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, January 29, 2015

Consider applying for the Dave Walter Research Fellowship

Interested in coming to Helena to conduct your own research at the Montana Historical Society, using the fabulous resources of the library, archives and photo archives? This opportunity is for you!

The 2015 Dave Walter Research Fellowship will be awarded to two Montana residents involved in public history projects focused on exploring local Montana history. The award is intended to help Montanans conduct research on their towns, counties, and regions using resources at the Montana Historical Society. Research can be for any project related to local history, including exhibit development, walking tours, oral history projects, building history or preservation, county or town histories, archaeological research, and class projects. Awards of $1,250 each will be given to two researchers.

Recipients will be expected to:
travel to the MHS to conduct research
spend a minimum of the equivalent of one week in residence conducting research
provide a copy of their final product or a report on their completed project to the MHS Research Center

Applications are evaluated on:
suitability of the research to the Society's collections
potential of the project to make a contribution to local history
experience in conducting local history research

The application must include the following:
project proposal, not to exceed 3 pages, describing the research including the specific MHS Research Center collections you intend to use
cover letter
1-2 page resume
letter of recommendation

Applications must be sent as one PDF document to mhslibrary@mt.gov no later than March 15. Announcement of the award will be made in mid-April. Questions should be directed to Molly Kruckenberg at mkruckenberg@mt.gov.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Civics Education Resources

A few weeks ago, I put out a call for lesson plans/units or other material relating to the Montana legislature in response to a question from Roberts social studies teacher Clark Begger.

Almost immediately, I received copies of an email promoting a OPI's new Civic Education Resource (see below.)

Clark decided to have his students create a blog focused on student opinions about bills being debated. He's also posting his weekly assignments there. Assignment 1 sets the stage:

"Write a blog post that discusses the convening of the 64th Montana Legislature.  In your post, include:

  • Opening Paragraph - Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Which party is in control of the House?
  • Which party is in control of the Senate?
  • What are the main goals of the Democrats during the 64th session?...
  • Your personal reaction to Democrat goals.
  • What are the main goals of the Republicans during the 64th session? ...
  • What are you personally interested in seeing lawmakers accomplish during the 64th session?
  • Speak in terms of categorical confines:
  • As a high school student, I'm interested in seeing legislators...
  • As a rural Montana resident, I'm interested in seeing legislators..."


Later assignments include how to track bills and responding to one of the early legislative controversies. I'm impressed with both his assignments and his students' responses. If you teach government, I'd encourage you to check it out as a model.

The resources created by OPI (in cooperation with the governor's office) also seem extremely useful.
Their new webpage devoted to civic education offers resources for students and educators, a 2015 Legislative Lesson Plan, and the link to the new civics app that students can download on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. (The app includes a fun quiz--with new ones posted in February and March).

Finally, the Montana State Library has created a 2015 Legislative Snapshot, which offers "a wide range of information on issues that affect Montanans." The online version is customizable to search by legislative district or county level where applicable. Topics include

  • Economy
  • Demographics
  • Industries
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Early Childhood
  • Broadband
  • Libraries
  • Water
  • Land
  • Wildlife 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Apply to become a Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts

The Montana Arts Council and the Office of Public Instruction have teamed up to offer Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts, a professional development initiative for K-12 educators across the state. Through this exciting new program, MAC and OPI seek to develop teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms.
The Initiative will include a 2015 on-site summer institute in arts learning, online professional learning opportunities throughout the 15-16 school year, and support for a field project in the teacher leader’s school or region. Topics will include arts integration strategies, brain theory, building creative classrooms, STEAM learning and cultural arts. 

K-12 arts specialists, classroom teachers with an arts background, administrators, retired teachers and professional teaching artists with significant K-12 experience are invited to apply in the Year One cohort.

More information about the program, and instructions to apply can be found by clicking here.  Direct all questions to Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education, Montana Arts Council, (406) 444-6522 or ekohring@mt.gov.

The deadline to apply is February 16, 2015.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Free Online Professional Development

Looking to earn an OPI Renewal Unit and learn a thing or two about resources for teaching Montana history or Teaching with Primary Sources?

Check out our Online Professional Development page.

I spent Christmas vacation updating the first offering: an online tour of the Montana Historical Society's Educator Resources and Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website. I created this online professional development training (worth one OPI renewal unit) several years ago and it had become wildly out of date. If you are new to teaching Montana history--or even if you've been at it awhile but haven't spent time exploring our website, this training is for you.

This page also features six trainings created by the Library of Congress:

  • Introduction to the Library of Congress
  • Supporting Inquiry with Primary Sources
  • Copyright and Primary Sources
  • Analyzing Primary Sources: Photographs and Prints
  • Analyzing Primary Sources: Maps
  • Finding Primary Sources

We liked them so much, decided to encourage their use by Montana teachers by providing links and adding a quiz to each so that we could provide OPI Renewal units.

Are there other online trainings you'd recommend to your colleagues? Let me know and I'll pass the word along.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lesson plans relating to the Montana legislature

Roberts social studies Clark Beggar just wrote me asking, "Do you know of lesson plan/unit or anything that someone has put together related to the Montana Legislature. Perhaps a history unit, or maybe a government/civics/current events type unit?"

The short answer is "no"--but I know who t ask: YOU!

Please help me and Clark and other colleagues looking for good lesson plans on the legislature by sending your recommendations to mkohl@mt.gov.

P.S. I did dig a very little and found this list of Civic Education Resources on the Montana legislature's website. I haven't spent time looking at any of these resources, but it seemed a promising place to start. Have you used any of them? And, if so, what do you think?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Popular Past Posts

Happy New Year! The coming of the new year is a time for reflection, so I decided to take a moment and look back. Below are the most popular posts to this blog.

5. In fifth place, with 277 views, is Teaching Montana History in Fourth Grade. This post suggests ways to piece together a fourth grade curriculum using existing lesson plans.

4. In fourth place, with 326 views, is Lesson Plans on Mining and Primary Sources. This post featured lesson plans created by teachers who attended 2011 Richest Hills: Mining and the Far West, a Landmarks of American History and Culture workshop, funded by NEH. We've taken the link to most of those lessons down--but you can find the creme de la creme here. And consider applying to this summer's Richest Hills workshop--it is back, bigger and better than ever. 

3. In third place, with 454 views, is Teaching Women's History Matters. Since this post mostly provides information about a workshop we gave last year, I'm going to cheat and provide instead a link to the original post on the Women's History Matters project. This one contains useful links and information and actually came in at number 7 on the top ten list.

2. In second place, with 487 views, is Top Ten Most Important Events in Montana History. This provides links to a survey--which you (and your students) can still take--although I'm no longer tabulating results. It also includes links to the survey results. I found both taking the survey and analyzing the results thought provoking.

1. In first place, with a whopping 2,778 views, is National History Day Theme for 2015. My guess is that this number is inflated by the thousands of students googling "National History Day Theme 2015"--but that only goes to show how very popular NHD is across the country. Want more information on participating in National History Day? Start here--or contact the Montana coordinator, Gallatin Gateway middle school teacher Michael Herdina.