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Monday, December 11, 2017

Is it too early to start dreaming of summer?


National Geographic has launched a new interactive geography education program: The Geo-Inquiry Process. Last school year, Montana Geographic Alliance (MGA) sent two of our alliance members – James Sigl and Jon Milligan – to the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to learn how to implement the Geo-Inquiry process in their classrooms. To learn more about the Geo-Inquiry process, click here.

During this upcoming summer 2018, MGA will offer a Geo-Inquiry Institute to Montana middle school teachers. MGA is partnering with UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station at Yellow Bay to implement the institute from June 20-22, 2018 at the BioStation. MGA will cover the costs of lodging, food, and travel stipends, as well as unique interactive and engaging science-based activities. Teachers can earn OPI renewal units through their participation in this institute. We will also take teachers on a scenic boat ride on Flathead Lake.
MGA is actively recruiting teachers to participate in this institute. To participate, you must meet the following guidelines: (1) Apply as a pair of middle school teachers from the same school; (2) One teacher must be a media/technology educator, and; (3) One science/social studies educator.
If you are part of a teacher pair that is interested in attending this institute, please fill out this form.

I am not typically jealous of middle-school teachers because, frankly, I'm a bit intimidated by middle-school students, but today I am. Just for today, I wish I were a middle-school classroom teacher so I could attend this institute!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

IEFA Online Book Club Course

I spent Tuesday previewing the responses to our survey on how Montana history is taught in your district. The information is extremely helpful and will shape what we do. If you haven't yet contributed your thoughts, I hope you will find a moment to do so now. 

In answer to the question "what trainings would you find useful," many of you expressed a desire for more IEFA trainings; others of you requested more courses for which you could earn graduate credit. 

"Montana Tribal Histories," the online Moodle book club course, offered by WMPLC/RESA Region V, meets both these needs. The course will explore the Montana Tribal Histories Educators' Resource Guide developed by Julie Cajune and The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All by Tammy Elser.  Here are the details:
  •  Registration fee: $155
  • Dates: January 8-March 4, 2018
  • Format: The course is divided into weekly modules, and participants will have a week to complete each consecutive module. The course will also include weekly live chat sessions.
  • Credit: 30 OPI Renewal Units or 2 Semester Credits (semester credit is offered through the University of Montana and is an additional fee of $155. The course instructor will provide a separate registration form and instructions for submitting payment)
For more information, visit https://www.wmplc.org/iefa-montana-tribal-histories-1818.htmlTo register, click https://goo.gl/forms/l1wBlRrASiRUbslR2


Another great opportunity to learn more about IEFA is OPI's IEFA Best Practices Conference, which will be held March 4-6, 2018, at Carroll College in Helena. (No graduate credits for this one, though).

Monday, December 4, 2017

Do You Know an IEFA Champion?

Do you know an educator who has gone above and beyond in promoting and supporting Indian Education for All? Consider nominating him or her for 7th Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All.

Begin the nomination process by opening the  ADVOCACY AWARD NOMINATION by clicking here

All nominations INCLUDING supporting documentation must be received by WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2018 at NOON.

Here's a little more information: 

The Indian Education Division at the Office of Public Instruction is soliciting nominations for an important opportunity – the 7th Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All, in honor of one of Montana’s finest educators, Teresa Veltkamp. Teresa was a classroom teacher and Indian Education Specialist at the Office of Public Instruction who was passionate and inspirational in her efforts to ensure and support the highest levels of implementation of Indian Education for All in Montana.

Please give consideration to this opportunity to acknowledge and honor an outstanding educator’s efforts in the promotion of and steadfast support for Indian Education for All. The nominee should be an exceptionally skillful, dedicated teacher who has earned the respect of students and colleagues.

The award will be presented during the 12th Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference Welcoming, Monday, March 5, 2018, at Carroll College, Helena.

By the way: registration for the IEFA Best Practices Conference is now open. I always learn a tremendous amount at this conference. The conference will be held March 4-6, 2018, at Carroll College in Helena. The cost is $20 for Sunday Mini-Institutes only, $40 for Monday and Tuesday conference only, or $60 for all three days. You can register here. Contact Jennifer Stadum at (406) 444-0725 or Joan Franke at (406) 444-3694 if you have any questions.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Reasons to Love the Stanford History Education Group: Civic Reasoning

I'm a bit of a Stanford History Education Group groupie, so you can imagine how delighted I was to learn that they have now added a series of lessons and assessments designed to help students get better at critically evaluating online information. Their new site, "Civic Reasoning Online," provides a series of assessments that measure students' "ability to judge the credibility of the information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.... These assessments show students online content—a webpage, a conversation on Facebook, or the comment section of a news article—and ask them to reason about that content." It tests what it calls Civic Online Reasoning's Core Competencies, which involve being able to evaluate the validity of information based on the following three questions: "who's behind the information?" "what's the evidence?" and "what do other sources say?"  It includes exercises in evaluating Wikipedia, claims on YourTube, Twitter and forms of social media, as well as evaluating website reliability.

You have to register to access the information, but registration is free, and they don't bombard you with emails.

The site joins their other excellent offerings: 


  • Beyond the Bubble, 80 "easy-to-use assessments that measure students' historical thinking rather than recall of facts." 

  • the Reading Like a Historian curriculum, which "engages students in historical inquiry" with lessons that revolve "around a central historical question" and incorporate primary sources. It "teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence."


Reading Like a Historian has 91 U.S. History and 41 World History units. If there's a topic they don't cover, you might consider using the SHEG model to create your own. Glenn Wiebe breaks down how.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Native Knowledge 360

Have you heard about Native Knowledge 360? It's the "National Museum of American Indian's national initiative to inspire and promote improvement of teaching and learning about American Indians."

Montanans: Be proud! They looked at our IEFA and Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians as a model as they sought to create a national project. Instead of seven Essential Understandings, they have ten, based on the National Council for Social Studies ten themes:

  1. American Indian Cultures: "Culture is a result of human socialization. People acquire knowledge and values by interacting with other people through common language, place, and community. In the Americas, there is vast cultural diversity among more than 2,000 tribal groups."
  2. Time, continuity and change: "...To understand the history and cultures of the Americas requires understanding American Indian history from Indian perspectives."
  3. People, places, and environments: "For thousands of years, indigenous people have studied, managed, honored, and thrived in their homelands. These foundations continue to influence American Indian relationships and interactions with the land today."
  4. Individual development and identity: "American Indian individual development and identity is tied to culture and the forces that have influenced and changed culture over time."
  5. Individuals, groups, and institutions: "American Indians have always operated and interacted within self-defined social structures that include institutions, societies, and organizations, each with specific functions. These social structures have shaped the lives and histories of American Indians through the present day."
  6. Power, authority, and governance: "American Indians devised and have always lived under a variety of complex systems of government. ... Tribes today still govern their own affairs and maintain a government-to-government relationship with the United States and other governments."
  7. Production, distribution, and consumption: "American Indians developed a variety of economic systems that reflected their cultures and managed their relationships with others. ... Today, American Indian tribes and individuals are active in economic enterprises that involve production and distribution.
  8. Science, technology, and society: "American Indian knowledge resides in languages, cultural practices, and teaching that spans many generations. This knowledge is based on long-term observation, experimentation, and experience with the living earth. ... When applied to contemporary global challenges, Native knowledge contributes to dynamic and innovative solutions.
  9. Global connections: "American Indians have always engaged in the world beyond the immediacy of their own communities. For millennia, indigenous people of North America exchanged and traded ideas, goods, technologies, and arts ... American Indian foods, technologies, wealth, and labor contributed to the development of the modern world."
  10. Civic ideals and practices: "Ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship have always been part of American Indian societies. ... American Indians today may be citizens of their tribal nations, the states they live in, and the United States."
The site also has lesson plans and other teaching materials. And you can search keyword or filter by subject, nation, grade level, language (English and Spanish), region, and format (digital lesson, teacher guide, teaching poster, website, videos).


For example, I searched for fourth grade material and found 10 results, including a teaching poster ("A Life in Beads: The Stories a Plains Dress Can Tell,") a website ("Living Maya Time"),  and a teacher's guide ("Smithsonian in Your Classroom: Native American Dolls").

I did a second search by region (Plains and Plateau) and came up with 4 results: 

  • a website for grades 6-12--"Native Words/Native Warriors," which "tells the stories of American Indian WWI and WWII 'code talkers. (This would be great to use with the novel Code-Talker)
  • a website for grades 4-5--"Culture Quest," which 'helps students explore 25 masterworks of art from the Infinity of Nations exhibition"
  • a teaching poster for grades 4-8--"Lone Dog's Winter Count," which helps students "learn about the history-keeping methods of the Nakota people of the Northern Plains," and again 
  • "A Life in Beads."

I encourage you to explore the website, or read more about it in this "Teaching Tolerance" article.

P.S. If you haven't yet completed our survey on how Montana history is being taught in your district, I hope you'll donate a few minutes to the cause and do so now. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice

The documentary film, 100 Years, tells "the story of Elouise Cobell and her thirty-year fight for justice for over 300,000 Native Americans whose mineral-rich lands were grossly mismanaged by the US Government for over a century."

Elouise Cobell's story is a Montana story (Cobell is Blackfeet and was tribal treasurer when she began investigating the Department of Interior's history of fraud and corruption. But Cobell's story is more than a Montana story--it is an American story--the story of a woman who sued the federal government and won the largest settlement in U.S. history.

100 Years is a remarkable documentary. I'm not a huge fan of showing movies in class--but this 75-minute film is worth the time: in US history classes and especially in government classes (I know it has been shown with great success in a world cultures class as well.)

The Montana Office of Public Instruction's Indian Education Division has created a 3-5 day model teaching unit to use with the film. It breaks the film into ten different chapters (approximately 10 minutes each) and provides comprehension and higher level thinking questions for each as well as background information and writing prompts to use as summative assessments. That model teaching unit is available online. OPI also donated copies of the teaching unit and a DVD of the film to every public high school library in the state. The film is also available for purchase.   

You can find more lesson plans about allotment and trust lands, as well as many other topics relating to Indian lands, on Lessons of Our Land,  a website created by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Monday, November 20, 2017

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Thanks to the hard work of my colleague, Natasha Hollenbach, the Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce that new content is available to search and browse on the web site MONTANA NEWSPAPERS

The following newspapers have been added.


These new additions put Montana Newspapers at over half a million searchable pages. The titles join issues from 71 other newspapers (1883-2015) at Montana Newspapers AND an additional 257,000 pages from 59 Montana newspapers (1864-1922), which can be found on Chronicling America

Both Chronicling America and Montana Newspapers are freely accessible to all Internet users; no subscriptions or fees are required. 

Intrigued? Here's a map of all of the Montana newspapers that have been digitized. Here's the portal for both collections.  And here are some suggestions for using the digitized newspaper collections in your classroom. 

My coworker Zoe Ann Stoltz is fond of saying that newspapers are the closest thing we have to a time machine. I encourage you (and your students) to board your Tardis, strap on your seatbelt, and take a trip back in time--to Lewistown on September 6, 1917, Dillon on December 8, 1941, or to another place and date of your choosing.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!