Monday, September 15, 2014

Favorite Middle School Lessons

Last week I shared elementary teachers' answers to the following prompt: “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.” As promised, here are the answers we received from middle school teachers to the same question.

Chronicling America
Librarian Pam Roberts in Huntley is enamored with the digitized newspapers on Chronicling America, and for good reason "We used them for class visits/lessons in Home Ec - Advertisements on Baby/Child Care items; English - Opinions and Facts; History of the West - Upper Grade Social Studies - the Trial of Tom Horn; Social Studies - American History - scavenger hunt."

Amy Williams, who teaches Special Education at Polson Middle School, wrote: "I introduced beading (making beadwork- loom, peyote stitch, eventually straight stich) to my students this year (Native and non-Native..tis IEFA afterall!!). I will absolutely carry this through next year to focus on the art of relaxation (social) as well as planning a design (math) and follow through from start to finish (dedication, goal setting, patience, pride- life long skill).  I will add more lessons relating to different traditional and contemporary designs, as well as designs important to the artist, or to the person the gift is intended for.  We discussed the importance of respect, integrity and creative expression as well as making a design your own, not copying exactly from someone else."

Massacre on the Marias - Document based analysis from the MHS.
Elizabeth Campbell from North Star (Rudyard), used MHS's lesson plan on the Marias Massacre. "Students interpret the events based on differing accounts."

Flathead Allotment Lesson
Jennifer Graham, from Philipsburg, wrote: "A four square activity with maps from the Flathead Indian reservation showing land being taken away over time.  GREAT activity that I will do over and over and over again." You can find a good description of how to use a four-square on pages 4-5 of the "Inside Anna's Classroom study guide". You can receive a set of the amazing maps she refers to by emailing Pete Gillard.

Treaties of Fort Laramie Dissection and Debate
Sally Rohletter, from Fair-Mont Egan School, wrote: "Students were each given an individual article from at least one of the two Fort Laramie treaties to summarize for the rest of the class, then they worked collaboratively in small groups to analyze the differences between the treaties and decide why the changes may have occurred. They finished with a class discussion about better solutions that may have benefited everyone without bias."

Reports on Indian Topics and a Field Trip
Karen Degel, sixth grade teacher at Twin Bridges, wrote: "My students researched and wrote 600-800 words reports on one of the following subjects:  Jim Thorpe, The Battle of the Little Big Horn (from the Native American perspective), Battle of Lone Mountain, Pow Wows, Native American stories.  The reports were excellent, but even better, they had a much greater understanding when we took our field trip north to Havre and the Bear Paw National Battlefield."

Birchbark House
My 6th grade literature class had an awesome time reading and studying The Birchbark House this year. (See OPI's Model Teaching Unit for grades 5-8.)

Model Gold Rush Town
Trout Creek teacher Wendy DosSantos, has her 7th-8th grade Montana history students build a model gold rush town: "we create a model of a fictional gold mining town (roughly based on Bannack, etc.).  The students discuss what type of buildings would exist in their town.  After brainstorming, they choose the buildings they will model with Popsicle sticks.  In conjunction, we write  western, gold mining stories that take place in the town they have created. The model from last year is still on display in the library this year.  All the kids throughout the school have enjoyed seeing the model."

Cowboy Poetry
Whitehall Middle School teacher Kim Konen has her students writing cowboy poetry: "For the stockmen, livestock and open range unit I had the students write cowboy poetry.  The kids had a blast writing these since most of my students are from ranching families!  I played some cowboy poetry from Baxter Black and some great cowboy songs from Michael Martin Murphy and Red Stegall and the Bunkhouse Gang!" (You can find a Cowboy Poetry lesson plan here.

Native American Biography
Wendy Maratita, who teaches at Harlem Junior/Senior High School, has her 8th grade students write a "book".  "They are told to pick a modern Native American to write their book on. I usually tell them from 1950 to the present.  This way they get an idea of what Native Americans are doing in a more modern era.  They are usually surprised to see athletes, singers, actors and various other artists, as well as politicians and activists. They are given what each part of the book is (frontispiece, end papers, title page, chapters, glossary, etc) and they write a book about their person."

Evelyn Cameron Unit
Cindy Hatten, from Frank Brattin Middle School in Colstrip, wrote: "I taught a lesson on Evelyn Cameron.  I used the video on her, besides reading 2 books on her.  I put in for 'One Class at a Time' and was awarded a $300.00 scholarship.  With this I was able to take the entire 7th grade class on a trip to the Prairie County Museum and the Evelyn Cameron Gallery in Terry MT." (The movie she is referring to is "Evelyn Cameron: Pictures from a Worthy Life." The Montana Historical Society also recently posted Evelyn Cameron's diaries from 1893 to 1928 (and transcripts!) online as part of the Montana Memory Project. The diaries chronicle her daily life: the books she read, the chores she completed, the social events she attended, and, along with Cameron's photographs, provide a great glimpse into daily life on the agricultural frontier.)

Montana: Stories of the Land Worksheets
John Joyce, from the LaSalle Blackfeet School, wrote: "I often used the primary source worksheets from the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook. They were invaluable in helping students identify key points of information and interpreting the value of primary sources in drawing conclusions about different times, places, peoples, and events." (John may have been talking about the Learning from Historical Document units we created for almost every chapter of the textbook (See this one, from Chapter 7: Two Worlds Collide, for example. ) Or he may be referring to the skill-based worksheets we created--two per chapter--many of which ask students to analyze primary sources, for example, this one from Chapter 13: Homesteading.

Butte, America DVD
Jolene Onorati Manning, who teaches 8th grade U.S. history in Golden, Colorado, uses the DVD Butte, America to teach about the industrial revolution, immigration and unionization across America.  Jolene discovered the DVD when she joined us for a weeklong, NEH-funded educator workshop, "The Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West." You can see some of the lesson plans teachers who attended the workshop created here. We'll be offering the workshop again this summer--stay tuned for details.

Other teachers submitted some very intriguing ideas anonymously:

Google Maps
"Mapping history through the use of google map and google earth placemarks."

"I taught a lesson on the importance of pemmican to Montana Indian tribes and I had my students make their own as an in class project."

Didn't have time to do the survey but have a great idea to share--a lesson you love, regardless of who created it? Email me at mkohl@mt.gov and I'll include it in a future post.

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