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.

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.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

More Map Resources

I love feedback on my posts--and especially when they include suggestions or resources to share. In response to last week's post on making Salt Dough Maps, Robin Miller of Hot Springs sent in this useful tip: "It is even easier if you first put the ingredients (including the food coloring) for the salt dough in a gallon Ziploc bag.  That way you can mix the salt dough up in the bag.  No messy hands!" 

And a few weeks ago, I shared some of what I learned at a Teaching with Primary Sources workshop I attended in Great Falls--including ideas of ways to use maps (making laminated puzzle pieces out of them for students to assemble and asking students to trace today's reservations on clear acetate and placing those pieces atop maps showing historic reservation boundaries.)

In response, Broadview teacher librarian Jon Kohn sent me JPGs of two Encyclopaedia Brittanica [London] maps of Montana, one from 1896 and the other from 1903, that he thinks are interesting to compare with Father DeSmet's 1851 Map--and which are interesting in their own right. I'm sharing them with his permission.

Jon notes: "The 1896 map has all of northern Montana as the "Gros Ventre, Piegan, Blood, Blackfeet, and River Crow Indian Reservation" just south of the Northwest Territories of Canada. The Crow Reservation still goes west almost to Livingston, The Northern Cheyenne Res shows the agency in Busby and is labeled "Nor. Shoshone Reservation," battle sites are prominent, most modern counties are missing, etc. The 1903 map shows the Canadian province of Assiniboia, still lacks some counties, but shows the extent of surveying and platting lands."

What else do you notice?

Looking for more map resources? Check out the Mapping Montana and the West on the Montana Memory Project, American Memory's map collections, and the Digital Sanborn Map Collection. The Sanborn maps are historical fire insurance maps of Montana cities and towns, showing blocks with "the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures." (These maps are available by subscription only, but the Montana Historical Society has paid for a subscription on behalf of all Montana residents. Feel free to email me for the password to access this amazing resource.)

And while we are on the topic of maps, check out the blog post "Stop making students memorize maps," which argues that students should use maps, not memorize them.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teaching Strategies (written with elementary students in mind--but I bet they work for upper grades as well)

A little while back, I did a link roundup of cool online sources for CONTENT. Lately, I've also been reading about some interesting TEACHING STRATEGIES that can be used--especially, but not exclusively in elementary classrooms--with different types of content. Here are things that caught my eye, no particular order:
  • "Mind's Eye: A Pre-Reading Strategy" from The Cult of Pedagogy: "The teacher chooses 20-30 important words from the text. Before students do any reading at all, the teacher reads the words aloud to students — slowly, pausing in between words. As they listen, students form mental pictures, predicting what the text will be about. Then they read the text and compare it to their predictions."According to blog author Melissa Gonzalez, the strategy "grabs students’ attention before they ever read a single word and creates a mystery that can only be solved by reading the text." (Find more reading strategies here.) 
  • "Miming, Freeze-Framing, Body Sculptures," from teacher genius Russell Tarr at Tarr's Toolbox. "Freeze Framing involves getting students, working usually in small groups, to construct a scene which is then photographed and explained. This should represent a key action moment ‘frozen in time’ to capture energy. ... Body sculpture is similar, except in this case there is a group leader responsible (sometimes silently) for ‘moulding’ the rest of the group into place.... Miming / Charades is another useful strategy. In silence, different students have to act out a key concept, event or scene. Other students gain points if they guess these correctly. (He gives all the students the concepts ahead of time.)
  • Glenn Wiebe, author of one of my other favorite blogs, HistoryTech, provides alternatives to lecturing in his post "It puts kids to sleep. And just so ya know ... that's a bad thing. (Plus 18 ways to make it better)". Among the strategies he lists are "Word Sorts" and "Crop It" (one of my all-time favorites). 
Do you have a strategy that you think works particularly well? Email me about it and I'll share it with the group. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Salt Dough Maps

Several elementary teachers have mentioned over the years that they have their students create salt dough maps of the state of Montana.  But now, thanks to Libby fourth grade teacher Bill Moe, I have pictures that walk you through how to make these.

First: Find a map showing Montana's major rivers and mountain ranges. Bill uses the one in his Regions of the US textbook. Then it is time to get to work.

Then make your salt dough. Bill got his recipe from Learning4Kids.

1 cup salt
2 cups of flour
¾ cup of water may need to add a little bit more for the right consistency

  1. In a large bowl mix salt and flour together.
  2. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it forms a doughy consistency.
  3. Turn the dough onto the bench and kneed with your hands until smooth and combined.
Store your salt dough in an airtight container or Ziploc bag as it keeps well for a few days.

Now to make the maps:

"First phase for Salt Dough Maps: these are all the lids off our copy paper boxes. I also cut the bottoms of the boxes as well, since we will be doing about 80 of these this year."

Map is white but shows major rivers and mountains.
"Second Phase: Just shaping Montana and letting it dry."

Map is now painted, blue for rivers, green for prairies and brown for mountains.
"Final Map"
According to Bill, "Kids love this 3D, shaping project! They pinch up the mountains, use a pencil to carve rivers, thumbprints for Flathead and Fort Peck."  

I really appreciate Bill taking the time to send these descriptions and photos! Sharing what works is a huge benefit to everyone. If you have a project that has worked in your classroom, send it along so I can share it with the list.

P.S. We're conducting a drawing at MEA-MFT, but even if you weren't able to come to the conference, you can still participate in our contest. All you need to do is complete the Montana and the Great War Scavenger HuntEmail me a photo or scan of your completed scavenger hunt by Monday, October 23, 11:00 p.m., and I will enter your name in our drawing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Meet our Newest Footlocker: Oral History in the Classroom

I'm delighted to announce the debut of a new mini-footlocker, "Oral History in the Classroom." Unlike most of our footlockers, which are designed for fourth grade—but used successfully at all grade levels with some adapation—this footlocker is designed with upper grades in mind. 

Most of our footlockers include replica artifacts and focus on particular topics (immigrationthe early reservation period, or World War II, for example.) Oral History in the Classroom is more of a DYI kit, designed to get students working as oral historians, recording the history of their own communities. The footlocker includes eight Sony IC Audio Recorders, batteries and chargers, useful reference material, and detailed lesson plans for creating a classroom-based oral history project. 

As with all of our footlockers, educators are welcome to download the user guide whether or not you order the footlocker. The user guide includes detailed lesson plans, most of which can be done without ordering the footlocker, assuming you have access to digital recorders. (Students can even use a digital recorder app on their cell phones, but the audio quality won't be as good.)  

The lesson plans include information on WHY and HOW to conduct classroom oral history projectscovering methodological questions (what does oral history offer that other types of research don't) and offering practical suggestions (how to recruit good narrators and teach students to ask open-ended questions.) It also contains useful formssample release forms, interview summary worksheets, as well as a rubric for grading student projects and suggestions for project topics. 

As with our other footlockers, Oral History in the Classroom can be reserved for a two-week period (and if you think you'll need the footlocker for longer than two weeks, you can reserve it for two consecutive reservation periods). The only cost to the school of ordering a footlocker is the cost of shipping it to the next user or back to the Montana Historical Society. 

I'm pretty tickled with how the footlocker turned out. I hope you'll check it outliterally, by using our online reservation form, or figuratively, by downloading and reviewing the user guide. Then let me know what you think! I sure hope it's useful.

P.S. We'll be bringing this footlocker and lots of other resources to MEA-MFT. Come by our booth and check it out. And, if you have time, join us Thursday evening (5:15 p.m.-) for an informal meet-up at the Montgomery Distillery, 129 West Front Street. (The distillery serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

World War I and Other Veterans Day Resources

Veterans Day is less than a month away. This year we are in the midst of commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, which led to the holiday's creation, so I wanted to share both some general resources and WWI specific resources for you to consider using in your classes this year.

Montana and the Great War is a website that we created to provide resources for teaching about this complicated period in history.

The website includes 
  • Story Mapsinteractive maps featuring images and events from across the state, exploring different ways the war—and its aftermath—affected Montanans. (The Story Maps are divided into three main sections: Over Here, Over There, and Home Again. Each section includes an introduction and at least one map featuring specific stories. Also available are a demographic map--in the Over Here section--and a map showing county enlistment numbers--in the Over There section.)
  • Books and Articles: a list of published works that explore Montana during World War I—including links to full text of many of those resources.
  • Voices: short oral history clips featuring Montanans’ memories of life during World War I—overseas and at home.
  • Information on Archival Material and Digitized Newspapers available for students conducting more in-depth research projects.  
  • And, of course, teaching resources.
What are those teaching resources, you ask? 

Montana and the Great War Scavenger Hunt offers a fun way to engage students in an exploration of the Montana and the Great War Story Maps.   
Montana and the "Great War" Lesson Plan (Designed for 5-8, but adaptable to high school). After exploring the Story Maps to learn more about individuals' experiences during World War I, students will write a short piece of historical fiction (a letter or journal entry) from the perspective of a Montanan--on the home front or serving in the armed forces--during the period.
Local Experiences of World War I Lesson Plan (High school). Students will conduct and share original research on ways the war impacted the people of their own county. The Montana Historical Society will include a link to their project on its Montana and the Great War website. 
I'm excited about all of these lesson plans, but particularly excited about the more in-depth high school lesson that engages students in community study for an authentic audience. (Longtime readers will know this is a passion of mine. See, for example, this article from March 2012, this one from March 2014, this one from April 2015, and this one from March 2016.) 
Several teachers have taken up the challenge of examining their county's WWI history and Phil Leonardi, who helped create and test the lesson plan, had his class complete the assignment last spring. You can see their work here. 

There are SO MANY national resources that have been created for the centennial, that I'll just mention a few: 

The National Archives has launched a WWI Research Portal as has the Library of Congress. My favorite LOC collection is the WWI sheet music collection, both because the cover art is incredible (and sometimes disturbing) and because Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris told me about a Sheet Music Scanner app, which lets you hear historic sheet music. And, of course, you can also listen to some of original recordings on the National Jukebox. (Here, for example, is Nora Bayes' recording of "Over There.")

Other Veterans Day Resources Beyond World War I

Among my MHS favorite lesson plans is "Readers Theater: Letters from Home." Learn more about it here and watch Helena High theater teacher Rob Holter's students perform it here. (In what hardly ever happens, students responded to the lesson exactly as I hoped they would. According to Rob, when he introduced the lesson, many of the students asked: "why anyone would save old letters by ordinary Montanans"? During the Q and A, after their performance, many of these same students vowed to write letters in order to provide personal reflections to posterity. And they were saying things like, "ordinary people make history." In addition, Rob told me that one of his struggling students responded to the letters with dawning recognition: "people just like me can make a difference in this world!" In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined any lesson we produced would have such an impact.)

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's Amazing What's Out There

Colleagues have shared many interested resources lately, I decided it was time for a link roundup:

Mike Jetty at the Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction introduced me to “Introducing the First Nations of Montana to the World,” a short eight-minute video created by the Montana Office of Tourism. This is exactly what you need to reintroduce your students to Montana’s tribes. 

“From Superstar to Superfund: The History of a Northwest Montana Aluminum Smelter” is a labor of love and a tremendous resource on the history, politics, and economics of the Columbia Falls Aluminum smelter. 

“The Acoustic Atlas of Yellowstone National Park is curated by the Montana State University Library and includes more than 2500 recordings of species and environments from throughout the Western United States.   

Elementary school teacher Justin Czarka, who I met when we hosted the NEH Landmarks Workshop “Richest Hills: Mining in the Far West,” shared with me a project he conducted with his elementary students to commemorate the lives of slaves that lived in Hunts Point (a neighborhood in the Bronx, NY) and to definitively locate the Hunts Point Slave Burial Grounds—an unmarked burial ground near their school. The project suggests the potentially transformative power of local history.

I’m a longtime fan of the Stanford History Education Group, so was pleased to learn that they have many new or revamped lesson plans for U.S. and world history. 

Finally, I'm very much enjoying listening to the recordings of talks I missed at the Montana History Conference (darn concurrent sessions)! We put them all on SoundCloud, but I've also gathered the playlist and video presentations on our Montana and The Great War website, where you'll find videos of other presentations as well.

Do you have a favorite website or online resource? Send me the link (bonus points for including a note saying what you like about it.) 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

MEA-MFT Is Only a Few Weeks Away

Will I see you at the MEA-MFT Educators Conference in Missoula on Thursday, October 19-20?

I’ll be participating in two sessions on Thursday:
  • Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home, 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
  • Montana History Reborn (a panel discussion organized by Ken Egan), 3:00 PM - 4:50 PM

My colleague Deb Mitchell and I will also be staffing our booth in the exhibit hall, so stop by and say hello and check out our new resources! And if anyone wants to convene for cocktails and conversation, I propose we arrange a meet-up Thursday evening at 5:15 p.m. Anyone know a good place in Missoula to gather for convivial conversation? Email me. 

But back to more formal learning opportunities: I've been perusing the program, and there are a LOT of other sessions I’m interested in attending. Here are a few that caught my eye.

On Thursday

9:00 AM - 9:50 AM, Blackfeet Language and Stories: Maato'ommstatto'osi tells old stories that have been passed down generation to generation by the Piikunnii. Audiences get a taste of how Piikunnii lives once were, how their spirituality and empathy were important, and the joys of humor. He teaches people about Blackfeet people while making the audience feel respected.

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM: Montana's Legal System--What Teachers and Students Should Know: Have you ever wanted to teach your students about Montana's legal system but were afraid to go there? Come learn about legal resources, including free guides, from attorneys and members of the state bar's law-related education committee. Teach students what they should know legal-wise before they turn 18!

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM, A Visit with an 1879 American Fur Company Trader: Portrayal of James Willard Schultz (Apikuni) who wrote extensively regarding his life with the Blackfoot Nation. Schultz would live to see and experience the end of the buffalo days. His stories climax with a visionary gift to be shared with school kids - suggesting positive hope for our future.

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM, Before the Horse: Northern Rockies Lifestyles: Indian people of the Northern Rockies are most often considered part of the American Indian Horse Culture, yet the people existed long before the horse appeared 280 years ago. In those centuries before the horse, when the extensive use of dogs was most prevalent. Listeners will re-think ancient cultures' impact.

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM, Igniting Students' Civic Involvement Through Montana Politics and Government: This session will explore strategies to engage students in civics through conversations about local and state government, politics, and service learning. Siri Smillie, Education Policy Advisor to Gov. Steve Bullock and her former teacher Eileen Sheehy will lead teachers in this interactive session.

1:00 PM - 2:50 PM, The Digital Storywork Partnership: Community Engagement and Social Studies Education: The Digital Storywork Partnership connects youth with community members to conduct research and produce documentary films. The Partnership applies community-centered and culturally revitalizing pedagogy using a framework collaboratively developed with partners. This session will introduce participants to the DSP as a model for youth-led inquiry to enhance social studies education.

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM, Storytelling: Cultural Survival, Indigenous Cultures, and the Importance of Story: Storytelling is integral to education and cultural survival. How does story define community? How does it keep cultures intact? What functions does story serve in shaping our understanding of the world? Sharing stories with a focus on Indigenous American stories and perspectives, we learn our history.

2:00 PM - 3:50 PM, Project-based Learning with Montana National History Day: This section will discuss how to implement Montana National History Day in your classroom by using the project-based learning method and what programs MTNHD can offer you and your students. This is geared for teachers 4-12, deals with Common Core, IEFA and technology education.

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM, Resources to Reach Reluctant Writers from NHD (National History Day): This session is for educators in grades 6-12 to share resources from National History Day to help teachers improve reading and writing in their classrooms.

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM, Find the Clues, Unlock the Learning: Do you enjoy challenges? Breakout Edu is an activity that promotes collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, higher level thinking skills and more. You will use primary sources, documents and photos to help solve the clues. Come explore a new way to engage your students. Electronic devices encouraged.

On Friday

8:00 AM - 8:50 AM, New Resource for Geography Education: The Giant Map of Montana: The National Geographic State Giant Traveling Map of Montana is a 15x20 foot floor map promotes an interactive geography learning experience for elementary and middle school students. Educators will have the opportunity to engage in lessons using the giant map and learn how to bring the map to their classrooms.

9:00 AM - 9:50 AM, Mapping Censorship: the Montana Banned Books Project: Join us as we share the new interactive online map detailing the history of book challenges in Montana! We’ll share some of the more interesting challenges as well as broader intellectual freedom implications. Participants will learn about the software used and discuss how it could be applied in their classrooms.

9:00 AM - 9:50 AM, Geographic Pedagogy: Droughts, Floods, Resilience, Science and Community Development: This session explores important contemporary dynamics in geographic education and pedagogy, including issues such as drought and flooding in Montana, ecological and human resilience to climate change, and the role of science in community development.

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM, Highways, Treaties, and Poems: Through maps, poems, treaties, and seasonal rounds, teachers will work interactively to discover how the cultural landscape changed in Montana after the Fort Laramie and Hell Gate treaties were established. Suitable for K-12, all subjects, background knowledge building, and integration ideas.

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM, Reaching Reluctant Writers Through Social Studies: Reluctant writers lurk in every classroom. This interactive session will give teachers strategies to help improve student writing in Social Studies classrooms. Gain specific tools to use historical content to improve historical thinking and writing skills.

1:00 PM - 1:50 PM, Teaching Montana Indian History with Primary Sources: This section presents innovative ways of incorporating archival, primary sources into lessons on Montana’s Native American history. Drawing primarily on documents held in the Montana Historical Society archives, I will demonstrate how these primary sources can inform how we teach Montana Indian history topics such as treaties, trade, and sovereignty.

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM, Teaching about Tribal Sovereignty and Federal Indian Policy: This interactive session will provide ideas, resources and strategies for teaching about contemporary American Indian issues. Relevant resources and where to access them will also be shared with participants.

Hope to see you soon!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Montana Authors Project Invites High School Collaborators

Humanities Montana invites schools to participate in our Montana Authors Project, a part of our Montana Center for the Book program. Using images, quotes, and interpretation, literary maps bring favorite novels, stories, poems and personal histories of regional and national importance to life. Each literary map can be used as a virtual tour of an author’s imagination, as well as an actual road map of a literary setting.

Park High students in Livingston recently read Shann Ray’s American Copper, searching for place-based passages and images that might accompany them. After they finished, Humanities Montana staff populated our map with six sites from American Copper using student images and passages.

Students were able to see their hard work come to life in our online literary map and to engage with the text in new ways, connecting it to the real world, imagining it in real space, and learning valuable research and analysis skills as they selected the most relevant passages.

If you are interested in participating in our MAPs project, contact info@humanitiesmontana.org. Staff will visit your classroom for a guest lesson on the MAPs project, stay in communication with you as you work the project into your syllabus, and bring your students’ hard work to life on our Humanities Montana website.