Investigating Archaeotype:
Group Report


Rich Uris
Paul Theodore
Jerrod Savala
Robert Jacobs

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 network based multimedia alternative to the textbook and current curriculum on the ancient world. It creates a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment to uncover the past and to interpret it. Students uncover artifacts, transport them to the lab where they are weighed, measured and analyzed. Students make inferences about the society and culture of the site. Students have access to on-line libraries as well as CD ROM and outside experts. Implementation involves a preparatory session followed by 8-9 weeks of collaborative group work involving several work sites on line, in the class, and beyond the school environment. Hardware required: 4 Mac SE/30 workstations, an SE/30 File Server with 80 MB hard drive and 5 MB ram. Hardware requirements are minimal and inexpensive.

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?

We are familiar with three schools where Archaeotype has been implemented: The Dalton School, The Juarez-Lincoln Middle School, and O'Farrell Middle School. The experience at all three schools was positive, but Dalton's superior resources allowed it to maximize Archaeotype's potential. Juarez-Lincoln had a similarly positive experience. O'Farrell's experience was very limited in scope and comparisons to the other schools would be unfair. Dalton is an extremely expensive private school with a highly selective student population. Juarez-Lincoln is quite similar to O'Farrell. Archaeotype will work anywhere there is faculty and student commitment.

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?

Kids do research on the internet, discover facts, make observations and predictions, hypothesize, work collaboratively and gain experience with the latest technology.

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?

The main focus is art, social studies and architecture. Math, language arts and the sciences have not been incorporated to the same degree. Dalton's on-site archeologist enables that school to enhance the program's value. Other subject areas could be incorporated with innovative faculty involvement.

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

Dalton reports that it is a "complete success." Students are becoming "scientists in training." At Juarez-Lincoln, it rates a 9 out of 10. Evaluations have shown that students have better recall with Archaeotype than with traditional curriculum. Interest at both schools is very high. Weaknesses include: crashing computers, an overly broad application without sufficient guidance for the young students. There is currently no guide for teachers.

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 underlying Archaeotype is that cooperative, interactive learning is necessary for success in the increasingly complex and technical workplace. Learning must come from the student, not the teacher.

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?

Intellectually, it rates high. There is validity within most of the disciplines, beyond the disciplines, and it contributes to broader outcomes. On practical grounds, the time, budget and schedule demands are flexible and doable. Thus, overall, it rates high.

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, tolerate seemingly chaotic classes, and trust their students to stay on task. There must be one-to-one work with students. Faculty must have high energy and be truly motivated. When the units is over they feel tremendous satisfaction with the learning that has taken place. They want to party all the time.

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

Learners best suited to Archaeotype appear to be self-motivated and intellectually curious. The program appeals to multiple learning intelligences. When the unit is over they feel a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. They are excited about learning. They want to party all the time.

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?

O'Farrell should consider a comprehensive teacher indoctrination program before implementing Archaeotype. Teachers must "buy in" to it. Without total family commitment across the disciplines, it won't work. Sixth grade is a good starting point. After a year, the 6th grade teachers and students can share their experiences with the 7th and 8th grades. We don't recommend wholesale implementation.

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