Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Lexington, Kentucky 40506-9854
(859) 323-1968 (fax)
Greetings from the Bluegrass State!
September is Archaeology Month in Kentucky, so how wonderful is it that this year the National Office is shining the spotlight on our Kentucky state program (http://heritage.ky.gov/kas/projarch.htm) during the month of September?
2015 has been a busy one for us. But it’s not so much been workshops or field trips. We’ve been busy revising a draft of “Investigating a Shotgun House,” which is Investigation #12 in the Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter case studies series. And we’ve been busy collecting data!
Let me tell you about all this.
We developed the “Investigating a Shotgun House” unit as part of a creative mitigation for a highway built through the center of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lexington, Kentucky. This unit is just one of several educational items developed as part of the Davis Bottom History Preservation Project, funded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The others include a website (https://anthropology.as.uky.edu/kas/kas-projects/davis-bottom-project); an hour-long video documentary entitled “Davis Bottom: Rare History, Valuable Lives;” and two sets of lessons developed to highlight the arts and humanities subjects depicted in two original murals commissioned for the documentary.
Our field testing, evaluation, and research activities are being carried out as part of the Project Archaeology Teacher Training and Classroom Implementation Project, funded by the Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, again, as part of a creative mitigation.
Do you see a pattern here?
This project began with a week-long academy in Somerset, Kentucky, in July 2014. We introduced 14 teachers and three archaeology/anthropology educators to a draft of “Investigating a Shotgun House” and modeled inquiry-based instruction. Then, during the 2014-2015 school year, four of the Academy teachers piloted a revised “Investigating A Shotgun House” curriculum in their classrooms. These four schools are located in predominantly rural Kentucky school districts.
Out of 121 fifth through seventh-grade students who received instruction, 67 agreed to participate in our research. We were so pleased with this response. One teacher, at the conclusion of instruction, made a video showing her students presenting findings and conducting classroom activities. Here is her video, Project Archaeology Movie 2015:
We finished “field work” this spring. This consisted of interviews conducted with teachers and with groups of students. During the 45-minute student interviews, we asked them about what they had learned as well their thoughts about the curriculum. We asked teachers about how well the materials work during instruction. It’s GREAT data!
So while other folks were hosting workshops this summer, we spent our time transcribing interviews. UGH.
With transcriptions in hand, we’ve moved into the analysis phase of this project – YAY – beginning the long process of drawing conclusions and exploring results. We’re plowing through a mountain of data: interview data and information drawn from student pre- and post-unit instruction surveys, visits to the classroom during instruction, teachers-submitted student work, and teacher questionnaire responses.
A few of our findings, taken just from the interviews include:
- students had great enthusiasm for this inquiry-based exploration of a working class community;
- instruction in inquiry-based units is challenged by time constraints, and by administrative support for and recognition of the academic benefits of this kind of instruction;
- the Investigating Shelter platform is easy for teachers to use, adaptable to their various needs, and fits with their academic standards; the hard-copy and PowerPoint resources worked very well for these teachers; the scaffolding for inquiry worked at each grade level;
- students identified similarities and differences between their own lives and those of the people who lived in Davis Bottom; and
- students had a strong civic/preservation response; they identified the value of preserving aspects of ordinary people’s lives and of recognizing histories that might otherwise be invisible.
We will spend the rest of 2015 completing our analysis and writing a report that is due in 2016. Simultaneously, we will be working towards our ultimate goal: to get the curriculum approved for use statewide.
We also can now turn our attention to revising “Investigating a Shotgun House” in response to the constructive comments we received from teachers and students alike. We are anxious to tie up the hardcopy version of this case study (as we are sure the Bozeman folks are, too!) in a nice neat bow so that we can present it to them for posting on the Project Archaeology website. Then we’ll begin exploring options for an online version of this investigation.
Other positive outcomes of this project are that now two Kentucky archaeologists/anthropologists and one Kentucky classroom teacher are ready to facilitate a Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter workshop in Kentucky. WOO HOO! All we need is a venue, interested participants, and an organization willing to sponsor our workshop. This classroom teacher was one of the four who piloted the curriculum. This summer, she attended the Project Archaeology Leadership Academy training in Bozeman. She loved it!
That’s all we have to report. Have fun with Project Archaeology in your neck of the woods!