Teacher Reflections

We were very impressed with the depth of learning that our students exhibited throughout the various stages of the archaeology process. The questions and connections the students constructed continued to drive their learning and ours, as well as increasing the scope of the whole project! The study began with an inquiry about how natural resources, past and present, affect our local community - and about the bits and pieces of objects found in Mrs. Stabler's garden. It grew into a wide-ranging study of archaeology, including historical life styles and authentic stories of the past. Since answers to the students' questions could not be found in text books, the search led to the Internet, to the museums ( Glenbow and Turner Valley Interpretive Center), local history experts and local history books and videos, and finally to the actual dig, itself. We are so grateful for the support and assistance we received in the archaeology dig from Susan DeCaen (University of Calgary,) Brian Vivian(President of the Archaeological Society of Alberta, Calgary Centre), and Andrea Richardson(Archaeologist). Without these key experts, we would not have been able to carry out this valuable learning experience.

"Our group got to be interviewed to go on the Internet. Prediction: I think there was an old house there because we found lots of home stuff like broken tea cups. The dig was real because we had a real archaeologist.

Today we wrote down the different things we found on a chart. I'm pretty sure that it is going on the web site. We had the most coal when we categorized the material by how much and what."

Grade 4 student

This sample from a student's journal is indicative of the overall diligence that students demonstrated in working through every stage of the archaeological process, including their daily field notes and journal reflections. Students showed significant ability to listen and follow each step in the archaeology process. This was largely due to their excitement in having a real archaeologist, Andrea Richardson, direct their activities and answer their questions. Throughout the project, two threads were always very clear. One was students' growing understanding as they made connections from their background knowledge and current experiences. The other thread was their pride in the accomplishment of carrying out "a real, official dig"-their feeling that kids can do authentic archaeology.

Many skills were learned for the first time, such as the various archaeology procedures. Many other previously learned skills, like patience, group cooperation and creative problem-solving, were frequently in the forefront and became increasingly developed and polished with practice through these experiences. Research took on new dimensions as we searched for information about natural resources in a variety of ways. This highlighted the students' awareness of the important role of the oil and gas industry, past and present, in our area - in fact, many parents work in various aspects in this industry.

The making of connections was further brought into play with the uncovering of each artifact. Questions and predictions abounded. "What was this a part of? What do we think these items were used for? This looks like what Mrs. Prestie told us about. What does this artifact tell us about the lives of the people who lived here? " Suppositions inspired more questions and the passion for local history continues to thrive for many students as they repeatedly asked if they would be able to do another dig "next year".