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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. 

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