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, March 31, 2016

Sun Dance in Silver Bow and other PowerPoint Lesson Plans

One of the hidden gems on our website are our PowerPoint-based lesson plans. These simple-to-use lessons provide you with the expertise of a guest speaker without the hassle and expense.

Each has a PowerPoint and script (along with information on the standards the presentation addresses.) 

Our newest offering in this genre is "Sun Dance in Silver Bow: Urban Indian Poverty in the Shadow of the Richest Hill on Earth". Dr. Nicholas Vrooman, author of "The Whole Country was ... 'One Robe'": The Little Shell Tribe's America, created the PowerPoint based on a presentation he gave to teachers attending our Richest Hills workshop in 2015. The high school/college level presentation complements the primary-source based lesson plan "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction," created for us by Laura Ferguson. (Note, too, that the Little Shell's fight for federal recognition continues. See, for example, this recent article in the Great Falls Tribune.)

Another upper level PowerPoint is "Butte's Industrial Landscape," created by Professor Fred Quivik for the same audience of teachers but also adaptable to high school. 

Other PowerPoint Lesson Plans include: 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Authentic Purposes for Student Research

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of finding authentic audiences for student research. Here's a fascinating project for those of you who have access to historic newspaper collections through your local library/museum or the morgue of your local newspaper.

The United States Holocaust Museum has started a national crowdsourcing project using local newspapers to understand the Holocaust by answering the following questions:

  • How much did Americans know about the Holocaust when it was happening? 
  • How did they respond?

The project empowers individual history enthusiasts and students to research how their hometown newspapers covered specific events in the 1930s and 1940s related to the Nazi persecution of Jews and others. Although the website is still in "beta," you can learn more about this project at History Unfolded: U.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust.

Here are some other posts from the archives that feature ways for students to research with a purpose:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Summer PD: Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All

Once again the Montana Writing Project and the Holocaust Educators Network are teaming up to bring a weeklong workshop to the University of Montana: "Worlds Apart But Not Strangers:  Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All." 

Held July 31-Aug 6, 2016, “Worlds Apart but Not Strangers” is designed for individuals or teams who currently teach or are interested in teaching the Nazi Holocaust and/or Indian Education for All (a Montana mandate), and would like to discover ways to make connections between these topics. The institute will focus on past history, including the Nazi Holocaust and the impact of U.S. policies on Native peoples of our nation.

Highlights include guest speakers and presenters from Missoula’s Jewish Community and Native peoples from Montana. Our lens then turns to the present, as we consider the roles (perpetrator, ally, bystander) people choose in their daily interactions with each other as well as the stereotypes and prejudice affecting our schools and our communities today. We ask participants to imagine the world they’d like to see and design an action plan to help their classroom, school and/or community move closer toward that goal.

Twenty teachers and administrators from all disciplines, upper-elementary-university level, will be accepted through a competitive application process. Educators may apply as individuals or as members of a district team.

This week-long seminar is free to educators! Participants pay only their housing costs, with dorm space available, and three graduate credits are available from the University of Montana for a $135 recording fee.

Learn more and find the link to apply here--and help spread the word to colleagues who may be interested by sharing this flier.

Looking for PD sooner and closer to home? Check out our one-day April workshops in Great Falls, Billings, Miles City and Sidney.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Looking for Images? Here's Another Online Collection

The New York Public Library recently released 180,000 public domain images online, and of course we had to look for materials related to Montana. Approximately 200 plus stereographs and photographs relating to Montana are available for browsing and use.
You can also experience the three-dimensionality of stereographs with the tool Stereogranimator available here http://stereo.nypl.org/ or click through the Stereogranimator link under any of the stereographs presented in the NYPL collection.

Speaking of stereos, several of my colleagues forwarded me this post on "Teaching Geography through the Stereoscope," an interesting look at lesson plan from 1908 about how to teach with images.

For more modern ideas for using photos in your classroom, look at these posts on the Teaching Montana History blog, organized under the tag "photographs." 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Transformative Power of Letters Home from Montanans at War

A few months ago, Helena High School Theater 1 students, under the direction of their teacher, Rob Holter, performed Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War, using the lesson plan we published last fall (and described in great detail here).

Their performance--which you can view here--was extremely moving. In addition to giving voice to the soldiers whose letters our archivists chose for this script, the students found powerful images to accompany the reading.

But the best part of all--which sadly was NOT recorded--was hearing the students and teacher talk about how this lesson plan affected them. According to Rob, when he introduced the lesson, many of the students asked "why anyone would save old letters by ordinary Montanans"? During the Q and A, after their performance, many of these same students vowed to write letters in order to provide personal reflections to posterity. And they were saying things like, "ordinary people make history."

Rob told me that one of his struggling students responded to the letters with dawning recognition: "people just like me can make a difference in this world!" In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined any lesson we produced would have such an impact.

We took Rob's feedback and revised the lesson slightly. You can find the latest version of the Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War Lesson Plan on our Teaching with Primary Sources web page, along with other primary source lesson plans. I hope you'll consider sharing it with your class--and possibly with your community. The Montana Historical Society was thrilled to provide a venue for the HHS student performance because it broadened our audience (many parents came to see the performance who had never been to the museum before). Perhaps your local historical society, veteran's hall, or library would be interested in sponsoring a similar performance by your students.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Looking for Professional Development? Check Out OPI's New Centralized Calendar

I wrote a few weeks ago about OPI's new Teacher Learning Hub (and our new 1 credit online course). But that's not all OPI is doing to make professional development easier.

OPI has also created this calendar, where you can find other Professional Learning opportunities--both in person and online trainings. I recently listed the four workshops we're hosting this April
  • “Teaching Montana’s Charlie Russell” (Great Falls, April 21, 2016)
  • “Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core” (Billings, April 27, 2016)
  • “Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core” (Miles City, April 28, 2016)
  • “Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core" (Sidney, April 29, 2016
Find out more and register for one of these workshops on our site--or visit the Teacher Learning Hub to see these and other offerings.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Online PLC for Montana History Teachers: An Idea Whose Time Has Come? Or Not?

Do you teach Montana history? Do you sometimes wish you had colleagues off of whom you could bounce ideas? Are you looking for new lessons or strategies, or do you have great lessons or strategies to share?

We're considering setting up a Professional Learning Community for middle (and high) school Montana history teachers, a virtual "place" where we can gather to talk and strategize.

If this idea appeals to you at all, click through to complete our survey. If enough folks are interested, we'll give it a try.

P.S. Speaking of Professional Development, please let your colleagues know about our upcoming workshops in Great Falls (April 21), Billings (April 27), Miles City (April 28), and Sidney (April 29). Click here for more information and a link to register.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Apply to become a Teacher-Leader in the Arts

Do you believe in the power of arts learning to make a difference in the lives of students? Do you want to take a leadership role in expanding arts education opportunities in your school and community?

The Montana Arts Council (MAC), in partnership with the OPI, is recruiting educators from across Montana for the second year of the Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts (TLA). 

Through this innovative program, MAC and the OPI are developing teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms.  

Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts will:

  • Gather arts-based tools to spark creative, engaged, and joyful teaching and learning for all learners, in any classroom environment.
  • Study the relationship between arts learning and brain theory.
  • Understand how the arts build critical habits of mind that lead to future success in college, careers, and civic life.
  • Work collaboratively with other educators to build a curriculum that supports both the arts and other content in an integrated model.
  • Advocate for and champion arts learning back in their schools and communities by sharing their knowledge and skills with other educators through field projects.
  • Become catalysts for change to create more equitable access to arts learning opportunities for K-12 students in Montana schools. 

The program includes an on-site summer institute on arts learning, June 20-29 at Salish Kootenai College (SKC), online professional learning throughout the school year, and support for a field project in the teacher leader's school or region. Watch this video to see highlights from last year's on-site summer institute at SKC. 

All K-12 teachers in Montana's public schools, arts specialists, classroom teachers, and qualified teaching artists are encouraged to apply for TLA.

That's right! The program is open to certified arts specialists in K-12 schools in any discipline but also to K-12 classroom teachers with demonstrated artistic background and/or high comfort level in arts learning. 

Click here for full program information and directions on how to apply.  

Deadline for application: Friday, March 18, 2016.

P.S. Looking for PD that's less intensive or closer to home? Check out these April workshops in Great Falls, Billings, Miles City, and Sidney.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Speaking and Listening Strategies

A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to "The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies," an article at the Cult of Pedagogy.

It offers "15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging." They include "higher-prep strategies, formats that require teachers to do some planning or gathering of materials ahead of time," "low-prep strategies," and "ongoing strategies" ("smaller techniques that can be integrated with other instructional strategies and don’t really stand alone.")  It's well worth a read and includes links to videos to show how these strategies work in the classroom.

We've incorporated some of these strategies into our lesson plans, most notably Gallery Walks (See, for example, "Russell on Indians" and "Picturing the Past: Understanding Cultural Change and Continuity among Montana's Indians through Historic Photographs") and that oldie-but-goodie, "think-pair-share" (see Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things, for example). But I was intrigued by several of the other techniques the author discusses. Specifically:

Affinity Mapping: "Give students a broad question or problem that is likely to result in lots of different ideas, such as “What were the impacts of the Great Depresssion?” or “What literary works should every person read?” Have students generate responses by writing ideas on post-it notes (one idea per note) and placing them in no particular arrangement on a wall, whiteboard, or chart paper. Once lots of ideas have been generated, have students begin grouping them into similar categories, then label the categories and discuss why the ideas fit within them, how the categories relate to one another, and so on." This seemed to me to have great potential at the end of a unit to sum up--by asking about most important turning points/significant events or  most influential people during a specific period, for example.

Concentric Circles/Speed Dating: "Students form two circles, one inside circle and one outside circle. Each student on the inside is paired with a student on the outside; they face each other. The teacher poses a question to the whole group and pairs discuss their responses with each other. Then the teacher signals students to rotate: Students on the outside circle move one space to the right so they are standing in front of a new person (or sitting, as they are in the video). Now the teacher poses a new question, and the process is repeated."

I first learned about this from MSU education professor Christine Rogers Stanton, when she presented at the 2015 Montana History Conference Educator Workshop in Bozeman. The topic was Indian Leaders--with the goals of "learning who are/were native leaders and "How leadership is/was defined within tribal communities past and present?" Professor Stanton placed us into groups and assigned us short primary source texts about various Indian leaders. After analyzing our brief quote, we discussed in our small groups "What makes a great leader?" using evidence from our source document (for example, Plenty  Coups--the leader I was assigned--was very conscious about building consensus). We ran out of time, but the next step in the exercise was to have been speed dating: everyone was to put on a name tag with the name of his or her leader (Plenty Coups, in my case) and "speed date" other leaders, talking about our own leadership qualities and learning about others' before coming up with our own list of important leadership qualities.)

What are your favorite strategies for structuring meaningful class discussion--either on Cult of Pedagogy's list or others? Many teachers I respect (including  Arlee English and history teacher Anna Baldwin, 2015 Montana Teacher of the Year) think highly of Socratic circles. And I still think Structured Academic Controversies are worth a look. Find links to more information on both techniques here.

And let me know what works in your classroom. If you do, I'll share!