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 30, 2015

Lewis and Clark Resources: A Followup

I received some good follow-up from my recent post on teaching the Corps of Discovery.

Dalene Normand, who teaches fourth grade in Frenchtown, wrote: "The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail offers a junior ranger program. I printed off the questions and have had our 4th graders do it as a web quest at the end of our Lewis and Clark unit.  I then send in all their packets and they get a pretty cool Lewis and Clark Historic Trail Junior Ranger patch."

Jodi Delaney, fourth-fifth grade in Helena, wrote: "Regarding your earlier question about teaching sensitive topics (see here and here) -- I start the prejudice and racism conversation with Lewis and Clark, two well-meaning men leading an expedition for a president and a country steeped in a long tradition of racism and false superiority.  We have a lot of point-of-view conversations..." (By the way, there was a great article about Jodi's class and her unit on the Great Depression in the Helena Independent Record. Inspiring and worth reading!)

Moffie Funk, who teaches 7th grade at Montana City, also chimed in: "I am in your camp in re Lewis and Clark -- but despite ... the great chapter about newcomers [in the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook] ... my students are still convinced they changed the world.  I guess it is that early elementary school indoctrination. Here is the link to that dated but still wonderful article from Slate ["Lewis and Clark. Stop Celebrating. They Don't Matter."] Moffie created all the worksheets for the Montana: Stories of the Land -- and used excerpts from this article for one of the worksheets that accompany Chapter 4, "Newcomers Explore the Region."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Montana's Charlie Russell Symposium, June 18-20, 2015

Looking for some fabulous summer professional development? Join us for Montana's Charlie Russell: 21st Century Perspectives on the Cowboy Artist, three-day symposium in Helena, June 18-20, 2015.

We'll kick the symposium off with an educator workshop on Thursday, June 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., where art educator Sondra Hines, Russell scholar Kirby Lambert, and MHS program specialist Deb Mitchell will introduce a series of new Russell lesson plans and accompanying resources. Attendees will learn about Visual Thinking Strategies and have the opportunity to practice the technique in the Mackay Gallery of Western Art. They'll also explore Russell’s art by creating their own, and try out some Russell-related lesson plans that align to the Common Core. Attendees will leave with a Russell packet that includes prints, PowerPoints, and grade-specific art, ELA, and social studies themed lesson plans.

You can choose to attend just the Thursday educator workshop or to stay for the entire symposium, which will bring together Russell experts from around the country, including 
  • Brian Dippie (author of Word Painter, Looking at Russell, and Charlie Russell Roundup)
  • Sarah Burt and Kathryn Kramer (C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls)
  • Byron Price (C. M. Russell Center, University of Oklahoma)
  • Joan Carpenter Troccoli (author of The Masterworks of C. M. Russell)
  • Larry Len Peterson (author of Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend)
  • Jodie Utter (Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX) and
  • Jennifer Bottomly-O'looney and Kirby Lambert (authors of the Montana Historical Society Press's new book, Montana's Charlie Russell).  
Workshop attendees will earn 5 OPI Renewal Units. Attend the entire conference to earn up to 18 OPI Renewal Units.

The Thursday workshop (including lunch) is free. The remainder of the conference is also free (except for meals).

Find the full schedule and register hereAttendees must register as space is limited.

To facilitate educator attendance, the Montana Historical Society is offering a limited number of scholarships. All teachers can apply for the meals scholarship, which will cover the cost of the Thursday night reception, Friday lunch (at which Mary Jane Bradbury will be presenting "Kid Gloves and Brass Knuckles: The Life of Nancy Cooper Russell") and Friday banquet (at which keynote speaker Brian Dippie will be presenting "Charles M. Russell 100 Years Ago").

If you are traveling more than 50 miles to attend the conference, you can also apply for a $200 travel scholarship to help cover your travel expenses.Learn more about the educator scholarships here.

Questions? Email Kirby Lambert at klambert@mt.gov.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Resources for Teaching Lewis and Clark and Exploration

A long time ago, I posted a survey asking folks to name their “top ten” events in Montana history. (I’m no longer tabulating answers, but the survey is still a thought-provoking exercise for you and your students.) 

I discussed the survey results here and here

I also promised posts featuring resources for teaching the events/topics we collectively selected as “most significant.” And I started to. I posted about resources for teaching about homesteading, the gold rush, and railroads. But then I stopped, because the event voted next significant was “Lewis and Clark.” Maybe it’s a legacy of my St. Louis upbringing, where Lewis and Clark were deified, but I’m not a huge fan. My own personal opinion is that they were wayfarers, who barely had an impact on Montana (heresy, I know.) But for those of you who think differently (in other words, most of you!), below are resources for teaching about Lewis and Clark and exploration more generally.

Resources for Teaching about Lewis and Clark and Exploration 

My favorite exploration related activity is having students find their latitude using a homemade sextant. See the lesson plan “Navigating by the North Star” for instructions.

"When Worlds Collide: The Salish People Encounter the Lewis and Clark Expedition" is a flexible one- to four-day learning activity designed to challenge students to grapple with historical evidence and to better recognize the complexity of native-white encounters.

Looking for primary sources? “American Journeys—EyewitnessAccounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement: A Digital Library andLearning Center” is a remarkable, searchable, sortable, digitized collection. It contains “more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.”

Last, but certainly not least is the University of Nebraska website, "Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition." According to the TeachingHistory.org review, 
"The site provides the complete text of all the journals from the 1803–1806 expedition, as well as introductions, prefaces, and sources. The material is searchable by keyword and phrase.
There are 29 scholarly essays about the expedition. An image gallery offers 124 images of pages from the journals, 95 images of people and places, and 50 images of plants and animals encountered on the expedition. The maps section includes 12 explanatory maps and nine images of maps from the journals. Additionally, there are 27 audio excerpts of journal readings and eight video interviews with the editor of the project."

Elementary Resources
 Elementary teachers, particularly, should see our hands-on history footlocker Discover the Corps of Discovery: The Lewis and Clark Expedition in Montana, which traces the Corps' journey through Montana and their encounters with American Indians. It includes bison hide, trade goods, books, and more! You can preview the user guide here and learn more about how to order the footlocker here.  

Middle and High School Resources
As always, a good starting place for lesson plans is the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Teachers Guide, where we've not only posted free PDFs of every chapter of our award-winning middle school textbook, but have also posted worksheets and links to lesson plans and other interesting web resources. For Lewis and Clark and exploration more generally, you'll want to see Chapter 4: "Newcomers Explore the Region." And the Chapter 4 Educator Page is particularly rich. 

Did I miss your favorite Lewis and Clark resource? If so, let me know and I'll share in a future post.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Summer Professional Development: Missoula Workshop on IEFA and Holocaust Studies

Once again, the Montana Writing Project is teaming up with New York City’s Holocaust Memorial Library to host Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All. 

The workshop will be held in Missoula from July 19-July 25, 2015. 

The application deadline is May 15, 2015Apply here.   

This institute is designed for individuals who currently teach or are interested in teaching the Nazi Holocaust and/or Indian Education for All, and would like to discover ways to make connections between these topics. Relevant to teachers grades 4-12 as well as college and university faculty, the purpose of the course is to provide novice and experienced teachers with knowledge about and teaching strategies for Holocaust Education, Indian Education for All and community building, using literacy, and especially writing, as tools to drive inquiry.

The institute will focus on past history, including the Nazi Holocaust and the impact of U.S. policies on Native peoples of our nation. Participants will then turn to the present, as they consider the roles (target, perpetrator, ally, bystander) people choose in their daily interactions with each other as well as the stereotypes and prejudice affecting schools and communities today.

Due to the generous support of the Memorial Library, Worlds Apart is offered at no cost to teachers. However, the workshop is intensive and includes events during a 9-4 day and most evenings.

** Three University of Montana credits are available for the $135 cost of the recording fee. Participants will be responsible for travel and housing costs, but many meals will be provided and dorm space will be available.

A video overview of the seminar is available here (select Montana).

A short video of the 2011 seminar here

Facilitators: Brenda Johnston, Marcia Beaumont, Wendy Warren

Address questions to Wendy Z. Warren: wendyzwarren@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teaching Sensitive Content: Follow Up

I received great responses to my post "Teaching Sensitive Content." I'm compiling some of them here.

4th/5th grade Helena teacher Jodi Delaney wrote:
I have no problem with discussing racism, etc. in the classroom.  Those are often the issues that engage and interest students--my age range (4th/5th) is especially concerned with fairness and what is 'right'.  Showing them (carefully selected) examples of prejudice and discrimination really fires them up, and I always point out that such hate-filled ideas have not yet been completely wiped out.  It's their job to make sure such negativity isn't allowed to flourish again.  While I do not go into the nitty-gritty details of all the horrific things people have done, I do discuss many of these topics with more kid-friendly language.  We refer to comments like those you shared from the Anaconda Standard as being the voice of the 'bullies'.  Bullies are often in a position of power over their targets, and much of the injustices of the past (and present) fit into the definition of bullying disturbingly well.  Upper elementary students are a great age level to start these types of conversations because they really do care so deeply.  They can understand injustice and see how difficult it is to overcome a majority happily content to maintain their prejudice, and how brave people have to be to stand up to the bullies in order for change to happen.  If we engage in these discussions early, then by the time they get to middle and high school classrooms, they will have a desire and motivation to both learn more, but also to do something about the injustices they see around them today. 
Erik Holland, who deals with these issues in a museum setting, offered up some additional resources he created to train interpreters: an essay he wrote, "Sensitive Issues," and an accompanying worksheet, and a Prezi he created on the topic, 

Community member Jeri Dalbec of Miles City shared her perspective: She suggested creating a panel of students of mixed cultures, parents, and teachers, to discuss how to deal with tough issues--including whether they should be taught in depth. She concludes: "I am totally supportive of Public Schools and one of the things they yell about in an effort to get the Public money for Charter, et al,, schools is that parents do not have input. Well ... let's include them in this endeavor."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cheyenne Odyssey and the commemorative Northern Cheyenne Fort Robinson Breakout Run

At the recent IEFA Best Practices Conference in Bozeman, I had a chance to preview the PBS Game Cheyenne Odyssey.

Created in consulation with Chief Dull Knife College President Dr. Richard Littlebear and other members of the Northern Cheyenne, the game focuses on the transformation of Northern Cheyenne life on the Great Plains from 1866 to 1876. The game is divided into five parts, plus a prologue that offers historical background, and an epilogue that extends the story into the twenty-first century.

Mission 3 is the third in the series of interactive games PBS is creating to make history more engaging. Mission 1, for Crown or Colony, starts in 1770. Mission 2, Flight for Freedom, has students taking on the role of Lucy King, a 14 year old slave in Kentucky who tries to escape across the Mason-Dixon line. Mission 4 begins in 1907 in New York City and covers the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. I believe the not-yet-released Mission 5 will be set in the Great Depression. You can find all of the games here.

In Mission 3, students playing the game assume the role of Little Fox, a twelve-year-old Northern Cheyenne boy. As the game opens, Little Fox is growing up with his band around the Powder River Basin (in present-day southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming). Little Fox’s daily life is determined by the needs and traditions of his family and community.  His everyday life, however, is soon impacted by the encroachment of United States military expeditions, railroad builders, and white settlers. As Little Fox grows older, the Northern Cheyenne way of life changes dramatically, as the tribe adapts to the United States’ expansion into the West.  (Excerpted from About Mission 3: Cheyenne Odyssey.)

I thought the game was fun and educational--and there are a tremendous number of teaching resources developed to support its use in the classroom. I recommend you check them out along with the game itself.

At the session I met Belgrade high school teacher Deb McLaughlin, who said that when she teaches about the Northern Cheyenne and their flight from exile in Oklahoma back to Montana, she shows this powerful short (14:41 minute) film about the Fort Robinson Breakout Spiritual Run. Northern Cheyenne students have participated each year since 1996 in this 400 mile commemorative relay to remember Chief Dull Knife and his people's dramatic escape from Fort Robinson, the massacre that ensued, and the survivors' determination to make it home. (Find a short primer on the breakout in Montana: Stories of the Land, pp. 141-43.) Deb mentioned that she's looking into figuring out a way to connect her students in Belgrade with some of the runners by Skype--which sounds like an amazing extension.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Teaching Students to Ask Questions: A Follow-up

Judging by my in-box, last month's post, "Teaching Students to Ask Questions," resonated with many of you. Some listservers even sent additional resources.

Billings elementary librarian Ruth Ferris pointed out that the Right Question Institute's website has a ton of additional training materials and resources to download and learn from.

Michelle Pearson, with TPS-Colorado, said that they use the Question Formulation Technique often enough that they created a cheat sheets to make it easier. She kindly sent both "Inquiring Minds: a protocol for initiating inquiry" and a "QFT Card" (that outlines the technique in brief) for me to share with everyone interested in using the technique in the classroom.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two New Women's History Lesson Plans--Just in Time for Women's History Month

As many of you know, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in Montana (for non-Indian women) and to recognize that centennial, the Montana Historical Society created a yearlong project we called Women's History Matters. (Read more about that endeavor here.)

We're still tying up loose ends on the project, including editing, testing, and publishing several new lesson plans.

I'm pleased to announce that we have just added two new lesson plans to the Women's History Matters site. Both deal with biographies, but one is designed for use in 4th-6th grades and the other for use in high school (or maybe with advanced 8th graders).

Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 8-12)

  • This lesson uses essays published on the Women’s History Matters website to help students explore how ordinary people’s lives intersect with larger historical events and trends and to investigate how people’s choices impact their communities. After analyzing two essays on American Indian women from the Women’s History Matters website, students are asked to conduct interviews with people in their own community to learn about how that person has chosen to shape the world around him or her.

Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-6)

  • This lesson asks students to research specific Montana women (by reading biographical essays) and to use the information they gather to create biographical poems. Through their research (and by hearing their classmates’ poems) they will recognize that there is no single “woman’s experience”; women’s lives are diverse and that people can make a difference in their communities.

As cool as these are--and I really like them both very much--my own favorite lesson remains the Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson that we posted a while ago. Adaptable to a wide number of ages, this primary-source based lesson asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s. Students will discover that Montana women have always worked, but that discrimination, cultural expectations, and changing technology have influenced the types of work women undertook.

I hope you'll check out the Teachers page on Women's History Matters, try out one of these lessons with your students, and then let me know what you think. I'm always interested in feedback.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Teaching Sensitive Content

I've been thinking about teaching sensitive content because our unit "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction" is full of it. While editing this unit, I was genuinely shocked by the virulent racist language and attitudes expressed by Montana newspapers like the Anaconda Standard. And I should have known better. It's one thing to read about prejudice and discrimination, but it is another thing to read sentences like these:
  • "Thriving on filth, constantly moving from place to place, as a disseminator of disease he is a howling success." Anaconda Standard, June 7, 1901
  • "...the buffaloes, led on by instinct, would travel hundreds of miles, if need be, to the salt licks. In like manner are the Crees irresistibly attracted to the garbage dumps of Montana." Anaconda Standard, May 12, 1901
These statements are hateful, and their emotional impact makes them hard to read--and very likely hard to teach. But that is exactly why I think we need to ask students to wrestle with them.

This troubling history shaped Montana--and I believe that if we don't recognize it and face it head on, then we cannot understand how to move forward. As Terry Pratchett says, "If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.”

Age appropriateness is, of course, key. We say the Montana's Landless Indians lesson plan is for grades 7-12, but I wonder if it isn't actually more appropriate for high schoolers than for middle schoolers. I'd appreciate feedback--as well as any other feedback you might have if you choose to use this lesson in your classroom.

Looking for guidance on how to teach sensitive material and subjects? TPS-Barat recently posted these suggestions for selecting primary sources that deal with difficult issues.

The Wisconsin Historical Society also has some useful thoughts on dealing with racism, sexism, and offensive language in its article "Sensitive Content: How Could They Say That?" posted on its American Journeys website. The site contains over "18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later," and you can bet some of those pages contain offensive stereotypes, depict violence, or express racist and sexist views.

I'm curious.  Do you steer away from difficult subject matter in your classroom? How do you decide what to--and what not to--teach? When you do incorporate difficult subject matter, how do you approach it? What suggestions--or cautions--would you like to pass on? I'll compile any responses in a future blog post.