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Learning from Historical Document Units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.”

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