above.”)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring and Summer Professional Development Opportunities

Information about spring and summer professional development opportunities are rolling in.

The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation has an April 12 deadline for teachers who wish to apply for its Summer Institute, to be held July 8–12 in New York City. A travel stipend and accommodations will be provided for participants from outside the New York area. All teachers selected for the Institute will be sponsored by the foundation, and will have the opportunity to participate in guided explorations of the forthcoming Rock and Roll: An American Story curriculum. Teachers from any discipline may apply, but the Foundation is particularly interested in hearing from teachers of social studies, US History, English/Language Arts and Music. Visit http://rockandrollforever.org to apply and for more information.

I’ll be giving a workshop in Missoula, on Tuesday, April 16, 9:00-3:00, “Literacy in Social Studies: A Common Core Approach.” Our focus will be analyzing sources about homesteading and allotment as we look at best practices for using primary sources in 6-12 classrooms and meeting common core standards for literacy in social studies. To register or for more information, call 406-880-5885 by Wednesday, April 10, or email ckuschel@hotmail.com. I’ll be giving much the same workshop in Miles City, on Friday, June 21. Stay tuned for more details.

NCCE will be offering two “Exploring Teaching with Primary Sources” workshops this summer. The introductory workshop will be held in Missoula, July 25-26. The Advanced training will be held Helena, July 22-24, and will include a day focused on primary source material and lesson plans available through the Montana Historical Society. If this interests you, consider registering early—the website says attendees will be notified May 14 of acceptance. Find more information here.

The Indian Education Department at the Office of Public Instruction has gathered a list of 2013 spring and summer IEFA professional development opportunities, which you can find listed on their website under "Hot Topics".

Some highlights include:
  • April 11-13, Montana Indian Education Association (MIEA) meeting, Billings
  • May 16, Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspective, Missoula
  • June 3-10, the CCSS & IEFA Open Institute, Billings
  • June 17-20, Project Archaeology Rosebud Battlefield Educator Workshop, Sheridan, WY and Rosebud Battlefield
  • June 17-21 Common Sense with the Common Core: An Integrated Implementation Model for Teachers, Billings (with corresponding Day 2 dates of Aug. 5-9)
  • June 24-28, Common Sense with the Common Core: An Integrated Implementation Model for Teachers, Missoula (with corresponding Day 2 dates of Aug. 12-16)
  • June 26-28, the International Conference of Traditional Native Games, Pablo
  • July 21-27 Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All, Missoula (Application deadline April 30)
Find details (including detailed descriptions, information about cost, graduate credit opportunities, and registration information) through the IEFA/OPI website

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rah, Rah, Research Papers

Those of you who've followed this blog for a while know that I'm a great believer in student research projects. And (probably because I'm not the one that will have to grade them) I am also a great believer in having students write research papers.

I still remember writing my first research paper in 10th grade (about 15th century Jewish mystic Isaac Luria.) I remember how impossible I thought it would be to write 10 pages, how hard I wrestled with the material, how difficult it was to put together a coherent argument, and how proud I was of my accomplishment.

Writing that research paper was formative, and it is one reason I agree with John Schmidt and Jeff Treppa when they write, "we firmly believe that the research paper has been around for a long time for a reason: it’s the best way to engage students in sophisticated historical reasoning and prepare them for the academic world beyond high school."

I'm also very impressed with the 7-part research paper process they developed, which includes learning how to
  • narrow down a historical topic,
  • ask a research question to help focus research,
  • find and evaluate sources,
  • take notes,
  • establish claims,
  • draft an outline with a thesis,
  • write a rough draft, and
  • create a final paper.
They've developed a templates, teaching guides, and handouts for each step.

Learn more about the process these master teachers use (and why they believe that research papers are still worth assigning) in the post they wrote for teachinghistory.org.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Webcrawling. Amazing Resources I've Seen Recently

No theme today—just information on a few cool websites I’ve come across.

Indian Country Today has a great link to photo galleries and hot topics. The galleries include everything from features on particular artists, photos of Idle No More protests, and “the art of the powwow.” Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find links to three hot topics: the Washington Redskins, Climate Change, and the Elouise Cobell case—each of which collects links to Indian Country Today stories.

Elementary teachers: It’s not Montana history, but this one’s for you. Bringing History Home believes young historians need to practice five processes in order to develop their skills: reading for background and context, analyzing original sources, constructing timelines, mapping historic events, and synthesizing (or creating history accounts.) They’ve developed a variety of lesson plans, for kindergarten to fifth grade, to practice these skills.

I’d heard about Picturing America, an initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities, but never took time to explore it until I saw this Teachinghistory.org review: Picturing America “contains a wealth of resources for using art in the classroom. The site contains links to four lesson plans that teach students how to analyze art, for example, teaching the basics of composition. The site contains over 20 pieces of art from various periods in U.S. history. A short essay with background information and analysis accompanies each piece of art. There are resource guides for using art, including a guide designed specifically for younger students.”