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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Indian Ed for All through Photo Analysis Activity plus a Poster Contest

What a pleasant surprise to open my TPS Western Region newsletter and see the article, Primary Sources in Action with Ruth Ferris. A Billings elementary librarian who has collaborated with us on many lesson plans, including Thinking Like a Historian and Montana’s State Flower: A Lesson in Civic Engagement, Ruth was featured for a Gallery Walk she created for Chief Plenty Coups State Park's Day of Honor. For the walk, she chose pictures from several different reservations to show the differences and similarities of the horse culture in Montana.  

According to Ruth, "The pictures selected were all taken during the late 1800s to early 1900s. They represent many of the tribes and reservations in Montana. I then put together a lesson that dealt with photo analysis, and could be completed independently by participants. This lesson met Essential Understanding #1 for Indian Education for All [“There is great diversity among the 12 tribal Nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments.  Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.”].  

Ruth also took a map of Montana that shows the Montana reservations, identified each picture by tribe and posted it near that reservation. "When I used the lesson with my younger students I provided greater scaffolding." 

Friends of Chief Plenty Coups Association has posted Ruth's lesson, "Hoofprints and Heartbeats," as she modified it for elementary students on its site. In addition to the photographs and resources for scaffolding are links to a variety of primary source analysis tools and a tutorial on the why and how of "Gallery Walks."

On a related note: The Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction is conducting a poster contest for middle school students (grades 6, 7, and 8) regarding What Does Indian Education for All Mean to you.  Submissions are due Dec. 22, 2014. Find out more here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

9th Annual Indian Education For All Best Practices Conference and IEFA Resources

When my son was four he announced to me that “Indians only live in museums.” You can imagine my horror as I rushed to supply him with examples of contemporary American Indian life.

According to this article in Indian Country Today, most children still think that “All Indians Are Dead.” I don’t think study accurately reflects the reality on the ground in Montana because the researcher only coded state mandated history standards, and thus ignored Montana’s influential Essential Understandings Regarding MontanaIndians, which increasingly have guided classroom instruction since their adoption in 2001. Nevertheless—the article impressed upon me how important and transformative Indian Education for All has been—and how important it is to maintain momentum.

The 9th Annual Indian Education For All Best Practices Conference will be held in Bozeman this year on Feb. 22-24. Up to 14 CEUs will be available. At the heart of the conference will be “Tribal Culture Immersion Sessions” led by well-respected members of tribal culture committees, tribal college faculty and other cultural experts. Space is limited for what looks to be an incredible learning opportunity so I recommend registering early. Learn more here. 

Looking for some plug-and-play IEFA lesson plans? Here are ones we’ve created—almost all of which are primary source based. 

Of course, OPI has an even larger number of lesson plans, searchable by subject matter, grade level and topic. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Share Tour Story of Youth Agricultural Education with the Smithsonian

This came in at the end of last year. It’s another great crowd-sourcing project that your high school students could become involved in. More crowd-sourcing project ideas here and here. The Library of Congress Veterans Project also encourages community participation--including work by students 10th grade and above.

By the way, the Montana Women's History Matters blog featured an article about 4-H in Montana: "Head, Hearts, Hands, and Health: Montana's Women and Girls in the 4-H Movement."  


Share your story of childhood agricultural education, whether with FFA, 4-H, or another organization, with the Smithsonian.  

If you were a member of FFA, 4-H, or other agricultural education program as a kid, you know just how powerful these experiences can be.

Some still remember lessons learned in these organizations as adults:

"We're in this enormous coliseum and you look around and it's all blue jackets," said Smithsonian Gardens Supervisory Horticulturist Brett McNish, who was a student FFA member in Illinois. "It was a pretty powerful moment, as a teenager, to stop and really recognize that you're part of something great and important."
Brett was first to add his story to the National Museum of American History's Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive, an online archive where anyone can explore American agricultural history shared by people like you. Check out Brett's story and add your own.

Curator Peter Liebhold


Monday, November 10, 2014

Tying Primary Sources to Literature

In a quick note thanking me for the links to post on the 1964 Civil Rights Act anniversary, Browning teacher Brenda Johnston mentioned that her students were going to start To Kill a Mockingbird soon, and that she liked to include Civil Rights material to provide context.

Especially with the Common Core's emphasis on including informational texts and helping students learn to interpret primary sources, using literature as a jump off point to investigate the historical events makes good sense. (Actually--I always thought this made good sense and am glad to be able to reference the Common Core to back the practice.)

We've worked with literature teachers at Helena High School to gather resources for Fools Crow and The Grapes of Wrath--and I'd be delighted to work to develop resource sets relating to other commonly taught novels. I've talked about both of these projects before--but here's a quick recap:

Fools Crow/Marias Massacre project

We created this project with 10th grade honors English teacher Jill Van Alstyne. After her students read Fools Crow, she has them look at the Marias Massacre, an event that occurs at the end of James Welch’s novel.

After completing the MHS lesson plan: “Blood on the Marias: Understanding Different Points of View Related to the Baker Massacre of 1870,”  and reviewing the difference (and different uses for) primary and secondary sources, she assigns a research paper focused on the Marias Massacre. Students are asked to answer one of the following questions: “Why did Baker attack Heavy Runner's band?” “How did attitudes to the event change over time?” or “How did geography and/or ethnicity influence perspective?”

They also came into the historical society to find a photograph that  illustrated one way non-Indian immigration to Montana changed the world that Montana Indians knew. That part of the project is discussed in Using Historic Photographs to Complement the Study of Literature

Grapes of Wrath project

Helena High School Junior Honors American Literature teacher Jean O’Connor worked with us to develop this project, which will have students conducting research in the Governors Records to gain a deeper understanding of what life was like in Montana during the Great Depression. Although “Governors Records” sounds deadly, the collection actually contains heartrending letters from farmers and others detailing their struggles on drought stricken farms. (You can view some of those letters here. Jean also asks her students to read the first chapter of Mary Murphy's book on FSA photographers in Montana during the Great Depression: Hope in Hard Times, which we digitized for teachers to use with their students. And, she has students analyze photographs in the Library of Congress's Farm Security Administration photo collection. Details of her project are here.

Do you have a historical novel you'd like to tie to Montana history resources? Let us know and we'll see what we can find.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nominate an Elementary Teacher to Be Named Montana History Teacher of the Year

Do you know an elementary history teacher who brings history alive for his or her students?  The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History and the Montana Council for History and Civic Education are seeking nominations for the Montana History Teacher of the Year.  The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City and the HISTORY Channel sponsors this award.  The Montana winner will receive a $1,000 check, and they will become finalists in the National History Teacher of the Year award (Montana nominees have placed in the top three.).  In addition, their school library will receive a collection of history books and educational materials! 

Gilder Lehrman is looking for nominations from principals, administrators, or parents.  Below are the qualifications and procedures for this year’s award.   

Qualifications: The nominee must meet the following criteria:
  • 3 years’ teaching experience
  • Full time elementary teacher, (K-6) during the 2014-2015 school year.  Middle and high school teachers may be nominated in the next cycle (2015-2016)
  • Teaches thoughtful and creative United States history. (This may include state and local history, and American history may be taught as an individual subject or through social studies, reading, language arts, and other subjects.)
  • Effectively uses primary sources to engage students in American history.
To nominate a teacher, you merely submit the following:

  1. Visit www.gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy and nominate a teacher, which will include providing contact information for you your and your nominee as well as a very brief statement about why your nominee should be honored. Deadline for nomination is February 1, 2015.  That’s all you have to do.
  2. Once you submit your nominations, your nominee will be asked to submit supporting materials via an online submission form by March 16, 2015.  A committee of  Montana educators will receive their materials and select a winner by May 11, 2015.
  3. If you have questions, visit www.gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy or e-mail your state coordinator: James Bruggeman at james.bruggeman@mchce.netPlease do not send nominations to me! Your nominations and your nominee’s submission must be done on line at the Gilder-Lehman website. 

P.S. Just after I post this, I’m heading over to the Capitol to celebrate the  25th Annual Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award Winner, Montana City middle school teacher  Moffie Funk. Moffie is being recognized for teaching Montana history—both the creativity and enthusiasm she shows for the subject in her own classroom and the work she did as a teacher-advisor on the Montana Historical Society’s textbook, Montana: Stories of the Land. For that project, Moffie created the worksheets, tests, end-of-chapter material, and answer keys that are used by teachers across the state. It’s great stuff. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out for yourself on the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website. And congratulations Moffie!

Monday, November 3, 2014

50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Today's the actual anniversary of the Nov. 3 vote that passed women's suffrage in Montana. (You can find out how  your county voted here.)

 I've been very focused this last year on the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage (see posts here, here, and here.) But there are other incredibly significant anniversaries in 2014, among them the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

"Teaching with the Library of Congress" has had some good blog posts about primary source documents on the American Memory Project to help teach the Civil Rights Act, including "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Title VII: The Freedom to Work" and "The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Making Our Nation Whole." TPS Barat Primary Source Nexus provides information on interviews collected as part of the Library of Congress's Civil Rights oral history project in this "Collection Spotlight." In addition, the Library of Congress has created a database of civil rights oral history collections in libraries, museums, universities, and historical societies in 49 states and the District of Columbia--including Montana.

The Library of Congress focuses primarily on national topics and resources--but these issues certainly affected Montana as well. Did you know, for example, that many Great Falls restaurants didn't serve African Americans patrons? Or that in Billings, Hispanic children were at one time not allowed to participate in the annual Easter egg hunt or go to bowling alleys? Montana Indians, of course, also faced much prejudice--including being denied their right to vote. Passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act helped begin to change these discriminatory practices--as did local organizing on the part of African Americans, Indians, Hispanics, and their allies.

Finding resources to teach the Montana civil rights story is difficult. Chapter 5 of Montana Mosaic (in every public middle and high school library and on YouTube) includes a short discussion of Mexican Americans in the Yellowstone Valley, including their experience with discrimination. (You can find the teacher's guide for this video here.) Montana Legacy: Essays on History, People, and Place (Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2002) has articles on Indian voting rights and Mexican Americans in the Yellowstone Valley. The Montan
a Historical Society's Montana History Revealed blog has an article on the 1964 Civil Rights Act at Fifty: Senator Lee Metcalf and the Fight for Equality (as well as interesting articles on Metcalf's role in passing War on Poverty legislation.) In addition, photo archivist Matthew Peek (who authored the Montana History Revealed articles and has cataloged the Society's Lee Metcalf collection) has a written longer essay, including extensive bibliographic references, on Metcalf's role in the Civil Rights Act (as well as the Economic Opportunity Act and the Wilderness Act, which also turned fifty in 2014.)

 There's an interesting post on the Women's History Matters website about the Montana Federation of Colored Women's Clubs' attempt to get civil rights legislation through the Montana legislature in the 1950s. (Interestingly, prejudice against Hispanics and Indians were a greater barrier to passing comprehensive civil rights legislation than prejudice against African Americans.) That website also features an article on Salish voting rights activist Lucille Otter

But, really, this is a history that still needs to be written. Maybe your students can help--by investigating the topic locally through interviews and preserving that information for future generations. Find more about student oral history projects here.