Thursday, September 22, 2016

Favorite Elementary Lessons

I've been sharing 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.” (Here are high school and middle school teachers' responses.) Below are the answers we received from elementary school teachers. [I've added a few comments and links in brackets--couldn't resist putting my oar in.] 

MonDak Heritage Center Museum Educator Jessica Newman gave a shout out to using "Visual Thinking Strategies in the analysis of art and historical documents." [I love VTS too! We integrated the technique into our Montana's Charlie Russell lessons, the Coming to Montana footlocker, and our BRAND NEW footlocker, "The Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times, 1913–1921"--coming soon Intrigued? read more here.] 
An anonymous 3-5 grade teacher wrote: “The students choose a tribe in Montana to research. They produced a report, a replica of the flag, and made models to represent food, shelter, economy, and religion traditionally part of that tribe.”

Another anonymous teacher is excited about ArcGIS mapping: “The best resource that I learned about was the ArcGIS and I have set up an account already.  I look forward to using as we study Montana history.  Students will be able to create an interactive timeline and put information about the Montana famous person or explorer that they do research on for their reports.” 

3-5 grade teacher Sarah White of Shelby wrote, “IEFA Lesson - Comparison of maps of 1850's vs 2000's of land territory, the students made maps of both time frames to get a good visual of how the land territories changed (reservations vs non)  The students also did a spotlight research project on a Blackfeet Tribe concept (flag, small pox, Indian days, tipi, cradleboard, language, etc.)  on a big posterboard - they turned out wonderfully!”

Along the same lines, Whitefish Technology teacher Michael Carmichael worked with his third graders to create animations of the shrinking tribal land. I was intrigued so I asked him to share details. He wrote: "Students were given different animation project choices including one about  Montana Reservations. The students’ task was to show how traditional tribal areas changed and shrank with the introduction of reservations. Students needed to select three tribes to animate the boundary changes. This lesson activated prior classroom knowledge, utilized free online animation program that was age appropriate and allowed students multiple ways to create their animated infographic. Students accessed traditional tribal territory maps and modern Reservation maps to use as their background before using the drawing and painting tools to create the visual of the shrinking reservations. Animate is free and easy to use on all platforms via the web. Some of the map resources students utilized are:
They also used the  student safe search resource “Bing in the Classroom.”(Free for Schools)

Maps were big: Another teacher said her most successful lesson was “Making Land form maps our of salt dough.”

Susan Seastrand, from the Ayers Colony School, Grass Range, MT, K-8, school liked our new Montana’s Charlie Russell packets. “I love the pictures and the lesson. My students really enjoyed learning about Russell and the time period.” Ditto Billings elementary librarian Ruth Ferris of Billings and K-2 Bozeman teacher Jamie Winjum Chapman. Another teacher recommended our footlockers. "I will order the trunks again next year. I especially like the homesteading one." [We have a brand new footlocker of which we are very proud: “The Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times.” Check it out and then be the first to order it.]

An anonymous librarian wrote, "The book that my students loved the best in 4th grade was It Happened in Montana.”

Another teacher takes her kids on a field trip to a buffalo jump after studying the topic. [Place based learning is the best--and we've got several buffalo jumps to choose from, including 
First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, near Great Falls (Related IEFA lesson plans are available), Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, near Three Forks (Related IEFA lesson plans are available), and Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump, near Havre.]

K-2 Bainville teacher April Wills does book studies using “Shep and B is for Big Sky.” And, she wrote, “I also really enjoy doing a large Montana history project that ends with a technology piece attached. Usually an iMovie however, we collaborate with high school students for research and putting together the final project.”

Another teacher does a very in depth, 2-month persuasive writing unit on Native Boarding Schools with her 3-5 grade class.

Laura Dukart from Wibaux recommends “Mapping Montana: A to Z,” as did another anonymous teacher.

A librarian recommended "Jim Thorpe for IEFA." [I assume she used the OPI Indian Education Division's Model Teaching Unit.]
Ashlie Fleming, 3-5 teacher at Edgerton Elementary in Kalispell, wrote: “IEFA Heritage Day: I planned a school wide event with 2 of my teaching partners. Each grade level received a reservation in Montana and we planned lessons for each of the 7 reservations. The students then rotated through all 7 classes."

Another teacher uses holidays: "I teach an IEFA Columbus Day and Thanksgiving Day IEFA lesson to our 4th -6th graders that deals with historical inaccuracies and common misconceptions." [Not sure what she uses, but here are some ideas for Columbus Day and some resources to teach about Thanksgiving from Project Archaeology.]

Fourth-fifth grade teacher at Broadwater School in Helena Jodi Delaney's favorite lessons this year related to American history rather than Montana history (because she teaches Montana history every other year), but her recommendation was still worth sharing: “I asked my students what was their favorite lesson(s) and the overwhelming answer was the historical simulations we did (Early Explorers, Revolutionary War, Trail of Tears, Civil War, etc.)  I really like using the Explorers simulation to get at many of the ideas from that time period without getting into 'hero-fication' of the famous explorers.  I have purchased pre-made simulations from Scholastic, and make my own too.  I highly suggest buying the Scholastic ones as they are very easy to use and have everything to you.  I add more information of my own, but the bare bones version works just fine too.” [What do you think? Should we make these for some Montana history topics?]   

Another teacher enjoyed teaching about Henry Plummer and the Vigilantes/gold rushes. She wrote: "We had a great visit from Ellen Baumler-the kids loved her ghostly visit." [You may be able to get Ellen to come to your classroom too--through Humanities Montana's Speakers in the Schools.]

It's not too late--if you have a great lesson you'd like to tell teachers about, send it along

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