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, May 23, 2024

Another Great Summer Professional Development Opportunity

Charlie Russell: The Artist and His Friends in Glacier National Park 

Immerse yourself in the world of renown American artist Charles M. Russell (d. 1926) and his friends in Glacier National Park in August this summer during a FREE four-day workshop. 

In the early 20th century, Charlie and his wife Nancy Russell spent every summer for over 20 years at their Bull Head Lodge on Lake McDonald. It was also a meeting place for significant artists, writers, environmentalists, and musicians of the time. Participants in this four-day workshop will hear from leading historians, arts and cultural leaders, and experience first-hand beloved places in the Park that inspired Charlie and his friends.  Selected teachers and museum educators will gain a better understanding of the Hockaday Museum of Art’s art collection and Library of Congress primary sources related to Russell, his friends, and the region. During the workshop, participants will design ways to share those primary sources with their students and patrons through lectures, immersive experiences, and curriculum development.

Who: Teachers and Museum Educators with interest in the influence of Charles M. Russell and other artists concerning Glacier National Park, Montana, and regional Indigenous Tribes. The 20 selected participants will have the opportunity to receive OPI Renewal Credits. 

Focus: The effective use of primary sources from the Library of Congress and other sources when teaching in K-12 classrooms and museum settings. In addition to viewing original art works in collections of the Hockaday Museum of Art and Glacier National Park, participants will learn to access art and information about the artists in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Montana Historical Society, Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and other repositories.  

When: August 15-18, 2024 

Where: Hockaday Museum of Art Kalispell, MT and Glacier Institute, Glacier National Park, MT

Cost: The workshop is funded by a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching Primary Sources. Should you be selected, we will cover art and workshop supplies, meals and 3 nights lodging at Glacier Institute Field Camp and all presentation activities in the park. Your only cost will be transportation to the museum in Kalispell on Thursday, August 15 and to and from Glacier Institute in Glacier National Park.

Itinerary overview: Selected participants begin their adventure in Kalispell on Thursday, August 15, 2024, with a welcome lunch and an introductory Museum tour by Hockaday staff. They then journey to the Glacier Institute Field Camp in Glacier National Park where invited scholars and staff settle in for a “Weekend with Charlie and His Friends.” Offering an immersive historical experience, participants will encounter living history interpreter Mary Jane Bradford as Nancy Russell. The program includes sessions with noted experts on Charles M. Russell: Larry Len Peterson(remotely), Kirby Lambert, and Jennifer Bottomly O’Looney, indigenous perspectives from Jack Gladstone and Kevin Kicking Woman, nature baths–a meditative group exercise led by Zowie Caoudette at the top of Logan Pass, tours of Glacier Lodge art and architecture with Raphael Chacon, and hiking Avalanche Lake trail, where participants will learn to plein air paint with Hockaday Education Director Kathy Martin. All the experiences will be woven together with primary sources from the Library of Congress, the Hockaday Museum of Art, the Russell Museum, Glacier Institute, Glacier National Park, and the Montana Historical Society.

How to Apply:  Complete and submit this google form.  Applications reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis with final notification and participant confirmation by June 30, 2024.

P.S. Don't forget to submit changes of address, sign up for June workshops, and complete the year-end survey!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Vote for your favorite meme


Who Doesn't Love a Good Meme? 

Are you looking for a little end of the year fun? 

On Friday, voting for the winners of the Montana History Portal 2024 history meme contest opened! If you (or your students) want to vote, you can do this directly on the website. There is a small thumbs up "Like" button on each item, on the vertical menu bar to the left of the item. Like your favorites, and MHP will tally the results. Visit the 2024 entries here!

Summer Workshops 

MTHS is offering three workshops in June, in Missoula, Great Falls, and Helena. All workshops are free, and attendees can earn 6 OPI Renewal Units. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for the workshops in Helena and Missoula, which focus on literacy and social studies. Learn more here.

Before We Say Farewell for the Summer

If you are moving to a new school, don't forget to re-subscribe to Teaching Montana History with your new email address! 

Take Our End of The Year Survey 

Let us know your favorite resources so we can share them with your fellow teachers next September. And let us know how we can improve. We take your comments seriously. Click here to take our survey. 

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

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Become a Mentor to a Rural Teacher

Do you remember your first-year teaching? Best case: you had a great mentor, who encouraged you, helped you navigate school politics, provided tips for classroom management, and shared lesson plans and resources. If you were were one of the lucky ones, you know how much difference that person made to your life. And if you weren't, I bet you can imagine how much easier that first year of teaching would have been. Which begs the question: Would you like to be a mentor to a first-year rural teacher? 

MentorMT is a program designed to help address Montana’s critical rural teacher shortage by providing expert mentoring for new or underprepared classroom teachers. The program offers grade-level and subject-area mentoring to build effective pedagogy and content knowledge for the mentee’s grade level and discipline. Mentees who enroll in MentorMT benefit from a vibrant professional learning community that features one-to-one mentoring from a seasoned practitioner.

They are now recruiting and training experienced Montana educators to provide mentoring, instructional guidance, and curricular support during 2024-2025. Mentors will earn $500 for completing the online training and up to $2,000 for mentoring while building new networks to combat professional inspiration and inspiring and supporting a new teacher. They will also earn 20 OPI Renewal units.

Mentor teachers need at least three years of full-time classroom teaching experience, demonstrated expertise in content and pedagogy within a grade band, and experience with and empathy toward rural education issues and concerns.


Application deadline is midnight, Wednesday May 22, 2024. Find more information about benefits and the application link here. 

Questions? Contact Jennifer Luebeck, MentorMT Director, jennifer.luebeck@montana.edu or (406) 994-5341.

P.S. Speaking of sharing expertise, don't forget to complete our survey to share your favorite lesson and/or resource (and maybe win a prize.)  

Monday, May 13, 2024

Teaching with Primary Sources and Summer Workshops

Using Primary Sources to Foster Difficult Dialogues

The article Using Primary Sources to Foster Difficult Dialogues  - Journal of Folklore and Education focuses on the Tulsa Race Riot--but it also includes in its "classroom connections/lesson plans" a unit on Indian boarding schools. The lesson "explores primary source material related to the history of federally controlled Native American Boarding Schools. By evaluating various documented points of view related to this history, students will engage in critical thinking, close listening, and media literacy skills." Among the sources is a letter in the September 7, 1890, Helena Independent. "Flathead Kindergarten" describes Indian agent Peter Ronan's scheme to take very young students into an on-reservation boarding school:

"The children, if taken into school at the age of two or three or four years, and kept there, only occasionally visited by their parents, will, when grown up, know nothing of Indian ways and habits. They will be thoroughly, though imperceptibly, formed to the ways of the whites in their habits, their thoughts and their aspirations. They will not know, in fact, be completely ignorant of the Indian language and will know only English. One generation will accomplish what the past system would require generations to effect.... Never having tasted of the roaming, free-and-easy-going lazy life of the old Indians, and not having been spoiled by the indulgence of parents, or near relatives..." 

I think that this heart-breaking source is worth analyzing and using to work with students to evaluate points of view, but I wish that the lesson included more Indigenous perspectives. You can find a few Indigenous sources on boarding schools and several on other topics in this Indigenous Primary Source spreadsheet that MTHS Teacher Leaders created in 2023. If you have sources you think should be added, please send them to me! I also recommend looking at the lesson plans created by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition for contemporary Indigenous perspectives on Indian boarding schools.  

Summer Workshops 

MTHS is offering three workshops in June, in Missoula, Great Falls, and Helena. All workshops are free, and attendees can earn 6 OPI Renewal Units. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for the workshops in Helena and Missoula, which focus on literacy and social studies. Learn more here.

Before We Say Farewell for the Summer

If you are moving to a new school, don't forget to re-subscribe to Teaching Montana History with your new email address!

Please share your favorite Montana history/IEFA activity, resource or lesson and let us know how we can improve this newsletter and our other offerings by taking this survey. There are prizes for the fifteenth, thirty-first, and forty-second respondents.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Share your best ideas and maybe win a prize

Today is the last day of school for Rapelje. Congratulations, Rapelje 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 an 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. 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.

P.P.S. There's still room in our free summer workshops, which will be held in Missoula, Helena, and Great Falls. Learn more. 

Monday, May 6, 2024

Ending the Year Strong

As we head toward the end of the school year, I'm curious: How do you keep your students engaged and learning through the very last day of school? (This is a real question, not a rhetorical one, so email me and I'll share out.)

I did a little online sleuthing and came up with the following blogs that you might like if you are looking for inspiration.

My first stop, as it often is, was Glenn Wiebe, who came through with "7 Resources for the End of School" and "3 Things You Need to Do Before the End of the School Year". (The latter encourages teachers to reflect on what worked and what didn't last year, collecting student feedback in addition to end of year projects.  

Alyssa Teaches had published this list of End of Year Social Studies Activities for Upper Elementary Students.

Two common threads across multiple blogs were that the end of year is

  1. a great time for doing activities and projects you couldn't get to earlier and
  2. a good time to allow students to show off what they've learned. 

With that in mind, here are some Montana history lesson plans that might fit well into your end of year plans.

  • These lesson plans cross multiple time periods, so might be best for the end of the year. Plus--do you really think you've incorporated enough women's history into your class thus far? 
    • Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-12) This primary-source based lesson asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s. Students will discover that Montana women have always worked, but that discrimination, cultural expectations, and changing technology have influenced the types of work women undertook.
    • Montana Women's Legal History Lesson Plan. (Designed for grades 11-12). In this 1-2 period activity, students will examine sample Montana legislation from 1871 to 1991 that particularly affected women's lives to explore the impact laws have on the lives of ordinary people and why laws change.
  • Here's another lesson plan that crosses multiple time periods. And it's fabulous. Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War (Designed for 7th-12th). This three-to-five period unit asks students to work in groups to read and interpret letters written by soldiers at war, from the Civil War to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. After engaging in close reading and conducting research to interpret the letters, they will perform the letters as reader’s theater. Preview this lesson by watching Rob Hoffman perform one of the letters, a 2005 email from Helenan Cory Swanson, who was serving in Iraq.
  • Have your students use Digitized Montana Newspapers to create an exhibit about how life in Montana has (and has not) changed over the last 150 years. Divide up the decades and ask students to use newspaper advertisements and articles to find something people were doing for fun each decade. Complicate it by having them also use the newspaper ads to feature some aspect of available technology and/or inventions. 
  • Create a living statue museum or have students write biographical poems about a notable Montanan using these biographies. (The lesson plan focuses on Montana women, but you can easily adapt it to both men and women if you'd like.)
  • Integrate Art! If you haven't already taught The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives (K-12), now's the time. I can imagine adapting the ledger art assignment to ask students to look back at the last year and draw something they are proud of. 
  • Explore the history and architecture of your town, asking "how does our community fit into the larger trends of Montana history, by using resources listed as part of Chapter 14 of Montana: Stories of the Land--"Towns Have Lives, Too", including
  • Have your students choose the top ten (or top five) most significant events in Montana history. Consider making a March Madness style competition out of it. (See the results from back when we did this with adults in 2012.) You could also do this with the most significant (or awesome) person in Montana history.

How do you end your year strong? 

P.S. Don't forget: MTHS is offering three teacher workshops this summer (in Great Falls, Missoula, and Helena.) Learn more here. 


Thursday, May 2, 2024

New High School Reading Like a Historian Lessons and Professional Development

 The Digital Inquiry Group is recruiting high school U.S. history teachers to receive free professional development from the Digital Inquiry Group (DIG) and use new Reading Like a Historian lessons that include digital literacy instruction. 

Participating teachers will 

  1. Attend one virtual professional development institute on teaching with Reading Like a Historian lessons and assessments. (Sessions are synchronous and will not be recorded.) 
  2. Complete an asynchronous online course about DIG's digital literacy curriculum, Civic Online Reasoning
  3. Teach 4 to 8 new Reading Like a Historian lessons with their students in fall 2024. These lessons will address topics chronologically from Reconstruction to World War I. The lessons will also include Civic Online Reasoning activities to support students in discerning credible information online.
  4. Participate in four 1-hour group coaching sessions in fall 2024.

Participating teachers will receive $1,000 and earn up to 20 hours of professional learning credits upon completion of all parts of the project.

The deadline to apply is May 8! DIG will contact teachers selected to participate by May 17, 2024.

Apply here.