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.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Wishing You a Great Summer


News and Notes

Teaching Montana History is going on hiatus for summer break--unless something time sensitive comes along that is so good I can't bear not to share it. If you are changing schools, please re-subscribe using your new address! We'd hate to lose touch. 


Perhaps I'll get to see you at the ConCon celebration in June or at our August 17 workshop. Or, if your travels bring you to Helena some other time this summer, please stop in and say "hello." And of course, don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you as you prepare for your classes next fall: mkohl@mt.gov


Finally: I'm issuing one last call to complete our annual survey and to share your favorite lesson. (Need more incentive? There are still two prizes waiting to be claimed.)  


Summer Reading Recommendations

Last week I asked what you were reading this summer, or what you recommend others read. Here are the suggestions I received.


The 1972 Constitution. "Brief, easy, and extremely important reading." Missing the Teaching Montana History already? While you are at it, you may want to watch all or part of the speakers series we hosted on the fiftieth anniversary of the Con Con or attend the June 15-16 event. (Renewal Units available.)


Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, Nathan Philbrick (2006)


The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Nathan Philbrick (2010). (I think we have a Philbrick fan.)


Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, S.C. Gwynne (2011)


The Last Green Valley: A Novel, Mark Sullivan (2021) "A compelling and inspiring story of heroism and courage in the dark days at the end of World War II."


Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson (2020)


Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy (1985)


Why Learn History When It's Already on Your Phone, Sam Wineburg (2018)


Someone asked for books on Montana agriculture and ranching. My recommendations are two memoirs: Teddy Blue Abbott's We Pointed Them North and Homesteading, by Percy Wollaston.


As for me, I've read most of the novels that the Montana Indian Education Division of OPI has created study guides for, but not all of them. My goal is to finish off the list: Wind from an Enemy Sky, here I come. 


Wishing everyone a restorative summer. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

More summer opportunities

Conversations on Home Waters: Primary Sources, Literature, and the Story of Conservation and Place

Join John Maclean, author of Home Waters, and Master Teachers on June 24, 2022, at the Missoula Public Library, from 10:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. to learn how educators have used Maclean's novel in their classrooms and find new models for using primary sources. 

Participants will receive a certificate from the Library of Congress for attendance hours, a copy of the book Home Waters, and lunch. 5 OPI renewal units are pending. Registration is required but the event is free. Register here.  

Learn about the Montana Constitution

Government teachers especially may be interested in “We The People”: The Making of a Constitution, held June 15-16, at the Montana State Capitol, in Helena. 

Join the constitutional convention delegates, their descendants, legal scholars, political luminaries, historians, ConCon staffers, policy experts, and others for an exploration and celebration of Montana’s constitution on the fiftieth anniversary of the constitutional convention. 

The morning of June 15 is primarily ceremonial, but the afternoon includes panel discussions on how the constitution came to be and citizens' right to know and participate. June 16 features a full day of panel discussions: The Basic Rule of Law: The Backbone of a Constitution; Natural Resources, Water, and the Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment; Native American Perspectives on the Montana Constitution; Montana’s Unique and Comprehensive Declaration of Rights; Revenue and Taxation; Education and Public Lands; and Hope and Vision for Future Generations under the Montana Constitution. Find the full agenda here

Attendance is free (except for optional box lunches) but registration is encouraged. Register here. Educators can earn up to 15 OPI Renewal Units (3 units for the morning session (until 1:00 p.m.) on June 15 and 4 units for the morning session on June 16 and the afternoon sessions both days.) 

Learn from Home

You can also learn about the ConCon from the comfort of your own home by streaming the Montana Constitution at 50 Speaker Series. (Take the quizzes to earn renewal units.) 

 And on May 23, 5:30 p.m. the University of Montana is presenting "We the People: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Montana's Constitutional Convention" with Constitutional Delegate Mae Nan Ellingson and constitutional scholar Anthony Johnstone from the University of Montana Blewett School of Law. The conversation is moderated by Dr. Robert Saldin, Mansfield Center Director of Ethics and Public Affairs. To my knowledge, renewal units are not being offered for this, but it promises to be a fascinating Zoom presentation. Click here to join. 

Don't Forget

MHS is sponsoring an educator workshop August 17: "Making It Real," with master educator Jim Schulz. Learn more here.  

Share your best lesson plan/favorite resource by completing our end-of-the-year survey. There are still prizes available.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

 I just learned that the Right Question Institute, in partnership with the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program, is once again offering its FREE course, "Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Primary Source Questions." 

I have heard nothing but rave reviews from Montana teachers who attended earlier classes. Their emails were filled with exclamation points.

  • "What a great course!! I learned some great strategies I will take straight to my classroom."
  • "All teachers should take this course!!!!!"

As we've done in the past, MHS is happy to provide 12 OPI Renewal Credits to teachers who send me their certificate of completion. 

The deadline to register is June 1. Find more information and a link to register here. 

P.S. Have you completed your end-of-the-year survey yet? There are still prizes to be claimed and we really want to hear from you!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Join Us in Red Lodge for the Montana History Conference Next September

Save the Date! The 49th Annual Montana History Conference, "To Wonderland and Beyond," will be held in Red Lodge at the Rock Creek Resort, September 29 – October 1, 2022. We will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park with sessions exploring the history--including indigenous history--of Yellowstone, national and state parks, tourism, and the preservation of scenic wonders and wildlife. We will also explore the history of Red Lodge and the surrounding region. Renewal units will be available for both the Thursday educator workshop and all conference sessions. (Check here beginning July 1 for more details.) We hope you’ll consider attending! 

As in past years, we will be offering travel scholarships for both teachers and college students. 

About the scholarships: Funded by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the scholarships will consist of full conference registration plus a $300 travel/expense reimbursement. All teachers and students in Montana’s colleges and universities are eligible to apply (residents of Red Lodge and 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 from Montana’s on-reservation schools;
  • Teachers and students from Montana’s community colleges and four-year universities;
  • Teachers from Montana’s rural, under-served communities.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. September 11, 2022   September 7, 2022. Awards will be announced on Friday, September 13, 2022. September 9, 2022. Applying for a scholarship is quick and easy. Apply online. 

 P.S. Here's a pro tip: When you apply for your scholarship, make your hotel reservation. Hotels fill up fast, and you can always cancel if you don't receive a scholarships. 


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Save the Date

 If you missed master educator Jim Schulz in Great Falls, Butte, Missoula, and Miles City this spring, you missed an excellent PD. But it's not too late. He's going to provide the same training--"Making It Real"--in Helena on Wednesday, August 17. 

The free, one-day workshop (which can be taken for 6 OPI Renewal Credits) is designed to

  • Introduce the new fourth-grade Montana history curriculum Montana: A History of Our Home.
  • Provide teachers specific lesson plans that they can use to teach Montana and U.S. history.
  • Highlight the benefits of interdisciplinary teaching.
  • Introduce teachers to Civic Online Reasoning, a curriculum created by the Stanford History Education Group to help teach students how to evaluate online information. 

If you've attended a Jim Schulz-led workshop in the past, you know how great he is, and you won't want to miss out. If you've never attended a Jim Schulz workshop, you are in for a treat.  

Here's what teachers have said about this workshop: 

  • "I learned many strategies that I can immediately implement." 
  • "Exceeded expectations! Lots of interaction and activity."
  • “Excellent, dynamic instructor.”

You can find the detailed agenda here and the link to register here.   

We hope you can come! And we hope you'll help us spread the word. Please share this information and the registration links with colleagues you think may be interested. 

 P.S. Have you completed your end-of-the-year survey yet? 

Monday, May 9, 2022


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 newsletter 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 eleventh, eighteenth, twenty-eighth, thirty-eighth, and forty-eighth person to complete the survey. Say it with me: Take the survey! In all seriousness, I appreciate your help, and your fellow teachers will appreciate learning about the lesson you share.



Thursday, May 5, 2022

Please share with your high school students and recent graduates

 We're very excited to cooperate with Helena College on this upcoming film program. If you know a junior or senior in high school or recent high school graduate who might be interested in applying, please share this! 

Humanities Through Film: A Summer Bridge Program at Helena College

Have you ever considered a career as a filmmaker? Now's your chance to learn all about it. Guided by award-winning professional filmmakers (including an Academy Award winning filmmaker), college professors, and local historians, you and a team of fellow students will conduct interviews, research historical archives, operate cameras, write a script, record audio, and produce a documentary film. 

All students will have access to state-of-the-art cameras, audio and video equipment, as well as Apple workstations throughout the program. No experience required! Students from all Montana communities are encouraged to apply

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022 (weekdays)
Cost: Free; Lunches provided
Eligibility: Juniors and seniors in high school and recent high school graduates 
Location: Helena College Donaldson Campus (1115 N. Roberts Street, Helena, MT 59601) 

In 2021, students produced the movie "No Ordinary Time," about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic in Montana.  This year, students will focus on the Montana State Capitol.  

2022 Theme 

Less than a decade after achieving statehood, Montana began construction on its Capitol building in 1896, creating a physical representation of the patriotism and civic pride emerging from the ideals of democracy. The design of the building captures Montana's unique story of transformation: how a territory becomes a legitimate state and how diverse interests come together to form a community. Over time, many of these contributions and founding stories, which helped build Montana, have been overlooked. Now, 110 years later, this history will be explored through the lens of high school students. 

Find more information about this program, including a link to apply, here.