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Monday, October 31, 2016

Two Lessons on Voting and Civic Engagement

Since election day is fast approaching, I thought I'd feature two lesson plans that have to do with voting, both created by Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris.

The first is Hazel Hunkins: Billings Suffragist (designed for grades 7 -12). I already bragged about this lesson earlier this year so I'll be brief: "the primary-source based lesson plan challenges students to analyze and contextualize historical evidence; consider how authorship, intention, and context affect meaning; and construct an argument about the contributions of Billings, Montana, high school graduate Hazel Hunkins to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment." It is primary-source rich and reinforces National Woman's Party leader Alice Paul's view of social change. Paul wrote: "I always feel....the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end." Hazel Hunkins certainly added her little stone to the great mosaic. (We have free hard copies of this lesson available while supplies last. Email MHSEducation@mt.gov to request your copy.)

The second lesson is Montana’s State Flower: A Lesson in Civic Engagement (designed for 4-7). This seven-period unit asks students to organize an election for class flower, engaging them in the electoral process. The lesson integrates science and history while providing students an opportunity to develop research skills, explore historical newspapers and practice such Common Core skills as close reading of complex texts and persuasive writing.

Interestingly, Ruth reports that her students did NOT select the bitterroot as their choice for state flower. We surmised that had eastern Montana been as developed as western Montana in 1894, voters would have chosen a different flower as our state symbol.

And speaking of civics, I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage all of you to VOTE. "Of the people, for the people, by the people" only works if we the people participate.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Feeback on your Feedback (We Love Feedback)

Earlier in the year, I shared favorite lesson plans submitted as part of our end-of-year survey (click the links for posts on the elementary, middle, and high school lessons.) In that same survey, we asked for suggestions to improve the listserv and our service overall. We got GREAT feedback, which I will respond to over a couple of posts, so as not to overwhelm.

Contacts: Several of you asked for information on who to call/contact for different services.
  • Our main email is mhseducation@mt.gov. Direct inquiries here and we will make sure your request gets to the correct person. 
  • To talk with someone about footlocker reservations, call 406-444-9553. 
  • To talk with someone about tours, call 406-444-4794.
  • To talk with someone about the textbook, call 406-444-4740.
  • To contact our research center, email mhslibrary@mt.gov or call 406-444-2681. 
  • You can also always email me at mkohl@mt.gov and I'll do my best to get you to a person who can help you.
Remember our special learners: We can and should do more to help teachers with differentiation and to provide material for students with learning disabilities. 
  • Learning Ally offers Montana: Stories of the Land as an audiobook for students with learning disabilities.
  • If you have specific suggestions for what we can do to make our lesson plans and resources more adaptable, I'd love to hear from you.
Broken links: "Some of the websites no longer work." 
  • It is a constant struggle. We do our best to keep our links up to date but we could use your help. When you stumble across a broken link in one of our lesson plans, please, please email me
Difficulty finding things on the list: "I sometime get overwhelmed with so much information!  So I archive them so I can look back when I'm searching for new topics."
  • Even better than archiving posts yourself is using the tags and search functions on http://teachingmontanahistory.blogspot.com/. Look in the right hand column for a search box, a list of posts by date, and a list of tags. Click on a tag of interest (from "archaeology" to "worksheets") and see what comes up.
Navigating the Website/Finding Material: "I have struggled with finding things on the MHS website.  A tutorial would be great to better access and utilize materials."

No doubt about it, we have a lot of stuff--and that can make it hard to find what you need. We've tried to organize material intuitively--but what's intuitive to us may not be for you. As part of our Online Professional Development, we have two tutorials to help you navigate our site: 
  • Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Teacher’s Guide Professional Development Training (Part 1 of this Camtasia presentation walks you through the website, with resources for all ages, not just for middle school. Part 2 walks you through the textbook site--this site is designed for middle school use but has resources useful to other ages as well.)
  • Montana Historical Society Educator Resources (This video features in more conversational style four of our resources: Hands on History Footlockers, Charlie Russell Lesson Plans, Montana: Stories of the Land, and the Women's History Project.)
  • If you are still frustrated, drop me an email. I'm always happy to help where I can.
More next week.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Evidence Analysis Window Frames

I'm enamored by a new primary source analysis tool--Evidence Analysis Window Frames--produced by Glenn Weibe, self-described "social studies nerd, consultant, tech guy," and author of the blog History Tech.

Here's how Glenn describes this simple, yet completely ingenious tool, which comes in K-5 and 6-12 versions:


"This Evidence Analysis Window Frame combines critical thinking with a visual, tactile activity that is great for encouraging historical thinking, developing analysis abilities, and supporting literacy skills. ...

"We often ask students to analyze evidence and to think historically. But these are skills that often need scaffolding. So we’ve printed historical thinking questions along the edges of heavy duty plastic sheets that your students place on top of photos, documents, maps, political cartoons, and other pieces of evidence. Kids then use dry erase or overhead pens to connect historical thinking questions with evidence found in the document." 
You can buy these at Glenn's shop. A classroom set of 25 costs $37.50.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Montana Newspapers and Chronicling America

I just spent the day introducing 3-5 graders in Helena's gifted and talented program to our digitized newspaper collections. It was exhausting. (I'm in awe of those of you who do this every day.) And it reinforced my belief there are few sources more fascinating than historic newspapers.

In the past, we've asked students engaged in research projects to jump right into the digitized newspaper collections. It mostly didn't work. Because only a small portion of our collections are digitized, students aren't guaranteed to find material on their topic. And, more importantly, searching is a learned skill. So this time, we waded in slowly.

I started by showing a printed front page from the Montana Post (Montana's first newspaper). We talked about how it differed from newspapers today and speculated on why that was so.

Students then played "newspaper bingo," using other pages I had printed out from various Montana newspapers. (In choosing which pages to print, I made sure the newspaper name and publication date was on the page and I leaned toward pages with lots of advertisements, since those are less intimidating.) To save time, reduce frustration, and keep students' looking more broadly at the paper instead of searching only for specific topics, I defined bingo as completing any four squares on their card (they didn't have to be in a row).*

We then went from printed pages to the computer to go shopping. I first had the students share some of the things they would like to get as a present. We talked about whether those items would have been available in 1900. Then we  "stepped into our time machines" (the Chronicling America web page) to travel back in time to shop for gifts.** This shopping activity fascinated students, and it taught them how to limit a search to a particular span of years and state. It also introduced the idea of delimiting searches by using the "all the words" feature.

After we shared what we "bought", we talked a little about the different ways to search ("any of the words," "all the words," "within five words").

As time permitted, students also traveled back in time to investigate what was going on in the world 100 years before they were born. For this exercise they chose a specific date (their birth date minus 100 years.) Some chose to refine their search by looking in a specific state but most just entered the date range, hit search, and then started browsing.

By this time, they were much more comfortable navigating the online newspaper collections than they had been when we started. They knew a little about searching and also how to enlarge and navigate around specific pages so they could read various articles.

Finally, we talked about using the newspapers for research projects, including the fact that Montana has newspapers on two different sites and that there is no overlap between sites. We talked about how to figure out whether digitized newspapers existed for the time period the event you were researching occurred. Montana Newspapers has 382,000 full-text searchable pages from 54 newspapers (1885-2014) while Chronicling America has 257,000 pages from 59 Montana newspapers (1864-1922)--and many more pages from newspapers across the country. Logically, then, if you are researching the 1959 Hegben earthquake, you'll have better luck looking in Montana Newspapers for stories.  

Only a few of the students had time to actually conduct newspaper research while I was with them, but I'm pleased to say they were successful--much more so than other students we'd tried to introduce to the online newspaper collections. My teacher friends tell me it's all about scaffolding. I'm glad I finally listened!


*Billings librarian Ruth Ferris came up with both newspaper bingo and the shopping activity as part of larger units: "Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom"  and Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan Study Guide (by Cheryl Hughes). Thanks, Ruth!

**My colleague Zoe Ann Stoltz often says that the historic newspapers are the closest thing we have to a time machine, so I borrowed that analogy. Kids really liked buckling up in their time machines and/or climbing into their "tardis."


Monday, October 17, 2016

New on the web! Images and Recordings from the Montana Folklife Survey

The Montana Folklife Survey was conducted in the summer of 1979 by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Montana Arts Council. The survey was a field research project to document traditional folklife in Montana.
The collection consists of approximately 145 sound recordings, 10,500 photographs; and 3 ½ linear feet of manuscripts that document interviews with Montanans in various occupations including ranching, sheep herding, blacksmithing, stone cutting, saddle making, and mining; various folk and traditional music occasions including fiddle and mandolin music in Forsyth; fiddle and accordion music performed in Broadus; the Montana Old-Time Fiddlers Association in Polson; Irish music, songs, and dance music on concertina and accordion in Butte; a Serbian wedding and reception in Butte; hymn singing of the Turner Colony of Hutterites; the annual Crow Fair in Crow Agency; storytelling on the Milk River Wagon Train, and other documentation of rodeos, trade crafts, vernacular architecture, quilting, and other reminiscences and stories about life in Montana in 1979. The survey team was led by Barre Toelken, and included folklorists Paula Johnson, Gary Stanton, Kay Young, and photographers Michael Crummett, Carl Fleischhauer, Tom McBride, Miiko Toelken, and George Wasson and was conducted from June 28, 1979 to September 15, 1979.
The online presentation includes the majority of the sound recordings and photographs. Selected manuscripts include those materials created by the fieldworkers, the audio and photo logs, field notes, and final reports. The remainder of the collection is available in the Folklife Reading Room at the Library of Congress. A finding aid to the entire collection is also available online.
My colleague Tammy Troup pointed out this great resource to me, which she learned about from the Library of Congress Weekly Digest Bulletin. Be like Tammy. Bring relevant Library of Congress information to your inbox by clicking here.

P.S. Please come say hello to us at the MEA-MFT conference, by stopping by our booth, attending our Thursday Institute, or coming to our Wednesday night reception. Information on the Wednesday night reception and Thursday institute is here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Check Out Our New Footlocker!

The Montana Historical Society’s Hands-on History Footlockers are among our most popular educational resources. Designed for fourth grade—but used successfully in both lower elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms—these thematic "traveling trunks" focus on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the fur-trading and mining industries, to Indian life during the reservation period and today. (Learn more here).

And now, we proudly present our newest footlocker, Original Governor’s Mansion: Home to the Stewart Family in Turbulent Times, 1913-1921. This footlocker fills an important gap in our offerings, by providing an opportunity to investigate life and politics during the Progressive Era and World War I, 1913-1921, as well as the history and architecture of a magnificent building.

For this footlocker, we've concentrated on children's experiences, focusing on the lives of the governor's three daughters during their time in the mansion. This allowed us to explore not only architecture and Montana politics during this period, but everyday life--including school, manners, music, games, and life skills that were once common but rarely taught now (darning, for example).

The footlocker examines

  • Entertainment and social life through period books and games (including Parcheesi, Goops and How to Be Them, a 1919 Helena High School Yearbook, a calling card tray, and a Victrola record, and clothespin dolls)
  • Needle arts (through a well-stocked sewing basket, a doll quilt, and doll house sized rag rugs) 
  • World War I on the home front (using posters, knitting projects, lumps of coal, and a booklet written by young Marjorie Stewart)
  • Architecture (the User Guide includes plans so students can build their own mansions from paper or cardstock). 

We think your students will love working with the objects we’ve gathered, and the lesson plans make good use of the objects included in the footlocker.

At the same time, we’re aware that not every teacher will be able to order the physical footlocker. So we worked hard to digitize as much as possible—by creating 6 PowerPoints, which allow access to the 66 mostly historic images included in the footlocker. In addition, Lesson Plans are all available online to download free of charge and over half of them can be used WITHOUT ordering the trunk.

Aligned to the ELA Common Core and Montana State Standards for Social Studies the lesson plans were designed for fourth grade but many can be adapted to higher or lower grades. In creating the lessons, we worked from state standards to teach the following big ideas:

  • Children and their families lived, played, and went to school in a variety of settings across Montana. Many factors—economics, geography, technology, ethnicity, and time period—shaped their homes, play areas, and schools.
  • The way a structure looks reflects the period in which it was built, the builders’ resources, and the building’s function.
  • Reminiscences, oral histories, and photographs are valuable sources for learning about the past. All sources have a point of view. We are all living through and making history—kids included.
  • In all eras, all places, and all cultures there are established expectations of behavior and standards for how people treat one another.
  • Governor Stewart (1913–1921) served during turbulent times. Big political issues and social issues affect everyone.
  •  Expectations for elementary students were different a hundred years ago than they are today. 
  • In the past, very few things were designed to be disposable—and when things broke, people tried to fix them or find a way to reuse them instead of throwing them away.

We're pretty proud of our newest footlocker, which we'll have on display at our booth in the MEA-MFT exhibit hall--so stop by and see it and let us know what you think!

And speaking of MEA-MFT: Have you registered to attend our Wednesday Evening Open House Reception? I hate throwing parties, because I am always simultaneously worried that no one will come and that so many people will come that I'll run out of food. Help curb my anxiety--sign up now!

P.S. There’s also still room in our 9-3:50 Bring History Alive institute, on Thursday, October 20, which you can also register for through the MEA-MFT portal.

Monday, October 10, 2016

We’re getting excited about the upcoming MEA-MFT conference. We hope to see you on Wednesday night for our Open House and on Thursday for our Institute, “Bring History Alive.” To attend either the Open House or the Institute, you must register at the MEA_MFT Educator’s Conference registration portal. And, while you are there, you might want to check out these other great-sounding sessions.

On Thursday:

Bring History Alive, 9:00 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
This daylong exploration aims to help you integrate primary source text, art, and artifacts into their teaching practice as well as to provide you an opportunity to explore behind-the-scenes at the Montana Historical Society.

Montana: From the Trenches to the Homefront, 9:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Prepare for Veteran’s Day and the upcoming World War I centennial (U.S. entered WWI on April 6, 1917).

Montana Women: Raising Babies, Cattle, Suffrage, 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Examine the unique culture women developed during Westward Expansion to understand political, social, and economic advantages Montana held for women. 

Fire on the Mountain: Montana's Fire Ecosystems, 11:00a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Explore Whitebark Pine ecosystems and how managers are using fire to bring it back. Also delve into the Indian Education For All 'Fire on the Land' curriculum for social studies and science as well as the Fireworks Trunks available throughout Montana at Forest Service locations.

Montana National History Day, 12:00 p.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Learn how you can get your 6-12 grade students engaged independent research and meet Common Core standards through this exciting program.  

Touring the Montana Legislature Website, 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Government teachers: learn about the resources available on the Montana Legislature website, from following bills, watching committee and floor sessions, the MCA and Montana Constitution, and other resources of interest to classroom teachers.

On Friday

Global Urbanization in Eastern Montana, 8:00 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.
Discover how global urbanization has affected eastern Montana a result of the oil and gas industry.

Key Turning Points: 20th Century American History, 9:00 a.m. to 9:50 a.m.
This is the joint keynote of both MCSS and MCHCE and it should be great. Professor Robert Swartout will focus on three crucial events in twentieth-century American history that usually receive only minor attention in U.S. textbooks: the National Origins Act of 1924; the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (the GI Bill) of 1944; and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Dr. Swartout will explain how these three events represent major turning points in American history, connect these historical changes to events occurring in contemporary American society, and explain how this national story relates to Montana.

Northern Cheyenne Odyssey, 11:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Explore powerful texts (tribal history, poetry, media coverage, online interactive game) that can pair with Homer’s Odyssey or enrich US/ Montana history. Developed in partnership with Billings’ Western Heritage Center and Northern Cheyenne people, these texts are rich in IEFA Essential Understandings and Common Core opportunities, documenting the Northern Cheyenne’s courageous return to Montana after forced removal. 

Hutterite History, 2:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Participants will learn about the history of the Hutterites and their culture.

Using Visual Thinking Strategies in the Classroom, 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
You know how much I love Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). If you haven’t had a chance to explore this technique, here’s a session for you.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Favorite Lessons: Followup

Over the last few weeks, I've posted your colleagues' favorite elementary, middle school, and high school lessons. At the end of each post I encouraged readers to send in other resources they loved. A few responded:

Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Ferris pointed us to JuxtaposeJS, which "helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs." According to ed tech guru Peter Pappas, the program is "ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.)."

Three Forks Montana history teacher Pam Carey wrote: "One of my students' favorite lesson follows our completion of Chapter 8 - "Livestock and the Open Range" in the Montana history textbook.  I need to give credit to a good friend and History mentor Chris Fisk of Butte who shared this lesson when he presented at a MEA-MFT convention. After Chapter 8 completion students are grouped and prepare their version of "Cowboy Beans." We start with an old recipe and the add their secret ingredients.  We then prepare one day, cook overnight in crockpots, and hold a 5-12 tasting the next day for the winning batch.  Students coming into MT History always look forward to this event.  It is pretty fun since all the school winds up involved.  Cowboy Beans have evolved into a yearly event."

My colleague Tammy Troup was inspired by the projects described to recommend a new resource: "The project about writing a letter from the perspective of a Native sent to boarding school made me remember the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center. Definitely one to share with your list if you haven’t already."

P.S. Our second Online PLC meeting is this coming Monday, October 10, 4:00-4:30. Please join us! 
  • To receive renewal units and to gain access to all course information, you'll need to enroll in the course through OPI's Teacher Learning Hub.
  • During our first meeting of the Online PLC (in September) we focused on the content/big ideas/enduring understandings we wanted our Montana history students to walk away with. (You can find some of our collected thoughts on this here.) On Monday we're going to focus on the SKILLS we want our students to learn. There's a "write your way in" that people are encouraged to complete ahead of time. Access it here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Explore Big

My colleagues at the Montana Historical Society have been working hard--and that work has paid off. We are proud to present ExploreBig, a website and mobile app which supports the discovery of the built environment related to Montana history.

The website and mobile app draw on information from over 1500 sites in Montana with historic markers. Marker text is illustrated with images, while sites or regions are marked on a responsive map.

Although many sites in Montana are of historic or architectural significance, the sites marked with a historical marker have been fully researched, nominated for inclusion on the National Register, and physically marked with a descriptive sign. These historical markers become a story on ExploreBig which is linked by a tour to other stories.

Development of tours involves reviewing the National Register form for each story, illustrating the stories with relevant photographs, and marking the site’s coordinates on a GIS-supported map. The digitized historical photographs, maps, brochures, or drawings demonstrate the change of an environment and expand understanding of a place, while the map directs travelers to the site or in special cases a nearby city. The result is a website and a mobile app which allows you to effectively explore the built environment on a walking, driving, or armchair tour of the state.

In this first phase of website development, the MHS is connecting travelers to the broad themes which connect the disparate regions of the state. Early Montana, Mining, Railroads, Homesteading, and Tourism are just a few of the big themes in Montana history for which a tour is being developed.  
The marker text was developed by the Montana National Register Sign Program, which is funded through an allocated portion of the Montana Accommodations Tax (“bed” tax).

(1)    EASY TO USE AND FREE
The URL for ExploreBig is explorebig.org and the mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices through Google Play and the Apple App Store.

In keeping with the mission of the MHS to provide access to Montana's historical resources, the site is free to Internet users worldwide. No fees or subscriptions are required.

(2)    COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONSThe Montana Historical Society will continue to add thematic tours to the site in order to link the broad themes of the state’s history. In the next phase of project development, local organizations—museums, libraries, historical societies—will be invited to contribute digitized images for districts and buildings in order to expand tours for local audiences. Interested organizations may check our community contribution guide at http://mhs.mt.gov/research/online/explorebig or contact mhsdigital@mt.gov to share ideas or information about the resource.