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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Little Something for Everybody

We've got an amazing one-day workshop, "Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core," coming to Kalispell (April 18), Pablo (April 19) and Libby (April 20). If you are within an easy drive of any of these communities, this is one PD you will not want to miss. Learn more and register and please share the link with your friends. I can only get the Society to continue to support on-the-road workshops if I can demonstrate a need.

I picked up some great ideas at OPI's Best Practices in Indian Education for All Workshop this week. I'll share in more depth in a later post, but here are a few links that were new to me:

Pow Wow Sweat is a YouTube series created by The StyleHorse Collective and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe that teaches pow wow dances, including Traditional, Old Style Women's Fancy Shawl, Jingle Dress, Men's Grass Dance, and many more. Teachers said they are great for PE, indoor recess, and just to get the wiggles out.

Native Land is an interactive map created by Victor Temprano.  As he says on the website, it's a work in progress, being continually refined. He also points out that there are many problems inherent to mapping indigenous territories: "Western maps of Indigenous nations are very often inherently colonial, in that they delegate power according to imposed borders that don’t really exist in many nations throughout history." Even given these issues, the site is interesting and thought-provoking. Add English place-names to see in whose territory he's placed you. (Helena, according to this map, is Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Territory.) 

The Arlee Boy's Basketball team, who won the 2018 Class C Boys' Basketball Tournament, created a very moving suicide prevention video.

Speaking of basketball, only one reader has submitted his completed Montana Madness tournament bracket, making him the sure winner--unless some of you step in to give him a little competition by emailing me a photo of your completed bracket before midnight, Sunday, March 11. Prizes and bragging rights are on the line.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Montana Madness: The Other Big Tournament This March

This March, sixteen objects from the Montana Historical Society’s vast collections are competing in “Montana Madness” for the title of Montana’s Most Awesome Object. Will you play along and help select the winner? 

The competition, modeled on the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, will pit object against object from the Montana Historical Society’s museum, archives, and library collections.
Throughout the month, objects will face-off in online polls that will be promoted on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MontanaMadness. But the game isn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter. Anyone can download a Sweet Sixteen bracket and vote on the objects they think should advance in the tournament at our website.

Those voting through the website can enter a sweepstakes to win a one-year family membership to the Montana Historical Society, a signed copy of Montana's Charlie Russell: Art in the Collection of the Montana Historical Society, by Jennifer Bottomly-O'looney and Kirby Lambert, or a 7 ½” x 9 ½” print of Night Storm, by Blackfeet artist Gale Running Wolf, Sr. 

To up the ante, I'll throw in another prize just for Teaching Montana History readers: snap a picture of your completed bracket and email it to me and I'll enter you in a second contest for as an as-yet-to-be-named but fabulous prize. Predict the champion object for the prize. If more than one person predicts the champion, then I'll start working backwards to choose the winner: who predicted both objects in the championship? All of the objects in the Final Four? All of the Elite Eight? You get the idea. If there is more than one person whose bracket is perfect it will be prizes all around. For the competitive among you, I'll throw out this tip: GOTV efforts are NOT cheating. If you want to see a particular object advance, either out of loyalty to the object (Lewis and Clark Bridge near Wolf Point, anyone?) or to improve your chances of winning, encourage your friends, colleagues, and students to vote. Put the link up on Facebook and Twitter. Send it out to your Christmas list. It's all fair play. 

We'll be running four contests at a time--the first four end March 11. They are:

#1 Seed: The Smith Mine Disaster Board vs. #16 Seed: "Square & Compass" Branding Iron

Smith mine board and brand

#5 Seed: Lewis and Clark Bridge Near Wolf Point vs. #12 Seed: Faro Board and Casekeep

#4 Seed: White Swan's Painted Robe vs. Fort Benton Weather Vane

Elk Tooth Dress vs. #10 Seed: A’aninin (Gros Ventre) Tipi Liner

May the best object win!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Middle School Teachers: Apply to become an MHS Teacher Leader in History

Last year we started an Elementary Teacher Leaders in History program. It's gone so well that this year we're soliciting applications from middle school teachers (grades 6-8) to participate in the program. 

If you are interested in helping improve middle school history education in your schools, districts, and regions, consider applying to become a Montana Historical Society Teacher Leader in History. 

Successful applicants will demonstrate a commitment to history education, interest and experience in teaching Montana history, excellence in the classroom, experience in sharing best practices with their colleagues, and familiarity with the Montana Historical Society’s work and educational resources.

In addition to the criteria above, program fellows will be chosen to reflect Montana’s geographic and educational diversity, assuring representation from different regions and both small and large schools.

Those accepted as middle school Teacher Leader Fellows will be brought to Helena for a two-day Teacher Leader in History Summit, to be held at the Montana Historical Society, June 19-20, 2018, at the conclusion of which they will be certified as Montana Historical Society Teacher Leaders in History.

Throughout 2018-2019, this select group of Teacher Leaders in History will
  • Serve as members of the Montana Historical Society Educator Advisory Board, providing advice and classroom testing of lesson plans on an as-needed basis.
  • Work to increase the Montana Historical Society’s visibility in their schools and communities.
  • Assist teachers in their schools in finding appropriate resources/implementing lessons that reflect best practices in history education.
  • Promote Montana Historical Society resources to teachers
    • through a formal presentation at one or more regional conferences (for which they may earn OPI Renewal Units).
    • within their own school or across their district through informal outreach and/or formal presentations.Communicate with Montana Historical Society staff throughout 2018-19, documenting the outreach they have conducted.
  • Communicate with Montana Historical Society staff throughout 2018-19, documenting the outreach they have conducted and participating in up to three one-hour virtual meetings (scheduled at mutually agreeable times).
In return, the Montana Historical Society will provide the following:
  • Full travel scholarships to attend the free two-day June 2018 Summit.
  • An honorarium of $100 to cover travel expenses to one regional conference, at which the participant is presenting, or up to $100 to your school to pay for a substitute teacher so you can present in a nearby district.
  • Ongoing support and consultation, including model PowerPoint presentations to use and adapt as in presentations to fellow educators.
  • A certificate designating the participant as an official MHS Teacher Leader in History.
  • Up to 15 OPI Renewal Units or 1 graduate credit (at the cost of $150/pending course approval from MSU-Northern.)  
No more than 12 teachers will be selected for this special program. Apply online here. Applications are due April 30. Awardees will be notified by May 11.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Checkology: Another Media Literacy Resource

My post, "Fighting Fake News," on tools to teach media literacy--especially online--received a number of responses. Among them was one from Lisa Kerscher, Education Director of Brightways Learning in Missoula, who pointed me to Checkology. Created by the News Literacy Project and designed for use in grades 6-12, the site offers 12 online lessons that (according to the site's own promotion) teach students how to 
  • Categorize information
  • Make and critique news judgments
  • Explore how the press and citizens can each act as watchdogs
  • Detect and dissect viral rumors.
My favorite statistic from the site's PR: "86% of students reported that after Checkology's lessons, they "learned to check information before they share it."

The nonpartisan News Literacy Project was founded in 2008 by former Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Alan Miller, and its partner news organizations (who endorse its mission and donate services) include the Associated Press and Reuters as well as many other news organizations. (See how I'm modeling media literacy and sourcing* here?) 

Teachers can get free premium access to Checkology during 2017-2018 school year.

*Sourcing is a historical thinking skill we all should use when analyzing informational text (including both primary and secondary sources). It starts with asking three questions of every source: Who created it, when, and for what purpose?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Your Time Machine Awaits

I'm always surprised when I talk with a teacher (especially a high school teacher) who doesn't know about Chronicling America and Montana Newspapers. These two sites remain among my favorite research tools. You can find over three-quarters of a million newspaper pages from Montana and millions more from other states. The earliest newspaper available from Montana is the August 27, 1864, Montana Post. I'm not sure what the earliest paper is nationally, but the oldest I found in a cursory search was the April 15, 1789, issue of the Gazette of the United States. 

My amazing colleague Natasha Hollenbach just added the following titles to Montana Newspapers:

  • The Winifred Times, a brand new addition to Montana Newspapers, covering June 22, 1923-July 10, 1936.
  • The Mountaineer (1921-1936), which is a continuation of The Bear Paw Mountaineer (1911-1921), the subject of their first project.
  • An additional 15 years of The Hardin Tribune-Herald. With this extension, The Hardin Tribune and The Hardin Tribune-Herald is now available from 1908-1933. 
How can you use this amazing resource in your classroom? I have ideas.

Struggling with the technology? Here are tips from Primary Source Nexus for viewing and saving articles and for searching Chronicling America. (These tips will work with Montana Newspapers as well.)

P.S. Among the objects displayed in our new online exhibit is the Lowe Press No. 2, the hand printing press on which Montana's very first newspaper, The Montana Post, was printed in Virginia City in 1864. You can read more about it here. Our Montana Madness competition--during which 16 objects will vie for the title of Most Awesome Object--kicks off in March, but through February 25, we're hosting "pre-tournament play." This printing press is in the running to make the Sweet Sixteen. You can cast your vote for it--or other objects competing to represent the "Becoming Montanans" Conference here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Link Roundup

I don't have a real theme for this post--unless cool things I saw on the internet is a theme. Perhaps you'll find one of these articles useful--or at least interesting and thought-provoking.

"Site unseen: Floodwaters buried a treasure trove at Marmes Rockshelter": This Seattle Times article talks about the Marmes Rockshelter, near the Palouse River, which contains evidence of continuous human habitation for over 11,000 years. The site, and likely others like it, were covered by the Snake River's Lower Monumental Dam, and some are advocating for the dam's removal to ensure the survival of endangered wild salmon. If that should happen, the sites will be accessible once again. But then what? Archaeologists are eager to dig, but many tribal members object to what they see as grave robbing. (A Montana-based unit exploring similar topics and moral issues is "Project Archaeology: Investigating the First Peoples, the Clovis Child Burial").

Last Best News reports on a new book that celebrates Montana's one-room schools. Called Chasing Time: Last of the Active One-Room Schools in Montana, the book document twenty-six of Montana's remaining sixty plus one-room schools with photographs and feature stories. Rural schools make a great topic or study. Among those working to document the state's rural schools (including those that were closed long ago) is the Montana Preservation Alliance. Learn more here. 

While reading up on grizzly bears to rework the lesson plans for our state symbols footlocker, I came across Mountain West News's post "Coexisting with Grizzlies," which asks "Can Yellowstone Grizzlies coexist with people?" I didn't end up using it but I found it a thought-provoking read. How about that for a Geo-Inquiry question? 

P.S. I hope you've had time to check out our new online exhibit "“Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object.” And I hope you've VOTED on which of the objects featured in the exhibit should be chosen to participate in our Montana Madness competition in March, during which these pieces of history will compete March Madness–style for the title of Montana’s Most Awesome Object. We need your help selecting the Sweet Sixteen. If not, there's still time. Vote here!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Summer PD Opportunities: In Billings, Bozeman, Helena and across the Country

I've already touted the Montana Geographic Alliance's Geo-Inquiry Institute at Flathead Lake (June 20-22). Here are a few other professional development opportunities that have crossed my radar.

Once again the Montana Network of Holocaust/IEFA Educators is hosting "Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All. The seminar is for all educators, grades 4 through college professors, who are currently teaching or interested in teaching the Holocaust and/or the Indian Education for All. Held on the campus of MSU-Billings, June 10-16, 2018, this intensive, inquiry-based seminar bridges past and present. Participants build background knowledge about the Holocaust and IEFA and gain writing-based classroom strategies for building community and processing difficult information. The seminar is free (three graduate credits are available for $135) and includes copies of selected books and teaching materials, lunches and most dinners, several field trips, and the opportunity to apply for mini-grants of up to $1,000. Low-cost dorm housing is available.

Project Archaeology is offering a professional development workshop “Civil Rights through the Lens of Archaeology: Investigating a Shotgun House," on June 18-20, 2018 at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT. The cost of registration is $145 which includes full instruction and all materials. (University credit (1) and renewal units (21) are available, university credit is an additional $60.) Participants will explore the history of the working class, the meaning of neighborhood, and the definition of family. Workshop leader Crystal Alegria assures me that she's adapting the national curriculum to Montana and that the participants will take home curriculum that is immediately usable in their classrooms to fulfil Common Core Standards, while their students discover historical inquiry through engaging hands-on activities. The registration deadline is June 1, 2018, or when the class fills. If you have any questions, please send email Crystal at calegria@montana.edu or give her a call at 406-994-6925.

We're teaming up to offer OPI Renewal Units for teachers attending the Montana History Foundation's Cemetery Workshop, which will be held in Helena, June 21-23, 2018. Day 1 features national and regional experts on cemetery presentation techniques, including GIS mapping and ground penetrating radar. Day 2 focuses on technology preservation demonstrations at Forestvale Cemetery and Day 3 offers a choice of field trips that include a day of hands-on preservation training at Elkhorn Ghost Town and a half-day motor coach tour of Helena's historic cemeteries with MHS Interpretive Historian Ellen Baumler. Registration cost is $125.

Looking to travel farther afield? Check out the NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers. The application is competitive and includes a travel stipend of $1200-$3,000 to defray the costs of attending these one-three week tuition-free seminars. Topics include the 1918 Flu Epidemic (Blacksburg, VA and Washington, DC) and Reading Material Maps in a Digital Age (Chicago). Deadline for applying is March 1, 2018.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Montana Resources to Supplement Your Black History Month Studies

I think every month is Black History Month. That said, I'm delighted to see more attention paid to African American history in February. 

Looking to bring Black history home? My colleague Kate Hampton just published this really interesting blog essay on laws that particularly affected African American Montanans--from their right to vote, serve on juries, attend desegregated schools, marry whom they pleased, and even go bowling or to dinner. I found "Racial Legislation in Montana that Particularly Affected African Americans" eye-opening. I bet you and your upper-level students will too.

Kate also headed up our Montana's African American Heritage Resources Project. The extremely rich website includes place-based research and presentations (including some awesome story maps),  oral histories, photographs, and artifacts, and, of course, lesson plans.

P.S. Are you playing Montana Madness? I hope so. We cooked up this March-Madness style game to promote our new online exhibit, “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object.” Among the objects competing to make the Sweet Sixteen is a steel recording by Taylor Gordon singing "By and By." (Scroll down to see it.) An African-American native of White Sulphur Springs, Taylor Gordon (1893–1971) first achieved fame as a singer of spirituals in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. As a young man, Gordon began working for circus impresario John Ringling on his private railroad car that traveled regularly from Montana to New York. It was in the corridors of the train that Taylor’s soaring tenor voice drew the attention of guests who encouraged him to pursue a career in music. During a layover in New York, he joined a traveling vaudeville group that crisscrossed the nation. This steel record, produced in 1929 as an audio letter to his family, is one of the few recordings made of Gordon and includes him singing "By and By." Today, Gordon is best known for his autobiography, Born to Be, which chronicles his rise from servant to high society, from mining camp to New York City. You can vote for Gordon's record or another object in our "Montanans at Play" conference here.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Look out Kalispell, Pablo, and Libby! Here we come.

Mark your calendars and tell your friends! The Montana Historical Society is going on the road with four educator workshops, at venues across the state.

Last year's on-the-road workshops received rave reviews--so we're putting nationally recognized social studies and science teacher Jim Schulz back on the road.  

Cosponsored and held at local museums, these workshops are targeted to 4-12 teachers interested in meeting social studies and Common Core ELA standards and while engaging students in active learning.

Here's the schedule:

April 18, 2017: Kalispell (Cosponsored by the Central School Museum): 

  • Place: 124 Second Ave. East, Kalispell, MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 19, 2018: Pablo (Cosponsored by the People's Center): 
  • Place: 56633 Highway 93, Pablo, MT
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 20: Libby (Cosponsored by the Heritage Museum):
  • Place: 34067 US Hwy 2, in the historic cookhouse, Libby, MT
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
The morning session will be spent on Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique that uses teacher-facilitated discussions of art images to train students in “key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards” (vtshome.org) and learning about ways to teach art through social studies and ELA/social studies through art.   

In the afternoon, participants will be introduced to other ready-to-use, cross-disciplinary lesson plans from the Montana Historical Society, including a lesson from one of our hands-on history footlockers and lessons that integrate theater, ELA, and history to investigate Montanans' experiences during wartime. Attendees will leave with copies of the reader's theater script and lesson plan "Letters Home from Montanans at War" as well as information on how to access many other free lessons from the Montana Historical Society. 

Those who attended "Crossing Disciplines" in earlier years will note that the agenda has changed slightly. We've kept the morning focus on Visual Thinking Strategies and Russell but have shaken up the afternoon to focus on the World War I era.

The workshop is free. 6 OPI Renewal Units available. 

Learn more, view the agendas, and find the links to register here

Monday, February 5, 2018

Montana History Object by Object

We've just launched a fabulous new online exhibit, “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object.” Funded in part by the Cultural & Aesthetic Grant Program, the exhibit features sixty-four objects from the Society’s vast collections. Individually, the objects provide fascinating glimpses into the lives of earlier generations of Montanans. Together, the stories they tell create a rich tapestry illustrating Montana’s shared history. 

What does this have to do with you and your classroom?

First, I think you'll enjoy the exhibit, created to celebrate the history of both the Montana Historical Society and the state it serves. 

"Appropriate, Curious and Rare" lives up to its name: it includes some of our rock star objects--like Charles M. Russell's When the Land Belonged to God, one of the objects in the section "Montana State of Mind."

It also includes lesser-known objects, like the chainless bicycle that Presbyterian minister Reverend Edwin M. Ellis rode to visit otherwise inaccessible congregations. You can learn more about its story in the section "Montanans in Motion."

Second, I'm hoping you'll explore the exhibit as the starting point for classroom lessons. What about having your students tell the history of your town, your school, or their family through objects? Renee Rasmussen, who used to teach in Chester, had a great family heirloom project she did with her high school students that involved having her students research and write about an object that had been passed down through their family. Through their work, students tried to answer such essential questions as "What does this object tell me about who I am?" This is exactly the type of question we ask of the artifacts in "Appropriate, Curious, and Rare," substituting "who we are as Montanans" for the more personal "I." 

Finally, I hope you (and your class) will join us for a little fun. Along with launching the exhibit, we're launching a Montana Madness competition, during which the items featured in the exhibit will compete March Madness–style for the title of Montana’s Most Awesome Object.

Will you and your students help us select objects from “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object” to compete in the Sweet Sixteen? Online polls opened February 2 at our website. Voting to determine which objects should join the initial Sweet Sixteen will end at 11:59 p.m. February 25, 2018.

You and your students can participate in the selection of Montana’s most awesome object by following the voting links on the Montana Madness webpage or through the Montana Historical Society Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Once we've selected the 16 competitors, we'll post a bracket to download--then objects will face off against each other; those garnering the most votes will advance to the Final Four. Ultimately, one object will be named the most awesome of them all.

I'm thinking we can have a lot of fun with this--but I need you to help. First, explore the exhibit. Then vote for your favorite objects. Follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds if you don't already. nds to play. Promote the objects and stories nearest to your heart using the hashtag #MontanaMadness and to invite your friends to play.

I'm rooting for the wooden board from the Smith Mine Disaster (right), whose story you can find in the Montanans at Work section

Which object would you like to see win the title?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thinking Geographically

National Geographic and the Montana Geographic Alliance have some cool stuff going on. I've already mentioned the free (including travel stipend) summer institute they are hosting this June for teams of middle school teachers. 

But did you know that National Geographic is active on YouTube? They have a huge number of videos, and several different channels and playlists, including a "101" channel that cover topics from ancient Egypt to coral reefs and, to be more relevant to our region, Wildfires 101 and Climate Change: Glaciers 101. And speaking of glaciers, check out their three-minute video "Photo Evidence: Glacier National Park Is Melting Away." 

And did you know that they've created resources to help you launch a "Geo-Inquiry project" in your classroom? What's that, you ask? According to "4 Ways to Think Outside the Rectangle with National Geographic Geo-Inquiry," it's a problem-based learning project (PBL) that asks students to adopt the attitudes of an explorer ("curiosity, responsibility, and empowerment"), and to use an explorers' skills ("observation, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving")  to elevate their "understanding of the world and how it works" "in order to function effectively and act responsibly.” (Read more here.

Their inquiry process has five steps: "Ask" (or developing a geo-inquiry question), "Collect" (gathering background information, collecting data), "Visualize" (Organizing and analyzing geographic information, "Create" (Developing stories) and "Act" (sharing stories). The blog post that introduced me to geo-inquiry was by a teacher whose students launched investigations into clean drinking water and improper disposal of spent batteries. Montana-specific topics might include aquatic invasive species or the wildfire and the wildland-urban interface.

This type of inquiry is not for the faint of heart. It requires time and preparation. But, as with National History Day and other open-ended research projects, the payoffs can be big. National Geographic has created a website with lots more information, including an Educator Guide and Student Resource Packet (with lots of graphic organizers) to download.  The easiest way to get started, however, is probably to attend the training I mentioned up top.

P.S. Even if you don't have the time to jump into a full-scale Geo-Inquiry, the material is worth looking at. I learned that just as historians are trained to ask of every source "Who wrote this? When? For what purpose?" geographers ask of maps, graphs, and other sources of information, "Where is it?" "Why's it there?" and "Why should I care?" The idea of applying that geographic lens to the world was worth the price of admission for me. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Fighting Fake News

Did you know that the Newseum in Washington, D.C., is offering a FREE virtual class, scheduled to coincide with your bell schedule? Bring "Fighting Fake News: How to Outsmart Trolls and Troublemakers" to your classroom via GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype or WebEx. (If your school uses a different platform, they're willing to look at it to see if it will work.) 

Newseum also has lesson plans and cool anchor charts to display in your classroom--all available for free once you register.

Another source for teaching media literacy--and especially online media literacy--is the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG)'s latest website, "Civic Reasoning Online." You can read my longer summary of the site, and other reasons to love SHEG in this earlier post. Or go directly to their website and register for free access to their material. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Speaking and Listening

A few weeks ago I posted some suggestions in response to a question from a middle school teacher who he was looking for lessons to help students engage in discussions. Today, I came across a new idea (on Facebook, no less): Using Talk Detectives.  Edutopia posted this intriguing one-minute video showing how this practice worked in an elementary classroom.

The teacher divided students into groups to discuss Ancient Greek gods. Then she armed two students, who she designated "Talk Detectives," with clipboards that had a rubric of the class's discussion guidelines--things like:
  • Clarified somebody in their group's ideas.
  • Challenged a group member.
  • Built on someone else's idea.
  • Invite someone else to contribute.
  • Summarized a group member's ideas.
  • Changed their mind.
  • Came to a shared agreement.
The Talk Detectives' job was to circulate and "spy" to see if they could spot anyone using the discussion guidelines. After the discussion, the "detectives" reported on the good things they saw.

According to the teacher featured in the video, using talk detectives helps students "think about their conversations metacognitively" and boosts effective speaking and listening skills.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dave Walter Research Fellowship

Have you ever wanted to conduct in-depth research on a Montana topic? Consider applying for the Dave Walter Fellowship, which last year was awarded to a teacher whose students were writing a history of their town. 

The 2018 Dave Walter Research Fellowship will be awarded to two Montana residents involved in public history projects focused on exploring local history. The award is intended to help Montanans conduct research on their towns, counties, and regions using resources at the Montana Historical Society. Research can be for any project related to local history, including exhibit development, walking tours, oral history projects, building history or preservation, county or town histories, archaeological research, and class projects. Awards of $1,250 each will be given to two researchers annually. The award really is designed for community historians; there's a separate award, the James Bradley Fellowship, for academic historians.

Recipients will be expected to:
  • travel to the MHS to conduct research
  • spend a minimum of one week in residence conducting research
  • provide a copy of their final product or a report on their completed project to the MHS Research Center
 Applications are evaluated on the:
  • suitability of the research to the Society's collections
  • potential of the project to make a contribution to local history
  • experience in conducting local history research

The application must include the following:
  • project proposal, not to exceed 3 pages, describing the research including the specific MHS Research Center collections you intend to use
  • cover letter
  • 1-2 page resume
  • letter of recommendation
Applications must be sent as one PDF document to mhslibrary@mt.gov no later than March 15, 2018. Announcement of the award will be made in mid-April. Questions should be directed to Molly Kruckenberg at mkruckenberg@mt.gov.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Literacy and Social Studies

I recently learned about ReWordify.com (thanks, Glenn Wiebe and Larry Ferlazzo.)  The site allows you to use free online software to simplify blocks of text by replacing more difficult vocabulary with easier words. "Enter hard sentences (or whole chapters) into the yellow box at the top of the page. (You can also enter a website URL.) Click Rewordify text and you'll instantly see an easier version, for fast understanding. The reworded words are highlighted— click them to hear and learn the original harder word. You can change how the highlighting works to match the way you learn!"

With an account, you can also edit "ReWordified" documents to select which words ReWordify changes. (For example, when I ran draft text from our new "Symbols of Montana" footlocker through ReWordify, it changed "agate" to "pretty stone." Since agates are one of Montana's state symbols, and a word students needed to learn, that's not a change I wanted to permit.) 

If you are looking to differentiate text--or looking to modify primary sources to make them easier to read--ReWordify can help. (On simplifying primary sources: many historians I respect, including the folks at the Stanford History Education Group and TeachingHistory.org, recommend this practice when necessary to make material more accessible to students. But I confess, it still makes me a little uneasy. Certainly, if you do it, share that information with your students.) 

ReWordify.com has great tutorials and a library of classic literature and other public domain documents. I recommend you check it out.

And speaking of reading: 

My recent post "Social Studies in Elementary Classrooms" received a hearty "amen" from former CRISS trainer, Montana history teacher, and reading instructor Sue Dailey (who also served as a consultant for our textbook Montana: Stories of the Land.) 

The post focused on University of Virginia psychology professor Daniel Willingham's assertion that to create strong readers schools must teach content because reading comprehension requires broad vocabulary and factual knowledge.

In an email to me, Sue wrote that early in her career, her biggest frustration when it came to teach reading/literacy strategies to students was that she didn't have any relevant content to use. "It was a constant search for articles at a relevant reading level to use to teach comprehension skills such as selective underlining and summarizing." Students would have different amounts of background knowledge and interest in the random articles she chose. This "would impact their comprehension."

Things changed once she started teaching Montana history. Teaching Montana history made her literacy instruction stronger because she had "stuff to teach," content that had a real purpose. Sue found that there were several advantages in teaching reading through Montana history, and since I found her list informative and thought-provoking, I'm sharing it with you. 
  • First, I was able to provide the necessary background information (e.g. geographical locations, pertinent vocabulary, general knowledge of the historical period, etc.) before students read a particular chapter or selection.
  • Second, subsequent reading selections built on previous selections provided content continuity rather than random subject matter.
  • Third,  because of my familiarity with the content, it was easier to adjust the instruction to students of differing reading skills.
  • Fourth, as the reading was of the same content and format it was easier to increase the difficulty of the comprehension strategies.
  • Fifth, teaching this content allowed students to read more primary sources because of their increased background knowledge and literary skills. 
  • Sixth, students learned that applying these literacy skills enabled them to be successful in both tests and writing assignments, so they saw a real benefit and therefore took them more seriously.
Sue taught seventh grade--not fourth--and her middle school focus brings another point to the fore. Not only is "literacy is best taught within the context of relevant and meaningful content" but all teachers (not just English teachers) need "to include literacy instruction within their content areas."   

Monday, January 15, 2018

Free Trainings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Christy Mock-Stutz, English Language Arts & Literacy Instructional Coordinator, at the Montana Office of Public Instruction sent me information about three live webinars that the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has designed specifically for Montana educators. Here's more direct from SAAM:

In this special three-part webinar series Montana teachers will learn how educators at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) use inquiry-based approaches with artwork to engage students as thinkers, readers, and writers, while supporting content across multiple disciplines. Gain practical strategies for integrating art effectively into your teaching, and learn to navigate the Smithsonian’s online resources for educators. Webinars are open to all Montana teachers, though they are especially recommended for English/language arts, social studies or history, and art teachers for grades 5-12. Renewal units will be available.

1. Thinking through Art: Landscape and Place
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 (3:30 – 4:30 p.m., MT)
Explore inquiry-based strategies for guiding close looking and analysis with American art, and ways to make students’ thinking visible. Highlighted SAAM artworks for this session center on the theme of Landscape and Place. Join the live online presentation here: https://zoom.us/j/212806679

2. Native American Art & Artists: How Do You Find Artworks to Use in Your Classroom?
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 (3:30 – 4:30 p.m., MT)
You want to try using American art in your teaching, but how do you know where to find the right piece? Learn how to navigate the Museum’s online resources for teachers, with an emphasis on art by and about Native Americans. Join the live online presentation here: https://zoom.us/j/183416399

3. Art as Argument: Contemporary Artists’ Voices
Monday, April 16, 2018 (3:30 – 4:30 p.m., MT)
How do contemporary American artists use visual tools to persuade? How can persuasive artwork be a springboard to help students construct their own arguments?
Join the live online presentation here: https://zoom.us/j/127740159 

If you can't make the live webinars, Christy says that all the sessions will be recorded and eventually be posted on the Teacher Learning Hub. (If you don't know about the Teacher Learning Hub, I highly recommend that you check it out. They have all sorts of free online courses there--including a series of four short (hourlong) courses Deb Mitchell and I created with Colet Bartow on MHS resources.) But that may take a while, so check out the live webinars if you can.

Happy learning.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nominate a stellar teacher for History Teacher of the Year

Do you know a stellar American history teacher? Consider nominating him or her to become the 2018 Montana History Teacher of the Year.  

The 2018 Montana History Teacher of the Year is open to any full-time K–12 educator who teaches American history (including state and local history) as either an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts, is eligible for the award. We understand that almost all elementary school teachers will be generalists in that they do not always teach history or their curriculum only allows them to teach some history. This should not deter individuals from nominating elementary teachers.

The Montana awardee is then considered for the National History Teacher of the Year Award,  recognizes outstanding American history teachers across the country.  Each state selects a state winner who then will be placed in competition for the National History Teacher of the Year award.  ­
  • State winners receive a $1,000 prize, an archive of classroom resources, and recognition at a ceremony within their state.
  • National winner receives a $10,000 prize presented at an award ceremony in their honor in New York City.
Nominations may be made by clicking the following link or filling out a paper application.:
Important Calendar Dates:
  • Deadline for nominations: March 31, 2018
  • Deadline for nominees to submit supporting materials: April 30, 2018
The Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History, New York, NY sponsors this competition.  The Montana Council for History and Civics Education (MCHCE) administers the Montana state competition for the Gilder-Lehrman Institute.  Visit the MCHCE at: mchce.net or on Facebook.