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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rundown on MHS Workshops

I've been announcing so many workshops it may be hard to keep track, so I thought I'd offer a rundown of all the workshops we're offering this spring and summer. OPI Renewal Units will be offered for ALL workshops. There are travel scholarships available for the summer workshops. Click on the workshop title for more information and links to register.

April

Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core

  • Lewistown, on April 8, 2017
  • Glasgow, on April 10, 2017
  • Chinook, on April 11, 2017 
  • Cut Bank, on April 12, 2017

June

Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home, June 12-13, 2017, Helena (for High School teachers). Application deadline: April 15.

Teacher Leader in History Summit, June 14-15, 2017, Helena (for elementary teachers only). Application deadline: April 30.

Struggling Readers and Content Area Textbooks: Making Montana: Stories of the Land Accessible to All, June 16, 2017, Helena (4-12 grade teachers). Travel scholarship applications due May 1.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Neither Empty Nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan

I'm delighted to share that we have a new lesson plan focused on traditional lifeways of Montana Indians: the "Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark Lesson Plan." Targeted for grades 4-7 (but adaptable to other grades), the lesson plan is designed to complement a tour of our "Neither Empty nor Unknown" exhibit: "Learning through Stories." (Find information about scheduling tours here.) 

However, for those (because of distance or for other reasons) who are unable to bring their class to tour the exhibit, the lesson plan offers instructions for modifying the lesson and a "virtual tour" via PowerPoint and script. In essence, the lesson plan brings the exhibit to you (though it's not as good as coming to the museum, of course.)

So--what's in this lesson: 

1. A pre-tour PowerPoint lesson that provides students with essential background information on Montana’s tribes around the year 1800. 
2. A tour (virtual or actual) that  asks for active student participation and uses indigenous peoples’ stories and personal narratives to complement the exhibit.
3. Two post-tour lessons--one on horses and society and the other on indigenous worldviews--that offer students a chance to expand on what they have learned.
4. Questions for a summative class discussion that enables students to put all the pieces together.

Independent historian and curriculum developer Laura Ferguson created this lesson for us. (Laura s also the author of several other of our lessons, including "Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan," "Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan," and "Montana's Landless Indians and the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy: A Case of Contradiction," and once again she's outdone herself. My favorite thing about this lesson is the inclusion of stories. Laura has found great short accounts to illuminate what life was like especially for children. Since most of the excerpts are taken from Plenty Coups and Pretty Shield, the Crow feature prominently, but she's also included a Blackfeet story, "The First Buffalo Stone," and in the post-tour lessons, two Salish stories: "Fallen-From-The-Sky’s Vision Quest" and "The Story of Pretty Flower."

I look forward to hearing what you think of these new lessons and tour. So after you visit (or take your class on the virtual tour), let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nominate an amazing 4-6 grade Montana history teacher for the Centennial Bell Award

Do you know a great 4th-6th grade teacher who has done an exemplary job teaching Montana history during the 2016-2017 school year?  Please nominate him or her for the 28th Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award.

To nominate a 4th-6th grade Montana History Teacher, email Norma Ashby at ashby7@q.com.  Please include the following information:

* Your name
* Your email
* Nominee’s name
* Nominee’s email
* Grade level
* School Name
* School  address
* School phone number
* Nominations are due by March 24, 2017.

Nominated teachers will be asked to submit two letters of support (one from their principal and one from a student), and a one-to-two page statement detailing the following:

1. Why they enjoy teaching Montana history.
2. How they engage their students in learning.
3. How their Montana history course recognizes Montana’s cultural diversity.
4. Anything else they’d like to share about their class or methods.

Nominees will receive more instructions on how to submit this material after March 24, 2017.  They will have until May 4, 2017 to submit their material.

The winner and his or her class will be honored at a ceremony in the State Capitol in Helena on Statehood Day, November 8, 2017.  The winner will receive a plaque and $2,750 toward library and classroom materials, field trips, speakers and anything else that will enhance learning in the classroom. 

This program is sponsored by the Montana Television Network, the Montana History Foundation and the Sons & Daughters of Montana Pioneers in cooperation with the Montana Historical Society.  The Award is given in odd numbered years to a 4th-6th grade Montana History Teacher and in even numbered years to a 7th-12th grade Montana History Teacher. 


Please contact Norma Ashby in Great Falls, Mt. with any questions about the award or the nomination process at 406-453-7078 or at ashby7@q.com.  Thank you for your help in honoring the best teachers of Montana History in the state.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Learning and Teaching about Indian Sovereignty plus Request for Short Story Ideas

I had an amazing time at OPI's 11th Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference. It is truly one of my favorite conferences, and if you've never gone, I encourage you to put it on your schedule for next year.

Among the sessions I attended was a mini-institute on teaching Indian sovereignty led by Billings Public School IEFA Coach Glenda McCarthy and Dana Wilson, the former vice chairman of the Crow Tribal Council.


I went to the session because I've struggled with this topic for years--as I think many non-Indian Montanans do. 

Before I jump into Dana and Glenda's session, I want to share this definition of sovereignty, taken from the lesson plan "Crossing Boundaries through Art: Seals of Montana Tribal Nations": 


  • Sovereignty: The supreme power from which all political powers are derived. Sovereignty is inherent and cannot be given to one group by another. Sovereignty ensures the right to self-government, facilitates cultural preservation, and enables a peoples’ control of their own future. Legally, federally recognized tribal nations are considered semi-sovereign entities and as such have a unique relationship to the federal government. Sovereignty affirms the political identity of Indian Nations; they are not simply a racial or ethnic minority. 
  • I also want to share  IEFA Essential Understanding 7: "Under the American legal system, Indian tribes have sovereign powers, separate and independent from the federal and state governments. However, the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe."
There is tension between and within these statements:
  • "Sovereignty is inherent and cannot be given to one group by another."
  • "Legally federally recognized tribal nations are considered semi-sovereign."
  • "the extent and breadth of tribal sovereignty is not the same for each tribe."
And it is these tensions that have caused me problems as I've thought about how to think about (and teach) Indian sovereignty. Thankfully, this session provided some great material and strategies.

Lesson 1: Bring in guest speakers. Dana's been giving presentations to government classes in the Billings School District and his presentation reminded me how valuable reaching out to experts can be--especially when you are dealing with a complicated topic where theory and practice don't always align. If you are teaching about Indian sovereignty--especially at the high school level--it's worth looking to nearby reservations to see if there's anyone who can help unpack the complexities.

Lesson 2: Resources exist to help you. Glenda guided us to several.

  1. Glenda has gathered many amazing resources on the Billings Public Schools IEFA website (high school social studies page), which she is happy to share with teachers across the state. They include a Tribal Sovereignty PowerPoint, teaching notes, fast facts, and two graphic organizers she's found useful in working with students as well as many links. 
  2. OPI has created three units on tribal seals (one for grades 3-5, one for grades 6-8, and one for grades 9-12). Both called "Crossing Boundaries through Art: Seals of Montana Tribal Nations," the flexible multi-part units are designed to help "students to learn about Montana Indian tribes as distinct, sovereign entities while studying and creating symbolic art."
  3. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe's website "The Rez We Live On" has a two-minute introduction to sovereignty. (Lots of other great info here too.)
Glenda led us in a great exercise, where she had us work in small groups to analyze one of several articles, which discussed topics as varied as Trump's transition team's meeting with Native Americans, bison range management, hunting rights, language preservation, medical marijuana, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Within our group, after reading our article, we were instructed to perform the following tasks:
    • Define key terms from the article as necessary in margin.
    • Find 1-3 key quotes/evidence that could explain the issue to others, or be used to develop an argument.
    • Write questions/concerns you have about this issue or the article.
    • Summarize the central idea.  How does it relate to tribal sovereignty?
    • Report back.
I loved this exercise because it allowed us to apply the concept of sovereignty to specific situations (and thus to come away with a more sophisticated understanding.) If you decide to use this exercise, can (and should as time passes) look for articles that you can use with your class (Indian Country Today is a good source) but Glenda was kind enough to provide the articles we read during the workshop in a teacher-friendly word doc, which I have shared here.

As you can see, it was a productive three hours!

It wasn't part of the workshop, but here's one more resource that might be useful for teaching (and learning) about sovereignty:  Tribal Nations in Montana: A Handbook for Legislators.  A joint publication between the Montana Legislative Services Division and the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana, the 73-page handbook covers brief, educational introductions to a myriad of topics. Chapter headings include “Basic Principles of State-Tribal Relations,” “Definitions of ‘Indian’ and ‘Indian Tribe’,” “Tribal Sovereignty,” “Gaming,” “Water Rights,” “Indian Child Welfare Act,” “Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country,” “Taxation,” and much more. An electronic copy of the Handbook is available at the above link. While supplies last, you can receive a hard copy by emailing or calling Hope Stockwell at 406-444-9280 or HStockwell@mt.gov.


On a slightly different note, I received an email from a high school English teacher requesting suggestions for short stories that could help "non-native students to understand how cultural their ideas and understanding of land ownership is vs. other cultural beliefs about land stewardship." She writes: "I had been researching for any fiction (but non-fiction is great too) simply because students seem to be more receptive to a scenario, anecdote, or story about a topic than to an essay. That said, learning how to read essays, even if they don't appreciate them, is a part of their curriculum too." She already uses the amazing poetry collection OPI published: Birthright: Born to Poetry--A Collection of Montana Indian Poetry, and I recommended choosing excerpts from Plenty Coups and  Pretty Shield, which OPI donated to every public school library. I also suggested she take a look at our lesson plan "Mining Sacred Ground: Environment, Culture, and Economic Development on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation." Do you have other suggestions? Please send them along. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Struggling Readers and Content Area Textbooks: Making Montana: Stories of the Land Accessible to All

I've had several teachers tell me that their students have had difficulty reading Montana: Stories of the Land. If you've faced this problem--with Montana: Stories of the Land or with any textbook--this workshop is for you!
Designed for 4-12 grade teachers who have have students who struggle reading content area textbooks, this six-hour seminar will use Montana: Stories of the Land as a case study to explore a wide variety of strategies to support struggle readers.
About the Presenter
Tammy Elser works nationally providing professional development for teachers. The author of The Framework: A Practical Guide for Montana Teachers and Administrators Implementing Indian Education for All, and a dozen integrated Indian Education and Common Core aligned curricula, Tammy focuses on practical strategies supporting current and future teachers to achieve both equity and excellence for all students.
The Details
Who: 4-12 grade teachers of Montana History, US History or any teacher worried about students’ capacity to read and understand content area text books in any subject.
What: 6 hours of focused professional development using Montana: Stories of the Land as a case study.
When: June 16, 2017, 8:30-3:30
WhereMontana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts, Helena
OPI Renewal Units and a limited number of travel scholarships will be available.

Monday, March 6, 2017

April Educator Workshops in Lewistown, Glasgow, Chinook, and Cut Bank

Mark your calendars and tell your friends! The Montana Historical Society is going on the road with four educator workshops, at venues across the state.

Last year's on-the-road workshops in eastern Montana received rave reviews--so we're sending nationally recognized social studies and science teacher Jim Schulz to the hi-line and central Montana to lead the workshop "Crossing Disciplines: Social Studies, Art, and the Common Core." 

Cosponsored and held at local museums, these workshops are targeted to 4-12 teachers interested in meeting Common Core ELA and Math standards while engaging students in active learning.

Here's the schedule:

April 8, 2017: Lewistown (Cosponsored by the Central Montana Museum): 
  • Place: 408 NE Main St., Lewistown MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 10, 2017: Glasgow (Cosponsored by the Valley County Pioneer Museum): 
  • Place: 816 Highway 2, Glasgow MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 11: Chinook (Cosponsored by the Blaine County Museum):
  • Place: 501 Indiana St, Chinook, MT 
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
April 12, 2017: Cut Bank (Cosponsored by the Glacier County Museum)
  • Place: 107 Old Kevin Highway, Cut Bank, MT
  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Register now.
The morning will be spent on Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique that uses teacher-facilitated discussions of art images to train students in “key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards” (vtshome.org) and learning about ways to teach art through social studies and ELA/social studies through art.   

In the afternoon, participants will be introduced to other ready-to-use, cross-disciplinary lesson plans from the Montana Historical Society, including a lesson from one of our hands-on history footlockers and a lesson that engages students in collecting and analyzing survey data to help the understand change over time. Attendees will leave with a Teaching Montana’s Charlie Russell packet that includes fifteen high-quality prints, PowerPoints, and grade-specific lesson plans. 

The workshop is free. 6 OPI Renewal Units available. 

Learn more, view the agendas, and find the links to register here

And please help us spread the word to colleagues who might be interested.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing Dialogue Poems: Followup

Readers had great feedback on my recent post, Writing Dialogue Poems to Compare Points of View

Dottie Susag, retired English teacher from Simms, said she a variation of this assignment using “Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question," by Diane Burns. “It's a dialog poem but you don't hear the other side. I like to have students make up the other voice.” 

"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question" is a great poem in its own right for getting kids thinking about stereotypes, according to Anna Baldwin (Arlee High School). She said that it is one the Arlee Reservation Ambassadors often uses to "to launch discussion and encourage frank conversations about stereotypes and reservation life." (Don't know who the Reservation Ambassadors are? You should! It's a student club from Arlee High School that visits or Skypes with classrooms to build relationships and understanding about reservation life. (You can ask them to meet with your class in person or online by emailing club co-advisor Anna Baldwin at abaldwin@arleeschools.org.)  

Finally, Brenda Johnston, who teaches English at Browning High School, wrote to let me know that she has her "students write two voice poems when studying the Holocaust and the Baker Massacre.  It is a good way for me to assess some of their learning."

It looks as if dialogue poems are already classroom tested and have received a two thumbs up.