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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hazel Hunkins, Billing Suffragist, a Primary Source Investigation

I am delighted to announce our newest lesson plan: Hazel Hunkins, Billing Suffragist, a Primary Source Investigation.

Created by Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris with partial funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities' National Digital Newspaper Project, this primary-source based lesson plan challenges students to analyze and contextualize historical evidence; consider how authorship, intention, and context affect meaning; and construct an argument about the contributions of Billings, Montana, high school graduate Hazel Hunkins to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Why do I love this lesson?

1. It gives Montana students a model civic engagement. Jeannette Rankin, Rosa Parks: these activists seem unapproachable. We place them on a pedestal and know we can never make a difference like they did. But Hazel Hunkins? She graduated from Billings High School in 1908 (and we have her yearbook photo to prove it). She worries that her mom disapproves of her picketing the White House. She desperately misses her cat. In other words, Hazel Hunkins is a normal person, who chose to do something extraordinary.

2. It introduces students to a wide range of sources: secondary sources, excerpts from a memoir, photographs, telegrams, newspaper articles and editorials, cartoons, a response to charges, and personal letters. That's how we find out what Hazel's thinking and feeling: from the very personal letters she wrote to her mother back in Billings that are reprinted as part of the lesson plan.

3. This diverse source set also shows us that history is messy. Looking back, women's suffrage seems inevitable and the White House pickets seem noble--but not everyone saw them that way at the time. Even suffragists disagreed as to which tactics would advance the cause most quickly.

4. And interpreting history is messy too. Textbooks smooth out the stories they tell, but piecing together that story is hard work. Because people have different perspectives and purposes for recording information, accounts of events sometimes diverge. It's not always easy to figure out what happened and why.

5. The lesson plan is thoughtfully designed. Ruth modeled the lesson on the UMBC's History Labs. As their website explains, "History Labs are research and investigative learning experiences that provide teachers with the necessary information, resources, and procedures to teach a full range of historical thinking skills by taking students through a process that is methodologically similar to that employed by historians."

6. Because students are "actively investigating the past, rather than passively memorizing ready-made facts or accounts assembled by others," they will "strengthen their critical reading and writing skills, and improve their ability to handle and retain vital content information. They also develop a sense of control and ownership of the knowledge they assemble that fosters genuine and lasting interest in the subject."

7. It's a civics lesson as well as a history lesson. We haven't done enough for our government teachers. This starts to fill that gap--and I would especially like to hear from any government teacher who chooses to use this in his or her class.

8. It's adaptable. It might seem daunting at 89 pages--but the lesson is designed so that groups of students work with different sets of documents--and most of those pages are document reprints. In addition, teachers short on time can just use Part 1 of the Lesson Plan (though it would be a shame to miss out on all the great sources that we've included in Part 2.)

9. It's tremendously interesting! The lesson opens with a parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" music video, "Bad Romance: Woman's Suffrage." Need I say more?

If you teach 8-12 grade history or government, I hope you'll check the lesson out. It is now online but we're thinking of printing some copies if there's interest. If you'd like a printed copy, let me know (and make sure to include your snail mail address!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Resources to Help You Use Chronicling America

Last week I raved about Chronicling America. This week, I'm turning Teaching Montana History over to Natasha Hollenbach, the Montana Digital Newspaper Project Assistant at the Montana Historical Society, for more on Chronicling America (or ChronAm, as she calls it). Here's Natasha:

Last month I attended the annual National Digital Newspaper Program conference in Washington DC, hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.  On the second day, we three presenters talked about how Chronicling America is used for education.  The first showed off the EDSITEment website which is a product of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is a vast site. There are 
lesson plans focusing specifically on Chronicling America resources, as well as many other online humanities resources (Picturing America, for example). I strongly encourage you to check it out. 

Both EdSITEMENT and the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project have video tutorials about using, searching and saving/printing on ChronAm. The Vermont site also has a For Educators section under Resources, Much of their information is going to be useful to you, even though they highlight Vermont content. For example, among their lesson plans and activities are:

One presenter, who works at a community college in Arkansas, completely changed my approach to ChronAm. If you’ve seen the map below of states participating in ChronAm, you’ll know that there are no Arkansas newspapers. However, she still uses ChronAm in her course on Arkansas history because major state events make national news. Such a simple concept, but I was always so focused on the Montana newspapers, that it really never occurred to me that I should be encouraging people to search other states’ content.

States in green have content in Chronicling America

Afterwards, I realized that I had just encountered a student doing this over the summer.  She came into the Research Center library and told us that she was researching the national coverage of the Marias Massacre. She had already been on ChronAm and had found lots of articles, but none from Montana. Obviously something was wrong with that, so first I checked to make sure we had digitized newspapers from that year.  (Montana newspapers cover 1864-1922 in just over 250,000 pages from 79 titles, so there are gaps depending on where and when your event happened.  Click here for a map showing Montana digitized newspapers available through ChronAm and other sites.)  

I did find relevant papers available so I did some investigation and realized that the reason she wasn’t finding anything was that the Montana papers don’t call it a massacre.  I found alternate search terms for her and left her to continue her research.  
Sometimes doing history research requires adjusting your conception of the event and sometimes it helps to think in broader terms about your sources. I'll leave you with that idea. If you do have your students research in ChronAm, and they can't find anything on their topic, make sure you talk with them about search terms. How has our vocabulary and what we call events changed over time? (Hint: World War I wasn't called World War I until long after it was over.) Ohio History Connection also has a video on this very topic that might also be worth sharing with your students!

Happy searching!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chronicling America: One of the Coolest, Most Underused Resources Out There

I had a great time visiting with the teachers who stopped by our booth at the MEA-MFT conference. Many were absolutely amazed by the digitized newspapers available through Chronicling America, a searchable newspaper database produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Although I've been singing Chronicling America's praises since 2012, enough teachers hadn't heard of it (and enough new material is available through it) that I've decided CA will be the focus of the next few posts. 

Chronicling America now has over 10,000,000 digitized newspaper pages from 40 states, including pages from 79 different titles in Montana:

Glasgow Courier (1915-22) * Neihart Herald (1891-1900) * Anaconda Standard (1889-99) * Great Falls Leader (1888-89) * New Age (1902-03) * Benton Record (1875-84) * Great Falls Tribune (1885-96, 1919-22) * New North-West (1869-97) * Billings Gazette (1899-1909) * Harlowton News (1909-14) * Philipsburg Mail (1887-1901) * Billings Herald (1882-85) * Havre Herald (1904-08) * Producers News (1918-22) * Bozeman Avant Courier (1871-79) * Helena Herald (1872-83) * Ravalli Republican (1894-98) * Bozeman Chronicle (1883-88) * Helena Independent (1889-94) * Red Lodge Picket (1889-1902) Judith Gap Journal (1909-13) * River Press (1880-88, 1902-14) * The Powder River County Examiner & the Broadus Independent (1919-22) * Kalispell Bee (1900-03) * Rocky Mountain Husbandman (1875-84) * Butte Daily Bulletin (1919-20) * Libby Herald (1911-13) * Ronan Pioneer (1911-17) * Butte Inter Mountain (1899-1903) * Livingston Enterprise (1884-92) * Rosebud County News (1901-06) * Butte Miner (1879-89) * Madisonian (1895-96) * Roundup Record (1908-13) * Colored Citizen (1894) * Malta Enterprise (1908-16) * Suffrage Daily News (1914) * Cut Bank Pioneer Press (1911-17) * Mineral Argus (1883-86) * Sun River Sun (1884-85)Dillon Tribune (1881-87) * Missoulian (1909-14, 1917-18) * Whitefish Pilot (1908-12) * Dupuyer Acantha (1894-1901) * Montana News (1904-12) * Wibaux Pioneer (1907-14) Ekalaka Eagle (1909-16) * Montana Nonpartisan (1918-19) * Yellowstone Journal (1882-94) * Fergus County Argus (1886-1906) * Montana Plaindealer (1906-11) * Yellowstone Monitor (1908-15) * Fergus County Democrat (1904-16) * Montana Post (1864-69) * Western News (1900-10) ... with Helena Herald (1884-1889) and Butte Daily Post (1917) coming soon!

Of special note are the more than a dozen marvelous pictorial editions that the newspaper staffs typically spent a year preparing, for example, the Livingston Enterprise's Souvenir edition, published January 1, 1900.

People of all ages LOVE exploring historic newspapers, which are the closest thing to a time machine we have. Here are a few simple ideas to get your students started:
  • Do you do Newspapers in Education? How about comparing today's paper with a historic newspaper from the same date--and maybe even from your town?  
  • Go shopping. "What can I buy now/What could I buy then" is a great quick starting point for exploring a different period of history.
  • Play "newspaper bingo." This is another way to explore the social world of the era you are studying (Sample bingo cards and instructions are available here.) 
  • Research specific, high-interest events referenced in your textbook or literature study (e.g., the sinking of the Titanic.)
  • Investigate holidays. Can you find stories about Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, or Valentine's Day?

How are YOU using Chronicling America in your classroom? Let me know and I'll include it in a future post.

p.s. For those looking for more guidance, the Library of Congress is hosting a free online conference, "Unlocking the Power of Primary Sources," October 27-28, 2:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. MST. You can register for individual sessions, including "Teaching with Historical Newspapers," 4-4:50 MST, on October 28. Honestly, the entire schedule looks great, so check it out

Monday, October 19, 2015

Montana The Magazine of Western History: A Great Source for Informational Text

Looking for high-quality informational text to supplement your textbooks? Or good sources for your students to use in research papers?

Montana The Magazine of Western History has over 60 years of articles, and many of your libraries have been longtime subscribers to the magazine.

The Montana History Society has updated the free online index for “Montana The Magazine of Western History.” The searchable index can be used to find articles, topics, and authors in 1951-2012 back issues.   

Over 130 women's history related-articles originally published in the magazine have been made available via Women's History Matters, the Montana Historical Society's 2014 suffrage centennial project.

PDFs of articles in the following theme issues (plus discussion questions) are available through the MHS website:
Speaking of research papers, we've posted preliminary bibliographies for possible Montana history research projects here. (We created these for National History Day, but they are useful for any student research project.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Montana's Charlie Russell Packets: Now Available at a Montana K-12 Public School Library Near You

After the MHS Press published Montana's Charlie Russell: Art in the Collection of the Montana Historical Society, we decided to build on its success to create a curriculum packet to help teachers bring Russell’s artwork to the classroom. 
Modeled after our hugely successful packet, The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives, the Montana's Charlie Russell curriculum packet includes fifteen prints of selected paintings, letters, and sculptures, eight classroom-tested lesson plans, and three PowerPoints. We mailed these packets to all Montana public school libraries in early October--so check your school library. We're bringing 100 packets to the MEA-MFT convention--so stop by our booth to pick up your personal copy, while supplies last. Aren't attending MEA-MFT? While supplies last, you can also request a classroom copy of the packet by emailing mhseducation@mt.gov
We've also posted all of the material in the packets on our website:


  • Montana’s Charlie Russell (elementary), a biographical PowerPoint with a script (targeted to elementary students) that provides an overview of Russell’s life and work
  • Montana’s Charlie Russell (upper grades), a biographical PowerPoint with a script (targeted to middle and high school students) that provides an overview of Russell’s life and work 
  • PowerPoint of the Russell images provided in the packet plus a bonus image, Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross’ Hole. to project for class discussion 

Lesson Plans 

Three hands-on art lessons: 
  • “Watercolors of the Big Sky” (grades 3–5) uses Russell’s art to help students explore the compositional elements of foreground, middle ground, and background before having them create landscape paintings inspired by nature, using watercolor techniques. 
  • “Illustrating a la Charlie Russell” (grades 6–12) asks students to explore how Russell used washes of watercolor and ink techniques to create shadow and depth in his illustrations. Students will then choose an animal to illustrate using these techniques. The illustrations can be paired with a poem, short story, or letter they have written. 
  • “Figures in Motion” (grades 7–12) guides students in an exploration of movement. Using Charlie Russell’s paintings and sculptures as inspiration, students will create their own three-dimensional sculptures, translating movement from line drawings to wire armatures to simulated bronze works. 
Five lesson plans that engage students in critically examining Russell’s paintings as they practice Common Core skills: 
  • “The Rest of the Story” (grades 3–7) engages students in an analysis of several pieces of Russell art before asking them to choose one to use as inspiration to write a story. 
  • “Living with Animals” (grades 4–7) examines the way humans’ relationship to the natural world has changed over time, while using Russell’s art to explore the importance of animals to Russell and the people he painted. 
  • “Russell on Indians” (grades 7–12) explores the topic of stereotypes, especially about Indians. After class discussion, students will examine several Russell paintings during a “gallery walk” to explore how the artist did and did not reinforce Indian stereotypes. 

Additional Material

I hope you'll check out the material online, check out the packet from your K-12 library, and share the material with your students. And, as always, let us know what you think!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Let's Connect. It's Conference Time!

It’s conference time! On my way to the MEA-MFT Educator Conference in Billings, I’m going to stop by the Montana State Literacy Conference October 15 in Belgrade, where I’ll be presenting on our Women’s History Matters project and lesson plans, Thursday morning, 9:45-10:45, in room #115. (Come say hi!)

Then I’m off to MEA-MFT, where Deb Mitchell and I will once again staff a table in the exhibit hall. Stop by to pick up your very own Montana's Charlie Russell educator's packet, while supplies last.

At MEA-MFT, I’ll also be repeating my Women’s History Matters presentation on Friday, October 16, 2:00-2:50, Skyview High School: Room 238. I promise a hands-on introduction to some fascinating historic photographs and extraordinary women—so if you aren’t conferenced out, come join me.

MHS lesson plans are also being featured in two other MEA-MFT presentations:

  • Thursday, October 15, 10:00-11:50 in Skyview High School: Room 149, Laura Ferguson will be introducing “Montana's Landless Indians in the Assimilation Era,” an extremely powerful lesson that uses historical newspapers, archival images, letters, reports, and historical data to re-construct the history of Montana's Landless Indians. I’ve written about this lesson plan here and here—but it would be worth experiencing part of it yourself in this interactive session.  (Can’t make the session? We’ll have copies of the published lesson plan at our exhibit booth for you to peruse and take home.)
  • Friday, October 16, Skyview High School Room 149, 9:00-10:50 or Room 148, 12:00-1:50, Ruth Ferris will be debuting "Hazel  Hunkins, Billings Suffragist: A Primary Source Investigation." This amazing teaching with primary sources lesson plan designed to introduce students to the women’s suffrage movement by examining the story of Billings-born suffragist Hazel Hunkins, who joined the National Woman’s Party in picketing the White House. As Ruth says, “Before it was history, it was news.” She’s pulled together remarkable primary source sets to make the movement come alive, including newspaper articles, letters, photos, and telegrams (like this one from Hunkins to Mrs. E.L. Perkins, 218 N 33rd St., Billings, “TWENTY SIX OF AMERICAS FINEST WOMEN ARE ACCOMPANYING ME TO JAIL ITS SPLENDID DON’T WORRY LOVE HAZEL”.) Look for it on our website soon.

Montana Council on Social Studies, Montana Council for History and Civics Education, and Montana Writing Project are to be commended for putting together bang-up sectionals. Among the sessions at MEA-MFT this year that intrigued me are

Thursday, October 15

  • 9:00 AM-9:50 AM “Myth and History in the American West,” Tim Lehman, Skyview High School: Room 235  
  • 9:00 AM-9:50 AM “The Pryor Mountains--Crow Sacred Land,” Dick Walton and Susan Newell, Skyview High School: Room 201
  • 10:00 AM-11:50 AM “America Indian Music: More Than Drums & Flutes,” Scott Prinzing, Skyview High School: Room 238
  • 10:00 AM-10:50 AM “Student Research: Learn about the Possibilities,” Bruce Wendt, Skyview High School: Room 201
  • 11:00 AM-12:50 PM “Memories of the Heart Mountain Concentration Camp,” Sam Mihara, Skyview High School: Room Theatre (I heard him last year. Fantastic!)
  • 11:00 AM-11:50 AM “Montana 1864: An Examination of a Crucial Year,” Ken Egan, Skyview High School: Room 239
  • 12:00 PM-1:50 PM “Teaching the Boarding School Era,” Glenda McCarthy, Skyview High School: Room 202
  • 1:00 PM-1:50 PM “Issues of Education on the Reservation,” Janna Lind, Skyview High School: Room 238
  • 1:00 PM-1:50 PM “Montana State National History Day,” Michael Herdina, Skyview High School: Room 149 Herdina
  • 1:00 PM-2:50 PM “Project Archaeology: Investigating Anzick Burial,” Courtney Agenten, Skyview High School: Room 239
  • 2:00 PM - 2:50 PM “American Indian Students: Today and Tomorrow,” Janine Pease, Skyview High School Theater
  • 3:00 PM-4:50 PM  “DPLA – An amazing resource worth learning to use!” Jennifer Birnel, Skyview High School: Room 131 
  • 3:00 PM-3:50 PM “Pictograph Cave: Connect the future with the Past,” Krystal Carlson, Skyview High School: Room 201 
  • 4:00 PM-4:50 PM “Heartwood: A Growth-Based Approach to Learning,” Casey Olsen, Skyview High School: Room Theatre
  • 4:00 PM-4:50 PM “Interpreting the American Indian Photographs of Edward Curtis,” Sandra Oldendorf and Priscilla Lund, Skyview High School: Room 238

Friday, October 16 

  • 8:00 AM-8:50 AM “Explore C3 and new Perceptions of Social Studies,” Bruce Wendt, Skyview High School: Room 238
  • 8:00 AM-11:50 PM “Western Heritage Center: Take a Tour Back into Time,” Western Heritage Center
  • 9:00 AM-9:50 AM “American Indian Mascots,” Glenda McCarthy, Skyview High School: Room 235
  • 9:00 AM-9:50 AM “K-12 Resources at Buffalo Bill Center of the West,” Megan Smith, Skyview High School: Room 239
  • 9:00 AM-10:50 AM “Project Archaeology: Investigating Nutrition,” Courtney Agenten, Skyview High School: Room 238
  • 10:00 AM-10:50 AM “Using Visual Thinking Strategies in the Classroom,” Yvonne Kunz, Skyview High School: Room 146
  • 11:00 AM-11:50 AM “Hazel Hunkins: the Fight for Women’s Rights,” Kevin Kooistra, Skyview High School: Room 239
  • 3:00 PM-3:50 PM “Tribal Sovereignty Issues,” Glenda McCarthy, Skyview High School: Room 203

See you in Billings (or Belgrade)!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Lesson Plan Investigates the Effects of Title IX

We started working on the lesson plan, "Women and Sports: Tracking Change Over Time," in 2012--so you can imagine how pleased I am to finally be able to share it with you.

I'm excited about this lesson (aimed at students grades 4-8) for several reasons:

First, because it looks at how federal legislation affects our daily lives and at how larger historical patterns influence individual experiences. These are big questions that fascinate me--and that I believe are essential for students to wrestle with.

I'm also excited about this lesson because it is truly cross disciplinary, integrating math into a history/social science lesson--and science too--by having students use the scientific method (creating a hypothesis, collecting and analyzing data) to create new knowledge.

The lesson starts by having students examine a photo of a women’s basketball game in Missoula circa 1900 using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). (Unfamiliar with VTS? Learn more here.) After this "hook," students read an essay to learn about the ways that Title IX (a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education) changed girls’ opportunities to participate in school sports. Then we get to the fun part: having students conduct a survey of their community, analyze the data they collect, and compare it to a data set we collected.

Women and Sports: Tracking Change over Time is just the latest addition to the women's history lesson plans and resources we created as part of our Women's History Matters project (honoring Montana's 2014 suffrage centennial). The Women's History Resources and Lesson Plans page (part of our online Educator Resources material) includes links to several other lesson plans, including

I hope you'll check these out--and let me know what you think. One of the great things about web publishing is that we can update the material easily and inexpensively--so we can and do improve lessons based on teacher feedback. Let us know what worked--and, as importantly, what didn't--by sending an email to me at mkohl@mt.gov.

P.S. I'll be presenting on our women's history lesson plans at the Montana State Literacy Conference October 15 in Belgrade, Thursday morning, 9:45-10:45, in room #115 and in Billings at MEA-MFT, on Friday, October 16, 2:00-2:50, Skyview High School: Room 238. Even if you can't make it to either presentation, I hope you'll stop by our booth at the MEA-MFT exhibit hall to visit informally.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War

I'm incredibly proud of our latest lesson plan: Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War (Designed for 7th-12th). 

This three-to-five period unit asks students to work in groups to read and interpret letters written by soldiers at war, from the Civil War to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. After engaging in close reading and conducting research to interpret the letters, they will perform the letters as reader’s theater.

Our crackerjack archivists carefully selected these amazing letters from soldiers. The lesson plan has students divided into 4 groups, each group taking a different war:

• Group 1 (Civil War and Philippine-American War: 4-5 students)
• Group 2 (World War I: 4-5 students)
• Group 3: (World War II: 4-5 students. Note: In this group, students will read more than one role)
• Group 4: (Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom 4-5 students)

After working in their group to define slang and other unfamiliar terms, figure out pronunciation, suss out points of view and hidden emotions, the students will perform the letters--either to each other, to other classes, or to their community as part of a Veteran's Day event.

I find the letters both revealing and moving. Here's a teaser, an excerpt from a letter John Harrison wrote his father in 1945 from Belgium about his younger brother Bob Harrison, who had been declared Missing in Action: 

This is going to be pretty rough medicine for you old timer, but things being as they are I think we had better face the facts…. Bob is missing in action. There are things giving us hope and there are others that look bad.… 

Check out the Reader's Theater: Letters Home to learn the rest of Bob's story--and to read the other letters from Montana soldiers included in this lesson plan.

As always, if you use this lesson with your students, I'd LOVE to hear from you. What worked? What didn't? Do you want more reader's theater? Let me know at mkohl@mt.gov

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reservation Ambassadors

Have you heard about Reservation Ambassadors, a club located at Arlee High School on the Flathead Reservation? 

From Anna Baldwin, one of the club's advisers: "Our mission is to build relationships and understanding about reservation life. We do this through school visits where we work in small groups with students to talk about texts in order to address misconceptions and stereotypes. If a school is too far to visit, we use skype. Last year we worked directly with 350 students and teachers in grades 5-12 across Montana and even in another state!"

From the Reservation Ambassadors webpage:  During the 2014-2015 school year, the Reservation Ambassadors visited (in person or via Skype) nine off-reservation schools, including one in Chicago, plus a group of teachers. We built relationships with nearly 350 individual students and talked about everything from the importance of music, to Indian relay, to the tribal constitution, to stereotypes and beyond."

I think Reservation Ambassadors is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even since before sliced bread. 

If you are interested in helping to break down stereotypes by making a connection with the Reservation Ambassadors, please contact Anna Baldwin at abaldwin@arleeschools.org".

Want to read more? Here's an article about the Reservation Ambassadors published last year in the Missoulian.