split rock lighthouse opens may 14
Spring must be on the way, really: Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site opens next month. With its spectacular location atop a rocky cliff overlooking Lake Superior, the lighthouse offers a unique opportunity for educational groups traveling to the North Shore.
"The kids fall in love with it as soon as we get there," says Jon Melby, a sixth-grade teacher who has brought students to Split Rock for 18 years in a row. After teaching a unit on the national influence of Minnesota's three iron ranges--along with the massive transportation and labor systems that grew to support them--Melby enjoys showing his students the real places involved.
Along with providing an educational experience, trips to the lighthouse offer the classic "North Shore experience" many Minnesotans wait half the year to enjoy. Students of all ages glimpse the lonely beauty of a keeper's lifestyle, while coming to appreciate how the region's iron ore industry was once among the greatest in the world.
Contact us at 218-226-6372 or by email for group tour information.
teach U.s. history with minnesota objects
Minnesota history teachers have long been in the habit of using the Society as a resource, but U.S. history teachers may not be aware of all it can offer them. One trip to "Collections Up Close" reveals several objects that tell stories relating to major events in our nation's history.
On original copy of the 1858 Treaty of Washington, recently acquired by the Society, is a document of enormous national significance. The treaty's dramatic effects on the people and landscape of the Midwest region are a powerful representation of concepts like Manifest Destiny. Show students the handwritten treaty at the History Center, or have them access the library's catalog to get a transcript.
Charles Bornarth's Civil War Sword tells a unique story. Bornarth left his Sibley County family farm to join the army in 1862. His story, like those connected with the 7,000 items relating to the Civil War and the Dakota Conflict, actively connect students to wider concepts in history. Bornarth's papers are available in the History Center library as well.
Society collections include some 3,000 presidential campaign buttons. The study of historic campaigns is more memorable when students explore primary sources, such as a rare 1860 pin featuring Lincoln's face or a light blue ribbon touting an ultimately successful Whig party bid. And what U.S. history survey would be complete without mentioning William Jennings Bryan's multiple campaign bids? See one button from around 1900.
Here's a compelling way to introduce the study of primary sources: Ask students to bring in one personal belonging and tell why it's important to them. When she did this with a fourth-grade class, Sherri Gebert-Fuller said "she was quite moved by what the students brought in." Gebert-Fuller, a former collections manager at the Society, accompanied the show-and-tell with a lesson on how we learn about Minnesotans through investigating artifacts.
minnesota's new quarter unveiled this month
On April 12, Minnesota officially joined the United States Mint's popular 50 State Quarters Program. At an event held on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol, the U.S. Mint presented our new quarter to Governor Pawlenty in front of at least 5,000 school children.
Education was the focus of the the lively celebration, which highlighted Minnesota's landscape and symbols. Special activities were provided by the Science Museum, the Department of Natural Resources, the Bell Museum, and the Minnesota Historical Society.
The 50 State Quarters Program comes with free standards-based curricula. Creative lesson plans (grades 3-8) use coins to examine Sacagawea's journey, investigate the role of veterans in our country, and chart history using pennies.
we want YOUR FEEDBACK
Good teachers always find ways to bring material to life for their students. What works in your classroom? If you've come up with a great way to adapt one of our resources, we'd love to hear from you.
Has History Day inspired one of your students? Do you weave one of our field trips into a topical unit? Has a teacher workshop sparked a classroom lesson? Do your students interact with the Society's web site? Do you teach about a favorite object from our collections? Have your students connected with a History Player?
Chances are--if you find it useful in the classroom, other educators will, too. Help us share your wealth of ideas. Contact Suzi at 651-215-1763 or by email. If your idea makes it into one of our articles, we'll send you a free book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
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ENGAGE Students with local communities
Minnesota Travel Brochures
For our Minnesota history unit, each student created a travel brochure for the county of their choice. The assignment involved writing letters to five organizations in that county: a courthouse, a historical society, the Department of Natural Resources, a 6th grade class, and a service organization (law enforcement, hospital, fire department, or public library).
The response was incredible! When mail started pouring in, it had to be delivered to my classroom in large boxes. I have about 140 students, and many stopped in before the first-hour class to see if they'd received mail. One girl got tears in her eyes when she read the letter from a local historical society. She was in awe of the fact that someone provided all this information just for her. One boy responded with an enthusiastic, "I only get mail on my birthday! This is great!"
The students were filled with a sense of pride when they shared information that others didn't know. I couldn't tell you the number of times students came up to me after reading their mail and said, "Mrs. Johnson, did you know. . ." This project was evidence of authentic learning.
--Lynn Johnson, 6th grade, Moorhead
Word to the Wise: If a large number of students will be writing to the same organization, it's a good idea to contact the organization first.
Do you have a classroom idea you'd like to share with other educators? Please contact us with your idea. If your idea is chosen, we'll send you a free book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.