Students do a “jigsaw” activity in which “expert” groups complete introductory research about some of the major groups that have lived in Montana. The findings of their research will be recorded on a graphic organizer. They then compare notes with a “home” group of other students in order to learn general background information about each group.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 1: Introduction to Montana" which will give students a nuanced introduction to the state of Montana. Students will be introduced to key events and people from Montana, as well as learn how boundaries are established and maintained, and how culture influences one’s perspective and experience in the world.
20 minutes (allow 45 minutes if traveling to library)
4.1: Identify and practice the steps of an inquiry process (i.e., identify question or problem, locate and evaluate potential resources, gather and synthesize information, create a new product, and evaluate product and process).
6.4: Identify characteristics of American Indian tribes and other cultural groups in Montana.
Helena District 6.4: Identify characteristics of cultural groups in Montana (American Indians, Irish, Scandinavians, Italians, miners, women, ranchers, etc.)
- Class set of Cultures of Montana graphic organizer
- Research books, textbooks, computers, or a school library (if possible)
- Ask students if they know when or how they or their families came to live in Montana. Then, indicate that they will be doing preliminary research about some of the groups that have lived in the area we now call the state of Montana. They will be focusing on the difficulties confronted by each group, and how each group influenced the economy, environment, culture, and history of their state.
- Pass out the Cultures of Montana graphic organizer. This activity will be done as a “jigsaw.” Divide students into six groups by having them count off by six. Form “expert” groups by having students work with other students who have the same number. Assign each group one of the peoples from the organizer to research. Within each group, a student can be assigned a category to focus on. Research resources will depend on the availability of books, computers, textbooks, etc. in your classroom. If possible, expand this activity by planning a trip to the school library. The intention is for students to do this as an introductory exercise, as they will be learning more about each of these groups throughout the year. Therefore, students should only be given 10 minutes to research their category.
- Students will then share the information they have found in “home” groups—groups comprised of six students, one from each of the “expert” groups (each with a different number). Each student should thus have a completed graphic organizer.
- To conclude the lesson, each home group will develop one question that they would like the class to learn the answer to about each of peoples they have just researched. They may also share one fact they find especially interesting.
Note to teachers: The impact column should refer to what each group has contributed to Montana as a collective: of culture, economic impact, etc.