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, March 31, 2014

Teaching Women’s History Matters! Montana Historical Society’s Summer Educator Workshop

Looking for Summer professional development that will help you integrate into your classroom:
  • primary sources
  • new teaching techniques to meet Common Core standards
  • women's history, and 
  • Montana Indian history?
Look no further than our upcoming workshop: "Teaching Women's History Matters!"
Where: Montana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts St., Helena, Montana

When: Monday, June 16, 1:00-6:30, Tuesday, June 17, 8:30-5:00, and Wednesday, June 18, 8:30-12:30 (Participants must attend all three days)
Who: Grades 4-12 Social Studies teachers, English Language Arts teachers, and Librarians
What: FREE, hands-on workshop. Taking women’s history as the theme, the workshop will focus on
  • building content knowledge,
  • practicing techniques, and
  • uncovering free, easily accessible primary and secondary source material that can be used with students to meet Common Core ELA standards and IEFA.
Participants will engage in hands-on learning activities and leave the workshop with ready-to-use lessons and primary sources to integrate into their current curriculum.
Sixteen OPI Renewal Units will be provided.

Why: 2014 is the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in the state of Montana, yet women are still largely overlooked as historical actors. To rectify this situation, and in honor of the centennial, the Montana Historical Society created Women’s History Matters—a web-based project designed to make Montana women’s history visible. Workshop attendees will learn
  • how to use these newly created resources in their classrooms
  • how looking at history from a female perspective changes the stories we choose to tell
  • how they can find primary and secondary sources to meet common core standards
  • how women’s history can be integrated into classes that are already being taught
Cost: FREE, including Monday evening reception, Tuesday and Wednesday continental breakfast and lunch. A limited number of travel scholarships are also available.
Limit: 25
Registration Deadline: Wednesday, June 1, 2014 (Deadline for scholarship applicants May 1, 2014)
Want to know more? See the Workshop Agenda, below, or contact Martha Kohl at mkohl@mt.gov


Montana Women’s History Matters Agenda

Monday, June 16
1:00-1:40 Introductions
1:40-2:30 Women’s History 101: An Introduction to Workshop Themes (Anya Jabour, University of Montana Professor in the History and past co-director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program)
2:30-2:50 Writing Reflection/Discussion
2:50-3:00 Break
3:00-5:00 Mining Childhood/Doing Oral History (Janet Finn, University of Montana Professor of Social Work and author of Mining Childhood: Growing Up in Butte, 1900-1960)
5:00-6:30 Opening Reception/Scavenger Hunt
Tuesday, June 17
8:30-8:45 Discussion of Day 1 (especially scavenger hunt results)
8:45-10:30 Women’s History for Elementary Students (Deb Mitchell, Montana Historical Society Program Specialist)
10:30-10:40 Break
10:40-11:30 Women and the Changing Law: A Historical Overview, Montana State Law Library staff
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30-1:20 Taking Action: A Political History of Women in Montana (Diane Sands, independent scholar on women's history, Montana state representative)
1:20-2:50 Using Personal Narratives to Learn about Indigenous Women's Lives during the Treaty Period (Laura Ferguson, Indian education consultant and curriculum developer and a contributor to the Women’s History Matters blog)
2:50-3:00 Break
3:00-5:00 Women’s History Tour (Ellen Baumler, Montana Historical Society Interpretive Historian)
Wednesday, June 18
8:30-9:00 Discussion of Day 2
9:00-9:45 Overview of Available Resources (Martha Kohl, Montana Historical Society Historical Specialist and Women’s History Matters Project Manager)
9:45-10:00 Break
10:00-11:15 Crowd-Sourcing Project: Gathering Resources to Integrate Women’s History into the Teaching of Montana History (participants, led by Martha Kohl)
11:15-12:15 Crow Women in the Twentieth Century (Mardell Hogan Plainfeather, retired National Park Service supervisory park ranger, Crow field director of the American Indian Tribal Histories Project at the Western Heritage Center in Billings, and coauthor of The Woman Who Loved Mankind: The Life of a Twentieth-Century Crow Elder, by Lillian Bullshows Hogan, As told to Barbara Loeb and Mardell Hogan Plainfeather) (awaiting confirmation)
12:15-1:15 Lunch/Evaluations/Depart or Research on your own



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teaching Strategies for Using Historic Newspapers

The Library of Congress Education Team and the Teaching with Primary Sources Program at Metropolitan State University of Denver are offering a free webinar on teaching strategies for using historic newspapers on March 27, 2014, 3:00 EDT. 

This "Hangout" will feature a panel that includes Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris. Panelists will highlight the historic newspapers available through Chronicling America and discuss teaching strategies for using the materials with students.  More here.

Can't make the Hangout to participate in the webinar in real time? It will be preserved on YouTube after the fact. You can also access it from TPS Colorado's YouTube page.

Monday, March 24, 2014

More on the 1964 Flood--and Student-led Community History Projects

I received a fair amount of feedback from last week's  post on the 1964 flood—all of which reinforced my belief that this would be an EXCELLENT community history project for high school students. When I pitched the topic, I provided a link to previous posts on teaching disasters and oral history in the classroom—but I thought folks might also be interested in some additional resources on conducting large community study projects.

The master of student-led community studies was the Montana Heritage Project, which was active from 1995 to 2006, but still has resources posted online.

Particularly useful, I think, are the MHP resources under the tab “Research with ALERT” (ALERT stands for “Ask,” “Listen,” “Explore,” “Reflect,” “Teach.”) Their website does a good job outlining the process for encouraging "high school students to take their communities as the subject of serious historical research."

But back to the flood itself, and the memories it evoked. 

Bonnie Boggs (now of Miles City) wrote:
This letter reminds me, with a heavy heart, the flood of 64.  I was 14 and we lived outside of Browning, 9 miles to the east.  The flood was devastating and I will remember it always. So much was lost and so many perished, including friends. I remember we didn't leave our farm because we had a cow that was due to calf at any time and we didn't have the means to leave the animals behind.  I recognize now that it meant my families livelihood as we had a dairy farm as well.  As the water rose we found ourselves on a small island completely surrounded by water.  We moved everything to the attic with hopes it would survive.  I also know that it made a deep impact on me, more than I ever thought.  Well, we did survive and I remember helicopters flying over and dropping food supplies. I also remember the radio saying that people needed to get shots as protection from flood caused disease and my 3 sisters and I feeling so lucky that since we couldn't get to Browning, we didn't have to get the shots........how lucky we were.....kids thinking no less. Only later did we realize the people who were lost and missing, one being my best friend and several of her family.  The loss was tremendous and the fear was ongoing for weeks after.  Floods are so powerful and when Mother Nature speaks the wrath can be enormous.  We survived, others did not and still life goes on with questions unanswered and perhaps it is meant that way.  I might add that 3 weeks after the floods subsided, the cow had a beautiful little Holstein calf.  We named her Miracle.
Diane Van Gorden (now of Baker) wrote:
I remember the Flood. I was 9! The HS Gym in Valier became the Red Cross center for many of the displaced families and my dad logged many hours on search and rescue while my mom worked at the gym and I babysat my younger brother.  And I remember trying to help by baking a batch of Ranger cookies that were a major flop.

Some people suggested resources.

Sandi Vashro recommends the book Sky, by Pamela Porter (grades 3-5). “A Blackfeet girl and her family are wiped out by the '64 flood.  However, she finds a young colt in the aftermath. Good book touching on many issues at the time.”

Reference Historian Zoe Ann Stoltz noted that the Montana Historical Society Research Center has put together a list of Montana disasters, that might make a good starting point for student research projects: . She also recommended the book Montana Disasters: Fires, Floods, and Other Catastrophes, by Molly Searl.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

1964 Flood

As I read about flooding in Roundup, I was reminded of a post I wrote in 2012, "Teaching Disasters"--which talked about using disasters as teachable moments, pointed to some essential questions to ask about disasters (for example, "What role did policy and human decisions play in either exacerbating or mitigating the disaster?"), and that gathered historical resources on floods, fires, and earthquakes. You can read that post here.

It also made me remember that this is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 flood, one of the worst disasters in Montana history. High school teachers might want to assign their students Aaron Parrett's article, "Montana's Worst Natural Disaster: The 1964 Flood on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation," published in Montana The Magazine of Western History (Summer 2004): 20-31. (If your high school library doesn't subscribe to Montana, it should.)

The 1964 flood would also make a dandy oral history project/community history project for folks living in areas affected by the flood. It completely transformed the social world of the Blackfeet reservation, for example--after the flood that many Blackfeet moved from rural areas of the reservation to Browning.)  Fifty years ago is a long time ago--but not so long that there aren't people who remember it and students could make a really meaningful contribution to Montana history by gathering and preserving memories of the flood and its aftermath.

Find tips on conducting an oral history project here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Searching Chronicling America

Huntley librarian Pam Roberts made my day recently with an email talking about her work with a Child Growth and Development class. She said the students had a marvelous time researching child care and baby equipment in the advertisements of the historic newspapers on Chronicling America. (The differences between accepted practice then and now was "eye opening," she said.)

As many of you know, Chronicling America is one of my favorite sites. The Montana Historical Society is actively digitizing Montana newspapers. I just talked to the project coordinator and she expects many more Montana titles will be available soon.

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 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.

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

History Mystery Kits--A Great Way to Incorporate Primary Sources into Your Classroom

Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris recently contacted me, very excited about the History Mystery Trunks created by BLM, particularly  Boom or Bust: Mystery of the Old Homestead. This educational kit provides a unique way of learning the stories of 42 homestead families who settled in eastern Montana prior to World War II.  The trunk can be ordered from the Western Heritage Center.  View a convenient chart showing the types of resources the trunks contain here.

More about Boom or Bust: Mystery of the Old Homestead

Most of the homesteader stories are from previously unpublished accounts from the Western Heritage Center oral history collections. The game includes stories, land records, and family photographs. In addition, the kit includes teaching resources and tools to provide a more in-depth understanding of the homesteader experience. These resources include games, living history activities, short stories, a bibliography, and a guide on how to incorporate oral interviews for preserving local history. Unlike the footlockers created by the Montana Historical Society, which target a fourth grade audience, this footlocker is geared toward middle school.

History Mystery 1: Sacrifice Cliff 

I haven't seen Boom or Bust, but I'm a big fan of an earlier History Mystery kit: Sacrifice Cliff. Also designed for use in grades 7-8 (but good for high school as well), this kit centers on local legends associated with the well known landmark near Billings and engages students in an interactive research exercise that allows them to learn through their own investigations. It tells the story of a band of Crow Indians who lived in the Billings area in the late 1800s; the devastating effects of small pox, brought to the area by western immigrants; and the sacrifice warriors made to protect the band from the disease.

While many versions of the story abound, it is generally believed that the brave Crow warriors offered their lives in sacrifice by flinging themselves from a cliff to their deaths. Many questions remain. Which version of the story is correct? How many warriors were involved? When did the sacrifice take place? Did the warriors perish in vain? Is the local landmark known as Sacrifice Cliff accurately named or was another cliff the site of the sacrifice?

This educational resource kit gives students an opportunity to examine historical evidence in the
context of an actual historical mystery. Through this exercise, students learn the importance of
research, history, and preservation.

Reserving History Mystery Kits

You can reserve the  Sacrifice Cliff History Mystery kit--and one that looks at the management of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses (aimed at grade school)--either from the Western Heritage Center or from the Montana Historical Society using our online footlocker reservation form. Boom and Bust can only be ordered from the Western Heritage Center.

As is true for all of the footlockers circulated by the Montana Historical Society, no rental fee is charge for the use of these History Mystery Kits. (Western Heritage Center does charge a very modest rental fee.) Both organizations require schools to pay for shipping to the next venue and to insure the contents.

Other Hands-on History Footlockers

Learn more about the variety of footlockers MHS circulates here. Learn more about our newest footlocker, "Coming to Montana: Immigrants from around the World" here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Celebrate Women's History Month; Check out the Women's History Matters Website and Facebook Page

I know I wrote about resources for teaching about women's suffrage last week, but March is Women's History Month, so it seemed like a good time to draw attention to other aspects of our grand yearlong project, the Women's History Matters website.

In January, when we launched this project, I wrote a few posts on the website and some of its resources.

But now we've been operational for two months, I wanted to revisit the project to draw attention to the twice weekly posts that appear on the site's main page. The topics of these 500- to 1000-word posts are various. A selection of titles includes

As we move forward, posts will continue to discuss nineteenth and twentieth century women, organizations, and issues from all parts of the state--from the Women's Christian Temperance Union to Title IX.

If a particular entry intrigues you, it's worth using the categories and tags at the bottom the article to find related posts. Categories include geography, for example "Eastern Montana"; era, for example, "1900-1945"; and subject matter, for example, "medicine." If you click on a category ("Eastern Montana," say) you'll find other articles published about that region.

I'm interested in other ways teachers can imagine (or are actually) using these articles in the classroom. The articles have the advantage of being shorter than most scholarly articles. They are also designed to be both interesting and significant. Thus, they seem ripe to be used in middle and high school classes as informational texts. (Do note, however, that while most of the entries are entirely age appropriate, a few of the upcoming topics might be too controversial for middle school, specifically ones on abortion, lesbian activism, and birth control.)

Brenda Johnson of Browning High School told me that she plans to choose a couple of these articles for her students to read as part of a formative assessment. In addition to reading two blog entries, she's having her students read the Great Falls Tribune article about the Women's History Matters project. Then the students will find a woman in their home community to profile.

Anya Jabour at University of Montana has assigned the blog in its entirety to one of her classes in lieu of a textbook, holding students responsible for the readings through periodic quizzes.

If you use any of these blog posts--please let me know how. Or if you have ideas of how we could make them more useful to classroom teachers, please let me know that as well.

P.S. In addition to visiting http://montanawomenshistory.org/, I hope you'll consider liking and following our Montana Women's History Matters Facebook page for all the latest and greatest.

P.P.S. I just received an email from Clark Begger from Roberts School, who said that he teaches Ronald Schaffer's essay, . “The Montana Woman Suffrage Campaign: 1911-14,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 55, no. 1 (January 1964): 9-15, in his freshman/sophomore Montana history class.  I can't post that article, because it is copyrighted by PNQ, but I'm sure your librarian can get you a copy via interlibrary loan. However, Clark kindly shared the worksheet he created to use with students reading the article, which I am sharing here.