Thursday, March 1, 2018

Challenges - Day 1 #SOL18

I re-read the post on this month’s Slice-of-Life Challenge for the umpteenth time.  I have always enjoyed the writing and commenting.  So why the hesitancy?  I am juggling to many things and from time to time I hear those balls turn into water balloons and go splat as they fall to the ground.

My friends keep telling me I need to say no.  I have been responding I have been saying “no”.

Martha said, “Ruth I want evidence of this.”

You know they don’t believe me when they say things like that.

It has been a busy year.  It has also been filled with many opportunities to learn and grow.  Like all such opportunities it comes with setbacks, struggles, and self doubt.

I am a “History Geek”.  I have been a member of the TPS Teachers Network since 2013.  TPS stands for teaching with primary sources.  The Network is housed and run from Denver and is one of the Library of Congress projects.  Anyone can join you just need to register .   There are a number of groups that you can join, everything from Civil Rights to See, Think, Wonder:  Primary Sources in Early Childhood.  The TPS Teachers Network started in 2012 and has been steadily growing.

People post about primary sources they have found, lessons they are working on, questions they have, things they are looking for.  It is a great place to network and grow as a learner.  
This fall I had the opportunity to go through some training to become one of their newest Mentors.  It was a humbling experience as I quickly learned how much I didn’t know.  

This morning someone linked a source for Elementary Lessons and Primary Sources from Colorado

If you know of other great resources I would love to hear about them.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

They Will Know We Persisted and Persevered

History is one of my passions.  I served 24 years in the Montana National Guard. My country and the Constitution are my passions.  I have been a librarian for over two decades.  Teaching is my passion. 

A few years ago I was asked to create a unit on Hazel Hunkins, a suffragist from Billings, Montana. As I researched I learned about the women who were part of the suffrage movement.  I learned about the marches, the pickets, the arrests, the forced feeding.  Never the less they persisted.

Many of us never heard their stories.  We didn't hear the stories of the men who supported them and helped work for the vote.  I think we need to hear their stories of perseverance.

Being part of a democracy gives us many rights.  With these rights comes responsibilities. I believe being an informed constituent is one of those responsibilities.  Most of us have many commitments and little time. I believe being informed is a critical part of democracy.  

I also believe that my elected officials have a responsibility to listen to their constituents.  Sadly in my state of Montana, Senator Daines' phones were not working well in February.  Even some of his offices were locked and constituents could not talk to him face to face.  Its hard to comprehend how this could happen.  And the stories go on and on.

Listed below are 10 current bills.  This link lets you look up bills in the House.  

1.      HR 6489 – Social Security Reform Act – will cut benefits by about a third.
2.     HR 861 – Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
3.     HR 610 – Vouchers for Public Education
4.     HR 899 – Terminate the Department of Education
5.     HJR 69 – Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
6.     HR 370 – Repeal Affordable Care Act
7.     HR 354 – Defund Planned Parenthood
8.     HR 785 - National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
9.     HR 83 – Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
10.  HR 147 – Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)

Call your Representative and ask them speak up for your rights, health & safety, and our beautiful country.   Find Your Representative 
And maybe in the future our children's children will read our stories.  They will know we persisted and persevered.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Teaching Montana History: Evaluating Sources

Teaching Montana History: Evaluating Sources: I had the great pleasure of hearing Sam Wineburg, founder and Executive Director of the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), speak last ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Integrating Technology: Linking Primary Sources with Primary Sources

America's Music from Jazz by Walter Dean Myers
This is a guest post by Ruth Ferris, an elementary school librarian from Billings, Montana, and a grantee in the TPS Regional Grant Program.
It is always a pleasure when I can connect my love of books with my love of history, seasoned with technology. One favorite tool is ThingLink, which allows you to take a picture and embed links to other types of media within the picture. 
I live in Montana and most of my students are more familiar with country music than jazz music. So how do I introduce them to new experiences?  I tease them with technology and open their minds with primary sources.  The book Jazz, by Walter Dean Myers, is a beautifully illustrated collection of poems that reflect the sounds and colors of this music developed in the United States. I chose the poem “America’s Music” from the book to connect with primary sources using ThingLink. 
I first took a picture of the two-page spread with my camera phone. I used this historic note from the book to guide my search: “World War I” saw black Americans going to Europe for the first time in large numbers.  The segregated black military outfits had their own bands and introduced Europeans to jazz.  James Reese Europe took an outstanding group of musicians through France as the head of theJames Reese Europe, the army’s most famous musical ensemble.  This coincided with another major influence, the growth of the recording industry.”
I searched James Reese Europe on I found a variety of primary and secondary sources. I also searched YouTube and found a great video that combined music from the 369th Infantry Band with numerous primary sources. I kept track of my sources by creating a table that included thumbnail images and links to my choices.
I then uploaded the image of the book spread to my Thinglink account and began tagging the image with links to the sources, which included the video, a historic newspaper article, and a portrait and biography of James Reese Europe.
When I finished, I simply chose to embed the finished Thinglink onto my website. Check out the finished product (mouse over the image to access the Thinglink icons that link to the sources).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

TPS Teachers Network

TPS Teachers Network is a great platform for connecting with other people interested in using Primary Sources in the classroom.  People share resources, ideas and ask questions. 

What is the TPS Teachers Network?
The TPS Teachers Network is a social media platform that welcomes, connects, and engages teachers in a sustained conversation and ongoing professional learning within a community of peers and Library staff to improve teaching and learning using Library of Congress primary sources.

How do I join the TPS Teachers Network?
Invitation/registration link:

What happens when a new user joins the TPS Teachers Network?
1. The new user clicks on the invitation link. 
2. The new user fills in blanks with his or her name, user name, email address, password, and verify password (repeat of the password). 
3. The user completes his or her profile in the TPS Teachers Network. 
4. Once the user has completed a profile, a verification email is automatically generated and goes to the new user's email inbox. 
5. The new user opens the email from the TPS Teachers Network and either clicks on or copies the verification link into their browser, which will verify the account and allow the user to log in to the Network. 
6.Once verification is complete, the user will be asked to log in with the selected username and password. 
7. Sign-up is complete. 
8. The URL for the TPS Teachers Network from now on will be 
9. All new users who register in the TPS Teachers Network are automatically made members of the TPS Commons. They can also immediately begin joining any and all public groups.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What does this Picture Say?

Pictures are portals to the past.  That brief snapshot of time.  I recently came across the blog
History in Photos   The blog features pictures from many locations and time periods.

When I look at the photos I see:

  • Writing prompts
  • Inquiry Questions
  • Language Experiences
  • Scaffolding
  • Vocabulary
  • History
  • Social Studies
What do you see?