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.”

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