Designing Your Course of Study

North Dakota: People Living on the Land has been uniquely designed and developed to be both chronological and thematic. This structure will permit you to easily set up a course of study that conforms to your particular interests, curriculum objectives, or time-frame. All content has been written by drawing on the use of as many primary sources as possible, and subsequent general and topic activities have been created to align with objectives supported by the North Dakota Social Studies Content and Achievement Standards for Grade 8, and Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts—History/Social Studies.

North Dakota: People Living on the Land is divided into four chronological units:

  1. Back through Time (Paleozoic – 1200)
  2. A Time of Transformation (1201-1860)
  3. Waves of Development (1861-1920)
  4. Modern North Dakota (1921-Present)

Each of these units has been subdivided into four thematic lessons:

Lesson 1                   Changing Landscapes

Lesson 2                   Making a Living

Lesson 3                   Building Communities

Lesson 4                   Alliances and Conflicts

North Dakota: People Living on the Land consists of 90 topics, with the number within each lesson varying from 2 to 11 topics. You may want to design your course of study for one or more units, study topics independently, or pick and choose those that are of special interest to you.

Rather than following the units chronologically, you may decide to pursue the topics thematically. For example, you may want to learn how the landscape has changed over the years by studying Lesson 1 in all four units; or you may be interested in looking at alliances and conflicts of North Dakotans through time by following Lesson 4 in each unit.

You will find primary sources (e.g., photos, documents, and images) factored into the majority of the accompanying activities found within the topics; however, dozens of additional primary sources are also available within the topics and may be used to generate other activities. The section entitled Using Primary Sources to Understand History gives a more definitive explanation of what and how you might use this information.

Assessments have been incorporated into the activities so you can see if learning has occurred. Graphic organizers, learning and/or assessment tools used to visually organize information in a way that is meaningful to the user, have been used extensively throughout this curriculum. These engaging and useful tools promote organizing of thoughts and thinking both creatively and critically for maximum learning.

Depending on the nature of the activity, you may have the option of working independently, in pairs, in small groups, or as a whole class. The activities within this curriculum are predominantly user-directed to promote flexibility and independence.

A section entitled Extending the Experience provides you with numerous resources to go beyond this curriculum and become further engaged in educational opportunities.

The possibilities are endless for your use of North Dakota: People Living on the Land. It is standards-based, includes objectives, provides numerous activities, and is user-friendly. The curriculum is structured in a way that allows you to design the course in a manner that will be most beneficial to you. Enjoy it, immerse yourself in it, and become more informed about North Dakota. The sky is the limit!

North Dakota Studies

Project Team

North Dakota: People Living on the Land is made possible through appropriations from the 62nd and 63rd North Dakota Legislative Assemblies and the efforts of many dedicated professional educators.

Development of North Dakota: People Living on the Land began in the fall of 2011. After much brainstorming with stakeholders and others, a project team of professional K–12 educators and historians was assembled to design, research, write, and implement this new Grade 8 North Dakota Studies curriculum.

These project team members have invested hundreds of hours of time to make this unique learning opportunity available to North Dakota’s 8th graders and other learners. 

Project Team

Neil Howe, M.S., is the Project Coordinator for the North Dakota Studies Program at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.  Mr. Howe has more than 35 years of experience in secondary school curriculum and administration, including more than 20 years of teaching high school social studies, and more than 15 years as principal and director of the North Dakota Center for Distance Education. 

Barbara Handy-Marchello, Ph.D., is Associate Professor Emerita, University of North Dakota History Department.  Dr. Handy-Marchello is the lead researcher and writer for topics included in North Dakota: People Living on the Land.  She has written numerous articles and books on the history of North Dakota and the Great Plains.  She has also contributed to many North Dakota Studies initiatives.  Through her career, Dr. Handy-Marchello has explored the problems and possibilities of teaching history through primary sources and classroom discovery. 

Erik Holland, M.A., is the Curator of Education for the State Historical Society of North Dakota and has provided connections, guidance, and oversight as this curriculum has progressed.  In particular, Mr. Holland recognizes how the experiences of this curriculum can be extended into the State Museum, to State Historic Sites, and other opportunities to broaden and deepen learning.  Among many other duties, Mr. Holland is the State Coordinator of National History Day in North Dakota and develops and manages the annual Governor’s Conference on North Dakota History. 

Gwyn Herman, Ph.D., is the lead activities developer for this curriculum. She has also authored a number of Grade 4 North Dakota Studies publications and contributed to other initiatives of the program. Dr. Herman has 39 years of teaching experience, including 16 years in fourth grade, 10 years in high school, and 13 years as an Associate Professor at the university level, where she taught education courses and served as Program Director of Elementary Education. 

Laverne Johnson, M.S., is an activities contributor for this curriculum and also edited portions of the topic content. She has also authored a number of Grade 4 North Dakota Studies publications and contributed to other initiatives of the program. Ms. Johnson’s educational experience includes 23 years as an elementary and middle school teacher, 10 years as a high school speech/language pathologist, and 8 years at the university level, where she worked closely with classroom teachers as a supervisor of pre-service and student teachers. 

Linda Ehreth, M.S., is an activities contributor for this curriculum.  Ms. Ehreth’s educational experience includes 3 years as an elementary and middle school teacher, 12 years as an Educational Programs Coordinator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, 10 years as an Arts Education Director for the North Dakota Council on the Arts, and 4 years as an adjunct instructor for Dickinson State University’s Elementary Education program.