Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last week FPAN staff attended the Florida Anthropological Society's annual meeting, held this year at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee.  Always a great local conference to attend, we got to meet and catch up with some terrific Florida archaeologists, and take in a variety of presentations to find out what's happening all over the state.

We, too, brought presentations--Sarah offered a paper on our cemetery workshops, called CRPT, and I presented a poster, recreated in pieces for you here:

In 2011, FPAN’s Northeast Regional Center partnered with Project Archaeology, the National Park Service (NPS) at Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and the University of Florida (UF) to develop archaeology curriculum materials.  The lessons meet Sunshine State Standards for 3rd-5th grades and serve the missions of all partners.  The project took advantage of exceptional archaeological finds at Kingsley Plantation, including evidence of West African culture and religion, to allow students a new way of learning about and understanding slavery.  Drawing on these unique results, the lessons embrace the significance of descendant communities—not only of the people living at Kingsley, but descendants of enslaved Africans at large.  Kingsley also offers an opportunity to look beyond the institution of slavery to daily life of enslaved people.  

The finished document, 70 pages in all, features a teachers' guide and a student handbook.  Image courtesy of Project Archaeology.

Archaeology lessons often address educational standards in social studies; however, in an educational climate that prizes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), archaeology educators increasingly work to highlight scientific methods in their lessons.  Project Archaeology, a federally supported program under the Bureau of Land Management, creates inquiry-based curricula aligned with national educational standards.  Their latest product, Investigating Shelter, walks students through the science of archaeology in nine lessons.  The culminating activity uses authentic data from a regional site.  Educators from various parts of the country had already developed materials to complete the curriculum, but none represented Florida or the southeast region of the United States.  Drawing on a strong partnership that has generated successful public-oriented projects in the past, FPAN, NPS staff at Kingsley Plantation, and Dr. James Davidson of UF came together to create a Shelter curriculum piece for one of northeast Florida’s most fascinating sites.

Lesson progression for Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter. Image courtesy of Project Archaeology.
Curriculum Development
The Kingsley Slave Cabin site met the four curriculum criteria: a shelter for a family unit, a living descendant, a cooperating archaeologist, and authentic data.  These elements make up the framework of the lessons, supplemented with writings and activities using unique site data.  NPS at Kingsley Plantation drew on its Teacher to Ranger to Teacher program, which selects teachers from predominantly Title I school districts to work as rangers during the summer.  This is part of a broader NPS strategy to help all Americans connect to their national heritage through national parks.  Three Teacher-Ranger-Teachers (TRTs) worked with NPS and FPAN staff to conduct interviews and examined data related to UF’s cabin excavations, as well as historic photographs of the site.  In order to maximize interpretive impact, a decision was made to use artifacts from three separate cabins and create a composite site for the archaeological portion of activities.  Once the TRTs completed a draft of lessons, Project Archaeology staff revised and added graphics.

Ranger Emily Palmer (left) works with TRTs and Amber Grafft-Weiss (not pictured) to develop curriculum materials. Photo courtesy of FPAN.

The final product features a student handbook and teachers’ guide with lessons in Geography, History, Archaeology, and Today.  Students read about a descendant of a slave who lived at Kingsley.  Using inquiry skills gained in previous lessons, they examine the natural and built environments, as well as documentary record of Kingsley Plantation.  They conduct “reverse excavation,” placing images of artifacts in place on a tarp depicting the cabin footprint to put them in context.  Students also get to learn about UF’s investigation of charms and religious activity among the enslaved Africans who lived there.   They imagine how using elements of cabin technology could positively inform creation of modern shelters.  Finally, students consider civic responsibility, law, and challenges of site preservation.  It also includes an online resource, which uses materials developed for the printed document and offers interactive activities to reinforce lessons.

Facilitators-in-training measure the dimensinos of a Kingsley cabin to get an idea of the living space available to African slaves on the plantation.
Initial Workshops
The main delivery method of lessons is administration of the curriculum to educators through workshops.  Teaching the teachers is a mainstay of archaeologists, as each educator that attends a workshop reaches 120 students per year (Selig 1991: 3).  Thus an archaeologist’s effort is maximized by teaching teachers, and not individual students. Two such trainings were conducted over the summer of 2011, an initial workshop with 18 teachers facilitated by FPAN staff and hosted by NPS.  The second offering was a facilitator training attended by FPAN and NPS staff as well as master teachers.  In total, fourteen facilitators are ready to offer workshops to teachers in their own communities.  The workshops also served as testing ground to vet the materials for both standard of usability for teachers and rigorous academic expectations of archaeologists.  

Using a gridded map of the site, workshop participants do "reverse archaeology," placing artifact pictures on a tarp replica of a slave cabin.  Photo courtesy of FPAN; inset image courtesy of Project Archaeology.

FPAN staff evaluated the workshop through qualitative and quantitative measures.  Evaluations revealed that the Kingsley Shelter supplement meets the standards of educators and archaeologists, but did need some changes in language and graphics.  On-site observations made during the workshop by the facilitators led to increased emphasis of the significance of descendant communities and preservation.  Without speaking to these topics early and often, learners sometimes missed their importance.  Feedback indicated positive responses to use of Understanding by Design educational theory, hands-on and role playing lessons, and focus on specific skills.  Teachers reported confidence that they could easily implement the lessons in their classrooms. 

Ranger Emily Palmer offers an interpretive tour of the plantation, including the cabin ruins.  Photo courtesy of FPAN.
The Kingsley Slave Cabin supplement to Project Archaeology’s Investigating Shelter curriculum constitutes another successful collaboration for public archaeology among FPAN, NPS, and UF and demonstrates how effective partnerships can positively influence the educational landscape.  The piece represents the first such commitment by a National Park; that in itself opens the door for rangers at other historic sites to consider Project Archaeology materials. Moreover, for the first time it offers Florida teachers the ability to teach a complete archaeology curriculum in 3rd-5th grade classrooms using an authentic and locally relevant site.

·         Dr. James Davidson and students of the University of Florida Field School
·         Pam James, Mary Mott, and Dawn Baker (TRTs)
·         Brian Loadholtz and John Whitehurst (NPS)
·         Jeanne Moe, Crystal Alegria, and Project Archaeology National Office—Montana State
          University and Bureau of Land Management

Works Cited
Selig, Ruth
1991     Teacher Training Programs in Anthropology: The Multiplier Effect in the Classroom.  In
              Archaeology and Education: The Classroom and Beyond.  Archaeological Assistance Study
              Number 2.  KC Smith and Francis P. McManamon, eds.  Pp. 3-7.  Washington, DC: U.S.
              Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

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