Investigating Archaeotype:
Group Report


Rhonda Wixom
Cheryl Jones
Randi Miller
Leah Reingewirtz
Debbie Hake

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 computer simulation of an archeological dig. Four MAC SE/30 with and SE/30 fileserver, each have 80 megabyte hard drive and 5 megabytes of RAM. The students work in teams to search out artifacts and make inferences concerning the society it came from. The program lasts for approximately 8 weeks, it can be modified to fit into a shorter time frame.

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?

Juarez-Lincoln had a very successful experience with the program. They found their students were engaged in the learning process and took responsibility for their own discoveries. Juarez-Lincoln has the same demographics as O'Farrell, but has less technology access. Archaeotype would be very successful at O'Farrell. There needs to be an Inservice for the teachers to make sure everyone is one the same page and knowledgeable about the programs objectives. The team teaching structure of O'Farrell lends itself to the Archaeotype.

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?

They do a simulated dig on the computer to accumulate artifacts that are then researched for origins and cultural significance. They learn problem solving skills, scientific process, research skills, cooperative learning strategies, and ability to be self learners.

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 as multi-disciplinary as you want to make it. The program lends itself to multi-disciplinary teaching and is open enough to allow you to create your own curriculum around it. No, Juarez-Lincoln does the program as a multi-disciplinary unit, whereas Dalton only uses it as a Social Studies lesson. You could use mythology in the Language Arts department, math you could use graphs, scales and measurements with artifacts.

Is Archaeotype a complete success? A partial success? What are its weaknesses?

Archaeotype was a partial success, it has some areas that need to be improved. The program does not come with guidelines and a specific structure for student activities.

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 curriculum was designed based on a constructivist learning philosophy. That being that the students generate the questions, the discoveries and the conclusions. Students are actively involved and interested in what they are learning. They become self learners and develop team oriented skills.

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?

Archaeotype provides a setting to investigate relevant topics within each content area. Both schools considered it highly successful. Juarez-Lincoln rated it a 9 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best.

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?

Teachers need to be able to give up authority to the students and contend with chaotic classrooms. They have to trust their students to take responsibility for their success. They need to be computer literate. It depends on how you set up the program as to where the subject areas should come from, there needs to be a Social Studies teacher involved somewhere. They felt confident that the students had learned more than just content, they learned how to learn.

What kinds of learners are best suited to Archaeotype? How do they feel about it when the unit is over?

All learners are capable of using Archaeotype because once they have an artifact they can use the skills they have to build their knowledge. Such as they could do maps, draw, write an essay based on their findings. They felt successful and proud of their accomplishments.

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, we believe it would be advantageous to the students critical thinking skills. Yes, in fact a similar project has already been successfully used in our 7th/8th grade classes in the form of the islands project.

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