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 13, 2021

Teaching the Bozeman Trail

Last Tuesday, I wrote about a video recommended by Frenchtown teacher Allen McCarty: The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana's Gold, which is available at WyomingPBS and on YouTube.

Red Lodge teacher Steve Morris responded right away: "I just completed the Gold and Silver Boom segment of our 8th Grade History here at Roosevelt Middle School. The PBS video regarding the Bozeman trail was my central resource and received a lot of student engagement as we explored Montana's approach to Statehood. Via Google Drive, I’ll share the Hyperdocs I developed around the video so you can see just how fun it was for our Rams!" And then he gave me permission to share his material: "Share away, happy to contribute to our community of practice from which I and the students I serve most certainly benefit. SlidesMania.com is my go-to resource for Google Slide Templates, the PBS video presented a plethora of teaching opportunities, and I really enjoyed putting it all together." So, with no further ado, here are Steve's slides: 

Montana's Gold and Silver Boom HyperDoc I

Montana's Gold and Silver Boom HyperDoc II

Let's Keep in Touch


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Links to Bozeman Trail Video--and Our Year-End Survey

All my best stuff comes from teachers. That's why I was so glad to get an email from Frenchtown teacher Allen McCarty, recommending the video The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana's Goldwhich is available at WyomingPBS and on YouTube. It runs an hour and a half but he says his students liked it because of its high production value (and I'm sure you can excerpt it.) I've added it, as Allen suggested, to the video resources listed on the Educator Resources page that accompanies Montana: Stories of the Land, Chapter 6, "Montana's Gold and Silver Boom".


What resources do you use that you think other teachers might benefit from? What's your go-to, no-fail, Montana history or IEFA lesson? Let me know by completing our annual, end-of-the-year survey, and I'll share it with your fellow teachers next fall. Bonus: We're offering prizes to the  eighteenth, twenty-eighth, thirty-eighth, and forty-eighth person to complete the survey.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

What time is it? It's survey time!

Since 2012, I've sent out a survey asking for feedback as well as asking folks to share information about "the best Montana history or IEFA lesson or project or resource you taught this year--the one you will make time for next year no matter what." Each year, I make changes to the listserv and our other offerings based on the feedback you give. And the "best of" posts that I create every fall, based on the ideas you share, are perennial favorites. That's why I'm asking for your help once again. (Take the survey!)

If you've been part of this community for a long time, you are probably tired of this request. You may also feel as if you've already shared your best ideas--but I hope you'll think of the new teachers, just starting out, trolling for good lessons, and take a moment to share them again. (Take the survey!)

Need more encouragement? I'll be offering a prize to the eighteenth, twenty-eighth, thirty-eighth, and forty-eighth person to complete the survey. Say it with me: Take the survey!  In all seriousness, though--I appreciate your help. 


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

IEFA Opportunities

Register now for OPI's fourteenth annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference, the theme of which is Honoring Indigenous Resilience and Persistence. The free conference will be held online from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16. There are fewer sessions than usual (a concession to the online format, no doubt), but they've got some rock-star presenters, including keynotes by Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, and Patrick Armstrong Jr. of the Blackfeet Nation.


Broadwater Elementary School teacher Jodi Delaney and I will be presenting MHS's new hands-on history footlocker, Montana's First Peoples: Essential Understandings (unfortunately at the same time as the panel of the 2020 and 2021 Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education Recipients and a presentation by Billings librarians Ruth Ferris and Kathi Hoyt on IEFA and primary sources, both of which I'd really like to attend!) Here's a link to the program and here's the link to register. 


The Best Practices conference is free, but if you are looking for a chance to go more in-depth (and earn graduate credits), you might want to check out the IEFA special topics courses offered by the Western Montana Professional Learning Collaborative (WMPLC). Summer semester courses are now open.


National Opportunities

Possibly the only good thing to come out of the pandemic is that we now can easily Zoom into courses offered outside Montana.


I encourage anyone interested in helping students cope with the barrage of fake, exaggerated, or biased information we experience every day to consider taking "Sorting Truth From Fiction: Civic Online Reasoning." This 9-week facilitated class offered by MITx is FREE (and for $50 and they'll give you a certificate of completion.) The instructors are legendary social studies Stanford University education professor Sam Wineburg, of Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) fame, and Justin Reich, comparative media professor at MIT. My colleague Deb Mitchell took the course, and found it tremendously useful. Learn more and find a link to register here


SHEG is offering a number of three-day workshops, including 

  • Introduction to Reading Like a Historian Curriculum and Beyond the Bubble Assessments
  • Reading Like a Historian: Local History, Opening Up the Textbook, and Discussion
  • Reading Like a Historian with Younger Students, and more. 

They all seem to cost $375, but teachers at Title I schools can apply for scholarships. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is May 10.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Apply to Present at the MFPE Educator Conference

 The deadline to submit an application to present at the 2021 MFPE Educator Conference is APRIL 30! That's this Friday.

The conference will be held October 21-22 in Great Falls and MFPE is accepting applications to present in person or virtually. That means you can present even if you can't get to Great Falls for the conference.

Will you help make the social studies strands as rich as they can possibly be by sharing your strategies, knowledge or best lessons? Click here to submit your proposal.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Helping Students Retain Information

 According to the smart folks at Harvard University's Project Zero, "Research has shown that engaging students in memory work immediately after the presentation of information helps learners to retain that information more effectively." So they came up with the +1 Routine, which "provides learners with a structure for identifying key ideas and committing them to memory."

To quote the +1 instruction sheet: 

After reading a text, watching a movie, listening to a lecture, or being presented with new information or ideas in some manner, a group of learners does the following:

Recall In 2-3 minutes and working individually, each learner generates a list of key ideas that he or she recalls from the presentation that he/she feels is important to hang onto. Learners do this from memory rather than reviewing notes or material.

Add (+) 1 Learners pass their papers to the right. Taking 1-2 minutes, each student reads through the list in front of him/her and adds one new thing to the list. The addition might be an elaboration (adding a detail), a new point (adding something that was missing), or a connection (adding a relationship between ideas). REPEAT this process at least two times.

Act Return the papers back to the original owner. Learners read through and review all the additions that have been made on their sheets. At the same time they may add any ideas they have picked up from reading other’s sheets that they thought were worthwhile.

You can read more about how and when to implement this routine here. I thought +1 was so clever that I incorporated it in a lesson plan I included in our new footlocker, Montana's First Peoples: Essential Understandings.  

You can learn more about Project Zero, Thinking Routines, and find additional tools to "scaffold and support student thinking" on the Project Zero website

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Keeping Students Engaged: Your Ideas

A few weeks ago, I posted ideas for engaging students in the last weeks of school. Cindy Duffy, a Great Falls high school English teacher (who was also a 2016 Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts), responded with some additional ideas for several grade levels.

1. BRAIN DANCES for WARMUPs. I had never heard of a brain dance so I did some googling and found this and lots more examples of different types of brain dances on YouTube. (Apparently, a Brain Dance gets students brains "ready, willing, and able to learn.")

2. In class reading for 20 minutes--relevant topics--then ORAL pop quizzes to check for understanding. This gets discussions going. She also uses Answer Boards with checkers or playing cards (to add a game element to the Formative assessment). They may be old hat to you, but I'd never heard of answer boards, so I asked Cindy for more information. 

She sent the picture above and explained: the boards are laminated for easy cleaning, all questions are oral, and all answers are marked or covered by checkers, candy (skittles or M&Ms, or paper dots.) "The center square is for answering in a complete sentence with elaboration (for HS kids.)" And according to Cindy, it "feels like a game."  

3.  Integrating the Arts: poetry, drawing (thinking charts), music, theatre (role play) and 3-D projects

For more ideas to engage students, check out these suggestions I gathered from teachers at our March workshop "Hooks."