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, September 21, 2015

Favorite High School Lesson Plans

Over the last few weeks I have shared elementary and middle school teachers'answers to the following prompt: “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” As promised, here are the answers we received from high school teachers to the same question. [I’ve added links and a few comments in brackets.] 

Betty Bennett, who teaches at Sentinel High School in Missoula, wrote: “The Art of Storytelling--both the Winter Counts and Ledger Art projects were great, but I want to set them up better.” [Find these here: http://mhs.mt.gov/education/PictographicArt]

“I will do more with the Boarding School Era. This isn't a stand alone unit, but I wish it were.  I have taken parts of several units and will combine them with information from a recent class I took on line.  I used several lessons from the SweetgrassBasket unit.” 

Chris Fisk from Butte High School has his students participate in a bison harvest. He also has Tim Ryan work with students on traditional technology and take them to places the Salish traditionally used near Butte, including Warm Springs Mound He writes that “Tim is wonderful for connecting to the students.”

Shannon Horton of Columbus High School wrote: “English 11 Project with US History cross-over:
We researched Native American military veterans. Each student chose a veteran to research and upon which to focus a poster display. The posters included information about the veteran's service and the veteran's tribe. I have done this project for 2 years and will definitely keep it. Veterans of all types are deserving of honor and recognition, and this is a great way to highlight the service of Native American citizens to our country's history.”

Some people chose to comment anonymously:

“The 'Montana Women at Work Lesson Plan:Clothesline Timeline' lesson from the Historical Society's website. I happened to stumble upon it and love it! The students really got into analyzing the photos and I made it a competition to see which teams could most accurately place the pictures in a decade. Lots of fun!”

“Montana Women's history biography” [perhaps this refers to our lesson plan “Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things” or perhaps the teacher has a different project she does with resources from Montana Women's History Matters]

“Indian poetry unit” [possibly using Birthright: Born to PoetryA Collection of Montana Indian Poetry.] 

“We tried to simulate a traditional Native American game, a combination of hockey and lacrosse.”  

“In our high school (Skyview in Billings)  we plan to CELEBRATE MONTANA during the entire month of November next school year, with speakers in every English and Social Studies class on one day, an all-school assembly with Supaman and a local Native American children's dance group on another day, and library displays and classroom projects happening all month.”

“Using pages from the Census, Sanborn maps and the local history book "Stumptown to Skitown"  students explore what Whitefish was like 100 years ago.”

“I really like the lesson I teach using the John Gast painting "American Progress" to teach the students the concept of Manifest Destiny.” [I don’t know what lesson plan this teacher uses, but OPI has a model lesson plan on the subject.] 

Do you have a favorite lesson you'd like to share? It is not too late. Email information to mkohl@mt.gov and I'll share it in a future post.

P.S.Tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/22) at 4:30 will be our third Montana History Digital Blast! Join me to explore the Montana Stories of the Land Textbook or go to the Montana History Digital Blast YouTube channel to watch past episodes. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Question Formulation Technique

Last summer I watched the Recorded Webinar: Introduction to the Question Formulation Technique. It starts off slowly but I found it a worthwhile introduction to QFT--and think QFT could be an extremely useful arrow in your technique quiver. You can watch it here.

Two posts last year focused on QFT: "Teaching Students to Ask Questions" and "Teaching Students to Ask Questions: A Follow-up."

In summary, the process is as follows (taken from Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions):

Step 1: Teachers Design a Question Focus. (Provide something for students to ask questions about)

Step 2: Students Produce Questions according to these four rules:
  1. ask as many questions as you can;
  2. do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions;
  3. write down every question exactly as it was stated;
  4. and change any statements into questions.

Step 3: Students Improve Their Questions.

Step 4: Students Prioritize Their Questions. (The teacher, with the lesson plan in mind, offers criteria or guidelines for the selection of priority questions.)

Step 5: Students and Teachers Decide on Next Steps.

Step 6: Students Reflect on What They Have Learned.

Steps that I think might pose challenges are Step 1 (designing a good Question Focus) and the Steps 4/5 (using the questions students generate as a meaningful lesson component.) So, I'd love to hear from anyone who has used this with students.

  • What Question Focus did you use? 
  • How did it fit with into your lesson? 
  • What was difficult for your students? 
  • What was it like to cede control--and how much control did you actually cede? 
  • How did it work out? 
  • Would you use this technique again and why or why not? 

Feel free to email me at mkohl@mt.gov or call me at 406-444-4740 if that's an easier way for you to report. I'll write up any feedback I get and report out.

Watch the video or explore the free resources on The Right Question's website (to access some of their material you have to register but it is free and painless). Then give the technique a whirl and let us know how it turned out!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Favorite Middle School Lessons

Last week I shared elementary teachers' answers to the following prompt: “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” As promised, here are the answers we received from middle school teachers to the same question. [I've added a few comments and links in brackets--couldn't resist putting my oar in.] 

MaryLou Systma at Manhattan Christian likes the Learning from Historical Document Units and worksheets we’ve put together to supplement the textbook, Montana: Stories of the Land. “I really like the primary sources. Specifically I like the earthquake letter and the Custer painting.  These show kids first hand what things were like back when the earthquake happened and how history gets twisted in the Custer painting.”

Traci Manseau, who teaches in a rural school near Lewistown, said that "Playing for the World: The 1904 Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School Girls Basketball Team made a huge impact on all of my students how they were treated in the boarding schools.” 

Sally Behr Shendel, a librarian in Sheridan, wrote: “I was inspired by OPI's contest to have students portray their understanding of one of the IEFA Essential Understanding, so I wove together several strands to teach the concept and let students explore its implications. I used the History Channel's (History Detective style) video on unlocking the mystery of a Navajo weaver to introduce the class' tapestry work on 12x18" looms. I used Anna Baldwin's great lesson ("Inside Anna's Classroom") on the concept of sovereignty and the constitution's supremacy clause to teach the essential understanding. I brought in contemporary tribal issues of sovereignty for small groups to read/discuss/share including legalizing marijuana, endangered species, and prosecuting nontribal violent offenders in women's abuse cases. The students designed and produced linoleum print relief images that reflect their experience in being a proud member of a community as the final reflection of this unit.

Wendy Dos Santos, of Trout Creek, wrote: “I combined Language Arts and Social Studies to teach a combination Research Writing (going through all the research writing process) and Montana History lesson in which the students chose a topic of their choice to research and write a MT History Research Paper.  We had a variety of topics chosen.  The students learned research skills, and dug deeper into a MT History topic of their choice.” [I can’t resist plugging National History Day here—a program that would work really well with this research project.] 

Cathleen Kuchera of Superior wrote: “I had students make a skit outlining the War of the Copper Kings and film it. They had to write a skit that went through the events the led up to any one of the fights, and explain the outcome of the fight. They could choose one of the senate fights or the fight for the state capital. Students then filmed their skits and we played everyone's videos during class. It really helped students to think about the events that led to the ‘battles’ and explain both Daly and Clark's position.”

Another teacher, who wanted to remain anonymous, also had students create videos: “The students did one-minute history videos based on non-fiction books we had read. One group of students voluntarily did a brief history based on Montana historical figures. There was a connection with the history books we had read. Time constraints made it difficult to do the video but the students enjoyed writing the script and planning.  Next year, the videos will be done a little better.”

Other teachers wrote anonymously about their favorite lessons:

“The lesson that I will make time for next year no matter what is making pemmican with my 7th grade Montana History class. This is a hands-on way for students to learn about Montana Indian cuisine and culture.”

“I use Charles M. Russell art to teach MT History. My favorite lesson takes place during Chapter 3 in which I use Russell art plus a story from Trails Plowed Under to teach Plains Indian culture.” [I bet this teacher is going to LOVE our new Charlie Russell Packets. As soon as we get everything back from the printer, we’ll be sending these packets all public school libraries. The material is already available online for you to preview and use.]  

“Each year my students in 8th grade Montana history do a research project on each of the tribes of Montana.  They research history, origins, stories, treaties involved in, and current information, etc.  They use this information to put together a poster and PowerPoint and then present their information to the class.  I have had students go as far as calling and  interviewing tribal leaders to get the information and I plan on including an interview component in the future.”

“I did a three-day lesson about reservation life and how it felt to be forced into an uncomfortable and new situation. Students were placed into groups and had to complete assignments within the confines of a box made out of tape on the classroom floor.  They had only the materials I provided in their box (reservation) and could not move from the box until I gave them instructions to do so.  Boxes varied in size and materials provided.  At the beginning of the simulation I had students sign a contract written in Greek.  They were told they would lose points for the assignment if they did not sign the document, but would not be told what it actually stated until later.  Students seemed to enjoy the activity and had an excellent discussion in closing about being forced into a 'box'.” [The lesson plan “Exploring Influences and Perspectives through Ledger Art” includes a similar activity. MHS published this lesson plan as part of “The Art of Story-Telling: Plains Indian Perspectives.”]  

A music teacher wrote: “Listening to pow-wow music. Watching processions, jingle dances, round dances, watching the drummers, etc.  Also, we play a Paiute stick game while singing a song using vocables.”

One 8th grade teacher has her students write a book. "They are told to pick a modern Native American to write their book on. I usually tell them from 1950 to the present. This way they get an idea of what Native Americans are doing in a more modern era.  They are usually surprised to see athletes, singers, actors and various other artists, as well as politicians and activists. They are given what each part of the book is (frontispiece, end papers, title page, chapters, glossary, etc) and they write a book about their person." She added: “The students whine while doing it but they learn so much about a modern Native American, researching, and parts of a book.”

One teacher recommended the book Tiny Warrior by D. J. Eagle Bear Vanas. She read it out loud to 6th graders and had them draw pictures to go with each chapter. “There are a lot of good life lessons in that book,” she writes.

“My favorite lessons all incorporate using Primary Sources (of course). Some that I know I will revisit include Civil Rights, Lewis & Clark, Joseph Medicine Crow (I can bring in all sorts of IEFA primary sources such as boarding schools, etc.)” [See this OPI lesson plan for teaching Counting Coups: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, by Joseph Medicine Crow.] 

Do you have a favorite lesson you'd like to share? It is not too late. Email information to mkohl@mt.gov and I'll share it in a future post.

P.S. Don't forget to join us tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/15) at 4:30 for our second Montana History Digital Blast: "Art Integration and Charlie Russell."  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

IEFA Resources at Your Fingertips

Looking for good IEFA lesson plans and curricular material? Check your school library. The Indian Education Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction has donated many, many resources to public school libraries across the state. Most recently, we teamed up with OPI to print and donate copies of the lesson plan "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradictions" to all public high school libraries. (You can also view and download the unit here.)

This truly eye-opening unit focuses on the history of landless Métis, Chippewa, and Cree in Montana between 1889 and 1916. The lessons offers an unprecedented window into the experiences of Montana’s landless Indians, exposing tremendous racism and harshness, but also the enduring humanity of a people. 

What I like best about this unit is that it provides valuable information while offering students an opportunity to conduct guided analyses of historical and primary source materials. Some of the primary sources reproduced in this unit are shocking (see my earlier posts, Teaching Sensitive Content, for more detail)--but they tell a story we need to face head on to understand Montana's history and to shape Montana's future. 

"Montana's Landless Indians" is designed for high school but OPI has donated resources and lesson plans appropriate for all grades and covering many different topics. They include illustrated children's stories (for example, Story of Grizzly Bear Looking Up), model lesson plans (for example, Model Teaching Unit Language Arts – Middle School Level for Joseph Bruchac’s Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, by Justine Jam; Montana Office of Public Instruction, 2010),  and DVDs (for example, Bull Trout's Gift, Field Journal and Explore the River. Find the complete list here

Of course, I also encourage you to check out all of our IEFA-related lesson plans, all of which are available for free online as downloadable pdfs, and most of which ask students to analyze primary sources and considering points of view as they explore a topic. 

P.S. Yesterday Colet Bartow of OPI and I featured the historical society's hands-on history footlockers durin gthe first "Digital History Blast Google Hangout." If you missed it and are curious about our footlocker program you can find the recording here. One cool thing is that even the recorded program is interactive--you can still pose questions (though it will take a few days to get answers) and click through on the links. Join Deb and Colet next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. for the second installment of the Montana History Digital Blast: Art Integration and Charlie Russell. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Favorite Elementary Montana History, IEFA or Heritage Education Lessons

Every spring, I survey readers, both to get feedback on how to make Teaching Montana History better, and to gather everyone’s favorite lessons so I can share them with the group. I love learning what has actually worked in the classroom—and being able to share teacher-approved lessons—so, without further ado, here are some of the answers elementary teachers gave to the question “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource your taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” Stay tuned for future posts featuring the answers from middle and high school teachers.

Jolanda Hritsco, who teaches K-4 Math in Frenchtown, had her students map "a Pow Wow Circuit across the state using the Montana Highway Map. At each stop they selected what type of Native dances they would perform (i.e. jingle, grass,fancy etc.) we computed mileage and gas consumption. The students were very active and engaged throughout the process. We displayed our routes in the hallway for all to see."  

Billings librarian Ruth Ferris "used a selection of photos taken of Montana tribal members and their horses. In class the students analyzed and compared the photos. They also located the reservations associated with the pictures on a Montana map." (See her lesson here.) 

Tracie Dahl, a school counselor in Havre, wrote: "I use several different American Indian games for a variety of reasons in my counseling practice.  My favorite is Ring and Pin.  It is a wonderful cognitive distraction for learners who have academic anxiety or social anxiety issues." (Interested in more information? Check out OPI's Traditional Games Unit.) 

Judy Everett, who teaches K-2 in Frenchtown, wrote: "We teach a language unit using Jingle Dancer. We incorporate all subjects and then usually go to St. Ignatius for their pow wow." (Montana OPI's Indian Educatdion Division published a model unit using Jingle Dancer. You can find it, and other literature based units, here.) 

Here are some anonymous contributions: 
  • I had someone come into the class and teach students how to play stick game.
  • Women in Montana what they had accomplished. (Find good Montana women's history lesson plans here.)
  • Enjoyed using Jeannette Rankin materials from the Library of Congress. Haven't ever checked out the resources on the American Memory Project--about Jeannette Rankin or otherwise? Make it a goal this year! See http://www.loc.gov/education/ and http://www.loc.gov/
  • We spent a week reading books, studying culture, and spending time with a real Jingle Dancer! Being able to see, hear, and touch a Jingle Dancer dress was such a great experience for my second graders. We were able to include curriculum such as math and patterns as well as folktales and the sharing of stories. It was a great unit and I will continue to teach it year by year.
  • Fourth graders in Lewistown visit the Bear Gulch Petroglyphs & Pictograph site. Following the trip, the students participate in reading the Birchbark House using the unit put together by the OPI IEFA team.
  • A music teacher wrote in: "Listening to pow-wow music. Watching processions, jingle dances, round dances, watching the drummers, etc. Also, we play a Paiute stick game while singing a song using vocables."
Do you have a favorite lesson you'd like to share? It is not too late. Email information to mkohl@mt.gov and I'll share it in a future post.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Join Us at a Google Hangout to Learn About Montana History Resources

With the help of Colet Bartow at OPI, we're trying something new! 

Join us Tuesdays in September, beginning September 8, for a 20-minute "digital blast" to learn more about the Montana history resources we offer. Each episode will start at 4:30 p.m. and will be hosted on Google Hangouts on Air (see links below).  Each session will be recorded and available for later viewing via YouTube. Looking forward to "hanging out" with you next week!

September 8
Montana History Digital Blast:  Footlockers https://plus.google.com/events/cbcsiv2qcvjlo7kd0efjtg4lfqk
Martha Kohl/Colet Bartow
September 15
Montana History Digital Blast: Art Integration and Charlie Russell https://plus.google.com/events/c9nam8f8icrps5el9jaf9f7712o
Deb Mitchell/Colet Bartow
September 22
Montana History Digital Blast: Montana Stories of the Land Textbook https://plus.google.com/events/co0jg7mcuq2tgdrrc7b1hg6okj4
Martha Kohl/Colet Bartow
September 29
Montana History Digital Blast: Women’s History https://plus.google.com/events/ccj9m6o6o0l1h4ol6csom9633is
Martha Kohl/Colet Bartow