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, May 23, 2016

Summer Break and End of the Year Survey

This blog is going on hiatus for summer break--unless something time sensitive comes along that is so good I can't bear not to share it.

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.

Do know that there's still time to complete our annual survey and to share your favorite lesson. At this moment, we have received 57 responses--so I'm adding two more prizes: for the 61st and 65th people to take the survey).

NOTE: A few people have told me that the online survey has not worked for them. If you've experienced problems, you can find a copy of the survey as a Word Document here. Download and complete the survey and email it back to me at mkohl@mt.gov and I will input your responses. I appreciate your taking the extra effort. We really value your feedback and will actively use it to plot next year's course.

P.S. We are still planning on creating a monthly Montana history online PLC, beginning next August. If you teach Montana history and want to participate (or are just curious about learning more) please provide us your name and email by completing this very short questionnaire.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Combining Montana History and ELA Part 2

Last week, I posted a request from Gardiner 7th grade teacher Tammy Dalling for ideas for "rich and engaging literature written at a 7th grade to complement her Montana history class. I offered some ideas of my own and then asked you for your suggestions. Thanks to all who responded with suggestions--many of which I had never heard of! See below.

I love when this list becomes a place to share ideas and ask for help. Courtney Bake of Fairfield, who will be teaching Montana history in high school for the first time next year, is also requesting advice from those who have taught Montana history at the high school level: "In particular I am looking for: textbooks and materials used, pacing guides, lesson plans, projects--anything that has worked well!" You can contact her at cbake@fairfield.k12.mt.us.

For anyone planning a Montana history class, at any grade level, I recommend as a first stop the Montana Historical Society's Educator Resources page. (While there, make sure you check out the online professional development, for which you can earn OPI renewal units.) Another good source for ideas is this blog. At the end of each year, I survey teachers and ask for their best lessons. You can see what teachers have recommended in past years here. And you can still submit favorite lesson from this year by completing the survey if you haven't already.

Now--back to the regularly scheduled program--your recommendations of literature to complement the study of Montana history:

James Howland wrote: "I really like using Pretty Shield by Frank Linderman with my middle school Montana History.  It is also from a female perspective, but it is usually really interesting and fun for all the students."

Kathy Hoyt wrote: "Have her try Code Talkers by Bruchac.  OPI has a great unit already created for that book and there are some great tie-ins for the Montana Crow Talkers.

Helen Eden wrote: "A Bride Goes West, by Nannie Alderson (full text on Internet Archives!) and many of Dorothy Johnson's short stories!" (She's probably thinking of Dorothy Johnson's Westerns, but I love her reminiscences about growing up in Whitefish, which are also available free online at Montana Women's History Matters (scroll down to access.) 

Betty Bennett wrote: "Both of these are easy reading and would appeal to boys: The Way, by Joseph Bruchac (This is a wonderful coming-of-age book that includes issues about bullying, heroes, and school safety) and  Who Will Tell My Brother? by Marlene Carvell (Carvell also wrote Sweetgrass Basket. This story is also written in poetry diary form and deals with Indian mascots.)

Melissa Knudsen put in a vote for Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean: On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned. Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean puts back together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy. Young Men and Fire won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992."

Mikey Sackman wrote: "The Legend of Jimmy Spoon. We learned about early Montana Native Americans, Montana geography, researched traditions and some of the language/vocabulary. This unit was used with struggling readers in the 7th to 9th grade."

Sue Dailey wrote: I used the book Bold Journey by Charles Bohner to go along with my Lewis and Clark unit. It is told from the perspective of a young man of the expedition and is pretty factual but is fiction.

Danielle Parsons wrote: "Some books we have read this year in 6th grade Social Studies: Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita by Kae Cheatham – relates the transition of Native Americans from the Dog Days to the Horse Days. Can you imagine what our impression would be if we had never seen a horse before and didn’t even know what it was? It was a great book." A Boy Called Slow – even though this is a children’s book it really helped them relate to the figures in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Until the Last Spike, the Journal of Sean Sullivan, a Transcontinental Railroad Worker, Nebraska and Points West, 1867 by William Durbin – this gives students a teen-age point of view of the railroad experience. The boys have especially liked. It gets a little gross at parts and pretty blunt about Euro-American feelings toward the Native Americans and Chinese. We’ve discussed in class how even though we have learned that those kind of names are considered discriminatory and derogatory they relay to us the mindset of the time period." 

Speaking of the Chinese--I've heard good things about A Thousand Pieces of Gold--a biographical young adult novel, which begins in China and ends in the Idaho. I also like Long Way Home: Journeys of a Chinese Montanan, though it is geared for adults (you'll need to check to see if it would interest your students) and once again, the protagonist is female.  The author, Flora Wong, is quite elderly now--but if you live near Helena, you may be able to get her to speak to your class.

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016-2017 OPI Indian Education for All (IEFA) K-12 Grant RFP - Deadline June 30

The Office of Public Instruction Indian Education Division is offering grants for the 2016-2017
school year! The grant is intended to provide additional resources for creating a dynamic school-wide, professional learning plan for the implementation of Indian Education for All. The goals of the Indian Education for All K-12 Grant include these important components:

1. Each school/district will include in its IEFA policy and/or plan, a process for the selection and inclusion of tribally specific resources relevant to Montana tribes.

2. Design and provide a program of professional development for instructional staff that develops capacity to integrate Indian Education for All throughout the K-12 curriculum.

3. Develop and establish collaborative relationships with American Indian educators, schools and students in order to further cross cultural awareness and understandings.

This K-12 IEFA grant is open to any Montana public school district. Preference will be given to schools which have not had a previous IEFA grant.

Complete proposals are due June 30, 2016.

Learn more.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Combining Montana History and ELA--and Good MT History Titles for 7th Graders

Gardiner 7th grade teacher Tammy Dalling wrote asking for ideas for "rich and engaging literature written at a 7th grade level."

She explains: "Next year I will be teaching Montana History and English as a 2 hour integrated block.  While I will base the curriculum around the Stories of the Land textbook and all of the wonderful primary sources provided with the textbook, I am also looking" for literature suggestions. 

She continues: "I already use Sweetgrass Basket and plan to use Counting Coup by Joe Medicine Crow, Girl From the Gulches and Hattie Big Sky. This list is quite girl-heavy and I would like to find reading that appeals to the boys as well."

Can you help? What books would you recommend? Please let both Tammy and me know!

Here are what first came to my mind, but I'm sure there are things I am missing: 
  • Birthright: Born to Poetry – A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry
  • My Name Is Sepeetza (This is not a Montana story--it is set in Canada--but it is a Salish/Indian boarding school story and a good one--though a female protagonist. We liked it so much that we included a copy in our footlocker, To Learn a New Way.) 
  • Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War (This is not fiction but it would be great for an English class)
  • Montana Chillers: 13 True Tales of Ghosts and Hauntings (again, not fiction, but compelling reading and good history connections. Bonus: You might be able to get the author, Ellen Baumler, to come to your class through the Humanities Montana speakers bureau.)
  • "Boyhood Recollections: A Narrative of Homestead Days in North Eastern Montana" (a short reminiscence) 
  • When the Meadowlark Sings. (This is one of my favorite books about growing up in Montana. I don't know middle school well enough to know whether it would resonate for 7th graders and it might cover some of the same ground as Hattie Big Sky, which, I'm embarrassed to say, I have never read--though it might pick up where Hattie Big Sky leaves off (its focus is 1930s-1960s. Also a female protagonist.... Can a middle school teacher or librarian weigh in on this one?) 
  • Something by Frank Bird Linderman--Plenty Coups? Pretty Shield? Kootenai Why Stories?. 
  • Copper Camp (excerpts). Could portions of this be used in middle school? Again--I'm not sure. It is not a reliable historical source but it is fun to read, over-the-top folklore about Butte in its heyday, written by WPA writers. 
  • Young Men and Fire, Norman Maclean (about the Mann Gulch Fire. Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris recommended this one. I love it--but thought it might be too hard. She thinks your 7th graders can handle it.) 
  • Shep: Our Most Loyal DogSneed Collard (Grades 2-4 picture book. Too young?)
  • Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate (Grades 3-5 picture book-so maybe also too young. But I love this story. It has also been made into a play, Paper Candles, that your students could perform as Readers Theater.)
  • Yellowstone Kelly: The Memoirs of Luther S. Kelly (Again, per Ruth Ferris: "Kelly is a good writer and I think this is an important perspective of that time. His book is a very good read. I believe good readers in 7th grade could handle it." But she recommends selecting excerpts. "Chapter on Wolfing will be controversial.")
What would you add?

Tammy is also wondering if there's anyone out there already teaching a block like this who would be willing to share their curriculum. If that's you, please get in touch with her.

P.S. Just after I finished this post, I received a request for a list of Montana books for lower grades as well. So send me the titles of your favorite books for K-6, too! (It would be helpful if you noted whether they were picture or chapter books and approximate grade level--but not essential.)

P.P.S. Don't forget to take our online survey (click here.) Remember, there are PRIZES for lucky winners! (NOTE: A few people have told me that the online survey has not worked for them. If you've experienced problems, you can find a copy of the survey as a Word Document here. Download and complete the survey and email it back to me at mkohl@mt.gov and I will input your responses. I appreciate your taking the extra effort. We really value your feedback and will actively use it to plot next year's course.)

P.P.P.S. Last week in my post about applying for a travel scholarship to attend the Montana History Conference I had the wrong due date. Scholarship applications are due by 11:59 p.m. September 11, 2016. (But you don't have to wait until the deadline to apply!)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Montana History Conference Scholarships plus a Montana on the National Register Story Map

Save the Date! The Montana Historical Society is putting together an amazing program for the 43nd Annual Montana History Conference. Titled Roots and Branches: 175 Years of Montana History, it will be held in Hamilton and Stevensville, September 22-24, 2016, the 175th anniversary of the founding of St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. Renewal units will be available for both the Thursday educator workshop and all conference sessions. 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 Hamilton and the 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 the Saturday events in Stevensville. 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 11, 2016.  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

P.S. In my last post I mentioned Story Maps. Then I found out that our State Historic Preservation Office has created a Story Map celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Register. It features a property listed in the Register from each of Montana's 56 counties. The information is also available on a deck of playing cards (52 cards plus 4 jokers), free while supplies last.

Note: This post has been updated to correct date scholarship applications are due.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cool Stuff: IEFA resources, self grading quizzes, and Story Maps

Normally I like thematic posts--but sometimes I can't make it happen. Here are a couple of cool links and ideas I've stumbled across recently. Hope at least one is interesting to you.

I was fascinated by "The Children Taken from Home for a Social Experiment," a BBC article about Inuit children taken from Greenland in the 1950s to be educated as "model Danish citizens." Sound familiar? It might be a useful piece to read when teaching about American Indian boarding schools--or a good way to integrate IEFA into your world history/world cultures class. Another good resource for this would be one of my favorite movies, Rabbit Proof Fence, the 2002 Australian drama about three mixed-race aboriginal girls who run away from boarding school to return to their families.

The blog "Doing Social Studies" offers this cool hack for creating self-grading quizzes using Google Forms. Yeah for efficiency!

StoryMaps are an amazing tool for connecting ideas and events to place. ESRI offers free ArcGIS accounts to classrooms so you and your students can make your own maps. They also offer lesson plans and an amazing gallery of maps that others have created. Check out some of their "Featured Maps from the Living Atlas," and especially from their History Section, for example, Katrina at 10.   

Happy surfing.