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Monday, September 18, 2017

Teachers' Choice: Favorite High School Lesson Plans

You've seen the elementary and middle school teachers' responses to the question, “Describe (in brief) the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource you taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what.” As promised, here are the answers we received from high school teachers to the same question. [I've added links where I could find them and a few comments in brackets.] 

Janessa Parenteau in Froid taught Playing for the World: The 1904 Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School Girls Basketball Team. 


Jane Kolstad, a special education and alternative school teacher in Glasgow, recommends "Counting Coup:  Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, by Joe Medicine Crow. She wrote: "I supplement with the lessons from the OPI website.  I also like to do some lessons with the book:  Land of the Nakoda which is in reference to the Assiniboine Indians who are native to this area.  


Betty Bennett, who teaches English in Missoula, wrote, "I use several every year, but I am especially committed to using "Blood on the Marias" at the end of our unit on Fools Crow by James Welch.  It is also a great starting point for additional "history detective" work.  My students are much more interested in novels that are based on historical events."


Power teacher Shelly Vick wrote: "7 Essentials Understandings illustrated on tipis.  Didn't expect it to go well but the students loved it."


Jennifer Ogden, art teacher in Victor, used The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives (a unit on pictographic art).


One teacher wrote: "I took bits and pieces of Native American speeches and then had my students try and match them up with the time period and personality of who said them. It is a fun exercise for my students and it gets them talking about the personalities and culture of Native American society.


One teacher used our "Cavalry on the Frontier footlocker."  [Our footlockers, though designed for 4th grade, are often successfully adapted to high school. More information on the footlocker program here.]


Another teacher said, "The one the kids enjoyed the most was my flint and steel fire starting hands-on lesson."



A principal was proud of his teachers' collaborative project on Glacier National Park: "The English teacher and the art teacher took a field trip to Glacier National Park.  The art side of the project is ledger art and the English side was place-based learning with an emphasis on the Salish perspective." [A good related resource is our hands-on history footlocker--Land of Many Stories: The People and Histories of Glacier National ParkThough designed for fourth grade, it is easily adaptable to upper grades.]

And and another teacher wrote, "Lewis and Clark: Journals on the Yellowstone and visit to forts/confluence."

Several teachers mentioned topics they focused on (The link to resources are mine):




Last but not least, a teacher wrote that she does a "Sense of Place" unit. It reminded me of the work Montana Heritage Project teachers used to do. I am so glad this type of community studies continues, so I asked her for details. She wrote: 

Students need to have a solid, personal history foundation, before venturing out to impact the world. I have discovered that students know very little about their own family history, and or community present and past. My students know where to get the best $2 fries in town, but have no idea about the soaking pools, museum, Artist Society or local politics. They know nothing, or very little, about the rich history of the valley.
I start with some personal history, such as their first name. Why were they given that name? What does it mean? Are there others in the family with the same name? Learning about their last name also provides a plethora of family history.
Many of our rural kids have stories tied to their land. How long has it been in the family? Homesteaders or a recent purchase…has the land always raised cattle, pigs, wheat or barley? Is there a family cemetery? Where was the nearest school, store or post office. 
I like to have students research the various professions within the family tree. Again, this provides an interesting look at each student’s personal history.
A tour around town (ours is small) where students can discuss, list or write about any knowledge they have about the town, now and in the past. Once that is done I have them talk to family members and or community members to glean their information about town. Sometimes this turns into oral histories for the museum.
Do you have a favorite lesson or resource you'd like to share? It's not too late--let me know what it is and I will share it with the group. Among the suggestions for how to improve Teaching Montana History was to posts more about what teachers were doing (both successes and failures). So email me so we can make that happen! 

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