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.

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