Monday, November 7, 2016

Teaching Montana History Online PLC

A few posts ago, I shared information about a new primary source analysis tool I discovered: Evidence Analysis Window Frames. This was old news to those of you who are participating in the Teaching Montana History Online  PLC, since I discussed these and other free tools teachers can use to improve their students' research, analysis, and close reading skills during our October meeting.
We're producing the Online PLC in cooperation with our friends over at OPI, so to view the course curriculum, or participate, you'll need to register at the Teacher Learning Hub--but that is quick, painless and free. 
We meet on the second Monday of the month from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. but you can watch the recorded videos and participate in the discussion forums at any time. For each time you participate by attending the live session or watching the video, and completing the required activities, OPI will provide you with one renewal unit.   
At September's meeting, we focused on the big picture--what content we wanted students to take away from their Montana history class. Since we spent most of that meeting writing and commenting on a Google Doc, I don't think the video is worth watching. But the Google Doc discussion and the entries in the post-discussion forum are definitely worth reading. For example, Hot Springs teacher Robin Miller shared sources I'd never seen, including  fur trader Robert Campbell's 1830 description of the role of dogs in an Assiniboine camp. 
October's meeting focused on the SKILLS we wanted students to learn. This time, I asked participants to answer the "write your way in" question ("What skills do you want your students to gain from this course?") in advance and then spent most of the meeting sharing tools that matched their goals (including the Evidence Analysis Window Frames as well as many free tools and methods.) The recording of the October meeting is rich in ideas, and the place I'd start if I were joining the course.
At our November 14 meeting, we'll focus on reading strategies. Some middle school teachers have told me that some of their students find the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook too hard--but others have reported great success using the textbook. I'm hoping those participating will share the reading strategies they use to make the textbook accessible and Christy Mock-Sturtz, OPI's English Language Arts/Literacy Specialist and former sixth grade teacher, will also be on hand to share her favorite strategies.  
Even if you can't join us live on November 14, if you have questions about (or suggestions for) ways to help students use the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook, I hope you'll take five minutes to let us know how you use the textbook in your class and what reading strategies (if any) you use to help students get the information they need, by recording your response in our class Google Doc. Christy will use your comments to shape her presentation.

This online course is an experiment, and we're shaping it as we go. So if you have suggestions for how to make it more useful, always feel free to email me.

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