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Monday, October 31, 2016

Two Lessons on Voting and Civic Engagement

Since election day is fast approaching, I thought I'd feature two lesson plans that have to do with voting, both created by Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris.

The first is Hazel Hunkins: Billings Suffragist (designed for grades 7 -12). I already bragged about this lesson earlier this year so I'll be brief: "the 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." It is primary-source rich and reinforces National Woman's Party leader Alice Paul's view of social change. Paul wrote: "I always feel....the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end." Hazel Hunkins certainly added her little stone to the great mosaic. (We have free hard copies of this lesson available while supplies last. Email MHSEducation@mt.gov to request your copy.)

The second lesson is Montana’s State Flower: A Lesson in Civic Engagement (designed for 4-7). This seven-period unit asks students to organize an election for class flower, engaging them in the electoral process. The lesson integrates science and history while providing students an opportunity to develop research skills, explore historical newspapers and practice such Common Core skills as close reading of complex texts and persuasive writing.

Interestingly, Ruth reports that her students did NOT select the bitterroot as their choice for state flower. We surmised that had eastern Montana been as developed as western Montana in 1894, voters would have chosen a different flower as our state symbol.

And speaking of civics, I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage all of you to VOTE. "Of the people, for the people, by the people" only works if we the people participate.

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