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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Innovative Lesson Ideas: Indian Boarding Schools and Football and Lobbying for a State Soil

Kristen Stigler at Longfellow School in Bozeman has a couple of cool projects going with her fourth graders.

Indian Boarding Schools and Football

As part of their study of Indian boarding schools (and in connection with reading Dr. Joe Medicin Crow's memoir, County Coup), her students listened a story on the recent Radiolab Podcast about football at Carlisle Indian School. Radiolab's website includes images of the Carlisle team as well as photos of Carlisle students on their arrival and after they received haircuts and suits. Students also searched digitized newspapers on Chronicling America to search for mentions of Carlisle football. After researching Carlisle football, they created their own historic newspaper headlines (mastheads and all) to report on the different Carlisle games. (Nifty technology for this is the Newspaper Clipping Generator.)

According to Kristen, this activity could work for intermediate or upper grades. She wrote, "it was just on the edge of being too hard, but my kids were so engaged that I went for it."

To expand on Kristen's lesson: It is not appropriate for elementary students, but high school teachers might want to adapt this lesson and have their students read "On Trial: The Washington R*dskins’ Wily Mascot—Coach William 'Lone Star' Dietz" by Linda M. Waggoner, published in Spring 2013 issue of Montana The Magazine of Western History.

Lobbying for a State Soil

Kristen's kids are also engaged in working to getting SB 176 through the legislative branch. She writes, "we are asking the state to name the Scobey Soils as our new state symbol. Twenty-one other states have an official state soil, and our state is the only one with an agriculture-based economy that does not have an official state soil. Agriculture accounts for $4.7 billion revenue for our state, much of that grown on Scobey Soil.

We have made it through the Senate (narrowly), and we're on to the House. Our students (along with experts, scientists, and more) testified at the hearing and were really impressive.

You can find out more about this project from their website MontanaSoil.weebly.com. Kristen writes, "we would appreciate any teachers who would be willing to have their students (or parent community) write to representatives to support SB 176. Also linked through our website are soil activities and information on the importance of soil to our environment."

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