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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

High School Students' Authentic Research Contributions

For the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I, we created a website, "Montana and the Great War," with lesson plans, Story Maps, bibliographies, oral history excerpts and more. 

We also worked with several teachers, who led their students in documenting the war's effect on their home communities using the Local Experiences of World War I Lesson Plan. After the students completed their research, they (or their teacher) built a website (most used the free Weebly platform, and we linked to their project on the County Projects page of our WWW website.

I was extremely impressed with what the students created--and their teachers were thrilled with the level of student engagement in the project: "they were truly acting like researchers and they loved it!" wrote Bigfork teacher Cynthia Wilondek.

Most teachers chose to do this with a high school class--but teachers in Savage, Montana, worked with their middle school students!

The centennial continues through November 2018, and I'm happy to add new student projects even after that if you'd like to try this lesson. But making the decision to have students conduct new research and share their findings can be done on any topic with a local component, and building a website is a great way to share student work. 

If you teach high school (or even middle school), I hope you'll check out the amazing work of students did last year on WWI, and then think about how to incorporate public history research into your history classes.

P.S. For more recent history, consider an oral history project--we've got tools to help!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

You can help...

If you value the Teaching Montana History blog, I hope you'll consider supporting our work by becoming a member of the Montana Historical Society.

When you join the Montana Historical Society you express your commitment to preserving and sharing the Treasure State's remarkable cultural heritage and become an advocate for Montana's irreplaceable past.

As a subscriber to Teaching Montana History, you already know about the lesson plans we publish, the educational workshops we offer, and our hands-on footlocker program, award-winning textbook, and free tours for school groups.  You probably also know about our many efforts to share our content statewide through online exhibits, the digitized newspaper project, and other digital initiatives


Join today and become part of the team that shapes Montana’s future by preserving its past. Among the Montana Historical Society's accomplishments: 
  • Highlighting historical and artistic treasures at Montana's Museum,
  • Preserving one-of-a-kind documents in our Research Center,
  • Working with communities around the state to protect historic sites,
  • Digitizing collections to make them accessible to researchers worldwide, and 
  • Publishing books and the award-winning journal, Montana The Magazine of Western History.
We appreciate our members! And to express it, we offer a number of member benefits, including
  • Unlimited free admission to Montana's Museum and Original Governor's Mansion.
  • One-year subscription to Montana The Magazine of Western History mailed to your home
  • 15% discount on most items from the Museum Store.
  • Two complimentary research requests at the Research Center every year.
  • An annual MHS Calendar.
  • Discounts at Time Travelers museums nationwide.
  • Invitations to special events.
  • Subscription to our quarterly newsletter, the Society Star.
  • Recognition in the magazine.
All but $35 of your membership is tax deductible.

Please join us! Become a member today! 

 P.S. Finally, 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.)

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?"