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Monday, May 21, 2018

Looking forward to the Fall: The Montana History Conference

Save the Date! The Montana Historical Society is putting together an amazing program for the 45th Annual Montana History Conference, "Rimrocks, Rivers, and Rolling Plains: History from the Yellowstone Valley." The conference will be held in Billings, September 27-29, 2018. Renewal units will be available for both the Thursday educator workshop and all conference sessions. (Check here in June for more details.) We hope you’ll consider attending!

As past years, we will be offering travel scholarships for both teachers and students.

About the scholarships: Funded by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the scholarships will consist of full conference registration plus a $275 travel/expense reimbursement. All teachers and students in Montana’s high schools, colleges, and universities are eligible to apply (residents of Helena and the vicinity are eligible for the conference registration scholarship but not the travel reimbursement).

Teacher recipients must attend the entire conference, including Thursday’s Educators Workshop and the Saturday sessions. Student recipients must commit to attending all day Friday and Saturday, including a Saturday tour.

Preference will be given to

  • Teachers and students from Montana’s tribal colleges;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s on-reservation high schools;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s community colleges and four-year universities;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s small, rural, under-served communities.
Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. September 9, 2018.  Awards will be announced the following week.

Applying for a scholarship is quick and easy. Apply online.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Exciting Professional Development Opportunity This June in Lewistown

The Montana Center for Inclusive Education is sponsoring a Teaching with Primary Sources workshop June 11-12, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

A $100 travel stipend will be available for all participants, who will also earn 12 renewal units.
Register here.

Here's the description, taken from their brochure:

Immerse yourself in the rich history of your local area. You are invited to participate in a professional development opportunity through the Library of Congress. This professional development will provide “hands-on” exploration of the Library of Congress and Montana using local resources.

This two-day workshop is designed for those individuals who have participated in the TPS programs since the start of the school year, and for those who would like to learn about using primary sources in the classroom. Participants will learn how to navigate the Library of Congress and develop student engagement, and learning strategies for using primary sources to engage students.

Workshop Highlights:

  • Inquiry Kits for Social Studies
  • How to mine the TPS Network
  • Pairing Picture Books and Primary Sources
  • Chronicling America
  • Library of Congress Labs
  • Citizen U
  • Eagle Eye Citizen
  • TPS Connect

One of the goals is to build community and develop a statewide network. With that in mind, there will be time for sharing and working on primary sources to be used in the classroom. Something for everyone!

The workshop will be held at the Central Montana Education Center,  MSU Northern Lewistown.

Register here or contact John Keener, MRESA3 Project Coordinator, for more information: john.keener@msubillings.edu or 406-657-1743.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Making Atlatls

We have a new lesson plan, written by Jim Schulz, on Making Atlatls and darts from wooden dowels, duct tape, finishing nails, and scrap wood (or 2x4s). Want a hands-on exciting way to end your school year? Consider working with students to build this modern version of an ancient hunting tool--and then practice throwing at a target.

Jim, who many of you know through his educator workshops, is a master at having students learn through doing--and combining science (in this case the physics of fulcrums) with history. 

He also understands the value of having students DO things. 


This is the second lesson Jim's created for us. Years ago, he wrote up "Motherlode Gold Mining," which was what he called his "no fail" lesson--one that worked for over 22 years, with all types of students. The lesson plan involved science (students learned about the density of minerals), math *students had to create a budget to purchase their stake), and history (they learned about the importance of merchants in a mining town and the fact that very few placer miners struck it rich). And it was fun. Students got to actually pan for "gold" using plastic stream tables, metal pie plates, screens, and sand salted with gold-painted lead shot. (You can find the lesson plan on page 32 of the Gold, Silver and Coal--Oh My! Hands-on History Footlocker User Guide.


Panning for gold might be another great activity on a warm spring day!

P.S. Please don't forget to take a short online survey and maybe be a winner (prizes to the fifteenth, thirty-first, forty-second person to complete this survey.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Take Our Survey--and Maybe Win a Prize

Tomorrow is the last day of school for Reed Point. Congratulations, Reed Point teachers and students. You made it!

As yet another school year winds to a close, I’d appreciate getting your feedback. I’d also like to gather information on what has worked for you in the classroom, so I can share it with other teachers next year.

Would you be willing to take a short online survey? If so, click here.

Need a little incentive? I’m offering prizes to the fifteenth, thirty-first, forty-second person to complete this survey.

P.S. Don't be confused. The survey refers to the listserv because the way the information on this blog is delivered to most people, but the Montana History and Heritage Education Listserv is the same as the Teaching Montana History Blog.

P.P.S. I'll continue posting for a little while now since most of us still have more school ahead of us--but wanted to get the survey out in order to reach everyone.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Apply for IEFA Grants. Plus Supaman.

Our friends at OPI are offering grants to fund excellent IEFA activities. From their press release:

  • Have a great Indian Education for All project you’ve been dreaming of, and wondering how to fund your idea? 
  • Know your school could benefit from school-wide PIR on Indian Ed, and with funding you could organize an exciting event? 

The K-12 IEFA 2018-2019 Grant will open soon! Please contact Mike Jetty 406-444-0720 or Jennifer Stadum 406-444-0725 to discuss your idea and receive the link for the application. The application deadline is June 20 but all applicants must first speak with OPI Indian Education before they submit an application.

Grant awards are available in a range of approximately $1,000-$12,000 for each project, depending upon the scope of the proposal. There will be a limited number of grants awarded. Priority points will be awarded for proposals containing activities that occur throughout the school year, schoolwide or district-wide professional development that includes school and/or district administrators, and a timeline reflecting pre-planning and organization efforts.
 efforts.

And speaking of IEFA: Check out this interview with the National Museum of the American Indian by Montana's own indigenous hip hop artist Supaman. (The best part, in my opinion? The links to two of Supaman's music videos, "Why" and "Prayer Loop Song.")

Thursday, May 3, 2018

What's Old Is New Again

Montana history has been jumping out at me from today's headlines. I'm seeing ties to the past just about everywhere I look these days.

Here are a few contemporary topics with historical resonances for those interested in teaching "the past as prologue."

1. County Splitting
"Blackfeet Legislator Proposes Creating new Montana County," ran in the May 23, 2018, Missoulian. Frustrated by the lack of services on the reservation during this winter's severe snowstorms,  Representative George Kipp III has asked for a feasibility study to look "at the costs of creating and running" a new county, carved out of Pondera and Glacier Counties, which has the same boundaries as the Blackfeet Reservation.

Here's how we wrote about the county busting craze of the 1910s, when almost half of our 56 counties were created in chapter 15 of Montana: Stories of the Land:
"One Progressive idea changed the map of Montana by splitting big eastern counties into smaller ones. As the homesteaders peopled more of Montana, they wanted to be more involved in local politics, so they wanted their county seats closer. And eastern farmers knew that having more, smaller counties would give them a stronger voice in the state legislature because each county had one state senator. (This changed in the 1960s.)  
"In 1915 the Montana legislature passed a law allowing people to redraw their county lines by submitting a petition to the state. In the next few years, Montana’s 27 counties split into 56 smaller counties. Splitting up counties was called “county-busting.” 
"Many small counties in eastern Montana struggle today with the aftereffects of the Progressive Era county-busting craze. Of the 56 counties in the state, 22 have fewer than 5,000 people. Thirteen counties have fewer than 2,000 people; Petroleum County has only 474. Nearly every legislature since 1936 has considered consolidating (combining several into one) some of these counties, but these measures have failed because citizens want to keep their county seats."
And here's an article Dave Walter wrote about county splitting: "County Busting: Colorful Memories and an Economic Legacy," Montana Magazine, 78 (July-Aug., 1986).

2. Disaster and Disaster Response

"Montana's Hi-Line underwater and in a state of emergency," read the April 18, 2018, Great Falls Tribune headline. In an April post, I pointed out that the Tribune had gathered its articles about the 1964 flood in one place, provided a link to an article on the 1964 flood on the Blackfeet Reservation, and referred readers to an old post I wrote about teaching about disasters. More recently I came across the site SixtyFourFlood.Com, which includes videotaped oral histories of the flood as well as links to relevant documents and archival collections. 

3. Tribal Nationhood
"Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing" was published in Politico on April 22, 2018.  (For those interested in bias in media--which should be all of us--note that, according to Media Bias/Fact Check, Politico is left of center in political orientation but its factual reporting is rated "high.")

Although the immediate issue is whether tribal recipients of Medicaid should be subject to work requirements, the larger issue is whether Native Americans should be considered racial or ethnic designation or whether American Indians are members of sovereign tribal nations to which the U.S. government has treaty obligations. Articles in both Mvskoke Media (the newspaper of the Muscogee/Creek Nation) and Indian Country Today (both of which approach politics from tribal perspectives) expanded on Politico's reporting with added emphasis on the topic of sovereignty.

There are also three cases before the Supreme Court this spring that will affect current interpretations of sovereignty and treaty rights, including Washington v U.S., which I touched on in this April post.

These current news stories reminded me of these excerpts from Chapter 20 and Chapter 22 of Montana: Stories of the Land, talking about shifts in federal Indian policy:
"Throughout U.S. history the government has shifted between two completely different policies toward American Indians. One acknowledges Indian tribes as sovereign (independent and self-governing) nations inhabiting their own lands. Under this approach the U.S. government made treaties (agreements between governments) with Indian tribes (see Chapter 7).
"The other approach, which is quite the opposite, sees American Indians as an ethnic group within the U.S. population. Under this approach the government periodically has tried to dissolve Indian tribes and to assimilate (absorb) Indian people into mainstream society. The Dawes Act of 1887 was one example of this policy (see Chapter 11).
"In the 1930s the government returned some powers of self-government to tribes and tried to encourage tribal cultures to strengthen (see Chapter 18). In 1953 the government changed its policy again. Congress decided to end, or terminate, its special relationship with some Indian tribes. The government called this policy termination (the end of something). The government selected specific tribes to terminate. The plan was to withdraw federal support from these tribes, abolish their tribal governments, sell off tribal lands, and end all treaty rights (tribal rights established by treaty). ...
"In 1975 Congress enacted the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. After 22 years under the termination policy (see Chapter 20), America’s Indian people gained back some of their sovereign powers. With the Self-Determination Act, American Indian tribes gained the right to govern tribal affairs on their reservations (land that tribes reserved for their own use through treaties). Self-determination means that Indian tribes and the federal government more often deal with one another on a government-to-government basis, as they did when the United States was formed." 
It also made me think of Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians #5: "There were many federal policies put into place throughout American history that have affected Indian people and still shape who they are today. Many of these policies conflicted with one another." Are we heading into a new federal Indian policy era?

One of my favorite "Enduring Questions" is "What has changed and what's remained the same?" A second might be, "What, if anything, can we learn from past attempts to wrestle with issues similar to the ones we face today?"

Monday, April 30, 2018

Opening Up the Textbook

Last week I wrote about using primary sources for focus activities. Especially in middle school and high school, primary sources can also help in opening up the textbook. According to TeachingHistory.org, "Opening Up the Textbook, developed at Stanford University, is one method of using the textbook to help students learn how to think historically and read critically."

Opening Up the Textbook moves the textbook from its position as the one true story about the past to one historical account among many. Intended to help students slow down, read closely, and critically evaluate their textbook, this is not a strategy that fits well with reading lengthy textbook passages or chapters.

TeachingHistory.org lists six ways to Open up the Textbook. The two that work best with primary sources are
  • "Direct Challenge: Using primary documents to challenge textbook facts or interpretation" and 
  • "Vivification: Breathing life into a text that only mentions, or omits."
The other suggestions are
  • "Comparison: Comparing two textbook accounts—e.g. U.S. to non-U.S, old to new."
  • "Narrativization: Where does a textbook begin to tell the story, where does it end it?"
  • "Articulating Silences: Who is left out of the textbook's narrative? Try bringing in voices of the silenced or moving issues of narrative choice to the surface." 
  • "Close Reading: Careful, attentive focus on word choice, including adjectives, titles, and the like."
Opening Up the Textbook teaches students to question what they read and that "an authoritative tone ... does not necessarily convey the full or exclusive story." It asks them to compare and integrate multiple historical accounts (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9) and to consider sources' perspective and purpose (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6). 

Have you tried it? What sources did you use/topic did you address? And how'd it go? (I'd love to know!)


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Primary Sources: Perfect for Focus Activities

I've written about teaching with primary sources before, for example in this 2012 article cleverly named "Teaching with Primary Sources," and in this post, which recognizes that exposure to primary sources is not enough. But I believe the topic bears revisiting.

Primary sources can help promote empathy, curiosity, and engagement; make students feel like “real historians”; provide an opportunity to practice close reading (images are great for this!); and teach students how to evaluate the evidence and the quality of a source.

With so many sources now available, through the Library of Congress, National Archives, Montana Memory, and other websites, finding primary sources is no longer the main barrier to integrating them into the classroom. The barrier is figuring out how to use them effectively.

One of the easiest ways to effectively integrate primary sources into your classroom is to use them for focus activities--to introduce a unit or refocus students' attention at a midpoint.

For focus activities, I especially like primary sources that

There are lots of different focus activity techniques:
  • Visual Thinking StrategiesCrop It and Zoom-In (for images)
  • Class or pair/share discussion based on one or two well-crafted questions, especially after giving students a few minutes to "write their way in" (3 minutes of non-stop writing to get thoughts down on paper--without worrying about spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  • After reviewing source, have small groups of students generate a list of questions about the upcoming topic of instruction. 
Do you have a favorite strategy for working with primary sources that I've missed or a favorite primary source that you use with your class? Share it with me and I'll share it out.

P.S. The deadline to apply to become a Middle School Montana History Teacher Leader is fast approaching. If this interests you, make sure to submit your application before April 30. If you have questions about the program, don't hesitate to contact me.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Virtual Field Trips

Last week's post focused on field trips and how to integrate them into your curriculum. But what if you can't travel?

A quick internet search for "virtual field trips" brings up a dozen lists of "best virtual field trips." Here's one from my go-to blogger Glenn Wiebe. 

And, closer to home, for teachers unable to bring their students to Helena, we've been creating ways to bring Helena to you (some higher tech than others.)

Ellen Baumler just finished a virtual tour of Helena's Pioneer Cabin, "What Would You Bring?" Emigrant Families on Montana's Gold Rush Frontier (grades 3-8). The site is curated by the Montana Heritage Commission and Ellen took the tour she gives of the cabin and transformed it into a PowerPoint with a script that teachers can use in the classroom. We supplemented it with introductory exercise, post-tour discussion questions, and standards alignment and added it to our growing collection of PowerPoint Lesson Plans. It's really quite wonderful. I encourage you to check it out.

Laura Ferguson created a "virtual tour" (again based on a PowerPoint and script--though with interactive elements written in) of our exhibit Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark. It's part of the larger Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan. Turn to Appendix 4 (page 36) for instructions on how to modify the lesson without visiting the museum.     

This spring we are again offering special tours of the Mackay Gallery of Russell Art, given by "Nancy Russell (Charlie's wife and business manager) as portrayed by first person interpreter Mary Jane Bradbury. But even if you can't get to Helena, you can watch Mary Jane Bradbury touring the gallery as Nancy Russell on YouTube.

You can virtually explore the Montana State Capitol and the Original Governor's Mansion (OGM) on Google Maps. Neither have scripts, but for the Capitol, there's a static web exhibit featuring the art and history (just waiting for someone to design a web quest--those are still a thing, right?) And for the OGM, there's a scavenger hunt we developed for use with the virtual tour as part of the Original Governor's Mansion footlocker. (See pages 47-48 of the OGM foootlocker User Guide.)  Tour guide extraordinaire Bobi Harris is also working with colleagues to create a video tour of the Original Governor's Mansion. We'll add a link to it as soon as it's done.

Of course, computer tours are never as good as the real thing. To schedule actual tours of Montana's Museum at the Montana Historical Society or the Original Governor's Mansion, contact us at (406) 444-4794 or by email bharris2@mt.gov.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Field Trips: More than a Day Out

Field trip season is upon us. To facilitate getting your students out of the classroom, Nick Zarnowski (who's working for us this spring) created a series of maps showing possible Montana history field trips across the state. One of the maps shows all of the field trip sites, the others are organized to show how the sites align with chapters of our textbook, Montana: Stories of the Land.

I've written before about ways to make field trips more than a fun day off school and continue to be inspired by Smithsonian's research-based best practices for a meaningful field trip, which include clarifying the learning objectives of the visit, linking the visit to curriculum, and providing structure to the visit while also allowing time for free exploration. 

Nick had a great suggestion to fulfil the latter goal: before and after concept mapping. Have students draw a concept map showing what they know about the topic they will be learning more about on the field trip before you go and then again after you return home. It's an easy way to see what they learned and what points you want to reteach or reemphasize in the classroom.  


Nick also created a scavenger hunt to be used for visits to our special exhibit, "Times of Trouble, Times of Change: Montana and the Great War," so if you are planning a trip to MHS, consider adding this temporary exhibit to your agenda. Pre and post-tour activities for this centennial installation include reading Chapter 16 of the textbook Montana: Stories of the Land, "Montana and World War I"; having students explore the "Montana and the Great War Story Map," possibly using the story map Scavenger Hunt; or having students complete the Montana and the Great War Lesson Plan, which asks students, after studying the period, to  write a journal entry or a letter from the perspective of someone living in Montana (or serving in the armed forces) during the war.

Here are a few other pre and post field trip ideas for sites curated by the Montana Historical Society, including our museum.

Touring Montana State Capitol?

Watch the first 10:55 of “When Copper Was King” (part of Montana Mosaic), which focuses specifically on the Copper King’s 1894 Capital Fight between Helena and Anaconda. The video begins with students giving their best answer to the following focus question, which relates to Segment 1: “Why is Helena our state capital?” I recommend asking your students the same question before viewing the episode. (You can find the teacher guide/discussion questions here.

Touring the Original Governor’s Mansion?

The mansion is interpreted around Gov. Stewart’s tenure (1913-21), which encompasses the years of World War I and, during the WWI centennial, it is being interpreted in the WWI context through a tour called "Doing Our Bit: Montana’s Home Front during the Great War." To prepare for that tour, consider having students explore the Montana and the Great War Story Map, which looks at the war's effects on Montanans, using this scavenger hunt and/or this lesson plan. And/or have them read Chapter 16 of Montana: Stories of the Land. (The PDF is available online).   

Even more valuable would be to introduce the mansion and the era using the hands-on history footlocker, Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times, 1913-1921. Remember that even if you can't bring the physical footlocker to your classroom, you can still make use of the lesson plans, informational text (aimed at a fourth-grade level), and PowerPoints with historic images. (And have your younger students make calling cards to bring with them on their field trip. (See Lesson 4B in the Original Governor's Mansion footlocker user guide.) 

Touring Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark?

Preview the story-telling tour and download pre- and post-tour lessons and discussion questions.

Touring the Mackay Gallery of C. M. Russell Art?

Integrate the field trip into your curriculum with Montana's Charlie Russell, which offers biographical PowerPoints, hands-on art lessons, and ELA and social studies lessons.

And speaking of the Mackay Gallery: We once again have special tours available this spring, led by Nancy Russell herself (as portrayed by Mary Jane Bradbury.) In this living history tour, Nancy shares first-hand stories about her life with Charlie and the integral role she played in creating his remarkable legacy. The tour has gotten rave reviews, so make sure to ask for it if you are interested in Russell. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

High School Resources for Government, Native Studies, and Montana History Classes

If you are like me, you are always on the lookout for new resources. Here are some standouts that have come to my attention recently. 

New to Native Knowledge 360: lesson plans created by rock star Montana educators Tammy Elser and Julie Cajune.  
  • "Northern Plains Treaties: Is a Treaty Intended to Be Forever?" provides perspectives from Native American community members, images, documents, and other sources to help students and teachers understand the difficult choices and consequences Northern Plains Native Nations faced when entering into treaty negotiations with the United States. Explore the intentions, motivations, and outcomes of two treaties: the 1851 Horse Creek Treaty and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.
  • "Northern Plains History and Cultures: How Do Native People and Nations Experience Belonging?" provides perspectives from Native American community members, images, objects, and other sources to help students and teachers think about the significance that homelands, kinship systems, and nationhood hold for Native Peoples of the Northern Plains. Explore four case studies to learn more about the relationships that help to create a sense of belonging. 
These are resource and strategy rich and align with a number of academic and IEFA standards. They are also constructed in such a way that if you don't have time to undertake the entire unit, you can use individual lessons and resources (including some nice short videos.)

Speaking of treaty rights, here's an interesting article about a current case before the Supreme Court: "Supreme Court case tests weight of old Native American treaties in 21st century,"  by UM Law Professor Monte Mills. I discovered the link because I subscribe to the Mountain West News' "Rockies Today, "a regional news service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana." If you have your students do any type of current events reporting, this is a great source for meaningful stories.

The film about Elouise Cobell, 100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice, is now available on Netflix! I highly recommend this movie for high school government and Montana history classes. And to make your life easier, OPI's Indian Education Division created a model teaching unit for it. 

Laura Ferguson recently revised "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction"  and we've reprinted copies of this powerful, primary-source based unit. If you'd like me to send you a copy, let me know (you can also download it from our website). 

Finally, the Great Falls Tribune has gathered all of its articles about the 1964 flood in one place. (And for good measure, here's a more scholarly article, which focuses specifically on the flood on the Blackfeet Reservation, published by Aaron Parrett in Montana The Magazine of Western History.) Seeing it reminded me of this an old, but still relevant, post I wrote about teaching about disasters.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Do you teach Western Literature? Apply for the WLA/Charles Redd Center K-12 Teaching Award

The Western Literature Association and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies will sponsor two K-12 Teaching Awards to provide teachers with the opportunity to attend the Western Literature Association Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri from October 24-27, 2018. The selected teachers will present their approaches to teaching western literature on a K-12 Teaching Panel on Saturday, October 27.

The prize will include conference registration, award banquet ticket, WLA membership, and $700 toward conference travel costs.

More information can be found on the WLA website: http://www.westernlit.org/k-12-teaching-award/. Submission deadline is July 1.

If you are looking for spring or summer PD opportunities, check out this posts:
Or register for our April 18 or April 19 workshops in Kalispell and Pablo.




Monday, April 9, 2018

News Roundup

"Pre-Contact Montana," the inaugural lecture in our series, Montana History in 9 Easy Lessons is now available to view online. Jessica Bush gave an engaging and informative talk and I have a new understanding of how archaeologists interpret evidence and what they think life was like here 12,000 to 300 years before present. She's a really excellent speaker--if you choose to view her program, you can also complete the short reflection to receive an OPI renewal credit. We'll be live-streaming the second installment on the early contact period this Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., but don't worry if you can't join us for the live stream. We'll post a link to recording for you to view at your leisure.  

We still have spaces in our On-the-Road workshop, "Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core." We feel very lucky that presenter Jim Schulz has agreed to conduct these trainings for us. An award-winning history and science teacher with over thirty years of classroom experience, Jim does a remarkable job sharing techniques and resources that will be useful in any social studies, ELA, and art classroom. He'll be in Kalispell on April 18 and Pablo April 19. Sadly, we had to cancel the Libby workshop due to low registration. He's presented across the state for us over the last two years (Cut Bank, Chinook, Glasgow, Lewistown, Billings, Glendive, Miles City, Sidney, and Livingston) to rave reviews, and this is likely the last time he'll be offering this particular workshop, so I encourage you to register if you can.

And speaking of trainings: I want to remind everyone that applications for our middle school Teacher Leader in History program are due April 30. I've talked to several remarkable teachers who were hesitant to apply because they didn't think they were qualified. All I can say is, "You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You," so, if you are interested in participating in the program, submit your application(Equally, if you know of a great middle school Montana history teacher, encourage him or her to apply.) We can only select 12 participants, but you can't win if you don't play. 

And, finally, drum roll, please... Phil Leonardi of Corvallis handily won the teacher edition of Montana Madness, our take on March Madness, which pitted object against object in a competition to be named Montana's Most Awesome Object. Phil predicted a remarkable 11 out of the 15 contests. You can see the winning bracket here, and, if you or your students played, compare it with your own predictions.

In the end, it came down to two powerful objects, yet in the end, the humble Smith Mine Disaster Board handily won the competition against Russell's masterpiece, When the Land Belonged to God, in what can only be seen as a vindication of the power of story.  

Emil Anderson was one of the 77 coal miners who died in the 1943 Smith Mine disaster and the board was his last letter to his family. Here's more on the board:

At 8 a.m., Saturday, February 27, 1943, Emil Anderson and seventy-six other coal miners entered Smith Mine #3 near the community of Bearcreek. One hour and thirty-seven minutes later, employees close to the surface of the mine felt an enormous pressure in their ears, followed by a powerful gust of air filled with soot and debris exploding past them. Only three workers escaped from the mine. Within its depths, thirty men died instantly from the forceful blast and another forty-four soon suffocated. Anderson was part of this latter group. In the short time he had remaining, he used the materials he had available to leave his family this message on the lid of a dynamite box: “It’s 5 minutes pass [sic] 11 o’clock Agnes and children I’m sorry we had to go this way God bless you all Emil with lots [of] kisse[s].” This fragile letter—which conveys a deeply personal and tragic story—survives as one of the most poignant objects cared for by the Montana Historical Society.
The Smith Mine Board, When the Land Belonged to God, and the other 14 objects that made the Sweet 16 are all on display in our virtual exhibit, "Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object." I think the objects in this exhibit--and the stories behind them have the potential to be powerful teaching tools. If you have ideas of lesson plans or other resources (a scavenger hunt/web quest?) that would make the exhibit more useful for your classroom, please let me know. We plan to create some teaching resource/lesson plan for it, but I don't yet know what, so if you tell me what you want, that may very well be what we end up doing.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science

I recently finished the beautifully written and thought-provoking Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by botany professor and citizen of the Potawatomi Nation Robin Kimmerer. I highly recommend adding it to your summer reading list.

You know how it is. When you learn something new, you begin seeing evidence of it everywhere. Maybe that's why I took notice of this article in the Smithsonian Magazine, "When Scientists “Discover” What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries." 

I recently learned that OPI's Indian Education Division is working on a comprehensive new science curriculum, and I now await it more eagerly than ever.

While we wait, it's worth checking out some of these resources:


Monday, April 2, 2018

Montana's Most Awesome Object

Have you been following Montana Madness, our March Madness-style competition that pit object against object to determine Montana's Most Awesome Object?

The journey began with 65 objects, on display in our first major online exhibit "Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object."  Fans narrowed the choices down to 16, then 8, and then the Final Four. Now only the Smith Mine Disaster Board and the C. M. Russell painting When the Land Belonged to God remain to battle for the crown.  

It's the clash of the titans. 

The #1 Seed Smith Mine Disaster Board represents Montana's mining heritage, the tremendous sacrifices miners made for their families and their country and the need for constant vigilance when it comes to workers' safety. Here's the back story: At 8 a.m., Saturday, February 27, 1943, Emil Anderson and seventy-six other coal miners entered Smith Mine #3 near the community of Bearcreek. One hour and thirty-seven minutes later, a powerful explosion occurred. Only three workers escaped from the mine. Within its depths, thirty men died instantly from the forceful blast and another forty-four soon suffocated. Anderson was part of this latter group. In the short time he had remaining, he used the materials he had available to leave his family this message on the lid of this dynamite box: “It’s 5 minutes pass [sic] 11 o’clock Agnes and children I’m sorry we had to go this way God bless you all Emil with lots [of] kisse[s].”  

The #3 Seed, When the Land Belonged to God, by Charles M. Russell, exemplifies a romantic view of the Old West and represents the work of Montana's most beloved adopted son. No person better personifies Montana’s perception of its colorful past than does the “Cowboy Artist,” Charles M. Russell (1864–1926).  No painting better exemplifies Russell’s artistic genius than does When the Land Belonged to God. At face value a preeminent portrayal of wildlife, it is also a testament to Russell’s belief in the superiority of life in Montana before it was changed forever by the farmers and boosters who closed the open range.

Voting remains open in this too-close-to-call contest until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2018.  I hope you'll make your preference known. And check back on the Montana Madness webpage on Thursday afternoon to find out whether the Smith Mine board or the Russell painting took the day.

P.S. If you engaged your students this contest, would you take a moment and drop me a line? We're evaluating the success of this contest and I'd love specific feedback from educators. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Poems for Two Voices: Sitting Bull and Plenty Coups

Earlier in March, I shared some of the video resources I learned about at OPI's always amazing Best Practices in Indian Education for All workshop. Today I want to focus on a lesson plan that Billings school librarians Ruth Ferris and Kathi Hoyt presented on writing poems for two voices to contrast the perspectives of Plenty Coups (Crow) and Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota), two well-known Indian leaders.

The lesson uses excerpts from Plenty Coups' and Sitting Bull's speeches that Bozeman teacher Derek Strahn collected for a lesson he created for us several years ago: "Hearing Native Voices: Analyzing Differing Tribal Perspectives in the Oratory of Sitting Bull and Plenty Coups."

I love this lesson for so many reasons--but here are two:

1. It emphasizes the great diversity among individual American Indian leaders and their tribes' responses to Euro-American incursion into their territory. The temptation to lump all Indians and all tribes together is strong, an issue two of the seven  Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians address:
Essential Understanding 1: There is great diversity among the twelve tribal nations of Montana in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each Nation has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern Montana.

Essential Understanding 2: There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.  
2. Kathi and Ruth provide so much scaffolding:

  • A brief handout explaining how Poems for Two Voices work,
  • A Word Sort activity that has students read the quotes Derek provided on pages 5 and 6 of his lesson, and then sort keywords into three categories (Sitting Bull, Plenty Coups, and Both) to help teach difficult vocabulary and get students comparing and contrasting,
  • A Graphic Organizer to aid students comparing the two leaders' points of view, and
  • A template created by FOI Oklahoma for students to use to create their poem (see page 2).
When you try this lesson in your classroom, send me one of your students' poems. I'd love to read it.

P.S. We still have spaces in our upcoming northwestern Montana workshops: Libby, Pablo, and Kalispell. Please register and/or help us spread the word (I can't justify offering on-the-road workshops if they don't fill.) And speaking of professional development: We're still accepting applications for our Middle School Teacher Leader in History program.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Montana History in 9 Easy Lessons

Back in November, I asked readers to let me know how Montana history was taught in their district and how the Montana Historical Society could help improve the teaching of Montana history statewide. (If you'd like a copy of the survey results, let me know and I'll happily send a summary to you.)

We've slowly been working through your suggestions and ideas, one of which was to provide more content-oriented (as opposed to strategy-oriented) trainings. That suggestion inspired us to create a new course: Montana History in 9 Easy Lessons.

Every Wednesday, 3:30-4:30, between April 4, 2018, and May 30, 2018, we've asked a colleague to discuss a major period in Montana history. Individually, these programs will offer compelling discussions of specific topics relating to Montana’s past; together they will provide a big-picture overview of the state’s rich and fascinating history. We'll be live-streaming their talks for folks who don't live close enough to Helena to attend in person, and we'll make recordings available after the fact on YouTube. (We'll post links here.) We've also created a simple reflection form for educators to complete after watching one of the presentations so that they can to receive renewal units.

I encourage you to read the full descriptions of each session, but below is a list of dates and titles to pique your interest. I've added a link to the most relevant Montana: Stories of the Land chapter in parentheses, for those interested in how this aligns to the textbook.

  • April 4: Pre-Contact Montana  (Chapter 2)
  • April 11: Early Contact Period (Chapter 3)
  • April 18: Gold! (Chapter 6)
  • April 25: Industrial Montana (Chapter 10 and Chapter 15)
  • May 2: Disintegration: Montana’s Tribal Nations in the Early Reservation Years through the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (Chapter 11)
  • May 9: Homesteading Boom and Bust (Chapter 13 and Chapter 18)
  • May 16: Montana and the Cold War (Chapter 20)
  • May 23: Modern Revolution and Counterrevolution: Montana from the late 1960s through the 1990s (Chapter 21)
  • May 30: Tribal Sovereignty in the Self-Determination Period (Chapter 22)

I hope you can join us--in person or virtually.

P.S. I helped designed this course, so for those of you who've asked in the past about which topics I'd recommend focusing on or which chapters I'd teach if I had to choose, here's today's answer (though not necessarily next week's.) If you were designing "Montana History in 9 Easy Lessons," which topics would you choose to focus on? I first asked this question--or one like it--in 2012 and compiled folks' answers here, here, and here. You can still take that survey, which I think remains a useful thought exercise, but I'm no longer compiling answers.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Make your voice heard!

Of special interest to: Educators interested in helping to develop new Content Standards for Social Studies

The Content Standards and Instruction (CSI) Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction has posted its schedule for revising standards, and social studies is up next (along with Career and Technical Education, Computer Science. and Technology/Library Media/Information Literacy.)
 
Right now they are in the "Research and Review" phase and are collecting feedback from educators. You can review resources and provide feedback for Social Studies here. You can review resources and provide feedback for Technology and Library Media/Information Literacy here

Interested in how the process works? Check out this video.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Professional Development AND Notecard Confessions

I like to pull things together thematically for these posts, but the only things these topics have in common is that they are all cool things you can do.

Cool thing #1: Join us for professional development. We still have room at all of our April workshops (in Kalispell, Libby, and Pablo). And we're still accepting applications from middle school teachers for our Teacher Leader in History program. 

Cool thing #2: Glenn Wiebe of History Tech drew my attention to a project that Kansas middle school teacher Jill Weber had her students do when they were studying homesteading: Notecard confessions. Notecard confessions are a genre where stories are written on notecards, very few words per card, and the "narrator" creates a video, slowly flipping through the cards, allowing viewers to read each one. Jill had her students create notecard confession videos based on a series of letters written by Mary Chaffee Abell, who homesteaded in Kansas with her husband Robert. In a blogpost, she details her process and posts some of her students' final products (they are great!).

Following links from her blog (and a quick Google search) I learned that other teachers have done this with a focus on the Trail of Tears and Andrew Jackson. I can see this working in a unit on Indian boarding schools, industrial mining, and many other Montana history topics for which there are relevant primary sources and high emotional content.

If you try (or have tried) having your students create notecard confessions (especially on a Montana history topic)--or you have found another way to connect students emotionally to a historical topic--I'd love to hear about it. Email me at mkohl@mt.gov.

Cool thing #3: Check out which objects from our collection have advanced to the Elite 8 in Montana Madness (a competition to win the title of Montana's Most Awesome Object). We haven't experienced anything quite as dramatic as UMBC's victory over Virginia, but there have been some upsets. Voting in this next round ends March 25.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Media Literacy Part 3

At the end of January,  I wrote about tools to teach media literacy in a post titled "Fighting Fake News." It touched a nerve. Several educators responded, including  Lisa Kerscher, who pointed me toward a resource I shared in a February post: "Checkology: Another Media Literacy Resource." That post generated additional suggestions: 

Kim Anderson from Humanities Montana wrote: 

"Middle and high school teachers also might want to take advantage of a new catalog of presentations we have—The Informed Citizen. This program is part of the "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public's knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership. All programs are available to schools for free." (By the way, this is just one of many programs available free to schools from Humanities Montana.) 


Chris Seifert of MontanaPBS wrote: 

"KQED Teach is a free, online professional learning community for educators to expand their media literacy skills by taking short courses.  Participants will find courses, lesson plans, and activities for making their own digital media, developing lesson plans and sharing it with the community of fellow educators.  Sign up at teach.kqed.org to take courses and learn about digital media."

Many of the best resources I share come from readers. If there's a resource you love (on media literacy or any other relevant topic) please let me know so I can share it with your colleagues.

P.S. Are you playing Montana Madness? Polls close Sunday, March 18, at 11:59 p.m., in these exciting contests: Jeannette Rankin's shoe vs. 2,000-4,000 year old petroglyph, the Charlie Russell painting When the Land belonged to God vs. the Fisherman's Map of Montana, the earliest letter in our collection (written in 1810 by Pierre Menard at Three Forks) vs. a ca. 1900 beautifully beaded cradleboard, and the 1908 Montana State Federation of Labor Certificate of Affiliation vs. a pair of 1910 Cree beaded gauntlet gloves. Please vote and encourage your friends and students to vote. And may the best object win.

Monday, March 12, 2018

April and May IEFA Online Book Club Courses

Western Montana Professional Learning Collaborative is offering two more online book club courses in April and May.

American Indian Literature (for use in grades K-8) will run April 2-May 22, 2018. "The course serves as an opportunity for participants to explore OPI developed instructional units based on literature sent to all Montana elementary and middle school libraries alongside additional primarily fiction texts for use in grades K-8." It "will be divided into three parts: literature for K-2, literature for 3-5, and literature for 6-8. Many resources are place-based, either focused on Montana tribes or created by Montana Indian authors. Participants will read texts, engage in discussions, complete instructional activities, and examine accurate and authentic Native American fiction and nonfiction texts. Ultimately, participants will select texts and instructional units for immediate integration of IEFA into their classrooms. This course is rigorous and requires the participant complete extensive reading and access a number of texts through their school or public library or purchase said materials from WM-PLC or booksellers." 

Registration fee: $175. Credit: 30 OPI Renewal Units or 2 Semester Credits (semester credit is offered through the University of Montana and is an additional fee of $155.) Find more information and a link to register here.

The History of the Flathead Reservation will run April 9-May 27, 2018. "Through the readings, participants will examine primary and secondary documents that inform the tribal history of the Flathead Reservation. Participants will utilize their critical analysis skills while using instructional strategies within the context of multicultural education." Books include 
  • In the Name of the Salish & Kootenai Nation: The 1855 Hell Gate Treaty and the Origin of the Flathead Indian Reservation by R. Bigard and C. Woodcock (1996);
  • A Brief History of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille Tribes by the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee (2003);
  • Salish People and the Lewis and Clark Expedition by the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee and Elders Cultural Advisory Council (2005); 
  • Coming Back Slow: The Importance of Preserving Salish Indian Culture and Language by Agnes Vanderburg (1995). 
Registration fee: $175. Credit: 30 OPI Renewal Units or 2 Semester Credits (semester credit is offered through the University of Montana and is an additional fee of $155.) Find more information and a link to register here.

And speaking in April workshops, we have FREE in-person workshops scheduled for Kalispell (April 18), Libby (April 19), and Pablo (April 20). There is still plenty of room in all of these workshops. Would you let your colleagues in northwest Montana know? 

P.S. Last week, the Smith Mine Disaster Board, Lewis and Clark Bridge, White Swan Robe, and Elk Tooth Dress advanced to the Elite 8 in #MontanaMadness, our take on March Madness.  Vote for objects currently competing in the tournament at http://mhs.mt.gov/education/MontanaMadness