Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charlie Russell and the Margin Project

Charles M Russell created over 4000 pieces of art in his lifetime  (documented numbers).   Charlie often illustrated his letters to friends.  Writing for him was a challenging endeavor, his spelling is thought provoking.

In 1902 B.B. Kelly loaned Charlie his copy of A. C. Laut's "The Story of the Trapper".  When Charlie returned the book  B.B. discovered to his delight about 16 new illustrations in the margins.  B.B. died in 1920 at which time he conveyed the book to his infant godson, Stephen A. Birch.  It remained in his private collection until his death in 2009.

The Birch heirs have leant it to the Montana Historical Society where it is on exhibit.  Several of the illustrations have been reprinted as cards that can be purchased at the Museum Gift Store.

Charlie's talent is amazing, but using art to synthesize reading is within all students ability.  Corbett Harrison uses Mr Stickman in his classroom.  You can find his original handouts at along with how some of his students used it in their notebooks.

I would also like to share some information about the "Margin Project" and how some teachers and librarians are using it with their students.  Select books are chosen to be written in.  (You didn't ever think you would hear that from a librarian.)

The first reader adds notes as he/she reads.  Then the book is passed on.  The second reader add their own notes and sometimes responds to the notes from the previous reader.  Then the book is passed on.  Reading has become a more social experience.  My friend Kathi has used the Margin Project to the delight of some of her book clubs.

Read more at Jen Malone's site!margin-project/cpa5

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Attending the Charlie Russell Symposium

I grew up seeing Charlie Russell's art on calendars, and knick-knacks.  Reproductions hung in homes. I remember the first time I saw an exhibit of his work.  It would have been in 1979 after I moved to Helena, Montana.  I visited the Montana Historical Society and they had some of his work on exhibit. My favorite pieces were some letters he had illustrated.  They spoke to me but I didn't understand yet what they were saying.

During the intervening years I would have a nodding acquaintance with the artist.  A few years ago I was participating in a writer's challenge.  I had chosen Montana A-Z.  I was stuck for a place for the letter "U".  My husband said let's go to Utica.  That was the town in one of Charlie Russell's paintings.  And my journey began.

A Quiet Day in Utica

I came to understand Charlie Russell was not only a gifted artist but above else he was a story teller. 

The Montana Historical Society has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charlie's birthday.   It has been my honor and pleasure to be able to attend the Charlie Russell Symposium that they organized this year.  Scholars and authors,  actually they are Rock Stars in the Charlie Russell world.  
What I notice is the connection and friendship that these scholars and historians have developed over the years.  They have been generous with their time and knowledge.  It has been an incredible few days.  

Here is a list of some of the presenters:

Jodie Utter
Peter Hassrick
Mary Jane Bradbury
B Byron Price
Kirby Lambert
Jennifer Bottomly- O'Looney  
Brian Dippie
Larry Len Peterson
Kathryn Kramer
Jack Gladstone
Montana PBS

And of course there are the wonderful books.  Larry Peterson gave 50 copies of his book "Charles M. Russell:  Photographing the Legend, to Montana Schools.  I decided on two books "Montana's Charlie Russell" by Jennifer Bottomly-O'Looney and Kirby Lambert.  And "The 100 Best Illustrated Letters of Charles M. Russell" by Brian Dippie.  My husband tried to talk me out of purchasing them.

As I was paying for the two books.  The fellow from the bookstore turned to my husband and said.  "You weren't successful".  You see Dan had been planning to buy them and give them to me for a present.  I think today I will point out several other books I have my eye on.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Library of Congress iBooks

The Library of Congress now has a dozen free ibooks.  They are great tools for putting primary sources into students hands.     The ibooks are an interactive tool - students can highlight and draw on documents.

Group of African American children playingChildren's Lives at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Children of a century past: How were their lives different from today's? How were they the same? Especially for early grades.

extract from the U.S. ConstitutionThe Constitution

The drafts and debates that brought the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into being, including notes by the documents' framers.

Migrant pea pickerThe Dust Bowl

Songs, maps, and iconic photographs document the daily ordeals of rural migrant families during a disastrous decade.

Langston HughesThe Harlem Renaissance

Discover some of the innovative thinkers and creative works that contributed to the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.

Immigrants looking out over waterImmigration

The immigrant experience in America from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in primary sources.

Breaker boys, Woodward Coal Mines, Kingston, PaThe Industrial Revolution

The U.S.'s tumultuous transformation into an industrial power, as revealed in films, images, songs, and stories.

Japanese-American childJapanese American Internment

Compelling photographs, including many by Ansel Adams, illuminate the experience of Japanese Americans interned during World War II.

Negro going in colored entrance of movie house on Saturday afternoonJim Crow and Segregation

Powerful photos and documents illuminate a century of segregation and the struggles against it.

A severed snakePolitical Cartoons and Public Debates

Political cartoons and other documents from three centuries of U.S. history shed light on the persuasive strategies used in public debates.

Betsy Ross sewing the U.S. flagSymbols of the United States

Watch six well-known symbols of the U.S. change over the centuries. Especially for early grades.

Planet earth with the moon and starsUnderstanding the Cosmos

Astronomers' depictions of the universe, from before Copernicus to after photography.

Suffrage Parade, New York CityWomen's Suffrage

The battle for women's right to vote comes to life in the scrapbooks, posters, news stories, cartoons, and firsthand accounts of suffrage activists.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Parsnips and the President

When I was 15 I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with 40 other 4-Hers for about 3 weeks.  We left Lewiston, Idaho and headed for Washington DC.  We stayed there for a week and then headed home.  We were in Washington DC for Club Congress and Leadership Training.

We saw so many wonderful things.  One highlight was our visit to Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello.  I remember being in awe of all the things he invented.  I remember standing out front and our tour guide pointing to the Smoky Mountains in the distance.

I still have the reproduction butter stamp that I bought in the gift store. Sometimes the odd nickle will trigger a walk down memory lane.   What does this have to do with parsnips or Presidents?  Well long story short.  When Thomas Jefferson's name comes up I will often stop to check things out.

This morning I had been on the TPS Teachers Network and from there read a post from Teaching With the Library of Congress Blog  As I was reading another post caught my eye.

Teaching with Thomas Jefferson’s Vegetable Market Chart  by Cheryl Lederle .  She shares a wonderful resource, a chart that shows when certain vegetables were available over a two year period.  This chart was among Thomas Jefferson's papers in the Library of Congress.

It made me think of possible connections.  Comparing and contrasting regions, products, graphs.  Lots of Math and Science possibilities.  Then it made me think of weather.  What weather records would be available for that region.  So many questions.  I wonder how many of my students have even tasted parsnips?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

History Games

Montana Office of Public Instruction sponsors a Best Practices conference every year.  There are always wonderful sessions to attend and learn from.  This year one of my favorites turned out to be a presenter from Montana PBS.  PBS and the Dept of Education and teamed together to create a video game called Cheyenne Odyssey

It is based on an actual historic event.  There is a section for teachers that provides resources to use the game in the classroom.

I was very impressed when I learned how closely they had worked and listened to the Northern Cheyenne Elders and Cultural Committee.  The art work corresponds very closely to the real geographical area.  When you listen to the avatars speak you are hearing tribal members.

Best of all my students love the game.  They have asked to play it on a number of occasions.  Mission US has several other games based on historic events.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Winding Down

This has been a roller coaster year.  Our school population is growing.  Next year they are adding 3 more classes.   The art and music teachers are losing their shared classroom.  They will be teaching from a cart next year.  I am losing 1/2 of my library space.  I still don't know where the 3rd classroom is going to be.  There are no more available rooms.

I understand the need, but at the same time it breaks my heart.  I listen to the people from facilities and others.  It comes back very clear most people have no clue what it takes to maintain and teach within a library.  At one point they wanted to take out my sink!  I happened to come around the corner and heard the comment.  I explained that there are times when books come with syrup and jelly and other sticky substances.  I would rather not be hauling those books down the hall looking for a sink.  They seemed surprised by this revelation.

They told my principal later that they had taken a sink out of one of the other libraries to make room.  I told her, "Yeh I know which one.  It has been a problem!"

As I look around the country and see so many states have totally gutted their libraries.  I am grateful that Montana maintains a strong library program within its schools.