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, 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.