Summer...finally. I am spending some time sitting in my office surrounded by piles of papers, books and projects. Buried in each pile are a lot of good ideas for teaching to more rigorous standards, using inquiry in science, integrating technology, helping students understand math...and many more. I am sure all of you have similar piles - be they on your desk, in a book bag, on the dining room table or electronically as files on your computer. During the school year it is easy for all these good ideas to get covered over by the daily info like student worksheets, attendance bulletins and faculty updates or the seemingly endless supply of vendor proposals and sales brochures. Summer is the time to do some workplace archaeology.
I spend my time off in the summer as a field supervisor for the Archaeology Field School of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. What I have learned over the past 8 seasons is that first, you have to scrape off the "disturbed dirt" in the plow zone to get to the interesting stuff - much like clearing off your desk and getting rid of all the miscellaneous papers and forms that might be covering up information your really can use. Once you get to the interface - that area where all the interesting stuff actually is - you need to take time to examine what you see, troweling down through important features carefully looking for key artifacts. So, as teachers or administrators, pick out the information and ideas that you think will be most useful to you as you plan new or revised assessments, new lessons and new activities for the coming year - and get recycle all of the rest. I have two files that I am working on for the summer. The first file contains vital information that I need to reference in order to make decisions about ordering supplies, planning etc. The second contains articles, hand written notes, and lists of resources that I want to spend more time thinking about before the next school year starts - my key artifacts that will help me to put together a clear picture of what I can do to continue to make the transition to the new Common Core, teacher evaluations and assessments.
If you'd like to learn more about what I do in the field, you can follow the CMNH archaeology blog written by Dr. Brian Redmond http://brianredmondarchaeology.blogspot.com/2012/06/bailing-bone-beads-and-bioturbation.html ( I am in the picture on this week's post - at the right with the blue bucket) I am working on developing unit materials that tie Common Core Standards and Ohio Model Curriculum to the archaeology work being done at the museum - we are focusing on pre-European contact populations in NE and NW Ohio. There are many math, science, language arts and social studies standards that can be addressed using the real world data being generated by the museum team.