A Note on Links: When reading back posts, please be aware that links have a short half-life. You can find working links to all of the MHS resources on our Educator Resources Page.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

A Little of This and A Little of That

 No theme this time--just cool stuff, ideas, and opportunities.

Present at MFPE

Do you have a strategy, lesson, or resource that you think is worth sharing with other teachers? I bet you do! MFPE is accepting applications to present at the 2023 MFPE Educator Conference in Billings, October 19-20. The Social Studies strand of this conference is only as strong as we make it--and I'd like your help making it spectacular. Apply to present

Read All About It!

The first batch of newspapers from MTHS's latest cycle of the National Digital Newspaper Program are now online on the Chronicling America site! This batch includes three papers out of Browning, with issues from 1939 to 1963: 

Need a reminder of how cool and pedagogically useful digitized newspapers are? Check out these past posts. 

Billings Public Library Community Archive Project

This spring, Billings Public Library is launching a program to collect photos of Billings from the 1960s to the 1990s. The Library has already partnered with the Montana History Portal (formerly known as Montana Memory Project) to digitize hundreds of historic photos and documents; this new program will look to fill in the gap of the later 20th century. Images will be displayed at the Library, with selected images uploaded to the Portal. Check out the details of this exciting new program, then think--could you and your students cooperate with a public library in your own community to do something similar? 

Apply to Become a Teacher Leader

Middle school teachers! If you love Montana history and want to share your passion with colleagues, consider applying to become a Teacher Leader in Montana History. Find out more hereApplications are due April 23.   

Last Chance to Participate in History Unfolded

History Unfolded is a project organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It recruits citizen historians (including students!) to search digitized newspapers to uncover what ordinary people around the country could have known about the Holocaust from reading their local newspapers in the years 1933–1945. The project has been going on for several years, and will end this spring. Participants can gain free access to newspapers.com on March 27-April 2, April 17-23, and May 15-21. (This makes the task much easier!) There are classroom resources for teachers if you want to register your class. Learn more.   

Monday, March 13, 2023

Bison: Past and Present

 Bison has been in the news lately, from a resolution in the legislature to oppose bison on the CMR National Wildlife Refuge to the Department of the Interior's commitment to working with tribes to restore bison. Here are three articles I saw, all because I subscribe to Mountain West News, which aggregates (especially environmental) news from the Western United States. 

Connect this to the past.

OPI also has lessons on bison. They include Resources for Learning About Contemporary American Indian Issues: Bison Restoration. This lesson helps students learn more about bison restoration and the importance of the bison to Montana American Indians. This lesson is appropriate for grades 6-12.

And check out Project Archaeology's The 10,000 Year Significance of Bison, which includes four science units and one ELA unit for grades 6-9.

Apply to Become a Teacher Leader

Middle school teachers! If you love Montana history and want to share your passion with colleagues, consider applying to become a Teacher Leader in Montana History. Find out more here. Applications are due April 23.   

P.S. Today is the LAST of our online PD series. Integrating Montana History across Disciplines, led by Teacher Leader in Montana History Cynthia Wilondek, will be held from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Register by noon today to get the Zoom link


Thursday, March 9, 2023

New Name, Even More Great Primary Sources

 The Montana Memory Project has changed its name. It's now the Montana History Portal. It's changed its look and its interface, too. I haven't spent much time on the new site, but director Jennifer Birnel says it's an improvement. She's particularly excited about 

  • the new top menu, which will make it easier to navigate to the Collections, Contributors, and Exhibits pages from anywhere in the site, and
  • the new Featured Items section, which will provide easy access to new collections and digital exhibits.

Don't forget to submit your student stories to the Montana History Portal's Third Annual Historical Picture Prompt contest. (The deadline to enter is March 17, 2023.) Learn more here.

And stay tuned for information about their annual Meme-ory Contest, which usually takes place in May. Here are last year's winners in the age 10-18 category, the age 19-40 category, and the age 41-120 category.

Looking for inspiration on how to use primary sources with your students? Here are some past posts that address this issue.

P.S. Don't forget to register for our last online PD, March 13, 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.: Integrating Montana History across Disciplines, led by Teacher Leader in Montana History Cynthia Wilondek



Monday, March 6, 2023

Become a Teacher Leader in Montana History

The Montana Historical Society (MTHS) is soliciting applications from 6-8 teachers interested in helping improve history education (and especially the teaching of Montana history) in their schools, districts, and regions by becoming Teacher Leaders in Montana 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, up to eight 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 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 26-28, 2023, at the conclusion of which they will be certified as Montana Historical Society Teacher Leaders in History.

Throughout 2023-2024, this select group of Teacher Leaders in History will join current Teacher Leader Fellows to: 

  • Serve as a 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.
  • Promote Montana Historical Society resources to teachers in their region.
  • Assist teachers in their schools in finding appropriate resources/implementing lessons that reflect best practices in elementary history education.
  • Communicate with Montana Historical Society staff throughout 2023-24, documenting the outreach they have conducted and participating in up to three one-hour virtual meetings (scheduled at mutually agreeable times).

Teacher Leader Fellows will be expected to: 

  • Share Montana Historical Society Resources
    • through a formal presentation at one or more regional or statewide 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 2023-24, documenting the outreach they have conducted.

In return, the Montana Historical Society will provide the following (valued at more than $500):

  • Full travel scholarships to attend the free two-day June 2023 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 for presentations to fellow educators.
  • A certificate designating the participant as an official MTHS Teacher Leader in History.
  • A scholarship to attend the Montana History Conference in Helena, September 28-September 30 (attendance is optional).
  • Free shipping for one MTHS Hands-on History Footlocker during the 2023-24 school year.
  • Up to 15 OPI Renewal Units.   

Only eight teachers will be selected for this special program. Apply online here. Applications are due April 23. Awardees will be notified by April 28.   

Questions? Contact Martha Kohl at mkohl@mt.gov or 406-444-4740.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Recharge with new teaching strategies

 " In the middle of the school year my brain starts to feel stale. So it is really nice to have a short training with some new ideas to liven up my mind!"

That's how one person described our last online PD. If you are looking to recharge, I invite you to attend the final session in our online series, March 13 from 4:00 p.m.-5:p.m. The topic will be Integrating Montana History across Disciplines. Discussion will be led by Teacher Leader in Montana History Cynthia Wilondek, who promises a practical and applicable discussion to provide ideas on how you can integrate Montana history into any subject area. All grade levels are welcome. Register here.

Instructional Strategies You'll Love

Last month, Jennifer Graham led us in a discussion of teaching strategies for social studies classrooms that promote social emotional learning.

She particularly highlighted Think/Pair/Share and Jigsawing. Using homesteading as an example, she also introduced us to Brain Dumps/Retrieval Practice. The routine has students write notes after listening/reading rather than trying to do two things at once. It reminded me a little of Project Zero's Plus 1 routine and looks to be a good way to help students retain information.

Then, Jennifer suggested using those retrieval guides to create low-stakes mini-quizzes: 

  1. Take anything discussed in the previous class or questions from Retrieval Guides, write clues on small slips of paper, cut up each clue, and put them in a basket.
  2. Students number 1-5 on paper. 
  3. Randomly choose five slips of paper from the basket of clues.
  4. Read each clue twice.  (For example, which President enacted the Homestead Act of 1862?)
  5. At the end of the Mini-Quiz, read all five clues one last time.
  6. Students turn in Mini-Quizzes
  7. As soon as students’ Mini-Quizzes have been collected, provide immediate feedback by going over the answers.  (Low-stakes or no grade)
  8. All clues go back into the basket.
  9. Hand back Mini-Quizzes after analysis and the next day.

I challenge you to try one of these a new teaching strategy--and if you want, share how it went. As encouragement, I'm sharing this coupon. I am not sure who to credit for this, but I think it's brilliant, so go forth and try something new! And join us March 13 for the last PD in our online series.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Nominate a Rock Star Teacher

 Do you know a great fourth, fifth, or sixth grade teacher who has done an exemplary job teaching Montana history during the 2022-2023 school year?

Please nominate him or her for the 34th Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award.

The winner will receive the 34th Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award, which honors the Montana History Teacher of the year.

Nominations may be emailed to Norma Ashby Smith, Award Coordinator, at ashby7@charter.net.  Nominations should include the nominator’s name, school, address, phone number and email; teacher’s name, grade, school, address, phone number and email. Deadline for nominations is March 31, 2023.

Nominated teachers will be asked to submit two letters of support, one page from their principal, superintendent, fellow teacher or librarian, one page from a student, and one page detailing why they enjoy teaching Montana, how they engage their students in learning, how their Montana history course recognizes cultural diversity and anything else they’d like to share about their class or methods.

Nominees will receive instructions on how to submit this material. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2023.

The winner and his or her class will be honored at a ceremony in the State Capitol on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The winner will receive a plaque and a $4,500 cash prize toward classroom materials, field trips, speakers and anything else that will enhance learning in their classroom. 

This program is sponsored by the Montana Television Network, The Foundation for Montana History, and the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society and the 1889 Coffee House in Helena. Additional gifts of $100 in gold Sacajawea dollars are given to the student who writes the letter of support for the winning teacher from Judy Wohlfrom of Woodland, Ca., and one gold Sacajawea dollar for each of the students who accompanies the winning teacher to the Nov. 8 ceremony from Mike Collins, President of the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers and his wife Connie of Helena.

Contact Norma Ashby Smith of Great Falls, Montana, Award Coordinator, with any questions about the award or the nomination process at 406-590-6798 or at ashby7@charter.net. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Last Chance for This Amazing Training! (Plus a Favor)


First, the Favor

If you used Montana: A History of Our Home last semester, would you please take this survey? It's anonymous--unless you want to be entered into the prize drawing, in which case there's a chance at winning a fabulous prize. Either way, you will have my eternal gratitude.

The Training You Won't Want to Miss

"It was truly a wonderful learning experience."--Montana teacher

Montana teachers have raved about the Right Question Institute's free, online  "Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Primary Source Questions." And, luckily for you, RQI is offering the course one last time, asynchronously February 28-March 28, with two optional live webinars. 

Learning how to ask questions is an essential skill, one our students struggle with and one that isn't explicitly taught often enough. ("Develop questions" is also the very first skill listed in the new state social studies standards.)  And asking questions can transform the way students approach primary source learning. 

Join the Right Question Institute for Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Primary Source Questions: a new, free online course made possible by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program

Read more about the course on the course information page and then follow this link to register. Deadline to register is February 24.

If you send me your certificate of completion, I will provide you with 12 OPI Renewal Units.  

Can't take the course, but want to learn more? Check out these self-paced, on-demand modules

Want to see how one fourth-grade, Nevada teacher applied what she learned? Check out this video(Note: She uses the term "QFT," which stands for "Question Formulation Technique," the routine for teaching students to ask questions that she learned, and you will learn, if you take the "Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Primary Source Questions" course.)  Also: Her project--having students draw their own maps of the state of Nevada based on their own questions--is an idea worth stealing! (Here's an 1887 map of Montana Territory. And here's the map's metadata and a little bit of information about the mapmaker.)