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.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

More Reading for Winter Break

Earlier this week I provided links to the most popular Teaching Montana History posts, in case you missed them. Today, I give you "The Best Ten Social Studies Sites of All Time," according to HistoryTech's Glenn Wiebe.

Check out his blog post and then email me any sites you think he missed, so I can share them with everyone.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Reading for Winter Break

Who has time to read all of the blog posts that show up in your inbox? I know I don't. So I thought that some of you might appreciate a roundup of the most popular Teaching Montana History posts of 2017, to peruse over break, in between showings of "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

If these posts don't strike your fancy but you still want to troll Teaching Montana History for new ideas, lesson plans, or resources, I suggest visiting the website and scrolling down until you see "Labels" on the righthand side of the page. Then simply click on what interests you--art, contemporary Montana, elementaryIEFA, teaching strategies. ... You get the idea. (I haven't been entirely consistent in how I've tagged entries over the last seven (!) years, but the tags make a good starting point for exploration.)

p.s. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy 2018! I'm taking the week off, but the genie in the computer is hard at work. Hence this email.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Visible Thinking Routines

Last Monday I wrote about Question Starts, a "thinking routine" that I learned about from the folks at Project Zero's Visible Thinking website. I was really impressed by their overall approach and many of the other routines they detail.

The best way to learn more about Visible Thinking is to go to their website (which includes examples of techniques being put into practice in K-5 classrooms), but I decided to offer a teaser to convince you to click through.

According to their website, "Visual Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students' intellectual development at the same time." It is a product of sustained research in which the creators found that "skills and abilities are not enough."
Often, we found, children (and adults) think in shallow ways not for lack of ability to think more deeply but because they simply do not notice the opportunity or do not care. To put it all together, we say that really good thinking involves abilities, attitudes, and alertness, all three at once. 
They believe that "making students' thinking visible to themselves" can help students learn to "manage it better for learning and other purposes."

I was particularly taken with the site's specific "Thinking Routine" suggestions. As the authors explain, just as it is helpful to have routines to manage behavior, it is useful to have routines to encourage thinking.

According to their site, each routine that they recommend:
  • Is goal oriented in that it targets specific types of thinking
  • Gets used over and over again in the classroom
  • Consists of only a few steps
  • Is easy to learn and teach
  • Is easy to support when students are engaged in the routine
  • Can be used across a variety of context
  • Can be used by the group or by the individual.
I'm sure you are already using some of the strategies that they suggest you make into "routines." (They explain that the difference between a strategy and a routine is that a routine is a structure used repeatedly so as to become part of the classroom culture and "the ways in which students go about the process of learning.") I know I have.  "What Makes You Say That" is very much part of Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique we feature in many lessons and I've detailed in other posts. And "Think, Pair, Share" is an oldie but goodie.

But there were some strategies/routines that were new to me, others that I had been introduced to but had never used, and still others that provided a slightly different take on a strategy I have found particularly useful. I was particularly enamored with
Two of them I'd seen in other contexts:  
  • Arlee high school teacher Anna Baldwin introduced me to "I used to think, Now I think," when she led a workshop activity on homesteading and allotment on the Flathead Reservation using a simple graphic organizer called a Four Square. The four squares were labeled: "At first I think," "Now I think," "And now I think," and "Finally." She provided us with four different documents, including short pieces of text, images, and maps, one at a time, giving us time to reflect after examining each one, about to document how the new evidence changed our thinking on the topic. She detailed the technique in her video Inside Anna's Classroom and the accompanying study guide.
  • Project Archaeology introduced me to "Circle of Viewpoints" through their 8-12 lesson plan "Investigating the First Peoples, the Clovis Child Burial," in which they ask students to take on various roles (archaeologist, traditional tribal elder, etc.) and together to wrestle with the question of reburying the 12,5000-year-old Clovis child and the artifacts found in his grave.
The third seemed incredibly obvious (writing headlines)--after I read about it.

Go check out the site and let me know which of the routines they feature have worked for you, which ones you've tried unsuccessfully, or which ones you'd like to try. Note that both Anna Baldwin and Project Archaeology used these strategies in high school lessons, but much of the focus of the Project Zero Visible Thinking website is K-5. Do you have grade level recommendations for any of the Visible Thinking routines, or do you think (as Project Zero seems to) that they work across all grades? Are there any routines you would particularly recommend? Let me know and I'll share out.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Teaching Students to Ask Good Questions

Asking good questions is hard for students.

I discovered this for myself when I went into an eleventh-grade classroom to help students working on National History Day research papers formulate research questions. Because I'd always rather "borrow" than reinvent the wheel,  I took inspiration from John Schmidt and Jeff Treppa (authors of The Research Paper: Developing Historical Questions), and I brought in handouts they created: Guidelines for Forming Historical Questions and Practice: Developing a Historical Question. And the kids *really* struggled.

I've written before about K-12 appropriate techniques to work this skill including Question Cubes and the Question Formulation Technique. I recently came across another one, one of the many interesting "Visible Thinking Routines" featured on Project Zero's website. It's called Question StartsA Routine for Creating Thought-provoking Questions. Like most good routines, it is deceptively simple. Visit the Project Zero website to get all the details, but in brief, here's how it works: 

1. Brainstorm a list of at least 12 questions about the topic, concept or object. Use these question-starts to help you think of interesting questions:
  • Why…? How would it be different if…?
  • What are the reasons...? Suppose that…?
  • What if…? What if we knew…?
  • What is the purpose of…? What would change if…?
2. Review the brainstormed list and star the questions that seem most
interesting. Then, select one or more of the starred questions to discuss
for a few moments.

3. Reflect: What new ideas do you have about the topic, concept or object
that you didn’t have before?

Do you actively teach asking good questions in your classroom? Why and how? Or why not? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Testing, Testing...

Deb Mitchell and I have been working hard, revamping the footlocker "Treasure Chest: A Look at the Montana State Symbols" and are looking for fourth-grade teachers to test the new lessons we've written. 

If you are interested, let me know by email which lesson you are interested in testing. Below are brief descriptions of the lessons and estimates of how long they will take. (Note: timing is one of the things we won't know until after these lessons are classroom-tested--so take the estimates with a grain or two of salt.)

"Treasure Chest" is just one of twenty-two different hands-on history footlockers we send to schools. Our footlockers are among our most popular educational resources. Designed for fourth grade—but used successfully in both lower elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms—these thematic "traveling trunks" focus on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the fur-trading and mining industries, to Indian life during the reservation period and today. The only cost associated with using this resource is the cost of shipping the footlocker on to the next school. (This varies by weight and distance but usually averages around $30.) Learn more about the footlocker program here. 

Teachers think our footlockers are an incredibly valuable resource, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't be updated and made even more valuable. Which brings us back to Treasure Chest! Here are the new lessons that need to be tested. If you teach fourth grade and would like to test one of these in your classroom during the spring semester, please let me know.

Lesson 1: I Have, Who Has… (30 minutes)*
Students will gain a quick introduction to Montana’s state symbols by playing “I have, who has.”
Lesson 3: State Seal and Flag (two 50-minute class periods)*
Students will learn about Montana’s state seal and flag by reading an article. They will learn about principles of flag design. They will think about how they would symbolize the essence of Montana by designing their own versions of the flag and writing about their process.
Lesson 4: Montana’s State Songs (two 50-minute class periods)*
Students will learn to sing the state song, listen to the state lullaby and state ballad and then write their own song celebrating Montana.
Lesson 5: Montana’s State Animal (two to three 50-minute class periods)*

Students will learn to identify grizzly bears and how to be safe around all bears. They will learn how the grizzly became our state symbol. They also read short pieces that reveal two historical figures’ attitudes toward grizzlies: Chief Plenty Coups and Captain Meriwether Lewis and, after reading, contrast their perspectives. Finally, they write informally about whether they agree that grizzlies are the best state animal for Montana. 
Lesson 7: Gift of the Bitterroot (one to two 50-minute class periods)*
Students will listen to a traditional story, learn about the importance of bitterroot to the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people historically and today and create a Venn diagram comparing past and present.
Lesson 8: The Montana State Fossil (one to two 50-minute class periods).**
Students will learn what life was like for some of the Montana dinosaurs that lived 80 million years ago and 65 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period, by listening to the book Maia: A Dinosaur Grows Up. They will learn about comparative morphology by comparing their own bodies to the body of a Maiasaura. 
Lesson 9: Learning about Sapphires (one 50-minute class period)***
Students will read and share information about Montana sapphires with their classmates, complete a KWL chart on sapphires, and learn more about sapphires through a PowerPoint and the sapphire exhibit included in the footlocker.
Lesson 10: Creating a Museum of Montana Symbols (three-five 50-minute class periods)***

Students will use the artifacts images from the footlocker to create a classroom museum. They will write interpretive labels and then invite other classes and/or parents and community members to view their displays.
*These lessons are ready to test anytime after January 3.
**This lesson is ready to test anytime after January 3, but you must have access to the book Maia: A Dinosaur Grows Up. (Check your library.)
***This lesson needs to be tested by a class in Helena or within a short drive. It will be ready to test in March (fingers crossed.)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Is it too early to start dreaming of summer?

National Geographic has launched a new interactive geography education program: The Geo-Inquiry Process. Last school year, Montana Geographic Alliance (MGA) sent two of their alliance members – James Sigl and Jon Milligan – to the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to learn how to implement the Geo-Inquiry process in their classrooms. To learn more about the Geo-Inquiry process, click here.

During this upcoming summer 2018, MGA will offer a Geo-Inquiry Institute to Montana middle school teachers. MGA is partnering with UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station at Yellow Bay to implement the institute from June 20-22, 2018 at the BioStation. MGA will cover the costs of lodging, food, and travel stipends, as well as unique interactive and engaging science-based activities. Teachers can earn OPI renewal units through their participation in this institute. We will also take teachers on a scenic boat ride on Flathead Lake.
MGA is actively recruiting teachers to participate in this institute. To participate, you must meet the following guidelines: (1) Apply as a pair of middle school teachers from the same school; (2) One teacher must be a media/technology educator, and; (3) One science/social studies educator.
If you are part of a teacher pair that is interested in attending this institute, please fill out this form.

I am not typically jealous of middle-school teachers because, frankly, I'm a bit intimidated by middle-school students, but today I am. Just for today, I wish I were a middle-school classroom teacher so I could attend this institute!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

IEFA Online Book Club Course

I spent Tuesday previewing the responses to our survey on how Montana history is taught in your district. The information is extremely helpful and will shape what we do. If you haven't yet contributed your thoughts, I hope you will find a moment to do so now. 

In answer to the question "what trainings would you find useful," many of you expressed a desire for more IEFA trainings; others of you requested more courses for which you could earn graduate credit. 

"Montana Tribal Histories," the online Moodle book club course, offered by WMPLC/RESA Region V, meets both these needs. The course will explore the Montana Tribal Histories Educators' Resource Guide developed by Julie Cajune and The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All by Tammy Elser.  Here are the details:
  •  Registration fee: $155
  • Dates: January 8-March 4, 2018
  • Format: The course is divided into weekly modules, and participants will have a week to complete each consecutive module. The course will also include weekly live chat sessions.
  • Credit: 30 OPI Renewal Units or 2 Semester Credits (semester credit is offered through the University of Montana and is an additional fee of $155. The course instructor will provide a separate registration form and instructions for submitting payment)
For more information, visit https://www.wmplc.org/iefa-montana-tribal-histories-1818.htmlTo register, click https://goo.gl/forms/l1wBlRrASiRUbslR2

Another great opportunity to learn more about IEFA is OPI's IEFA Best Practices Conference, which will be held March 4-6, 2018, at Carroll College in Helena. (No graduate credits for this one, though).

Monday, December 4, 2017

Do You Know an IEFA Champion?

Do you know an educator who has gone above and beyond in promoting and supporting Indian Education for All? Consider nominating him or her for 7th Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All.

Begin the nomination process by opening the  ADVOCACY AWARD NOMINATION by clicking here

All nominations INCLUDING supporting documentation must be received by WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2018 at NOON.

Here's a little more information: 

The Indian Education Division at the Office of Public Instruction is soliciting nominations for an important opportunity – the 7th Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All, in honor of one of Montana’s finest educators, Teresa Veltkamp. Teresa was a classroom teacher and Indian Education Specialist at the Office of Public Instruction who was passionate and inspirational in her efforts to ensure and support the highest levels of implementation of Indian Education for All in Montana.

Please give consideration to this opportunity to acknowledge and honor an outstanding educator’s efforts in the promotion of and steadfast support for Indian Education for All. The nominee should be an exceptionally skillful, dedicated teacher who has earned the respect of students and colleagues.

The award will be presented during the 12th Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference Welcoming, Monday, March 5, 2018, at Carroll College, Helena.

By the way: registration for the IEFA Best Practices Conference is now open. I always learn a tremendous amount at this conference. The conference will be held March 4-6, 2018, at Carroll College in Helena. The cost is $20 for Sunday Mini-Institutes only, $40 for Monday and Tuesday conference only, or $60 for all three days. You can register here. Contact Jennifer Stadum at (406) 444-0725 or Joan Franke at (406) 444-3694 if you have any questions.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Reasons to Love the Stanford History Education Group: Civic Reasoning

I'm a bit of a Stanford History Education Group groupie, so you can imagine how delighted I was to learn that they have now added a series of lessons and assessments designed to help students get better at critically evaluating online information. Their new site, "Civic Reasoning Online," provides a series of assessments that measure students' "ability to judge the credibility of the information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.... These assessments show students online content—a webpage, a conversation on Facebook, or the comment section of a news article—and ask them to reason about that content." It tests what it calls Civic Online Reasoning's Core Competencies, which involve being able to evaluate the validity of information based on the following three questions: "who's behind the information?" "what's the evidence?" and "what do other sources say?"  It includes exercises in evaluating Wikipedia, claims on YourTube, Twitter and forms of social media, as well as evaluating website reliability.

You have to register to access the information, but registration is free, and they don't bombard you with emails.

The site joins their other excellent offerings: 

  • Beyond the Bubble, 80 "easy-to-use assessments that measure students' historical thinking rather than recall of facts." 

  • the Reading Like a Historian curriculum, which "engages students in historical inquiry" with lessons that revolve "around a central historical question" and incorporate primary sources. It "teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence."

Reading Like a Historian has 91 U.S. History and 41 World History units. If there's a topic they don't cover, you might consider using the SHEG model to create your own. Glenn Wiebe breaks down how.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Native Knowledge 360

Have you heard about Native Knowledge 360? It's the "National Museum of American Indian's national initiative to inspire and promote improvement of teaching and learning about American Indians."

Montanans: Be proud! They looked at our IEFA and Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians as a model as they sought to create a national project. Instead of seven Essential Understandings, they have ten, based on the National Council for Social Studies ten themes:

  1. American Indian Cultures: "Culture is a result of human socialization. People acquire knowledge and values by interacting with other people through common language, place, and community. In the Americas, there is vast cultural diversity among more than 2,000 tribal groups."
  2. Time, continuity and change: "...To understand the history and cultures of the Americas requires understanding American Indian history from Indian perspectives."
  3. People, places, and environments: "For thousands of years, indigenous people have studied, managed, honored, and thrived in their homelands. These foundations continue to influence American Indian relationships and interactions with the land today."
  4. Individual development and identity: "American Indian individual development and identity is tied to culture and the forces that have influenced and changed culture over time."
  5. Individuals, groups, and institutions: "American Indians have always operated and interacted within self-defined social structures that include institutions, societies, and organizations, each with specific functions. These social structures have shaped the lives and histories of American Indians through the present day."
  6. Power, authority, and governance: "American Indians devised and have always lived under a variety of complex systems of government. ... Tribes today still govern their own affairs and maintain a government-to-government relationship with the United States and other governments."
  7. Production, distribution, and consumption: "American Indians developed a variety of economic systems that reflected their cultures and managed their relationships with others. ... Today, American Indian tribes and individuals are active in economic enterprises that involve production and distribution.
  8. Science, technology, and society: "American Indian knowledge resides in languages, cultural practices, and teaching that spans many generations. This knowledge is based on long-term observation, experimentation, and experience with the living earth. ... When applied to contemporary global challenges, Native knowledge contributes to dynamic and innovative solutions.
  9. Global connections: "American Indians have always engaged in the world beyond the immediacy of their own communities. For millennia, indigenous people of North America exchanged and traded ideas, goods, technologies, and arts ... American Indian foods, technologies, wealth, and labor contributed to the development of the modern world."
  10. Civic ideals and practices: "Ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship have always been part of American Indian societies. ... American Indians today may be citizens of their tribal nations, the states they live in, and the United States."
The site also has lesson plans and other teaching materials. And you can search keyword or filter by subject, nation, grade level, language (English and Spanish), region, and format (digital lesson, teacher guide, teaching poster, website, videos).

For example, I searched for fourth grade material and found 10 results, including a teaching poster ("A Life in Beads: The Stories a Plains Dress Can Tell,") a website ("Living Maya Time"),  and a teacher's guide ("Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Native American Dolls").

I did a second search by region (Plains and Plateau) and came up with 4 results: 

  • a website for grades 6-12--"Native Words/Native Warriors," which "tells the stories of American Indian WWI and WWII 'code talkers. (This would be great to use with the novel Code-Talker)
  • a website for grades 4-5--"Culture Quest," which 'helps students explore 25 masterworks of art from the Infinity of Nations exhibition"
  • a teaching poster for grades 4-8--"Lone Dog's Winter Count," which helps students "learn about the history-keeping methods of the Nakota people of the Northern Plains," and again 
  • "A Life in Beads."

I encourage you to explore the website, or read more about it in this "Teaching Tolerance" article.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice

The documentary film, 100 Years, tells "the story of Elouise Cobell and her thirty-year fight for justice for over 300,000 Native Americans whose mineral-rich lands were grossly mismanaged by the US Government for over a century."

Elouise Cobell's story is a Montana story (Cobell is Blackfeet and was tribal treasurer when she began investigating the Department of Interior's history of fraud and corruption. But Cobell's story is more than a Montana story--it is an American story--the story of a woman who sued the federal government and won the largest settlement in U.S. history.

100 Years is a remarkable documentary. I'm not a huge fan of showing movies in class--but this 75-minute film is worth the time: in US history classes and especially in government classes (I know it has been shown with great success in a world cultures class as well.)

The Montana Office of Public Instruction's Indian Education Division has created a 3-5 day model teaching unit to use with the film. It breaks the film into ten different chapters (approximately 10 minutes each) and provides comprehension and higher level thinking questions for each as well as background information and writing prompts to use as summative assessments. That model teaching unit is available online. OPI also donated copies of the teaching unit and a DVD of the film to every public high school library in the state. The film is also available for purchase.   

You can find more lesson plans about allotment and trust lands, as well as many other topics relating to Indian lands, on Lessons of Our Land,  a website created by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Monday, November 20, 2017

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Thanks to the hard work of my colleague, Natasha Hollenbach, the Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce that new content is available to search and browse on the web site MONTANA NEWSPAPERS

The following newspapers have been added.

These new additions put Montana Newspapers at over half a million searchable pages. The titles join issues from 71 other newspapers (1883-2015) at Montana Newspapers AND an additional 257,000 pages from 59 Montana newspapers (1864-1922), which can be found on Chronicling America

Both Chronicling America and Montana Newspapers are freely accessible to all Internet users; no subscriptions or fees are required. 

Intrigued? Here's a map of all of the Montana newspapers that have been digitized. Here's the portal for both collections.  And here are some suggestions for using the digitized newspaper collections in your classroom. 

My coworker Zoe Ann Stoltz is fond of saying that newspapers are the closest thing we have to a time machine. I encourage you (and your students) to board your Tardis, strap on your seatbelt, and take a trip back in time--to Lewistown on September 6, 1917, Dillon on December 8, 1941, or to another place and date of your choosing.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Does Your District Teach Montana History?

With the help of the Montana Council on Social Studies and the Montana Council for History and Civics Education, we're collecting data on how, when, and for how long Montana history is taught in K-12 classrooms. The more information we receive from districts across the state, the more useful the results will be.

Please help us out by
  1. Taking this short survey.
  2. Asking your curriculum coordinator and/or district superintendent to take the survey.
The survey has some questions best answered by classroom teachers and other questions best answered by administrators, who have a birds-eye view. So responses from both teachers and administrators are vital.  

I know life is extremely busy, but I'd really appreciate your help.

Questions? Don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Children's Books by and about American Indians

Are you interested in expanding your library of picture books by and about American Indians? This recent post, "#IndigenousReads by Indigenous Writers: A Children’s Reading List," from EmbraceRace.org offers suggestions featuring authors and illustrators from tribes across the US and Canada.  

You can find more book recommendations, from board books to books appropriate for high school students, on the American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) website. The site also includes links to book reviews and critical reflections on ways indigenous peoples are portrayed in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.

As you make decisions on what to assign and/or buy for your library, I also encourage you to look at Evaluating American Indian Materials and Resources for the Classroom, published by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. 

Some of you may also find this post from last November useful: "Teaching Indian Literature and/or Literature about Indians." (Among other things, it features many of OPI's Model Teaching Units. I just updated the links to reflect their new website design.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Speaking of Conflict and Compromise...

If your school district isn't engaging in National History Day in at least one 6-12 history class, I think you should think again, especially since the folks running NHD have made it easier than ever to participate this year.

National History Day is at the most basic level a "science fair for history students." The project-based, standards-aligned curriculum that has students grade 6-12 investigate a historical topic related to the annual theme, by conducting primary and secondary research. After they have worked to analyze and interpret their sources, and have drawn a conclusion about the significance of their topics, students participate in a contest, where they present their work in one of five ways: as a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary, or a website. (You can narrow topic options and project options to fit your curriculum.) 

This year the theme is Conflict and Compromise in History. Students can choose any topic that fits this theme from any period of time or place. We, of course, think they should choose a Montana topic. And there are a lot of them! How about a project on the 1896 anti-Chinese Boycott in Butte? Or on Elouise Cobell: The Blackfeet Banker Who Took on the Federal Government? Or on Montana's World War II Conscientious Objector Camps? We've compiled preliminary bibliographies on these and other Montana topics to get your students started. We are also sponsoring a $1,000 travel scholarship, to be awarded to the creator or creators of the best Montana history project that is eligible to advance to the national contest. This is in addition to the $500 cash award for best use of digital newspapers in any project on any topic. (More information on both prizes here.)

Obviously, schools can use the NHD curriculum without having their students compete. But competition can be a great motivator and many students love it. (I recommend assigning the entire class the research project, allowing the competition to be an option.) This year, Montana NHD is sponsoring TWO regional contests before the April 7 Bozeman state contest: one in Missoula (March 3) and one in Billings (March 10). All students are encouraged (but not required) to bring their project to a regional contest to get feedback before coming to state. 

The opportunity for revision is one of my favorite things about NHD. I also love how it gets students researching, thinking, and writing like historians. I like the fact that, within parameters set by their teachers, students get to choose topics that interest them. Finally, I like that this long-standing program offers a considerable number of resources to support teachers integrating what is, in essence, a major research project into their curriculum. In addition to these online resources, Montana's NHD coordinator Michael Herdina is happy to walk you through the process. And, if your students are researching a Montana history project, I'm happy to provide guidance as well.  Intrigued but need more details? Drop Michael an email--he's happy to help.

P.S. Don't forget to check out our Veterans Day resources.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Conflict and Compromise....

In its recent post, "Timely Connections: Slavery & Compromise," TPS Barat saw a teachable moment in White House chief of staff John Kelly's recent statement that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War” and "firestorm of impassioned responses" that ensued. They gathered contemporary articles, background material, and primary sources, to allow classes "to put the pieces of the story together" for themselves. If this topic interests you at all, I highly recommend that you click through to their post.

This may not seem closely tied to Montana history--except as Montana is tied to the rest of the nation. And for the fact that until this August, Helena had what was thought to be the northernmost Confederate Memorial in the United States. On August 16, the Helena City Commission decided to remove the Confederate Fountain from Helena's Women's Park. Two days later, the fountain had been taken down.

Interested in pursuing that Montana tie-in? Add these articles about the Confederate Fountain to the information gathered by TPS Barat, seeing especially: "Those who've studied Confederate fountain's history weigh in on removal plans," Helena Independent Record, August 17, 2017, and "Text of revised language for Confederate fountain signage," Helena Independent Record, January 21, 2016.

This might be a good opportunity for a simulation, with some students playing City Council members and others being proponents and opponents for council removal. We created a similar simulation some time ago focused on coal and coalbed methane mining on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. If you use it, you might want to find a few more up to date readings for the students, but I think it remains a worthwhile lesson. You can find it here.

P.S. Conflict and Compromise in History happens to be this year's National History Day theme. I'll be posting more on National History Day soon.

P.P.S. Anna Baldwin of Arlee High School sent this excellent idea to deepen RAFT assignments in response to "More Teaching Strategies," published last week: "Extension: after students have become comfortable with RAFTs written by teachers, ask students to write the RAFT assignment for each other. In other words, they come up with the R A F T. Doing this asks them to think about the pieces of the story more deeply, especially around perspective and topical importance."

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Native American Heritage Month Resources

While I firmly believe that EVERY MONTH is Native American Heritage Month, that title is officially designated for November, making this an excellent time to share some Indian Education for All resources that have piqued my interest.


Lessons for Our Land are lessons designed by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation for Pre-K through 12th grade to help "teachers to incorporate Native American stories, lessons and games into regular classroom instruction." The site has over a hundred lessons that touch on tribes in all parts of the United States. Montana-associated lessons include lessons on natural resources on Montana Indian Reservations, calendars and seasonal rounds (exploring month names from four Montana tribes and interpreting them to describe seasonal activities), allotment, fractionalization, and more. I haven't looked at all of them (there are a LOT), but the ones I've examined look really good.

As always, I invite you to check out the IEFA Lesson Plans the Montana Historical Society has created over the years. Among my favorites are "Blood on the Marias: Understanding Different Points of View Related to the Baker Massacre of 1870" (grades 7-12), the cross-curricular art-based material included in The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives (K-12), and our newest IEFA offering, "Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark" virtual tour and activities (grades 4-8).


One of our most popular hands-on history footlockers (especially for lower elementary students) is the Montana Indian Stories Lit Kit, which includes puppets and class sets of stories collected for the Indian Reading Series (1972) and reprinted by the Montana Historical Society Press. There are MANY more stories than those in the footlocker: From 1972 to 1983 the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory Indian Reading & Language Development Program produced 140 culturally relevant stories written by local Indian authors and illustrated by Indian artists, and all of them are available for download. A few years ago, Rob and Halladay Quist put several of the stories to music. You can find the song lyrics here and hear the songs (and watch Mariah Gladstone sign them using Indian sign language) on YouTube.

High School

Using Primary Source Documents to Understand Tribal Sovereignty is a high school American History, Government and ELA lesson plan created by Jolena Hinchman and Katie Hurin that asks students to read U.S. Supreme Court cases, speeches, letters, and other documents "to examine the historical foundation of the relationship between the US government and Indian tribes" and "to determine how tribal sovereignty has persisted or has diminished over time."
Wind from an Enemy Sky: Historical Fiction and Current Events surrounding the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Kerr Dam is an OPI Indian Education model teaching unit for 10th-12th grade that uses D'Arcy McNickle's historical fiction novel Wind from an Enemy Sky, as an anchor text for both studying the novel and examining issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, allotment, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' history. (Note: A copy of the novel was distributed by the OPI to all Montana public high school libraries in 2013. A class set of 15 novels is available for loan by contacting Joan Franke at 406-444-3694 or jfranke@mt.gov.

The Power of Place: Place-Based Approaches to Researching Indigenous Montana Histories is a model student research project created by Casey Olsen of Columbus. Intended to provide teachers with flexible guidance through the challenging and rewarding process of researching local histories and landscapes with their students,  "The Power of Place" is not a cookie-cutter project. Rather, Casey describes his experience in leading students in a place-based research project, shares resources that he created (for example, his Research Graphic Organizer), and tips (find community partners, look to your local museum, engage tribal cultural experts, among others.) He also shares one of the final projects his students created: a driving tour of Stillwater County.

Resilience: Stories of Twenty Indian Women is a fifty-six-page booklet (which can be downloaded from OPI) featuring short essays on over twenty Montana Indian women, including warriors, bankers, politicians, beaders, language preservationists, community organizers, traditionalists and embracers of modernity. The booklet features essays written for our Women's History Matters project and are also available and work well with two of our Women's History Matters lesson plans: Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes Lesson Plan (grades 8-12) and Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan (grades 4-6). 

And, of course, let me know your favorite best IEFA lessons to teach--during November or any time of year.

Monday, October 30, 2017

More Teaching Strategies (mostly, but not exclusively, middle and high school)

Last week I featured interesting teaching strategies I'd culled from the various blogs I read. In response, I got a nice note from retired teacher Sue Dailey, who wrote to remind me about RAFT. RAFT is a strategy that I highlighted last year in two posts: "RAFT Writing and World War I" and "More on RAFT Assignments." RAFT has mostly been used by ELA teachers, but it is great for history teachers too, and the products are more fun to grade than your standard essay. 

RAFT stands for Role (who are you as a writer), Audience (who are you writing to), Format (are you writing a letter, diary entry), and Topic. It is extremely flexible: you are a drought-stricken farmer in the 1920s (role) writing to the governor (audience) in a letter (format), telling him of your condition and to asking for help (topic). Or you are a young person in the eastern United States (role) writing to Lewis and Clark (audience) in a letter (format), applying to become a member of the Corps of Discovery (topic.) You can read more and find more sample RAFT assignments here.

RAFT works in classrooms from upper elementary to high school. 

Here are some other middle and high school strategies (and tools) that seemed worth exploring, all from the remarkable Glenn Wiebe: 

The first is NowComment, a free "cloud-based collaboration tool for discussing and annotating online documents." Glenn describes it in his blog post "NowComment: Easy, powerful, and collaborative evidence analysis." 

The second is having students work with hexagons, which Glenn highlights in his blog post It puts kids to sleep. And just so ya know . . . that’s a bad thing. (Plus 18 ways to make it better). That post features a number of ways to engage students besides lecturing (18 in fact). I mentioned  "Word Sorts" and "Crop It" in my last teaching strategies post, but using Hexagons seemed to me to be better suited for middle and high school students, so I saved it for this post. From Glenn's blog:
"The basic idea is that students are given a set of laminated hexagons and asked to write key words or phrases from a specific topic on them using dry erase markers. You can also create hexagons with words or phrases already on them. Students then link together related hexagons and be prepared to explain why they arranged the hexagons the way they did. 
"Why hexagons? Because they’ve got six sides and when you give a pile of them to kids, they immediately start fitting them together and making connections. This makes relationships much more visible to your students. You also can see how kids are thinking as they are thinking, providing important formative feedback."
And, guess what? Russell Tarr, over at Tarr's Toolbox, has created an online hexagram generator to make your life easier!

Both Glenn and Russell have pictures of students working with hexagons, which gives a good glimpse of the power of this strategy.

Other strategies that I've highlighted in previous posts include:

What's your favorite strategy? Email me and I will share it out.