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Monday, November 14, 2016

Feedback, Feedback, We Love Feedback--Part 2


A few posts ago, I responded to questions we received as part of our annual year-end survey.  Below are more of your comments--and my responses, divided into categories (in bold).

Hands-on History Footlockers: Readers reported problems with scheduling and costs--and a desire to know more about the footlockers.
  • While we don't charge a rental fee, we do ask schools to pay to ship footlockers to the next venue. This averages about $40. Some districts save money by scheduling back-to-back reservations--so several teachers in the district can use the same trunk while the district or school pays only one shipping fee. For smaller districts, this takes more coordination, but if you know of a teacher in an adjacent district who is also interested in using the footlockers, consider combining your reservations, so you can drive the footlocker from one place to another and then split the actual shipping costs. You might also be able to work with your curriculum consortium to help facilitate this type of coordination.
  • All of the footlocker user guides are online. That means you can download and preview the lessons. Many of the lessons can be taught without ordering the footlockers, including one of my favorite lesson plans "Muffin Mining Reclamation" (see Lesson 4 in the "Gold, Silver, and Coal, Oh My" Footlocker.) As we revamp the footlockers, we are also posting PowerPoints will all the images we use in the lessons online, providing another good source for historical images. In addition we are noting in the Table of Contents which lesson plans can be done without ordering the footlockers. For examples of this, see "Coming to Montana: Immigrants from around the World" and our newest offering: "The Original Governor's Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times."
Remember the libraries! Several librarians wrote in to ask that we encourage classroom teachers (and their students) to use their school libraries--and the expertise of their school librarians: 
"We are 'blending' with technology, but still need lessons that remind us to  include the traditional texts - magazine references - non electric tools."
"If some can be something directed to the library it would be great. I have found that students (when I was in regular ed) do not even know the history of the area around them let alone the state, but I would love to do more in the library with it."
All I can say in response to these comments is YES. I believe that all students (4-12, anyway) should conduct research projects and that librarians are great resources! One program that almost demands that students work with their school or community library is National History Day. (BTW: If you are a 6-12 teacher and are looking for a good way to meet Common Core standards and engage students in independent research, I strongly recommend you look at the National History Day program, discussed in more detail here.)

Finally, I received this note about the first Feedback post from Denise Rutledge from the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind: "I'm glad you mentioned Learning Ally in your email. I work with students who are blind and visually impaired, and Learning Ally is a wonderful tool for those with vision needs to listen to their material. It is also great for those who are below grade level in reading, may have dyslexia, or overall just fatigue while reading. Another great resource for any other students across the state with students with visual impairments, is BookShare. It is a free service for those with documented visual impairments, in which they can access digital downloads of many books. BookShare includes far more textbooks than Learning Ally (and also has our Montanan... book). Books can be accessed on computers, or they can be downloaded to apps like Read2Go.  The Read2Go app allows my students to increase their font size, alter their contrasts, listen to it in auditory, or pair their iPads with a refreshable braille display to read the text of Montana: Stories of the Land in a braille format. Thanks again for mentioning our special learners and how to adapt curriculum to meet their needs!"

I love having your questions and concerns guide this list, so if there are any other topics I haven't addressed, or concerns you have, please drop me a line.

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