What follows is our group's answers to the questions raised in the Investigating Archaeotype exercise on February 28, 1996.
What exactly IS Archaeotype? How is it implemented? How much time does it take? What kind of hardware is needed?
Archaeotype is a simulation of an archaeological dig of Greece and Persia that might be a good activity to build a multi-disciplinary unit around. It provides students with a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment in which to uncover and interpret the past. The minimum amount of hardware that is required is a LC 7 with 8 megabytes. The approximate time for this project would be about eight weeks.
What has the experience been at other schools where it has been tried out? How are those schools similar to O'Farrell? Are those schools so different that it's unlikely that Archaeotype would be doable at O'Farrell?
Some similarities between Dalton and O'Farrell are that they have homebase as well as group scheduling. This enables teachers to control the level of complexity of each class.
What kind of activities do the kids do while using Archaeotype? What facts and concepts do they learn? What kinds of thinking skills and collaboration skills do they develop?
This project provides an opportunity for students to engage in cooperative skills rather than competition.
How multi-disciplinary is Archaeotype? Is it implemented the same at both Dalton and Juarez-Lincoln? How could you extend it into other subject areas?
Archaeotype is anchored in social studies and incorporates math, art, language arts and focuses on cooperative learning. It is implemented in both sites in similar fashion. Dalton was the first to use Archaeotype and helped Juarez-Lincoln to become second school to use it. The teachers at Dalton wanted to see if the program could work at a public school, and the test program was successful. Because Juarez-Lincoln implemented the program as a test, they looked to Dalton as a blueprint. The program could be extended into Physical Education by introducing the Greek Olympics, into language arts by introducing Greek Myths, and enhancing the social studies segment to include history.
Is Archaeotype a complete success? A partial success? What are its weaknesses?
Although it has been deemed a success by most evaluators, there is room for improvement. For example, it emphasizes social studies and art, but it would be more effective if it incorporated more disciplines. Currently no teacher guide is available, but one would help each group of teachers who want to implement Archaeotype do it uniformly.
What is the philosophy that underlies the design of Archaeotype? How does it define the goals of a good education and the characteristics of an ideal learning environment?
The philosophy that underlies Archaeotype is of a Progressive nature. The student is motivated by individual interest. The goal of the program is to promote independence and dependability. It promotes higher order thinking skills and it encourages students to engage in active learning. They learn more from this program than by a series of lectures. The students are able to probe in depth in the issues that they are interested in and the quality of their work is emphasized more than the quantity.
In Chapter 3 of Heidi Hayes Jacobs' book, Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Design and Implementation, David Ackerman describes two criteria for evaluating interdisciplinary units along intellectual and practical grounds. How does Archaeotype rate?
This program provides a balance between the intellectual and practical grounds for success. Intellectually it supports the curriculum frameworks for each discipline and with the support from all teachers it can be implemented successfully. With team work it is practical.
What kinds of teachers can use Archaeotype? What subject areas do they come from? What kind of personality or other qualities do they need? How do they feel about it when the unit is over?
Any teacher can successfully use Archaeotype with the help of other core teachers. No special credential is needed, and most teachers rate it a nine on a ten point scale.
What kinds of learners are best suited to Archaeotype? How do they feel about it when the unit is over?
Students from all ability levels can successfully use Archaeotype, and most students rate it as an interesting and challenging program.
The Bottom Line: Should O'Farrell adopt Archaeotype for use in all of its sixth grade classes? Should something like Archaeotype be developed for the seventh and eighth grade classes?
Yes. Definitely. Let's go for it! It could be used in seventh and eighth, if it is not being used in sixth. Or it can be expanded and enhanced for the seventh and eighth grade curriculum.