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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Can we find a teachable moment through the smoke?

If you are on Facebook, I bet your feed is filled with stories about the fires. Mine is.

These articles brought to mind a post I wrote awhile back about 
using disasters as a way to engage students in larger questions

It also made me wonder if this year’s fire season offers a “teachable moment.” If so, here are some resources for teaching about fire and fire history. Most are taken from the Montana: Stories of the Land Teachers Guide and Companion Website, Chapter 12. 
Interested in changes how fire policy has changed since 1910? We created this bibliography for National History Day students, but it’s a good starting point for any researcher.  Other interesting sources include:
Wildfires and the appropriate response to them are also at the center of policy debates. 
  • What should the government’s approach be toward fire protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface?
  • How do state and federal policies affect fires? (Recently, Senator Daines called for more logging to prevent fires and Senator Tester called for action to slow climate change.)
  • What are the budget implications of increasing forest fires and how should we pay for fire fighting?
Consider asking students to research and then write (and/or present) policy briefs to your local legislator and/or county commissioners on one of these issues. (Former middle school teacher Jim Schulz said having students present decision-makers with their research—and proposed solutions—to current problems was the all-time best activity he ever did with his students.)
 
If you do end up exploring fire in a meaningful way in your classroom, I'd love to learn what you did and how it went. And in the meantime, I'm sure you join me in wishing for snow.

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