Summer Institute

Instructions for submitting a lesson plan

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Writing good lesson plans is intellectually challenging because the teacher needs to consider many different levels–the standards that are being taught, the ability levels students bring to the lesson, the activities that are undertaken, the emotional and cognitive dynamics of the classroom, and where the unit of which the lesson is a part is headed. Their very difficulty makes good lesson plans very useful for other teachers. Experienced teachers will adapt lesson plans freely to their needs, but having a repository of thoughtful possibilities saves time and leads to better teaching.

Background information or rationale for this activity

Provide introductory and background information for the teacher. This should include the curriculum (the information content) to be taught and which of the ALERT skills will be practiced.

Grade level: Specify the grade levels for which this lesson might be appropriate.

Subject: What subjects might this lesson be appropriate for? e.g. English, geography. . .

Cite standards addressed by this activity

Quote the standard(s) that will be addressed by this lesson, and provide a citation (is it a district, state, or national standard?)

List learning objectives of this activity

An objective is a description of what a student will actually do that can be observed by the teacher, to draw inferences about what the student has learned. The verb is key to the objective: a student might classify, compose, construct, define, describe, demonstrate, distinguish, estimate, identify, interpret, locate, name, order, solve, and so on. . .

Describe steps teacher will follow

Provide a description of what the teacher does during the lesson, including how the lesson will be introduced, what instructional techniques will be used (providing the “hook,” telling a story, giving directions, checking for understanding, modeling a skill, outlining a procedure).

Describe steps students will follow

Provide the sequence of activities students will follow, including the exact problems, projects, or activities that will be used.

Describe the assessment process

Describe how the teacher will assess student understanding or skill (what questions will be asked, what tasks will be monitored, what work will be assigned and evaluated). This assessment should flow directly from the lesson objective.

What extension activities may be used?

How might individual students or student teams go beyond this lesson? What homework assignments might allow skill practice or concept development or knowledge enrichment?

Additional resources

List articles, books, websites, media or other resources that may be useful with this lesson.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/14 at 11:02 AM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project

2006 Summer Teacher Institute

Preliminary notes on our next teacher institute

At the 2006 Institute in Butte, June 19-20, we will explore questions raised by Robert Frost’s poem (below) through Montana literature such as The Big Sky and Fools Crow.

The main character in each novel lives in a time when the economy and community is changing, and each refuses to let go of some things. They make different choices and endure different consequences.

These are some of the questions that arise for Montanans at this moment in history, as well as for individuals at nearly any point in their lives: What should we leave behind? What should we refuse to part with? What might we restore, or return to?

I Could Give All To Time

Robert Frost

To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.

What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time’s lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.

I could give all to Time except - except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There
And what I would not part with I have kept.

Butte provides a rich context to think about what we lose, what we refuse to let go, and what we might restore. It might be a good place to read an education writer such as Diane Ravitch, who wonders what we might have lost in education that we could restore.

Stegner took the title of his fictional study of friendship, Crossing to Safety, from the last stanza of Frost’s poem. What does it mean to cross to safety? What can adolescents be told of safety, and how to cross to it?

What readings would you suggest? What historians, scientists, writers, moral philosophers, educators, etc. would you like to hear? What topics would you like to explore? 

Posted by David Hume on 07/11 at 02:20 PM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project

2005 Montana Heritage Project Summer Institute Syllabus

Syllabus: Montana Heritage Project Summer Institute 2005

Department: University of Montana C & I

Course Number: 455

Course Title: Montana Heritage Project 2005 Institute - “Lessons fom Wonderland: What
Can My Community Learn from Yellowstone? ”

Instructor: Michael Umphrey

Dates and location: June 19 through June 25, 2005, West Yellowstone, MT


This course is a training component of the Montana Heritage Project and is open only to demonstration site teachers (experienced teachers who have been funded by the Project for more than a year and accepted for independent work).  It targets Grades 9-12 teachers of language arts and social studies. (Note that during two days of the Institute, we are also providing training to teachers who have been funded as Project affiliates--teachers and programs in training. We concentrate on introducing them to the basics of oral history, community research, and community heritage events--and we work to integrate them into the rest of the group and its practices).

The Montana Heritage Project—a student and community education project that encourages high school students to compare and contrast community life in Montana now with that of the past—organizes student work into five steps that are captured by the acronym ALERT:
Asking questions—essential questions, expedition questions, and research questions.
Listening to sources that help address the questions asked.
Exploring actual sites and actual historic records and materials.
Reflecting on information learned, individually and through group discussion.
Teaching or transforming information learned into products, events, and materials that can be used by other scholars and community members.

Each Montana Heritage Project Summer Institute (this is the eleventh Institute) incorporates these ALERT steps into the week’s work, emphasizing different components during different Institutes or a different stages of Institute learning.

For the 2005 Institute, Institute participants will concentrate on the essential question: what can my community learn from Yellowstone--as a park AND a community; as a set of resources; as a set of political and management questions; as a metaphor. We will listen to speakers with widely varying understandings of Yellowstone and varying roles in the Yellowstone community: managers, writers, interpreters, historians. We will explore Yellowstone National Park and West Yellowstone resources. Throughout the week, we will reflect on what we are learning from speakers, from readings, and from onsite experiences through discussions and writing.  We do not anticipate providing or orchestrating how each participant answers the question “what can my community learn from Yellowstone.” However, here are examples of discussions or considerations that may be triggered by the invited speakers.

There are many other possibilities.

Every element of Yellowstone National Park is studied and analyzed (animal populations, visitor use, climate changes). Would my community be helped or harmed by greater scientific study and careful analysis? How does in depth data help us care for a place we love?

Yellowstone garners huge public attention. It is the object of myth and literature and endless press coverage.  Does this public attention, mythology, and literary treatment help to create good working relationships among groups, help to resolve problems, help to draw out the best in residents and managers? Or does it have a different effect?

West Yellowstone may be Montana’s first true tourist town. What effect has a full reliance on tourism done to create good schools, civic organizations, commitments to shared community enterprises?

For years, the Nation has prided itself on preserving Yellowstone National Park.  What are the benefits and the liabilities of concentrating our natural and historic resource preservation on one plot of land--as oppposed to an ecosystem, a community, a region, etc.?


As a result of completing this class, all participant teachers will:

A. Possess greater understanding of an unusual resource (Yellowstone) as a source of inspiration, information, metaphor, guidance, or challenge relevant to their own communities and to their teaching experiences.  (Listen, Explore, and Reflect).

B. Employ with increased skill the practices of detailed observation of, active listening to, and detailed recording of both classroom and field experiences. (Listen and Explore)

C. Demonstrate increased skill in finding commonalities, differences, and overarching questions related to how Yellowstone functions and how their community functions--drawing deeper meaning from new experiences and places. (Ask, Reflect, and Transform).

D. Possess greater understanding of the primary elements that comprise all good story forms including the principles of good storyline and script development that help readers, viewers, or listeners perceive answers to important questions in a powerful way. (Transform).

As a result of this class, participants seeking graduate credit will also:

E.  Demonstrate the ability to craft a compelling story (storyline) that answers an important question. (Transform).

3. SCHEDULE: See attached.


Pass/No Pass Option:

For 400 level University of Montana pass/no pass graduate credit and as a basic requirement for all funded Project demonstration site teachers, participants will, in teams, use the week’s information and experiences to prepare and present a radio documentary storyline. The script storyline (not a full script) is expected to effectively and powerfully answer the question: what can my community learn from Yellowstone. All workshop participants will be given the opportunity and be expected to question presenters and then follow-up with additional questions--to flesh out and test particular answers and ideas. Using the questioning techniques of investigative journalism and the skills of field observation, documentation, and research, participants will build their storylines from notes and journals they have kept throughout the week.

Storyline presentations will occur in a planned public discussion format that draws elements from classroom Socratic Dialogues on the final full day of the Institute. During the dialogue each team will give a 10-minute report in the form of a storyline treatment that includes: What is the story we want to tell? What’s at stake? What is the conflict? Who is the main character? What are the five moments from the week that we will present to our communities and why? Then, the rest of the group will critique and analyze these treatments based on the week’s examination of Yellowstone images and issues and on the teaching they have received about storytelling and script development.

For undergraduate credit, students will document their week’s experiences throughout the Institute in notes and journals. They will submit these notes and journals to the Instructor for assessment. If they choose, they may draft a storyline that they would use to answer the question, “what can my community learn from Yellowstone,” but they are not required to do so.  They will not be required to develop those findings into a radio documentary storyline or to present a storyline during the Socratic Dialogue.


Paul Schullery. “Searching for Yellowstone.” Montana Historical Society Press. Helena, 2004.

Selections from:

Gary Ferguson. “Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone.” National Geographic Adventure Press. 2003.

Jim Howe, Ed McMahon, and Luther Propst, “Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities.” Island Press, 1997.

Jim Robbins. “The Last Refuge.” Harper Collins West. 1994.

Jim Robbins. “Lessons from the Wolf.” “Scientific American. May 2004.

Paul Schullery. “Mountain Time: A Yellowstone Memoir.” Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, Co., 1985, 1994.

Diane Smith. “Letters from Yellowstone.” Penguin. New York, 1999.


Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 06/01 at 03:25 PM
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©2005 Montana Heritage Project
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