Content Standards and Curriculum Guidance Documents

For questions about these standards and documents email
Return to the K-12 Content Standards home page.

Access the 2021 Montana Content Standards for Social Studies (Official PDF).

Access the 2021 Montana Content Standards for Social Studies (Excel).

Webinar: New Standards for 2021: Overview and Planning for Implementation (February 8, 2021)

Model curriculum guides, professional development, and resources will be added as time allows.

Tech Directors: To access a machine readable version of the official Montana Content Standards for Social Studies, please visit the IMS Global CASE Network site.  Create a free login, select Montana Office of Public Instruction, and view or download the standards. The CASE version of the standards can be uploaded to student information systems, curriculum mapping programs, and a variety of other uses. Learn more about the CASE Network CASE Network FAQ

Of special interest to: Teachers interested in IEFA

Re: Short Films by Indigenous Filmmakers (with teaching guides)


The Big Sky Film Institute is once again partnering with the Montana Office of Public Instructions Indian Education Unit to share films made by and about Native people. According to their Facebook post in the Teaching Montana History Facebook group:

The 2023 season of the NFI Film Club [Native Filmmaker Initiative] presents "Celebrating Cultures & Honoring Traditional Practices," a triptych of films curated to engage Montana youth with unique and uplifting stories of Native and Indigenous individuals ... who are building strength through their communities and upholding traditional practices in the modern day. Our films are selected and ready for teacher registration, each one accompanied with an accompanied discussion guide, streaming link to view the film and an invitation to join our live filmmaker Q&A with film teams and OPI’s Indian Education Specialist, Mike Jetty.

Here's more from their website:

The Native Filmmaker Initiative Film Club is a virtual youth education outreach program that screens a curated selection of Indigenous-made documentary films in classrooms across Montana. Following the screenings, filmmakers visit classrooms virtually for a live Q&A and discussion activities rooted in Montana's Indian Education for All Essential Understandings. Film Club discussions are led by the Big Sky Film Institute in collaboration with Montana Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education Specialists as well as participating filmmakers to talk in-depth about the process of filmmaking....


Running October through December, each Film Club event will focus on diverse Indigenous subjects and topics. Consult the discussion guides to help adapt the Film Club activities into social studies, science, history or other areas of study. Films are available to view in advance of Film Club discussions and each classroom will receive access to discussion guides and instructions on how to join the live Q&A.



Visit the Native Filmmaker Initiative website to register your classroom to view one or more of this year's films. Registration includes a screening link to the film with details to join a live filmmaker Q&A and accompanied discussion guides. Email Director of Education, Julia Sherman, at for more information, or to be added to their Youth Programs email list.

Looking for Guidance?

Need advice on how to incorporate Montana History or IEFA into your classroom or how to meet the new social studies standards? The Montana Historical Society’s Teacher Leaders in Montana History are here to help. These Montana educators have a passion for history, collaboration, and education, and they are eager to help you find resources. Each teacher leader is ready to work with individual teachers, schools, and districts and are available to consult, mentor, and present at PIR days. Learn more. 

Critical Race Theory

Someone asked me recently if our new fourth-grade textbook teaches Critical Race Theory (CRT). The answer is no--none of MTHS or OPI's Indian Education lessons teach Critical Race Theory. Some of them do teach about the history of discrimination. Confused about what you can and cannot teach? Here's an FAQ sheet. 

Have you had parents ask if you are teaching CRT? Consider using the question as an opportunity to open a dialog. Since CRT means different things to different people, consider kindly saying, "explain to me what you are worried about, and I'll tell you if I teach it" and then address their specific concerns. (H/T to Teacher Leader in Montana History Dylan Huisken for this excellent advice.)

Teaching Montana History Is on Facebook!

If you spend time on Facebook, I hope you'll join--and actively participate--in our closed Teaching Montana History Facebook group. It's a great way to connect to other teachers.




Upcoming Opportunities for Educators:

  • A Visit with Diane Carlson Evans, Presentation by Captain Diane Carlson Evans

    Weds., May 15 ~ 10 to 11 a.m.


    915 Saddle Dr., Helena

    Captain Evans will speak about her experiences as a former nurse in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and as the founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation. Evans is the author of Healing Wounds: A Vietnam War Combat Nurse’s 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C. This talk will not be recorded or livestreamed.

    Our Way: A Parallel History Book talk by Julie Cajune

    Thurs., May16 ~ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    Lewis & Clark Library

    120 S. Last Chance Gulch St., Helena

    Cajune will present from her book, which tells the history of the United States from an Indigenous lens, exploring the ways in which Indigenous cultures from every corner of the nation have influenced American society from the past into the present, reminding the reader that they have shaped the U.S. and continue to play a vital role in its story. Cajune is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and holds a master’s degree in education from Montana State University–Billings. This talk will be livestreamed to the MTHS Facebook page.

    Unless noted otherwise, recordings will be posted on the MTHS YouTube channel. Livestreamed talks will be available at the MTHS Facebook page.

    Contact for more information about our public programs.

Message from Marth Kohl

As we head toward the end of the school year, I'm curious: How do you keep your students engaged and learning through the very last day of school? (This is a real question, not a rhetorical one, so email me and I'll share out.)

I did a little online sleuthing and came up with the following blogs that you might like if you are looking for inspiration.

My first stop, as it often is, was Glenn Wiebe, who came through with "7 Resources for the End of School" and "3 Things You Need to Do Before the End of the School Year". (The latter encourages teachers to reflect on what worked and what didn't last year, collecting student feedback in addition to end of year projects.  

Alyssa Teaches had published this list of End of Year Social Studies Activities for Upper Elementary Students.

Two common threads across multiple blogs were that the end of year is a great time for doing activities and projects you couldn't get to earlier and a good time to allow students to show off what they've learned. With that in mind, here are some Montana history lesson plans that might fit well into your end of year plans. These lesson plans cross multiple time periods, so might be best for the end of the year. Plus--do you really think you've incorporated enough women's history into your class thus far? 

  • Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-12) This primary-source based lesson asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s. Students will discover that Montana women have always worked, but that discrimination, cultural expectations, and changing technology have influenced the types of work women undertook.
  • Montana Women's Legal History Lesson Plan. (Designed for grades 11-12). In this 1-2 period activity, students will examine sample Montana legislation from 1871 to 1991 that particularly affected women's lives to explore the impact laws have on the lives of ordinary people and why laws change.

Here's another lesson plan that crosses multiple time periods. And it's fabulous. Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War (Designed for 7th-12th). This three-to-five period unit asks students to work in groups to read and interpret letters written by soldiers at war, from the Civil War to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. After engaging in close reading and conducting research to interpret the letters, they will perform the letters as reader’s theater. Preview this lesson by watching Rob Hoffman perform one of the letters, a 2005 email from Helenan Cory Swanson, who was serving in Iraq.

P.S. Don't forget: MTHS is offering three teacher workshops this summer (in Great Falls, Missoula, and Helena.) Learn more here. 

  • Have your students use Digitized Montana Newspapers to create an exhibit about how life in Montana has (and has not) changed over the last 150 years. Divide up the decades and ask students to use newspaper advertisements and articles to find something people were doing for fun each decade. Complicate it by having them also use the newspaper ads to feature some aspect of available technology and/or inventions. 
  • Create a living statue museum or have students write biographical poems about a notable Montanan using these biographies. (The lesson plan focuses on Montana women, but you can easily adapt it to both men and women if you'd like.)
  • Integrate Art! If you haven't already taught The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives (K-12), which explores winter counts and biographical art, now's the time. I can imagine adapting the ledger art assignment to ask students to look back at the last year and draw something they are proud of.
  • Explore the history and architecture of your town, asking "how does our community fit into the larger trends of Montana history, by using resources listed as part of Chapter 14 of Montana: Stories of the Land--"Towns Have Lives, Too", including
  • Have your students choose the top ten (or top five) most significant events in Montana history. Consider making a March Madness style competition out of it. (See the results from back when we did this with adults in 2012.) You could also do this with the most significant (or awesome) Montana person.
  • One Hundred Years of the Indian Citizenship Act

    Presentation by Kekek Stark

    Thurs., May 9 ~ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    Helena College

    1115 N. Roberts St., Helena

    The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 imposed U.S. citizenship on all Indigenous people living within U.S. borders. Stark will examine the legal ramifications of the act and the sovereign status of Tribal nations. Stark is Turtle Mountain Ojibwe of the Bizhiw (Lynx) Clan and a practitioner of Indigenous law. He is an Associate Professor at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana where he serves as the Director of the Indian Law Program and the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic. This talk will be livestreamed to the MTHS Facebook page.Of special interest to: Anyone looking for a fun way to get students looking at historic photos

    A Visit with Diane Carlson Evans Presentation by Captain Diane Carlson Evans

    Weds., May 15 ~ 10 to 11 a.m.

    Touchmark, 915 Saddle Dr., Helena

    Captain Evans will speak about her experiences as a former nurse in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and as the founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation. Evans is the author of Healing Wounds: A Vietnam War Combat Nurse’s 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C. This talk will not be recorded or livestreamed.

    Our Way:, A Parallel History, Book talk by Julie Cajune

    Thurs., May16 ~ 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

    Lewis & Clark Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch St., Helena

    Cajune will present from her book, which tells the history of the United States from an Indigenous lens, exploring the ways in which Indigenous cultures from every corner of the nation have influenced American society from the past into the present, reminding the reader that they have shaped the U.S. and continue to play a vital role in its story. Cajune is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and holds a master’s degree in education from Montana State University–Billings. This talk will be livestreamed to the MTHS Facebook page.

  • Of special interest to: Middle and High School Teachers

    Re: Using Primary Sources to Foster Difficult Dialogues, Summer Workshops, and Our Year-End Survey

    The article Using Primary Sources to Foster Difficult Dialogues  - Journal of Folklore and Education focuses on the Tulsa Race Riot--but it also includes in its "classroom connections/lesson plans" a unit on Indian boarding schools. The lesson "explores primary source material related to the history of federally controlled Native American Boarding Schools. By evaluating various documented points of view related to this history, students will engage in critical thinking, close listening, and media literacy skills." Among the sources is a letter in the September 7, 1890, Helena Independent. "Flathead Kindergarten" describes Indian agent Peter Ronan's scheme to take very young students into an on-reservation boarding school:

    "The children, if taken into school at the age of two or three or four years, and kept there, only occasionally visited by their parents, will, when grown up, know nothing of Indian ways and habits. They will be thoroughly, though imperceptibly, formed to the ways of the whites in their habits, their thoughts and their aspirations. They will not know, in fact, be completely ignorant of the Indian language and will know only English. One generation will accomplish what the past system would require generations to effect.... Never having tasted of the roaming, free-and-easy-going lazy life of the old Indians, and not having been spoiled by the indulgence of parents, or near relatives..." 

    I think that this heart-breaking source is worth analyzing and using to work with students to evaluate points of view, but I wish that the lesson included more Indigenous perspectives. You can find a few Indigenous sources on boarding schools and several on other topics in this Indigenous Primary Source spreadsheet that MTHS Teacher Leaders created in 2023. If you have sources you think should be added, please send them to me! I also recommend looking at the lesson plans created by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition for contemporary Indigenous perspectives on Indian boarding schools.  

    Summer Workshops

    MTHS is offering three workshops in June, in Missoula, Great Falls, and Helena. All workshops are free, and attendees can earn 6 OPI Renewal Units. A limited number of travel scholarships are available for the workshops in Helena and Missoula, which focus on literacy and social studies. Learn more here.

    Before We Say Farewell for the Summer

    If you are moving to a new school, don't forget to re-subscribe to Teaching Montana History with your new email address!

    Please share your favorite Montana history/IEFA activity, resource or lesson and let us know how we can improve this newsletter and our other offerings by taking this survey. There are prizes for the fifteenth, thirty-first, and forty-second respondents.

  • Of special interest to: High school teachers (and middle school teachers who do current events)

    Re: Connecting Past to Present with Montana Free Press articles
    • Of special interest to: Grade 3-12 Teachers who have room for a new cool project between now and May 17

Do you subscribe to the Montana Free Press? If I taught government, current events, or Montana history in high school or even middle school, I'd have students to take turns finding and presenting articles from the site. It's hands-down the best news reporting in the state.

Catching up on my reading, I noticed several Montana Free Press articles that tie nicely with Montana history topics. I think they would lend themselves to interesting discussions, possibly using Project Zero's Circle of Viewpoints Thinking Routine:

Mill closures ‘shock’ industry, but officials say demand for wood remains. Pair this with:    

Montana Mosaic video, "Chapter 7: Montana's Resource Driven Economy, 1940s-1960s"


User Guide

Montana to Congress: Berkeley Pit ‘a unique opportunity’ for rare earth elements. Pair this with:   

Resources from PitWatch, the online home of the Berkeley Pit Public Education Committee.

"The Berkeley Pit," Clark Fork Watershed Education Program

"Remaking the Wide-Open Town: Butte at the End of the Twentieth Century," by Brian Shovers, Montana The Magazine of Western History, Autumn 1998.

Montana Mosaic video, Chapter 10: The Anaconda Copper Mining Company


User Guide

BLM adopts rule described as a ‘generation-defining’ shift for America’s largest land manager 

Pair this with a discussion of this timeline, which outlines different laws affecting use of public lands.

Re: America’s Field Trip America’s Field Trip is a new contest that invites students across the country in grades 3–12 to be part of America’s 250th anniversary by sharing their perspectives on what America means to them and earning the opportunity to participate in unforgettable field trip experiences at some of the nation’s most iconic historic and cultural landmarks. Students may submit artwork, videos, or essays in response to the contest’s prompt: “What does America mean to you?” Student applications are open.  The Contest begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) on March 4, 2024 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on May 17, 2024.


Twenty-five first-place awardees from each grade level category will receive free travel and lodging for a 3-day, 2-night trip to a select historical or cultural site where they will experience one of the following:

  • Tour of the Statue of Liberty in New York
  • Tour and hike at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana
  • Weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
  • Second-place awardees will receive a $500 cash award. The teacher associated with the top scoring student submissions in each grade level category will receive a $1,000 cash award.

    Submission Guidelines and Official Rules

    • Elementary School (3rd to 5th Grade): Students may submit artwork, including physical or digital artwork through a high-res photo or a short essay (up to 100 words).
    • Middle School (6th to 8th Grade): Students may submit artwork or a video (up to two minutes).
    • High School (9th to 12th Grade): Students may submit an essay (up to 1,000 words) or a video (up to two minutes).


  • Humanities Montana , has started their new grant openings!  Check it out and see if you could combine standards to meet those goals!
  • GeoCivics Summer Academy - June 13-22, 2024|Washington, DC

​ALL EXPENSES PAID + $2,500 stipend + PD Hours!

During the summer of 2024 we will be hosting an exciting place-based educational experience in Washington, DC to learn how to include diverse perspectives in the education space through civic engagement and advocacy in your American history, geography, civics, and government instruction. During the Academy, we will celebrate Juneteenth in our Capital, and meet with educators, historians, experts, and advocacy groups. We will also visit historic locations such as the White House, Capital, and museums to deepen content knowledge of civic engagement and advocacy and strengthen pedagogical knowledge and skills. []


Indian Education and Computing for All | 1 evening per month Sept 2023 - May 2024 | Zoom

  • A curriculum and professional development project designed to bring together social studies, IEFA, and computing content standards for middle school students.

  • 18 hours of online PD | $1000 stipend | Earn up to 40 PD Units

  • MT PBS: Streaming now for a limited time, "The U.S. and the Holocaust," A Film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick & Sarah Botstein
  • Humanities Montana:

Winter in Montana is challenging for travel. During these months, Humanities Montana speakers can still visit your community — virtually — to present their humanities programs! Whether you are booking programs for the classroom, at a museum, or with a community center, speakers are available for virtual and in-person visits to provide free public humanities programming.

You can learn more about Montana Conversations or book Speakers in the Schools presenter on our website, you can learn about grant opportunities.

Subscribe to Humanities Montana.


Check the OPI Professional Learning Opportunities Portal for courses and workshops.

Social Studies Resources

All K-12 Grade Levels:


    Of special interest to: Government Teachers

    Re: Understanding Tribal Sovereignty

    Teacher Leader in Montana History Elysia Bain shared some useful resources for teaching about tribal sovereignty with me that I thought I would share with you!

    The first is this article, published in Indian Country Today in 2014: "Professor Breaks Down Sovereignty and Explains Its Significance," by Shaawano Chad Uran, professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. 

    Elysia has her government students read the article and then answer some basic questions:

    • Define the term sovereignty. (Okay! This one isn't basic, but according to the article "Sovereignty is a type of political power, and it is exercised through some form of government." In addition, "The defining aspects of sovereignty are the international relationships carried out as sovereign nations.")
    • What are the three types of sovereigns in the United States? (Federal, state and tribal governments) 
    • What section of the U.S. Constitution recognizes tribal sovereignty? (Article VI, Clause 2) 
    • What are treaties and why are they important to understanding sovereignty? (Because "treaties are agreements made between sovereign signing a treaty, both sides are showing that they recognize the sovereignty of the other.")

      I think it is a really great article, and if I were teaching it, I might add some other "check for comprehension" questions, like

  • Is the sovereignty of tribal nations the same as or different from the sovereignty enjoyed by individual states? (Different)
  • According to Professor Uran, if tribes are "domestic dependent nations" (which is how the Supreme Court has defined them), how can they still be sovereign? (Absolute power, independence, and autonomy is not necessary for sovereignty to exist. and rights "not explicitly given up to the US Federal government are still held by the tribes.")
  • Professor Uran does not think tribal nations should be blamed for their economic dependence on the United States. Why not? ("Tribal economies were based on access to land" and "lands were ceded to the U.S. by treaty in exchange for tribal economic security and other provisions."

     Elysia follows this activity by having her students watch the four-and-a-half-minute video "Sovereign Rights, Sovereign People." 

     Looking for more short videos? Check out the National Museum of the American Indian's four minute "Nation to Nation" and twelve-minute "The       'Indian Problem'," two other videos created as part of NMAI's "Nation to Nation" exhibit. 

     Do you have resources that work really well with your class that you'd like to share? Let me know!

3-12 Grade Levels:

  • National Archives Educator Resources Lower elementary through high school

  • History Labs  (“History Labs are research and investigative learning experiences that provide teachers with the necessary information, resources, and procedures to teach a full range of historical thinking skills by taking students through a process that is methodologically similar to that employed by historians.” The site includes a template for creating your own and History Labs made by other teachers--upper elementary through high school).


Middle School

Jr. High - High School

  • For High School, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) offers free, innovative classroom products. These online learning resources form the foundation of a global civics curriculum, empowering young people with the essential knowledge, skills, and perspective to be responsible citizens, take on the challenges of global competition, and steer through partisan rhetoric and disinformation.  Review their resources that could be used in a science classroom.  For more information contact Lori Matza,

    • World101An award-winning collection of multimedia explainers for students with little or no background knowledge of international relations and foreign policy. With accessible, jargon-free language and instructor-designed teaching resources, lessons on the World101 platform are non-partisan and developed in partnership with CFR experts.
      • *We are soliciting applications for our CFR Education Ambassador 2022-2023 program. A great opportunity for middle school and high school social studies teachers.  
    • Model Diplomacy: The Model Diplomacy simulation program invites high-school students to step into the shoes of decision-makers on the National Security Council or United Nations Security Council to debate the world’s most pressing issues with dozens of full-length case studies, an expanding library of short-form scenarios covering current and historical events, and exclusive video content featuring commentary from foreign policy experts.
    • Convene the CouncilDeveloped in partnership with iCivics, one of the nation’s leading providers of educational games, Convene the Council empowers students to understand the basics of how U.S. foreign policy gets made and the ways in which countries and international organizations can influence foreign policy priorities. Twenty gameplay scenarios reveal how foreign and domestic policy are intertwined, and how decisions made in one corner of the world can affect us all. Spanish version available. 


High School

















Standards Revision Information

New standards were adopted on November 5, 2020.  Effective date is July 1, 2021.


Adoption Timeline and Meetings

The Board of Public Education (BPE) approved the Social Studies at their November 5, 2020 meeting. Please check the BPE website for further details.  The implementation date for the new standards is July 1, 2021.



(Board of Public Education) Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Adoption, Amendment, and Repeal - K-12 Social Studies Content Standards.


Standards Revision

Revision Information

2017 - 2027 COMPLETE REVISION SCHEDULE - This schedule may change based on resource availability or other factors.

  • To learn about the process and how to get involved, take the Montana Content Standards 101 course on the Teacher Learning Hub (1 renewal unit)

Standards Drafts

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Meetings

Economic Impact Surveys