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Press Release - New Online North Dakota Studies Curriculum Launches for Eighth Grade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 12, 2014
Contact: Neil Howe

New Online North Dakota Studies Curriculum Launches for Eighth Grade

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Studies program at the State Historical Society of North Dakota has launched a new, web-based grade 8 North Dakota Studies curriculum, “North Dakota: People Living on the Land.” After three years of work by a development team of seven educators, the public can now find, read, teach, and enjoy “North Dakota: People Living on the Land” at the North Dakota Studies homepage at free of charge.

“North Dakota: People Living on the Land” includes 90 topics on the history of North Dakota and is complemented with documents, photographs, maps, and films. It covers the place that is today North Dakota from about 500 million years ago to current events. Topics range from the formation of soil to the recent oil boom; from the quarrying of flint to Bobcat manufacturing. The course is written for grade 8 students, but adult readers will also find interesting information, some of it never before published.

“As more schools across the nation move away from paper textbooks and toward digital curricula, this 8th grade curriculum fits the model of a growing trend,” said Neil Howe, North Dakota Studies coordinator. “North Dakota is the first state in the country to offer an online eighth grade state history course based on primary sources. This online version provides schools with a free online curriculum, without the need to purchase costly textbooks.”

“North Dakota: People Living on the Land” is not only based on primary sources, but presents readers with documents to help understand North Dakota’s history and culture. The course includes a curriculum with primary sources, maps that can expand on the screen to reveal the smallest creek or village, and photographs that can be examined in detail¬ – now realized with an interactive website. Students can also view the primary sources at the North Dakota Heritage Center &State Museum, adding to the interactive experience of bringing history to life.

In October, 31 teachers gathered at the North Dakota Heritage Center &State Museum to help launch the website and get a first glimpse of the new curriculum. The teachers represented large and small school districts in North Dakota – from Grenora to Fargo; from Lakota to Standing Rock. The new website and its content received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the participants. As one teacher summarized, “The website is such a great resource – easy to use and applicable to teaching ND Studies in my classroom.”

Unlike the traditional, chronological organization typical of most history texts, this new curriculum allows users to study in greater depth when they read a topic of interest. “North Dakota: People Living on the Land” uses both a chronological and thematic organization. The curriculum is divided into four chronological units from the Paleozoic Era to the present. Within each unit are four thematic lessons. Teachers and other users may choose a topic subject across the millions of years covered in the curriculum or examine a particular time period through geographic, economic, social, and political perspectives.

“North Dakota: People Living on the Land” has been made possible through the efforts and contributions of many dedicated North Dakotans. From the generosity and vision of our state legislators to the leadership of the State Historical Society of North Dakota to the commitment and professionalism of the development team, “North Dakota: People Living on the Land” is a gift to the people of the state.

For more information about the new grade 8 website, contact North Dakota Studies program coordinator Neil Howe at 701.205.7802 or email

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