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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer Break and End of Year Survey

This blog is going on hiatus for summer break.

I hope to see some of you over the summer at the Montana Charlie Russell Symposium in Helena, June 18-20, or at the Western Montana Professional Learning Collaborative August Institute in Missoula, August 12-14 (Course 5052) or at the Montana Historical Society. If your travels bring you to Helena this summer, please stop in and say "hello." And of course, don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you as you prepare for your classes next fall: mkohl@mt.gov.

P.S. There's still time to complete our annual survey and to share your favorite lesson. At this moment, we have received 38 responses--so you still have a chance to WIN (prizes are going to the fifth, fifteenth, thirty-first and FORTY-SEVENTH person to take the survey).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Recognizing Great Teaching

The winners of the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award for best teacher of Montana history and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of Montana History Teacher of the Year were both announced recently.

Tonja Brewer, a fourth grade teacher from Roundup Central Elementary School, is the winner of the 2015 Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award. This award recognizes Montana history teachers who engage their students in active learning, convey a passion for teaching Montana history and recognize our state's cultural diversity in their Montana history class. Tonja and her fourth graders will travel to Helena for a November 6 ceremony in the state capitol. 

Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Ferris was chosen by Gilder-Lehrman for their Montana History Teacher of the Year Award. They were looking for someone who "teaches thoughtful and creative United States history" (including "state and local history") and "effectively uses primary sources to engage students in American history." Ruth fits that description to to a T and has taught me a lot about how kids learn. We've tapped into her expertise for several Montana Historical Society lesson plans. She's the author of

  • Montana’s State Flower: A Lesson in Civic Engagement (Designed for 4th-7th). This seven-period unit introduces students to the electoral process while providing an opportunity to develop research skills and to explore historical newspapers. By organizing an election for class flower, students will learn about the electoral process and experience civic engagement first hand while practicing such Common Core skills as close reading of complex texts and persuasive writing;
  • Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom (Designed for 4th-8th). Have students exercise their historical imaginations as while introducing them to the research, the richness of historic newspapers, and the social history of gold-rush era Montana;
  •  The mapping and Chronicling America lesson plans for Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan Study Guide (Designed for students 6-10). This study guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate classroom use of Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, as told to Margaret Ronan, edited by Ellen Baumler. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, this highly readable 222-page memoir details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Colorado and Montana mining frontiers, her ascent to young womanhood in Southern California, her return to Montana as a young bride, and her life on the Flathead Indian Reservation as the wife of an Indian agent. 
Ruth is currently working on a primary-source-based lesson plan about Billings suffragist Hazel Hunkins and the fight for national women's suffrage. We hope it will be ready this fall and it promise to be fabulous, so stay tuned.

Congratulations to these dedicated teachers!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Teaching Montana's Charlie Russell: Room Available in the Wednesday, June 17 Workshop

We've had such strong interest in our Thursday, June 18, workshop, "Teaching Montana's Charlie Russell," that we decided to host it twice.

Spots are available for the Wednesday, June 17, workshop, which will feature an introduction to Visual Thinking Strategies, and the unveiling of the lesson plans in our new Charles M. Russell packet,

The FREE workshop will run from 10:00-4:00 at the Montana Historical Society. Attendees will leave with their very own copy of the packet, which includes prints, PowerPoints, and Common Core aligned, grade-specific art, ELA, and social studies themed lesson plans.

Educators are also invited to join us for the rest of the Montana's Charlie Russell Symposium, which begins Thursday evening with a gallery viewing and reception, and continues on Friday and Saturday with a star-studded line-up of Russell scholars.

Find out more about the workshop and symposium and then register for whichever parts you wish to attend.

Workshop attendees will earn 5 OPI Renewal Credits. Those attending both the Educator Workshop and the Symposium can earn up to 18 Renewal Units.

Monday, May 18, 2015

National History Day Theme for 2015: Exploration, Encounter, Exchange

Thinking about trying to implement National History Day in your classroom next year? 

I hope so. National History Day projects are a great way to better align your history curriculum to the Common Core. (More on that here).

Michael Herdina is now the state coordinator for NHD. He's also a classroom teacher who told me he initially got his students involved in NHD as a way to meet the requirements of Common Core. He's become a tremendous advocate for the program because of its impact on his students' learning. Michael would be delighted to visit with you this summer about NHD--including the nuts and bolts of making it work in the classroom. Contact him at mtnhdcoordinator@gmail.com. He'll also be presenting on NHD next October at the MEA-MFT conference in Billings.

The 2015 theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange, which makes it perfect for Montana topics from the obvious (Lewis and Clark, Indian boarding schools, or the Jesuits and the founding of St. Mary's Mission) to the less obvious: Rocky Mountain Labs and the search for a Spotted Mountain fever vaccine (exploration), Metis cultural expressions, or the anti-Chinese boycott. We'll be updating our Montana topic bibliographies over the summer, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Prestigious Award Available for Montana Teachers

This in from Ken Egan at Humanities Montana:

Are you a K-12 educator who teaches Western American literature with exceptional skill and commitment? Apply for the inaugural Western Literature Association Educator Award! You can find  application requirements here. The deadline is July 1. Montana teachers rock—let’s share that excellence with the Western Literature Association.

More about the award below, copied from the Western Literature Association Website:

The Western Literature Association and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies are sponsoring three K-12 Teaching Awards that will provide teachers with the opportunity to attend and present at the Western Literature Association Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, October 14-17, 2015. Selected teachers will share their lesson plans and teaching strategies at the conference on a K-12 Teaching Panel.

The award will include conference registration, award banquet ticket, and $500 toward conference related costs such as hotel and airfare. Continuing Education credit may be available. Please check with your district’s professional development office.

Required application materials
•  Resume
•  Instructional Plan (K-12, any level)
•  Teaching Statement (how the Instructional Plan contributes to your teaching goals)
•  One letter of support (from principal, administrator, or colleague)

Instructional plans may focus on any author or theme related to the literature of the American West, broadly defined. The following topics and approaches are encouraged:
•  Women writers of the American West
•  American Indian authors
•  Latina/o authors
•  Environmental writing
•  Creative approaches to teaching the “canonical” authors of the American West
•  Interdisciplinary approaches and approaches that integrate visual culture

You'll need to use this instructional plan format and instructional plan rubric when preparing your application materials.

Deadline for submission: July 1, 2015

Please direct all questions and applications to Randi Tanglen.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Montana History Conference Scholarships

The Montana Historical Society is putting together an amazing program for the 42nd Annual Montana History Conference, to be held in Bozeman, September 24-26, 2015, and the educator’s workshop is shaping up well, too. Renewal units will be available for both the Thursday educator workshop and all conference sessions. (Find the program and registration information here.) We hope you’ll consider attending!

As past years, we will be offering travel scholarships for both teachers and students.

About the scholarships: Funded by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the scholarships will consist of full conference registration plus a $275 travel/expense reimbursement. All teachers and students in Montana’s high schools, colleges, and universities are eligible to apply (residents of Bozeman and the immediate vicinity are eligible for the conference registration scholarship but not the travel reimbursement).

Teacher recipients must attend the entire conference, including Thursday’s Educators Workshop and a Saturday tour. Student recipients must commit to attending all day Friday and Saturday, including a Saturday tour.
Preference will be given to
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s tribal colleges;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s on-reservation high schools;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s community colleges and four-year universities;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s small, rural, under-served communities.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. September 9, 2015.  Awards will be announced the following week.

Applying for a scholarship is quick and easy. Apply online.

For more information, contact:
Deb Mitchell, Montana Historical Society
PO Box 201201
Helena MT 59620-1201

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Take a Survey and Maybe Win a Prize

I just learned from a teacher in Rapelje that their last day is today! That means it is time for my annual, year-end survey.

As yet another school year winds to a close, I’d appreciate getting your feedback. I’d also like to gather information on what has worked for you in the classroom, so I can share it with other teachers next year.

Would you be willing to take a short online survey? If so, click here.

Need a little incentive? I’m offering prizes to the fifth, fifteenth, and thirty-first person to complete this survey.

P.S. Don't be confused. The survey refers to the listserv because the way the information on this blog is delivered to most people, but the Montana History and Heritage Education Listserv is the same as the Teaching Montana History Blog.

P.P.S. I'll continue posting for a little while now since most of us still have more school ahead of us--but wanted to get the survey out in order to reach everyone.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Crop It and Other Photo Analysis Tools

A teacher recently asked me for about tools for analyzing photos.

Among my favorites: Crop It

I learned about Crop It on Teachinghistory.org. This is a fabulous website that I recommend you explore at your leisure this summer. Per TeachingHistory.org, "Crop It is a four-step hands-on learning routine where teachers pose questions and students use paper cropping tools to deeply explore a visual primary source."

Teachers ask students to use the easily created Crop It tool (template provided) to slow down and "carefully explore their image by using the tools." Teachers "pose a question and ask students to look carefully and 'crop' to an answer. For example, ask students to:

Crop the image to the part that first caught your eye.
Think: Why did you notice this part?
Crop to show who or what this image is about.
Think: Why is this person or thing important?
Crop to a clue that shows where this takes place.
Think: What has happened at this place?" 

In "Tools for Teaching with Historic Photos" I discuss other techniques, including the ever popular Barat Thinking Triangle. Both the Library of Congress and the National Archives also have templates for analyzing photos.

p.s. Looking for a great lesson using historic photographs? Try our Women at Work Lesson Plan: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan (a high interest, one-two class period lesson for the end of the year).