Jeanne Moe, BLM Project Archaeology Lead, demonstrates how archaeology can help teachers implement the Common Core State Standards.

Archaeology.  The word alone is fascinating and immediately brings images of far-off lands, fabulous artifacts, and ancient lifeways to our minds.  Fascinating, but you must be an archaeologist to study the ways of the ancients, right?  Wrong.  Archaeology is a perfect addition to upper elementary and secondary social studies classrooms and provides a ready-made vehicle to implement the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).Common_Core_State_Standards_logo

By its very nature, archaeology is interdisciplinary; it studies cultures, and past human lifeways, but it uses sciences such as geology, botany, zoology, and chemistry to analyze and interpret historical data.  At Project Archaeology, we have aligned our existing curricular materials to Common Core Standards (www.projectarchaeology.org/teachers) and are developing all new materials based on the CCSS and Next Generation Science Standards.  Project Archaeology instruction helps build college and career-ready students in the following ways (NGA 2010):

  • Students learn to comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines (oral histories, scientific explanations, laws, and biographical texts).  They are expected to construct effective arguments and convey intricate and multifaceted information to others.  They are required to build on the ideas of others and articulate their own ideas in a range of formats including speaking, writing, and graphic design.
  • Students establish an in-depth base of knowledge about the processes of archaeology and content that is built through archaeological inquiry. They become proficient in archaeological inquiry and can conduct their own simple investigations with Project Archaeology materials.  They refine and share their content knowledge through writing and speaking.
  • Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text, a bar graph, or a primary source such as historic photographs, artifacts, and archaeological site maps.  They are expected to use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking, making their reasoning clear to the reader or listener, and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.
  • Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading, listening, and examining the archaeological record of their own or another culture.  They examine similarities and differences between themselves and members of other cultures. 
  • Students adapt their communication to their audience, task, and purpose (for example, writing explanatory or informational texts; creating persuasive speeches; engaging in civic dialogue; developing media for specific purposes such as brochures or web pages; and creating graphics such as bar graphs, pie charts, and drawings to express information).

Project Archaeology is now celebrating 25 years of providing high-quality archaeology education materials and professional development to educators nationwide.  What are some of our Project Archaeology teachers saying about archaeology and the Common Core?  Evaluations from teachers at our professional development workshops indicate that Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter, our main curriculum unit, aligns well to Common Core State Standards. Here is a sample of their evaluations:

“Project Archaeology is the Common Core” – Stella Estrada, California Council for the Social Studies Director
“They talk about 21st century skills being important in schools these days. Archaeology is a perfect way to teach kids how to think, how to look at things, and how to pull information from the world around them.” “I think it is interesting because ‘observation’ and ‘inferences’ have just become part of the vernacular of our room…” – Luci McCausland, 4th grade teacher, Montana
“I think you get to use archaeology to teach civics and character education even. You get a chance to really engage with other people and see things from their perspective.”  – Beth Sanders, middle-school teacher, Kansas
“I think that this curriculum will be very powerful because it is rich in content, but also because it teaches and requires students to be critical thinkers. It can easily be integrated into reading and existing writing times and the structure will help us to get kids to the higher order thinking that common core standards require.”  – Teacher
“The ‘archaeological’ skills are great thinking skills and strategies for kids across content areas! Students must use these skills in reading and science and math too.” – Teacher
“The UbD (Understanding by Design) method of lessons is helpful when creating useful lesson plans that allow the students to reach their own conclusions by critical thinking.”  – Teacher
“Archaeology fits math CCSS perfectly to my surprise! I thought it was history and science.” – Teacher
“The course was useful, interesting, stimulating and thought provoking. The course modeled common core, Indian Ed for All, and state and national standards. It led us down new paths and broadened our horizons. Gave us so many new ideas to produce and new literature to explore.” – Teacher

For more information about Project Archaeology and the Common Core State Standards, contact us at projectarchaeology@montana.edu.  For alignment to the CCSS go to https://projectarchaeology.org/teachers#Common-Core-Standards.