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Monday, September 25, 2017

Teaching with Maps and Other Primary Sources

I had an amazing time about a week ago at the workshop "Teaching with Primary Sources: Understanding How Our Past Paints our Future" in Great Falls. 

The good news for you is that presenters Kathy Hoyt and Ruth Ferris will be reprising the workshop October 6-7 at Miles Community College in Miles City, so you too have an opportunity to participate! 

Here were a few of my highlights: 

1. Putting together "map puzzles." Kathy printed some historic maps, including this 1879 map of Montana Territory. She cut them into puzzle pieces and laminated them. Assembling the maps required us to slow down and LOOK--which in turn raised lots of questions.

2. Kathy then gave us clear overheads and had us trace today's reservations from the regular Montana highway map. We put those on top of the 1879 reservations for a hands-on look at the shrinking reservations. 

3. We had time to explore Library of Congress resources. I found this amazing 1851 map, created by Father De Smet, of the Upper Great Plains and Rocky Mountains showing Indian territories as he understood them.

4. I learned a new trick for navigating the Library of Congress's gargantuan collections. Use Google! Search using the key words plus "Library of Congress" to get relevant hits.

5. I was introduced to a new primary source graphic organizer: C.L.U.E., which asks students to "Check it over" (especially looking for author, date, and type of source), "Look at the historical setting (context)," Understand the author's message" (tone and purpose), and Examine closely. (I wish the graphic organizer asked about audience--but otherwise I thought it could be very useful.) 

6. I learned more about Breakout Games. We were faced with a box locked with several locks (a directional lock, a letter lock, a three number lock, and a 4 number lock) and were given a number of clues (including primary sources) relating to homesteading and the novel Hattie Big Sky. We had a great time finding the information we needed to unlock our box. There are online Breakout games too: I haven't seen any on Montana history, but I really enjoyed doing this one on Langston Hughes. One of the creators, Tom Mullaney, designed a template for teachers interested in making their own digital breakouts. If anyone creates a Montana history related digital breakout, let me know! I'd love to check it out.

7. I learned several other simple and effective ways to integrate primary sources--especially in elementary classrooms. Playing "I Spy" for example.

I'll be digesting the two days and working to integrate some of these new practices into future lesson plans. If you can make it to Miles City, I highly recommend signing up for the October workshop. It was well worth the time. Otherwise, try some of the ideas above and let me know how they work with your students.


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