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, September 30, 2013

Resources for Teaching about Homesteading

Last year, I asked readers to take a survey identifying the top ten events in Montana history, promising that I would write up blog posts on resources for teaching some of our collective top tens. I managed posts on the discovery of gold and on railroads, which tied for first, receiving sixty out of eighty votes. (More on the results here.)

Homesteading came in third place, with 50 votes--I personally think it was more place-changing than the discovery of gold. And, luckily, we have lots of resources to use to teach about it.

Elementary Resources

 Elementary teachers, particularly, should see our hands-on history footlocker "Inside and Outside the Home: Homesteading in Montana 1900-1920," which focuses on the thousands of people who came to Montana's plains in the early 20th century in hope of make a living through dry-land farming. You can preview the user guide here and learn more about how to order the footlocker here.  I also recommend teachers look at the Danish Memoirs lesson plan (based around a remarkable homesteading story) in the "Coming to Montana" footlocker. (You can do the lesson without ordering the footlocker by downloading the information from the user guide, starting at page 43.)

Middle and High School Resources

 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 homesteading, you'll want to see Chapter 13: "Homesteading this Dry Land." 

I'm a big fan of our Learning from Historical Document Units, which in this case include "Letter from W. M. Black to Gov. Joseph Dixon, from Shelby, 1921, Requesting Aid for Drought Victims" and "Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Montana Homesteading Brochure."

There are some other fantastic examples of homesteading propaganda available to download on Montana Memory. My favorites include "Map of Montana's homestead lands: taken from records of United States land offices at Glasgow, Havre, Great Falls and Lewistown, January 1914,"   “The Judith Basin: Fergus County Montana,” 1913, and “We Are Satisfied: Stock Raising, Grain, Dairy Products, Ryegate, Montana,” c. 1914. Corvallis teacher Phil Leonardi came up with a great assignment using homesteading propaganda--having students identify (and then research) potential falsehoods. Details here.

Studying homesteading lends itself to community history projects. If you know the names of homesteaders in your area (which you can probably find by looking in your county history book), you can use BLM records to research their homesteading patents - and often view copies of the actual documents granting them title.

Looking for guidance on how to embark on a community history project? "Exploring Community through Local History: Oral Stories, Landmarks, and Traditions" is a lesson plan from the Library of Congress. The Montana Heritage Project also offers useful advice to teachers wishing to engage in in-depth community study. See particularly the project's ALERT model.

Of course, historic newspapers are a great way to explore the homesteaders' world. Our staff has been working with Chronicling America to digitize parts of our newspaper collection. A full list of Montana newspapers currently digitized is available here. 



When discussing homesteading it only makes sense also to talk about allotment. OPI's Indian Education Division has pulled together a list of resources that "help to provide insight into the impact the law had on Indian communities and provide multiple perspectives."

My favorite resource on allotment is NOT mentioned on the OPI list. They are the letters, to and from Sam Resurrection, a Salish leader who lead the fight against opening the Flathead Indian Reservation to homesteaders. His letters lobbying the federal government and the Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs' responses are incredibly powerful and can be found on the Montana Memory Project. (Select "download all as a PDF" and see particularly pages 10-13 of the document.)

Did I miss your favorite homesteading (or allotment) resource? Drop me an email and I'll pass it along in a future listserv.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Montana: Stories of the Land Now Aligned to Common Core

You asked, we've delivered. We now have charts showing how the Montana history textbook, Montana: Stories of the Land, aligns to the new Common Core literacy standards--including the history and social studies, reading, writing, and speaking and listening standards. Find standard alignments for the textbook, the end of chapter questions and exercises, and the worksheets here.

That same link will also take you to charts showing the alignment to Montana State Standards for Social Studies and the Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians.

We’re working on posting similar charts for other curriculum material we’ve created. Stay tuned.

By the way--if you are new to the textbook, I highly recommend you take our online tour. It is a little dated, because we've added some new resources since it was created, but it gives a nice overview of the Montana: Stories of the Land companion website and I bet you'll find teaching resources you hadn't found in your own exploration. Submit the quiz at the end to earn an OPI Renewal Unit.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ten new MT newspapers on Chronicling America!

As Zoe Ann Stoltz, MHS Reference Historian, is fond of saying, “newspapers are the closest thing we have to a time machine.” That’s why I love the National Digitization Newspaper Program.

Montana newspapers available through Chronicling America

Library staff have been hard at work digitizing some of our historic newspaper collection. We now have sample issues (and a few full runs) digitized from 36 different Montana newspapers. Our total page count is now 127,664, distributed across 17,197 issues. A full list of Montana newspapers currently digitized is available here.

Most recently, ten new titles have been added:

  • Butte Inter Mountain
  • Culbertson Searchlight
  • New North-west (Deer Lodge)
  • Malta Enterprise
  • Producers News (Plentywood)
  • The River Press (Fort Benton)
  • Rocky Mountain Husbandman (Diamond City)
  • Ronan Pioneer
  • Suffrage News (Helena)
  • Sun River Sun

The Missoulian run has grown from one to five years (1909-14), and the Helena Independent now has continuous coverage from 1889 through 1894. Brief abstracts for the titles are available here. 

Other states’ newspapers available through Chronicling America

Looking for newspapers outside of Montana? Thirty-six states and Puerto Rico are also actively digitizing their newspapers. See all of the papers available through the Chronicling America Website (and remember, the site is regularly adding more titles).

Lesson Ideas Using Chronicling America

Looking for ideas of how to use these in the classroom? Here are a few hints:

  • Ask students: What was happening on your birthday 100 or 75 years ago? 
  • Play “newspaper bingo” to explore the social world of the era you are studying (Sample bingo cards and instructions are available here.
  • Have students go shopping in the ads to answer the question “what can I buy now, what could I buy then”?
  • Have students research how newspapers of the time portrayed certain significant events (See this useful post on conducting advance searches on the Chronicling America website.)
  • Use our lesson plan, “Thinking Like a Historian,” to have students explore what life was like in Virginia City, Montana, by conducting newspaper research. 
  • Compare events as described in a reminiscence, letter, or other source to the account of the same event in the newspaper (see our page 21 of our study guide for Girl from the Gulches: the Story of Mary Ronan, for an example). 
  • Have students write up a column to be published in your local newspaper or radio station, “This Week in Montana History” (hat tip to Renee Rasmussen, who did something like this with her Chester High School English students.) 

Looking for even more ideas? Edsitement has more suggestions for you.

Other Sources for Newspapers

I like Chronicling America because its interface is the most friendly and it is (relatively) easy to search. But if your students are conducting local history projects, and the newspapers you want are NOT available through Chronicling America, they might still be able to find relevant articles through other sources. A list of freely available digitized Montana newspapers is here.

In addition, the Montana Historical Society has 95% of all the newspapers ever published in Montana on microfilm. Your library can interlibrary loan up to five reels of microfilm for thirty days at a time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crowdsourcing Projects: Allowing Students to Make Genuine Contributions While Learning History, Research and Writing

Crowdsourcing (“the practice of obtaining needed … content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community”) seems to me to offer great opportunities for classroom teachers—particularly high school teachers because they can provide students with an authentic audience and a real purpose for conducting research and writing. Participating in crowd-sourcing projects allows students to make actual contributions to preserving knowledge.

Here are three good examples—all of which seem to me to provide great opportunities to engage Montana students.

National Museum of American History’s National Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive

This new project is designed to document the transformation of American agriculture over the past seventy years. Recognizing that “personal stories are key in telling the story of agricultural innovation,” “the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is asking the public to help us preserve the innovations and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States.” Thus far, curator Peter Liebhold has collected 40 stories, including ones from Illinois (participating in soil conservation NoTill projects in the 1980s). Hawaii (cowboying in the 1960s), Iowa (plowing with horses in the 1930s) and California (the spinach crisis of 2006). They have instructions on how to participate and plan on adding specific ideas for teachers down the road.

The Living New Deal

 This is a very cool website created by members of the University of California Geography Department to document the ongoing impact of the New Deal. As they explain:
No city, town, or rural area was untouched by the New Deal.  Hundreds of thousands of roads, schools, theaters, libraries, hospitals, post offices, courthouses, airports, parks, forests, gardens, and artworks—created in only one decade by our parents and grandparents—are still in use today. Because these public works were rarely marked, the New Deal’s ongoing contribution to American life goes largely unseen. Given the New Deal’s scale and impact across America, it seems inconceivable that no national register exists of what the New Deal built.  The Living New Deal is making visible that enduring legacy.
The project is great—but Montana is woefully underrepresented with only 9 sites. Luckily, they are looking for volunteers to add information. “In order to identify New Deal public works, we are asking volunteers from historical societies, libraries or any walk of life to help provide information. If you know of a New Deal project in your community, please take the time to photograph and document it. Then send the information to us for inclusion in the New Deal inventory. For tips on being a New Deal sleuth, download our Guidelines for Researchers.” You can find out more about how to get involved in this documentation project here.

Story Project: Celebrating Montana Women as Community Builders 

Looking for something closer to home? This project is part of a larger project to create a new mural for the Montana State Capitol Building--the first in over 80 years. Initiated by the 2011 Montana Legislature with Senate Bill 59 and supported by private donations, the mural will honor the history of Montana women as community builders. It will be installed in November 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in Montana.    
The Story Project is designed to extend the commemoration’s reach, to raise awareness about the centennial of woman suffrage in Montana, to recognize Montana women’s contributions to the state and their communities, and to celebrate the creation of the Montana Women's Mural in the State Capitol.

How will it work?
The Story Project is inviting people across Montana to collect stories about individual women and women's organizations who have helped shape our communities and state, past and present. At the completion of The Story Project (November 2014, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage), stories and photographs donated to the project will be offered to the Archives of the Montana Historical Society for use by future generations of researchers.

What types of stories is The Story Project looking for?
According to its website, The Story Project “welcomes stories about a woman or group of women whose type of contributions and achievements will help the artist painting the Montana Women's Mural envision how Montana women built our social institutions: libraries, museums, theaters, parks, playgrounds, schools, shelters, hospitals, labor unions, and social clubs.”

The Story Project has developed a questionnaire to guide participants’ research and storytelling, as well as forms you’ll need to submit information.

If anyone decides to participate in these (or other) crowdsourcing projects, I’d love to hear about your experience—and that of your students.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Best High School Montana History, IEFA or Heritage Education Lessons

Last week I shared middle school teachers’ answers to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” (Didn’t have time to do the survey but have a great lesson to share—one you love, regardless of who created it? Send it along and I’ll let folks know.)

Here are the answers submitted thus far from high school teachers.

Art of Storytelling  

Robin Gray, from Missoula, wrote: “Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspective! It was awesome.  We created ledger art drawings.”

Using Google Maps to Study Literature

Cory Snow (from Billings) “used Google Maps to track characters' journeys from the novel A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.”

Panning for Gold

“I taught a lesson on panning for gold.  I took the kids out of the classroom and had them try it for themselves. We used that experience to look at how hard it must have been for miners to do that day in and day out.  It gave my students an better understanding/appreciation of what those people went through.” If you want an easier gold panning exercise, you can find one on page 35 of the  the user guide for the "Gold, Silver and Coal" footlocker.

Inside Anna’s Classroom Study Guide and Article on Wounded Knee

“While I didn't directly teach any of the lessons, I forwarded them often to my consulting teachers.  I was especially impressed with the "Anna Study Guide" and source materials such as the New York Times article on Wounded Knee, which fit in well with the IEFA lessons my teachers in the Poplar, Montana school district were doing.”


“I utilized the website http://fourdirectionsteachings.com/ and shared with my students the information from the 5 nations listed.  They had an opportunity to compare the cultures presented and see that the connections to the past are a lot closer than we realize as long as we look.  I hope that this helps them make connections to their culture and customs on a more regular basis. I had one other lesson that I worked on that stands out, but it only truly connected with one student.  I asked my students to research the history of Wounded Knee, recognize 2 or 3 prominent members of the Sioux nation, the current land dispute, and if they had suggestions in resolving this situation.  (Is there a connection we can make to encourage the government to establish the land as a national landmark?)

Native Poetry using the Birthright: Born to Poetry

“The students had to create a poem that matched a Montana History occurrence and write it from the point of view of someone living in that time period.”  (Ed. note: Birthright: Born to Poetry, a Collection of Montana Indian Poetry is fabulous—and each poem comes with classroom ideas). There’s also a Birthright video with the authors reading their poems.

Boarding school/Birthright Lesson

“As an instructional coach, I didn't teach this. However, I developed it based on a workshop by Dottie Susag. The objective was to write a paragraph that  identified, with supporting details, the common theme of a boarding school video and two poems from the Birthright anthology.”

Sanborn Maps

Using the Sanborn maps  for Missoula, we re-constructed neighborhoods and created logs of the businesses and how they changed over time. [Find Sanborn maps for your community at http://sanborn.umi.com/ (email mkohl@mt.gov for username and password.)

Student Created Video about Perma Red

Anna Baldwin, from Arlee, wrote: “I used digital photography, digital audio recording, and a basic editing program to help students create an audiovisual representation of Debra Magpie Earling's novel Perma Red. This novel incorporates beautiful imagery and incredible descriptive detail about landscape, so I first had students select parts of the novel they found moving or descriptive and recorded them reading these selections. Then I took  students out one morning with digital cameras (and their smartphones) to photograph the area. While a pair edited the pictures to the audio track, others created intro and transition slides. Finally as a group they selected their music. It all came together as this video, hosted on youtube: Perma Red From Our Vision.

World War I and Sedition 

Kelley Edwards, Helena: “The Sedition Project- WWI Exploring the social, political, and economic impact that the sedition law had on Montanans.  Also explored if there should be limits to the First Amendment.  I am doing it again next year!“ (Learn more here.)

Place-Based Unit

Jeri Rittel (PAL, Helena): “I taught a thematic unit which included art, social studies and English. We visited Bannack, Fort Benton and Helena. We would like to do a river theme next year and include Fort Benton.”

Change on the Huntley Project/People involved in Positive Social Change 

Pam Roberts, from the Huntley Project, shared information on two research projects that had 9th and 10th grade English students conducting research using World Book Online – EbscoHost. Students investigating the Huntley Project also used resources digitized as part of Montana Memory Project; visited the Huntley Project museum, interviewed community elders, and created Prezis in which they compared Huntley Then and Now—with each student taking on a different topic, from fashion to raising chickens.

Homestead Fair

Mary-Kate Neinhuis, Harlowton: “The most fun and successful project was our ‘Homestead Fair.’ Each student created an ‘exhibit’ on a specialized subject that piqued their interest during our participation in ‘The Big Read’ (Harlowton participated in a Big Read of My Antonia. More on the Big Read here.) Students each created a board with information, primary sources, and an interactive element on a variety of topics such as homestead structures, transportation, fashion, courtship, and even prostitution during the homestead era in Montana. The students really enjoyed this more than anything else.”

IEFA Museum School Partnership Program

Chris Fisk (Butte) participated in a museum-school partnership program that focused on Indian Education for All. His students learned about area’s history before copper—including what the Salish called different sites around Butte and what traditional uses of those sites were. Among the highlights was a visit from Salish traditional technology expert Tim Ryan, who came down from the Flathead Reservation and taught the students how to build a fish trap.

Chronicling America 

One teacher gave a shout out to Chronicling America, the Historic American Newspaper Digitization Project.  “It brings history alive to read the articles that correspond to the events in history.  We used this source quite a bit while teaching Girl from the Gulches.” (Chronicling America is an AMAZING project that allows students and other researchers to read (a selection of) newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. See the Montana titles currently available here. Learn more about using Chronicling America in the classroom here.

Several teachers talked about the importance of integrating Montana History into other classes:

World War II Project

“Using Primary Sources to teach about Montana during WWII.  Students always find the First Special Service Force, 163rd Inf, Fort Missoula, Charlo and Oiye stories especially interesting. That local connection to the broader US History topics makes what students are learning engaging.”

American Indian Movement

Amy Collins, of Billings, wrote, “I think that the best IEFA lesson that I taught this year was the lesson that I did with my Junior US History class about AIM and the civil rights component for the American Indian. Along with the historical context, we did a component on mascots and place names, and the current movement within NCAA sports to change/replace names, which also had a Montana component.  So, all in all, it was a very timely ‘lesson’ for my students.” (Looking for more resources on mascots? We recently made this Montana The Magazine of Western History article available: “On Trial The Washington R*dskins’ Wily Mascot: Coach William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz.”)

Fort Peck Dam

“We study Montana during the Depression using the Montana: Stories of the Land text and look at the Fort Peck commemorative pamphlet.  This is followed with a visit to the Interpretive center, the Power House, and the Valley County Museum.  Ideally this could include Ivan Doig's novel, Bucking the Sun, to cross curricular areas.  Engineering feats (Technology), measuring (Math), the sky is the limit with this idea. I incorporate this into my Senior Government and US History classes.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

Free Literacy in Social Studies Workshop, Helena, Oct. 7-8

We’ve teamed up again with the Jan Clinard, Helena College, the Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction, and Professor Aaron Parrett (University of Great Falls) to put on a two-day workshop focusing on reading and writing strategies to meet common core standards and integrating Indian Education for All into the curriculum. Focusing on the theme of homesteading, we’ll look at strategies for reading primary documents including newspapers, photographs, brochures, letters, and treaties, ways to encourage your students to think like historians, and ideas for improving student writing.

The workshop will be held at Helena College, October 7 and 8. Register here.  
  • October 7, the workshop will run 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m., with a reception and behind-the-scene tours of the Montana Historical Society from 3:30-5:00.
  • October 8, the workshop is scheduled for 8:30-3:30. Participants can earn 15 renewal units.
This free workshop is designed to help implement Montana’s Common Core Standards by developing Literacy in Social Studies, as described in the Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies Standards and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. These include asking students to
  • “cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources” (RH 1);
  • “evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information, including texts by and about American Indians” (RH 8);
  • “write arguments focused on discipline-specific content” (WHST 1); 
  • “write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events” (WHST 2); and
  • “conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question” (WHST 7). 
Helena College is working with other partners to offer a second workshop in Great Falls, but this one focuses on reading and writing strategies for science and technical subjects. That workshop—co-led by long time heritage educator/English teacher/IEFA advocate Dottie Susag—will be held September 23-24 and is geared for 6-12 English and science teachers.

To register, go to http://tinyurl.com/LISSTS-MT, where you may also register for on online course called “Searching, Selecting, and Citing,” designed to enhance digital research skills and the use of web tools in the classroom.

Questions? Contact Jan Clinard, Ed.D., 406-447-6951, jan.clinard@umhelena.edu.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Best Middle School Montana History, IEFA or Heritage Education Lessons

Last week I shared elementary teachers’ answers to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” (Didn’t have time to do the survey but have a great lesson to share—one you love, regardless of who created it? Send it along and I’ll let folks know.)

Here are the answers submitted thus far from middle school teachers.

Learning from Historical Document Units

Marylou Sytsma (7th-8th grade, Manhattan Christian) writes: “I really enjoy using the primary source documents that are available through the curriculum. The earthquake letter from Helena really gives the students a chance to step back into the past and read about an event from one person's point of view. It helps them to experience history first hand rather than just read it in third person from a textbook. We have great discussions when we talk about the letter and how things have changed now.” Note: We’ve digitized primary sources for almost every chapter of the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook. See the main page for each chapter on the Montana: Stories of the Land website for links.

Examining Artifacts 

Kim Konen, 7th grade Montana History teacher in Whitehall, brings in tools to supplement her class’s study of the Montana: Stories of the Land chapter on “Livestock and the Open Range." “My family lives on a ranch near Dillon, Montana.  I was able to get some old brands, dockers, sheep shears, and other old tools that were used by my grandparents and have been in my family to share with my class.  It was fun to explain how the various tools were used and to be able to explain how technology has become an important part in ranching and farming today.  How things have changed and made raising livestock and crops easier to produce!”

Mapping Montana, A-Z

“I do the map activity to begin the year because then they delve into the state of Montana map and look at it closely.  Love the hands on!”

Building a Gold Rush Town 

Wendy DosSantos, Trout Creek School, writes: “The lesson I would repeat again would be for the creation of our gold town model (used along with Chapter 6 in Montana: Stories of the Land). The kids make a mining town/camp loosely based off Bannack (They are free to name their own town.) They make buildings from popsicle sticks and place them on a big, painted piece of plywood.  They use spray insulating foam to create terrain.  Through the lesson we talk about what types of buildings were likely to be in a mining camp, etc.  They all are proud of their efforts, and the whole school enjoys the final product which is now displayed in the library.  For the little kids [who attend the same school] I display library books with a western theme or setting with the display.”

Unit on Place 

“I taught a unit on sense of 'Place.' The unit included a historical and contemporary look at the Salish and the importance of the Bitterroot Valley.” Although the teacher didn’t mention it, she might have used “Building World Views Using Traditional Cultures and Google Earth.”


Teri Ogle of White Sulphur Springs takes here 7th graders on a “three-day field trip throughout Montana - with overnight stays at participating schools.”

Immigration Maps 

“We are making maps showing immigrant homesteaders that settled in Stillwater County.   An extension of this activity if we have time, will show an overlay off previous Crow lands to see how lands were assimiliated by different cultures.”

Montana Tribes Digital Archives online 

No quotes from the teacher—just great recommendations.

Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website

All of the resources that come with our Montana: Stories of the Land textbook.
No quotes from the teacher—but you can bet I was happy to see this recommendation.

Socratic Circle 

Favorite Activity: “Socratic seminar with 8th graders after examining the history of Federal policy and Indian Relations.” Inside Anna’s Classroom Study Guide describes how to use Socratic Circles on page 7. (I’m sure other places do too—this is just the one I know.)

Connecting Fiction and Non-fiction

“Working with the students with their reading of fiction [Jason’s Gold, about the Klondike Gold Rush] and correlating with a non-fiction piece and primary sources available to us online.”

Montana History Report/PowerPoint

Cindy Glavins of Big Timber wrote: “My 7th Graders do a Montana History report and Power Point in computer lab.  We cover the topics of:  Ranching, Mining, All 12 tribes, Local history, Famous people, etc.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Applications for Scholarships to attend the Montana History Conference Due Today

Just a quick reminder that midnight is the deadline for submitting your scholarship application to attend the 40th Annual Montana History Conference, held this year in Sidney in partnership with the MonDak Heritage Center.

The theme of the conference is, appropriately “Boom and Bust: Extracting the Past.”

The  Thursday educator workshop will be rich with ideas for primary source lessons, including
information on our footlocker program, including a sneak peek at new lessons featured in our revamped immigration footlocker.

  • Teaching with historic maps
  • Teaching with historic newspapers 
  • Combining primary and secondary sources to study allotment and homesteading.
  • Humanities Montana Director Ken Egan will also talk about the literature of mining.

Friday features panel presentations on topics as diverse as “Fortifying the Boom” (on military forts’ role in western expansion), “First Booms” (mining and early oil), “Picturing the Boom” (about historic photograph), “Women’s Work,” “Living with the Boom” (Richland County residents talk about the changes their community has faced), “History on the Hoof” (the cattle boom and bust), “There Will Be Oil” (the new oil landscape), “Symbols of the West” (wagon trains and livestock brands), “The Beet Goes On” (the sugar beet industry)—and many more, including the best titled paper: “O Tannenbaum–Boom! The Rise and Fall of Northwest Montana’s Christmas Tree Industry.”

Most of Saturday will be spent visiting area historic sites including Fort Union, the heart of the fur trade; Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered; and the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center.

We’ve designed the scholarship application to be as quick and painless as possible. So, if you are interested in joining us, take 5-10 minutes and submit your application before midnight tonight.

Learn more about how to apply for a scholarship.
View the conference program.
View the agenda for Thursday educator workshop.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Favorite Elementary Montana History, IEFA or Heritage Education Lessons

As is my habit, at the end of last year I surveyed members of the listserv, both to get feedback on the list and to gather everyone’s favorite lessons so I could share them with the group. Thank you!

My favorite part of the survey is being able to share teacher-approved lessons—so, without further ado, here are answers from elementary teachers to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.”

Mapping Montana, A-Z (Grades 4-6)
Tani McKeever, who teaches in Lavina said, “I used the map Montana from A to Z activity with my 5th and 6th graders.  They were so excited about getting their own map!  It was like I gave them money :) They were busy and working meaningfully AND independently for 2 whole class periods.  This was a terrific introduction to MT geography and really peaked their interest.” Several other teachers also gave this lesson two thumbs up.

Hands-On History Trunks (Grades 3-5)
“I love all the Montana History trunks that circulate to some of the 4th grade Helena teachers.  We teach Montana History and the Montana Historical Society trunks are fantastic resources and great hands on for the kids.”

Danish Memoir (Grades 3-6) 
Billings Librarian Ruth Ferris had her students reread and create illustrations for paragraphs from  a memoir we published as part of our “Coming to Montana: Immigrants from around the World” footlocker. (Stay tuned for a complete revamping of this footlocker with this lesson plan incorporated into the new user guide.)

Panning for Gold/Motherlode Lesson (Grades 3-5)
Two teachers mentioned using this lesson, which can be found on page 32 of user guide for the “Gold, Silver and Coal” footlocker. This is a good time to note that all of the footlockers’ user guides can be downloaded and that you can do many of their lesson plans WITHOUT ordering the footlocker.

Montana Tribes Investigation (Grades 3-5)“Each child chose a MT tribe to investigate, past and present. They formulated questions about the tribe, researched for the answers, and compared the past life to present day life of the tribe. Lastly, they put together presentations to inform their classmates about their tribes.”

What Brought Us to Montana (Grades 3-5)“We did some assignment work on our heritage and what brought us to Montana. We went back to Ellis Island for some of the information. The kids learned a lot when they interviewed "old timers."

A Beautiful Tradition: Ingenuity and Adaptation in a Century of Plateau Women's Art
Jennifer Ogden, Victor, wrote: “Laura Ferguson wrote the art history component and I added a hands-on beading and sewing component for my 4th graders.” There are also versions of this curriculum designed for middle school, and high school.

Montana Biographies
Vivian Schultz from Ryegate (K-6 librarian) wrote: “I taught the biographies lesson using Montana historical resources.”

Northern Cheyenne and Crow Language GreetingsPenny Reynolds, Central School (Helena) Title I/Reading teacher wrote: “I taught Northern Cheyenne language phrases as well as Crow language greetings.” She didn’t say, but she might have used these online resources from the Western Heritage Center in Billings.

Traditional Games “I taught Traditional Games with the opportunity throughout the year to play the games.” This teacher didn’t provide a link, but here’s an OPI lesson plan on teaching traditional games.

Didn’t have time to do the survey but have a great lesson to share—a one you love, regardless of who created it? Send it along and I’ll let folks know.